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Papa D
12-28-2011, 22:06
Being that I'm working on re-hiking the trail, I tend to hike when I can - regardless (for the most part of weather) - I hike in the snow, in the wind, in the rain, and even when the roads are closed and I have to hike to the trailhead. Sometimes (like on my last 3 days out), I see nobody - it can be very peaceful (or lonely: depending on your perspective) and sometimes makes you think of the "what ifs." My question is what are YOUR limits: i.e., "must not be below 50 and not a cloud in sight?", "50% chance of rain ok?" "not below freezing at night?" , "will probably snow?" "below 5 degrees , windy, everything iced in for miles around and must hike the roads to the trail-head - the full treatment plus some?" Just curious.
Oh, note to Tipi Walter -- I know that you are in your tent in the most amazing storms ever -- for YOU the question is what weather would keep you there vs hiking?

fiddlehead
12-28-2011, 22:23
More than 50 mph winds make me very cautious.
Over 75, I'm definitely taking the day off. (or until it quiets down somewhat)

As for lightning, I have my 3 second rule. I believe most people have more like a 5 second rule but, I really don't like to stop once I'm going.

The rest is all good.

Although I don't like hail either, especially golf ball size or bigger. (then I hide under a bush or something till it stops)

Rasty
12-28-2011, 22:27
Until I get a warmer 0 bag my limit is around 20. Just need to save some money for the bag I want.

leaftye
12-28-2011, 22:28
I don't like the rain. I'm trying to learn to handle it better though.

10-K
12-28-2011, 22:33
Man I've hiked through some crazy stuff. Only one time I got off the trail because of weather and it was because I was just physically exhausted.

That was south of Bear Mt. - I forget the town I wound up in - Central Valley or something. There was just so much snow and I lost one of my yak trax and I was plum wore out. I felt like bailing but I was so far from home and after a couple of hot meals and a night in a bed I was ready to rock again.

Papa D
12-28-2011, 22:35
Hey 10K - this Tuesday morning at 5:30 am was pretty interesting hiking in your neck of the woods -- freezing rain and 30 mph wind -- no mall walkers out then - Bear Mtn., NY or Bear Mtn, CT. -- I was at Bear Mtn. CT last year in a good snowstorm.

10-K
12-28-2011, 22:42
Hey 10K - this Tuesday morning at 5:30 am was pretty interesting hiking in your neck of the woods -- freezing rain and 30 mph wind -- no mall walkers out then - Bear Mtn., NY or Bear Mtn, CT. -- I was at Bear Mtn. CT last year in a good snowstorm.

I figured you were getting it. :) Did you stay at Curley Maple Gap shelter last night or did you cross the river and make it all the way to No Business Knob?

Oh, Bear Mt., NY. I was hiking the section between Bear Mt. Bridge and Delaware Water Gap when that big blizzard went through DC last year. By the time I made it to DWG there was a foot of snow on the ground and it was falling fast. It took me 17 hours (yes, 17 hours) to drive from Washington, D.C. to Richmond, VA.

Papa D
12-28-2011, 22:49
Curley Maple last night - more of a trip report in another thread

Blissful
12-28-2011, 23:17
You know, if you are out like on a thru or long distance venture, set to do your hike in a certain time frame, then you take whatever weather comes your way - cold, warm, heat, snow, t-storm, what-have-you, and adapt. Its part of the experience.

Sarcasm the elf
12-28-2011, 23:27
Being that I'm working on re-hiking the trail, I tend to hike when I can - regardless (for the most part of weather) - I hike in the snow, in the wind, in the rain, and even when the roads are closed and I have to hike to the trailhead. Sometimes (like on my last 3 days out), I see nobody - it can be very peaceful (or lonely: depending on your perspective) and sometimes makes you think of the "what ifs." My question is what are YOUR limits: i.e., "must not be below 50 and not a cloud in sight?", "50% chance of rain ok?" "not below freezing at night?" , "will probably snow?" "below 5 degrees , windy, everything iced in for miles around and must hike the roads to the trail-head - the full treatment plus some?" Just curious.Oh, note to Tipi Walter -- I know that you are in your tent in the most amazing storms ever -- for YOU the question is what weather would keep you there vs hiking?Tough question, not sure if this answer does it justice: I've never bailed because of the weather, however I have bailed before because the gear I was carrying was not appropriate for the weather. Unexpected freezing rain and extreme heat are the only conditions I can think of that have caused issues for me personally. Bailing on a hike when it's appropriate is never a failure, always a learning experience.

mirabela
12-28-2011, 23:27
I called off my intended overnight for tonight when they started predicting an ambient air temp of -15F with sustained winds in the 95-115 mph range with higher gusts ... wind chill to -70F ... whatever my limits are, this far exceeds them!

Realistically, I'm pretty reluctant to go out when winds are going past 50 or so, or when there's likely to be electrical activity.

I try not to do anything too deep into the backcountry when temps are expected to go much below -10F.

Papa D
12-28-2011, 23:31
I called off my intended overnight for tonight when they started predicting an ambient air temp of -15F with sustained winds in the 95-115 mph range with higher gusts ... wind chill to -70F ... whatever my limits are, this far exceeds them!

Realistically, I'm pretty reluctant to go out when winds are going past 50 or so, or when there's likely to be electrical activity.

I try not to do anything too deep into the backcountry when temps are expected to go much below -10F.

sounds reasonably - I've been out at -15 - hot water bottles, etc. it's interesting - I love Vermont - end to ended LT in '10

4eyedbuzzard
12-28-2011, 23:49
Won't go if:
It's Winter (here in NH anyway - did enough of that when I was younger). Might winter hike in the south in the Winter if the weather was good.
Forecast is for rain for most of the hike (I'll postpone for better weather).
Won't go in high winds (especially above treeline).
I'm a fair weather 3 season wuss.

Tipi Walter
12-28-2011, 23:57
Hey Papa D---I remember one time in January '85 I was living out of my pack in the mountains of NC and we got hit by a freak arctic air mass with---no lie---minus thirty degrees. That's -30F. I did what any good homeless bum would do, I hiked out of the hills and reached a small town and found an unlocked Baptist church and slept under a pew for a few nights. My gear at the time was good to about -15F. The Univ of TN in Knoxville reported -24F. See link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_1985_Arctic_outbreak

You always remember the tough weather when you're outside in it. BTW, it's not only cold that repels backpackers, it's the heat of summer too.

ZERO DAYS
All of my zero days on backpacking trips are spent inside a tent as there are no towns around worth going to and anyway, I've been to a town. What now keeps me hunkered? Hard rain. Deep snow (in the 30 inch range). "Snowdowns" whereby the trails get blocked by overhanging brush (pines and rhodo mainly) causing the trail to become a chipmunk path and a belly crawl for humans. Beautiful blizzards. A midnight blizzard is a wonderful thing when stuck inside a tent---as is an all night rain. I can move in a blizzard unless the snow is too deep, and we don't carry snowshoes here in the Southeast, even when the ridgetop trails are 30+ inches deep.

I'm eyeballing a pair of Kahtoola microspikes I got for Christmas but they have a negatory heft to them and so even in January I may forego the poundage.

Papa D
12-29-2011, 00:01
Won't go if:
It's Winter (here in NH anyway - did enough of that when I was younger). Might winter hike in the south in the Winter if the weather was good.
Forecast is for rain for most of the hike (I'll postpone for better weather).
Won't go in high winds (especially above treeline).
I'm a fair weather 3 season wuss.

This is about what I expected from most people - this is why the ultra-light thing works for most people too - I "do" light but I need carry the gear required for the weather I encounter - this also explains (duhh) why I never see anyone on the trail -- smart people like you are inside by a fire when I'm in the woods - it's taken me 40+ years to figure this out - really -

prain4u
12-29-2011, 00:01
I have hiked/camped when the heat index has been over 120 degrees fahrenheit and when windchills have been 40 below zero. I have hiked when the air temperature was only in the 40s and it was raining heavily for three straight days. That being said....

I will generally not head into the woods (or, if I am already in the woods, I will choose to hunker down in a "safe' place and ride things out) in the following scenarios:

1) Lightning (particularly when I expect to be on/near peaks, balds, ridges, open spaces etc.)

2) Very heavy winds (especially in areas where tree limbs and entire trees are pretty likely to be coming down).

3) When the combination of abundant precipitation, brisk winds, and cold temperatures make hypothermia a very real possibility and danger.

4) When snowfall and/or fog make visibility so poor that there is a significant possibility of getting lost or falling off of a ledge.

BOTTOM LINE: I don't mind being outdoors in some pretty rough extremes. However, I always want to live to hike another day. Therefore, if the conditions are pretty unsafe--and I cannot significantly reduce the risks by using the proper equipment and/or by using the knowledge that I have accumulated--I will very likely choose to not hike until conditions improve.

harryfred
12-29-2011, 00:07
If vacation days are at stake and it is a planned hike to complete a section either for myself or a partner I have hiked through some h***asious weather. Now if it is just a weekend I want to get out I'm a little more picky. I am good with cold to the single+ digits, snow up to say 3", rain above 65* all day long, below 40* NO. This last year I have had lightning hit so clos I could feel it three times.

Papa D
12-29-2011, 00:12
Hey Papa D---I remember one time in January '85 I was living out of my pack in the mountains of NC and we got hit by a freak arctic air mass with---no lie---minus thirty degrees. That's -30F. I did what any good homeless bum would do, I hiked out of the hills and reached a small town and found an unlocked Baptist church and slept under a pew for a few nights. My gear at the time was good to about -15F. The Univ of TN in Knoxville reported -24F. See link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_1985_Arctic_outbreak
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_1985_Arctic_outbreak)


You always remember the tough weather when you're outside in it. BTW, it's not only cold that repels backpackers, it's the heat of summer too.

ZERO DAYS
All of my zero days on backpacking trips are spent inside a tent as there are no towns around worth going to and anyway, I've been to a town. What now keeps me hunkered? Hard rain. Deep snow (in the 30 inch range). "Snowdowns" whereby the trails get blocked by overhanging brush (pines and rhodo mainly) causing the trail to become a chipmunk path and a belly crawl for humans. Beautiful blizzards. A midnight blizzard is a wonderful thing when stuck inside a tent---as is an all night rain. I can move in a blizzard unless the snow is too deep, and we don't carry snowshoes here in the Southeast, even when the ridgetop trails are 30+ inches deep.

I'm eyeballing a pair of Kahtoola microspikes I got for Christmas but they have a negatory heft to them and so even in January I may forego the poundage.


I KNEW this post was squarely in your wheelhouse - I think you and I probably have the record for below zero Joyce Kilmer Nights - one night at Bob Bald 2 years ago was nearly unbearable (with all the tricks)

Papa D
12-29-2011, 00:14
good point about the summer heat - that's when I slow down and sit in a creek - I'm not averse to skinny dipping in wildcat falls

harryfred
12-29-2011, 00:14
This is about what I expected from most people - this is why the ultra-light thing works for most people too - I "do" light but I need carry the gear required for the weather I encounter - this also explains (duhh) why I never see anyone on the trail -- smart people like you are inside by a fire when I'm in the woods - it's taken me 40+ years to figure this out - really -
BTW my gear is heavy but in even the worst weather I can get warm and dry, eat a hot meal and get a good nights sleep.

Papa D
12-29-2011, 00:16
BTW my gear is heavy but in even the worst weather I can get warm and dry, eat a hot meal and get a good nights sleep.

10-4 to that - I like light gear in the 3=season realm but I do go heavier in the winter - extra clothes, food, and fuel - I don't see honestly how you can't

harryfred
12-29-2011, 00:20
10-4 to that - I like light gear in the 3=season realm but I do go heavier in the winter - extra clothes, food, and fuel - I don't see honestly how you can't
Exactly the way I hike...... may I add cheap?:p

Tipi Walter
12-29-2011, 00:57
I KNEW this post was squarely in your wheelhouse - I think you and I probably have the record for below zero Joyce Kilmer Nights - one night at Bob Bald 2 years ago was nearly unbearable (with all the tricks)

I remember that trip. It was in the subzero range and cold. Thing is, I haul the usual accoutrements of idiocy and have a kit which will keep me comfy at around -10F routinely. Because you never know when a usual winter trip will turn on you and bite you in the butt. Miss Nature likes to slap us around. Sure, I'll have a heavy pack and will probably not need the Defcon Level Six layers of goose down, but when I do need it---I have it.

Most Southeastern winter backpackers go woefully under-clothed and under-prepared, and they do this to adhere to some mystical ultralight fantasy. But then Zap! They're at 5,500 feet in a winter blizzard with -10 degree ambients and needing to bail. All this reminds me of my last trip when I wrote this short blurb in the old trip report---I was camped on the Wall ridge between Bob Bald and Naked Ground, at around 5,300 feet.

GRIP THE DIPLOMA
Miss Nature looks around camp and notices the goose down and the downmat and the heavy boots and the big tent and moves on satisfied. She wants us to succeed out here and she has the tools and the lesson plan to help us learn. Sometimes she eats our trips and she does so most especially the higher we go in the mountains. She can eat our endeavors at 5,000 feet in the mountains of NC and TN and have us curled up with exposure or bailing in a fit. Sometimes she gives us the PhD course of quick matriculation and expects us to firmly grip the diploma but by then we're either dead or unconscious.

Lemni Skate
12-29-2011, 00:59
For short hikes (less than a week) I'm not going to want to be out there if it gets below freezing at night. I've done it a few times and it's not horrible, but I just don't really enjoy thinking about keeping water bottles from freezing and packing up a tent covered in frost. I also will avoid a situation where I'm going to have multiple days over 95 degrees. A little rain doesn't bother me at all, but bugs eating me can be maddening (though I don't think I ever avoid a hike because of them--I was chased back to the truck once because of them after hiking maybe 40 feet - that was on the coast of North Carolina).

4eyedbuzzard
12-29-2011, 04:06
sounds reasonably - I've been out at -15 - hot water bottles, etc. it's interesting - I love Vermont - end to ended LT in '10


This is about what I expected from most people - this is why the ultra-light thing works for most people too - I "do" light but I need carry the gear required for the weather I encounter - this also explains (duhh) why I never see anyone on the trail -- smart people like you are inside by a fire when I'm in the woods - it's taken me 40+ years to figure this out - really -I will admit that I prefer a soak in my hot tub and hanging by the fire when the snow is falling and the Mercury drops. In years (long) past, I've been out in -40 roped-up with ice axe and crampons. Even climbed a few big mountains once upon a time. It was a great challenge and a lot of fun then. Just isn't my thing anymore. I've decided that Winter is a good time to go on day hikes or go skiing on warmer sunny days and take a mid-winter cabin-fever break to the Caribbean each year :D.




10-4 to that - I like light gear in the 3=season realm but I do go heavier in the winter - extra clothes, food, and fuel - I don't see honestly how you can'tAs you note, you can't. Conditions dictate what gear you must carry, not some scale or desire to keep weight to a set maximum. The full 3 seasons up here in NH probably means something a bit colder and harsher though especially in shoulder seasons than what some folks think of as 3 seasons in many places. Truth be told, I'm more like a two season hiker as spring doesn't really come here until late-April / early-May (sometimes May sucks too), and then it's a month of mud and black flies which I also avoid. So mid-May to late-Oct (generally 20 or warmer mornings in early fall is my cut-off) is pretty much what I call hiking season for me, although I did get an overnight in this Nov due to some unseasonably warm weather. Maybe an April trip to the Shennies is in order this coming year. . .

The whole UL thing is very subjective though. In the middle of summer, there isn't a huge difference gear requirement wise between GA or MD or NH or anywhere in the eastern US beyond maybe a thicker or additional layer and a warmer hat needed here for cool evenings and hiking above treeline (assuming a 40 deg bag and a wind/rain shell always carried pretty much everywhere). Winter, though, as you likely know, is a whole different story up here.

leaftye
12-29-2011, 04:38
You can go ultralight in the winter, but as with 3-season gear, ultralight is relative. Instead of ECWCS clothing, you'd use lighter down parkas, perhaps even the super warm MEC Reflex. Instead of a dual synthetic bag system with goretex bivy, you might use a Western Mountaineering bag and a custom bivy that's sized a little bigger for thicker bags and pads. Instead of a 7 pound Thermarest, you might have a 1 1/2 pound down air mattress that's just as warm and debatable more comfortable.

Fortunately I don't have to worry as much about winter here. Winter mostly means wet weather and high winds, but I doubt I'll ever camp in sub zero temperatures around here.

kayak karl
12-29-2011, 05:43
i don't like hiking above 60 degrees. i hate bugs. much happier below freezing.

leaftye
12-29-2011, 05:51
i don't like hiking above 60 degrees. i hate bugs. much happier below freezing.

Same here, but I prefer temperatures to be around 40F so I don't get hot, but don't need insulation either.

10-K
12-29-2011, 07:53
...............

Chaco Taco
12-29-2011, 08:06
I have hiked in some snow and really bitter cold. Id like to expand that. Having moved here to New England from the south, Im looking forward to snowshoeing in January to one of the winter huts. Wak and I have a serious amount of experience with rain. The forecast could be for mostly sunny the whole week and it would rain on us half of the time we are out. The good thing is that we know how to deal with it. I don't really care what the weather is, if I get out and the weather becomes too much of a factor, I bail or just put my head down and walk.

Tipi Walter
12-29-2011, 10:27
I have hiked in some snow and really bitter cold. Id like to expand that. Having moved here to New England from the south, Im looking forward to snowshoeing in January to one of the winter huts. Wak and I have a serious amount of experience with rain. The forecast could be for mostly sunny the whole week and it would rain on us half of the time we are out. The good thing is that we know how to deal with it. I don't really care what the weather is, if I get out and the weather becomes too much of a factor, I bail or just put my head down and walk.

You post brings up my least favorite time to go out. I do not like starting a trip in a downpour. How many times have I sat in a car at some trailhead in a butt cold rainstorm on Day 1 peering out like a muddled rodent? The wonderful dry kit must be compromised early on---on Day 1---and so I sit and wait for a lull, anything, even a short window of a 15 minute lull to get moving down the trail. Rain usually causes backpackers to speed up, an unconscious desire to book, but it's foolery to do so under an 85 lb load---my usual Anvil Weight on a 20 day trip. I step out of the car with everything bone dry---socks, boots, shorts, t-shirt under a rain jacket---and in 20 minutes I'm cold and soaked. Welcome to the beginning of a trip.


Now, as far as cold and snow goes---on my last trip I made some pre-ingress changes and here's how it worked---
** Nov 28---I return from another long trip in November cold and wet after 20 days of hauling weight. Upon arrival home I dimly prepare a December trip using what peanut sized brain I have left.
** Dec 1---I project December 9, a Friday, to be a good shove-off date for a short December trip so I plan accordingly.

** Dec 6 arrives in the doublewide and the television warns about a nasty rain turning to snow in a fast approaching deep freeze so my brainstem gets in an air mass uproar thinking about how my Friday departure may be delayed by snowy roads so Little Mitten and I discuss the route and we make a quick decision to set in motion the wheels of lunacy on December 6 for a departure on December 7, before the ice palace develops and two days before my planned Go.

Point is, if the weathermen wee'tards call for an incoming snow storm, grab your gear and get the heck out BEFORE the roads become impassible, otherwise you just may miss the best Miss Nature has to offer. And if we're not out in the snow camping and hiking, who will be? Miss Nature's needs are real simple---she's only looking for a few good men. So, if we call ourselves backpackers and nature boys, we've got to accept her winter snows along with her summer heat. Fact is, she relies on us to live with her in all conditions.

Do we drop the ball and stand around indoors fondling the wall thermostat? The least we can do is sleep out every night in the backyard.

Ktaadn
12-29-2011, 10:56
The most important thing for me is the night time temperature. If that is between 10F and 70F, I'm probably going to be okay. I've only got a 20 degree bag so I can't go much colder. I can't stand the heat and prefer the 3 seasons of Fall, Winter, and Spring. I've hiked in rain, sleet, hail, and snow. All in a 6 day trip. As far as snow depth, I guess I wouldn't hike in much more than a foot, but once I'm out there, I'll hike in whatever I find. I've postholed nearly to my hip while climbing Mt Massive in CO. I don't own any gaiters, so I try to avoid those types of situations.

JAK
12-29-2011, 15:12
I find I can handle down to 0F as well as I can handle the wet stuff around 30F. Below 0F I get concerned, and try to do most experimenting within a few hours walk of the backdoor. I've done -20F in the backyard a few times. I have to test my new sleep system for -20F, and then I might venture further with that in mind. I would like to try a long multi-day winter hike, and for that I would have to be prepared for -20F, as you can't really depend on forecasts much beyond 3-5 days. My new sleep system to try out is a smallish 20F down bag inside a biggish 0F synthetic bag, plus blue foam pads etc.

quilteresq
12-29-2011, 15:32
I quit hiking this fall mid Oct. Winter conditions can occur any time in the Whites. My first backpack trip in 1989, we had basically a mini blizzard on top of Bondcliff Memorial Day Weekend. Being spring by the calendar, I had my first and worst asthma attack while the wind was blowing pollen around at 50 mph. After a very difficult hike for me because of the asthma attack on a ridge to get back below treeline, the group I was with stopped for some well deserved hot chocolate. I promptly got up from that break and broke my arm in multiple places slipping on wet leaves. It was 9 miles to the road from there. A long day! So, I'm a lot more careful than I used to be, and of course hiking lighter. I don't PLAN on being in the whites during rain, but I'm prepared for it if it happens. I also don't generally plan on hiking if it's over 80 degrees unless there are blueberries involved. Then, I'll get up and hike early in the day. That kills really most of July.

On the other hand, we hit at least a week of biking in 100+ temps on our trip across Oregon/Idaho/Montana in 2003 - and were biking through forest fire smoke - and kept biking. So, when I do the AT, I have a good idea of the range to expect.

BlakeGrice
12-29-2011, 18:37
I would be more apt to worry about 100 degrees than 20.

Papa D
12-29-2011, 20:06
I would be more apt to worry about 100 degrees than 20.

yep - totally agree - but I've done a lot of summer backpacking in the south - Smokies, Pisgah Forest, Joyce Kilmer - global warming may get me, but I haven't backpacked at 100 deg. yet. You'd be surprised that I've experienced weather in the 40s - not kidding - in Joyce Kilmer Slickrock wilderness, NC in JULY.

10-K
12-29-2011, 20:24
Hiking in 100* weather would be brutal. 20* is actually pleasant if the wind isn't blowing and I can keep up a good pace.

Spokes
12-29-2011, 20:27
Weather limits? For me it was Hurricane Irene that hit Vermont while hiking the Long Trail earlier this year. Hard to fight that much water and access totally isolated towns.

hikerboy57
12-29-2011, 20:32
if ive already started, i have yet to go home because the weather turned bad, but i have changed my route when it was dangerous. but if the forecast before i leave looks ridiculously poor, ill change my itinerary or stay home. i love hiking in the snow, especially freshly fallen snow thats not too deep. i dont love hiking in a blizzard.2 weeks ago I had a rare 2 days off, wanted to do an overnight hike, heard the weather forecast was for rain changing to snow, increasing winds to 30 mph, and temps dropping into the teens with windchills near zero.I thought "Man vs Wild" or stay home.
stayed home.

Papa D
12-29-2011, 20:56
Weather limits? For me it was Hurricane Irene that hit Vermont while hiking the Long Trail earlier this year. Hard to fight that much water and access totally isolated towns.

man, I thought about you when that was going down - you finished your E-E right? Yeah, that sort of thing is sort of beyond the realm of what I was posting about - i was thinking more about super hard freezes and rain that won't quit making fords dangerous (and, I suppose, oppressive buggy heat) - hurricanes sort of trump all of that -- that's when, I too, head for the hostels

1azarus
12-29-2011, 22:10
I think I'd avoid river fords much below thirty degrees... Still smarting from a november ford-fest in maine. for me hiking days are so precious I tend to not want to bail even when it is sensible. even so, anything below zero has me looking for a hostel...

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

harryfred
12-29-2011, 22:19
Hiking in 100* weather would be brutal. 20* is actually pleasant if the wind isn't blowing and I can keep up a good pace.
Did the Roller Coaster Winchester was reporting 103* You are right it was brutal. slept naked one night with just the bug screen.:eek:

harryfred
12-29-2011, 22:29
OH! and i LOVE hiking in cold weather. Cold air has more oxygen and us old ex smokers know it:banana

Sarcasm the elf
12-29-2011, 22:38
OH! and i LOVE hiking in cold weather. Cold air has more oxygen and us old ex smokers know it:banana

Is that why running in the winter feels so much better?

harryfred
12-29-2011, 22:48
Is that why running in the winter feels so much better?
Exactatacaly.

Chaco Taco
12-30-2011, 09:36
This summer we hiked The Bondcliffs and it was the hottest stretch of the year, in the low 90's and high humidity even at high elevations. It was awful

Tipi Walter
12-30-2011, 09:54
This summer we hiked The Bondcliffs and it was the hottest stretch of the year, in the low 90's and high humidity even at high elevations. It was awful

Yup. I spent 11 days in the Cohuttas last July and man oh man it was hot and buggy like a jungle. The jungles of Panama were worse, but not by much. My headnet saved my butt. I love winter backpacking, so what the heck was I doing in Georgia in the summer?? Anyway, here's some backpackers I met fording the Conasauga in the Cohut---at least in the summer we can play in the creeks and rivers.

http://www.trailspace.com/assets/5/c/5/62917/TRIP-122-382.jpg

Jim Adams
12-30-2011, 10:38
-20 is about my limit...I can stay warm at night but that type of cold just makes everything out there that much harder to accomplish. I do like camping in that cold but hiking is a different story.
Did a valley floor on the PCT @ 116 and was about my limit for heat BUT that was desert...back east here with the humidity I have trouble when it nears 95-100.
I like camping in any snow but don't hike in deeper that 24" and only with CC skis or snowshoes if it is deeper than 6".
Don't mind camping in driving rain or high wind but not a fan of hiking in it.
When it comes to lightning, I get stupid! I worry about it but seem to never heed advice. Going over the Lion's Head in 1990 I had lightning striking all around me...pretty freaky. Probably the closest I've come to dying out there.

geek

Tom Murphy
12-30-2011, 11:27
I enjoy winter backpacks down to about -10 deg F. Below that I need to be hiking or in my sleeping bag to be comfortable.

Below-10 deg F makes setting up and breaking down camp...interesting .

IMO the most challenging hiking condtions are mid 30s and raining. [I]Hypothermia waiting to happen. I would much rather have it be 15 deg F and snowing.

A cold and dry snowstorm is much, much easier than a freezing rain.

Pony
12-30-2011, 22:47
Did the Roller Coaster Winchester was reporting 103* You are right it was brutal. slept naked one night with just the bug screen.:eek:

It got to 100*+ three consecutive days in New York last summer. I was tarping and for some unknown reason never thought to bring bug netting. The absolute most miserable thing I experienced on the trail was sleeping with night time temps around 85* zipped all the way up where only my mouth was exposed. It was awful. Had to wake up several times throughout the night to drink water because I was sweating so much. My bag was sopping wet by morning. I found out that mosquitos will bite you on the lips. And the whole time laying there, I could hear the constant buzz of mosquitos. I might have slept a total of 10 hours those three days. I learned a hard lesson. Got some bug netting mailed to me in Kent. I was so relieved that I layed naked inside the net for several hours the first night I got it. Any time after that, that things got tough, I reminded myself of how bad that experience was, and that put in perspective.

lemon b
12-31-2011, 10:21
These days 25 degrees and up and I stay comfortable unless there are 3 or 4 days straight of rain. Don't avoid my vacation trips because of the weather.
Haven't done any two week or greater trips in so long that I just do not know how father time has fully effected the mindset. But I sure wanna find out.

nitewalker
12-31-2011, 10:30
This summer we hiked The Bondcliffs and it was the hottest stretch of the year, in the low 90's and high humidity even at high elevations. It was awful

i hiked the bondcliffs in a total rain/fog fest last year and had a great time. the bonds are awesome if u ask me. i have been on them several times. i gotta ask, did u go over and get west bond? alot of people tend to skip that one...

Chaco Taco
12-31-2011, 10:38
i hiked the bondcliffs in a total rain/fog fest last year and had a great time. the bonds are awesome if u ask me. i have been on them several times. i gotta ask, did u go over and get west bond? alot of people tend to skip that one...
Both times I have been over west. My avatar is on top of west looking back at Bondcliff.

JAK
12-31-2011, 10:39
It depends on where also. I am more comfortable in amongst trees than up on ridges. No where to hide in a real cold snap, but in a real pinch you can make a fire, and extra shelter. Up on the ridges you can always go down into the trees, at least in theory, but I haven't enough experience in doing that. I guess ones weather limits are only as good as their experience. As my body ages I would have to add "recent experience" also. Always good to ease into such things. I guess that's why we have Fall before Winter.

shelterbuilder
12-31-2011, 20:19
I have to admit that, as a "flatlander" from Pa., I've never had the pleasure of any higher altitude winter trips. Still, I can remember a few -10* nights around Fort Indiantown Gap, and a few 0* nights on the Pinnacle. I much prefer cold (and dry, thank you) to hot and humid - even before the surgery. Now, however, I have to use a "snorkel" to keep from getting the front of my sleeping bag all wet at night, and if it's really cold, I have to cover up with a handkerchief (still, there aren't very many laryngectomees out there hiking in ANY weather, so...).

I can only remember one trip that I cut short because of the weather - and THAT one was a combination of the weather and my own stupidity - my water bag sprung a leak and soaked the foot of my down sleeping bag...spent a chilly 0* night atop the Pinnacle in Berks County. I had been planning on spending the next 3 or 4 days out in a predicted blizzard, but I changed my mind and hiked out to the car. If the bag had been dry, then it would have been another story.

Heat? No, I've never been a big fan...but I've never cancelled a trip because of it, either. I've always figured that you have to take the good with the bad - just like in "real life"!

Papa D
12-31-2011, 20:25
Yes - the worst weather is as follows:

above 90 degrees - unless you are sitting in a creek
between 32 degrees and 48 degrees and raining - a persistent cold rain / freezing rain / wet snow is hypothermia weather
10-32 degrees F is actually pretty good weather and sometimes wonderful fun winter backpacking weather
below 10 degrees F - you better be on your game
below -5 degrees - you really need to be a pro or get out

leaftye
12-31-2011, 20:29
IMO the most challenging hiking condtions are mid 30s and raining. Hypothermia waiting to happen. I would much rather have it be 15 deg F and snowing.

Agreed. I'm still sorting this out.

shelterbuilder
12-31-2011, 20:58
...IMO the most challenging hiking condtions are mid 30s and raining. Hypothermia waiting to happen. I would much rather have it be 15 deg F and snowing.

A cold and dry snowstorm is much, much easier than a freezing rain.

The most trouble that I've ever been in because of the weather was 40* and raining (with 30MPH winds) in Vermont. Going over Bromley, I was so wet and so cold...going slower and slower...shivering so much...it finally occured to me that hypothermia was setting in. I pulled into the first shelter that I found, stripped off everything, crawled into the sleeping bag, made some hot tea with LOTS of sugar, and drifted in and out of sleep for about 2 hours. Stayed put 'til morning.

This wasn't so much the weather BY ITSELF, but I wasn't prepared clothing-wise (after all, it was only a summertime hike...how cold could it get?)

Yeah, right. Preparation is the key that REALLY determines your limits, IMHO.

Papa D
12-31-2011, 21:01
The most trouble that I've ever been in because of the weather was 40* and raining (with 30MPH winds) in Vermont. Going over Bromley, I was so wet and so cold...going slower and slower...shivering so much...it finally occured to me that hypothermia was setting in. I pulled into the first shelter that I found, stripped off everything, crawled into the sleeping bag, made some hot tea with LOTS of sugar, and drifted in and out of sleep for about 2 hours. Stayed put 'til morning.

This wasn't so much the weather BY ITSELF, but I wasn't prepared clothing-wise (after all, it was only a summertime hike...how cold could it get?)



Yeah, right. Preparation is the key that REALLY determines your limits, IMHO.

Bet you were at Peru Peak Shelter - you did good. I did Bromley twice South in '85 and North on the LT last year - both times - nice sunny weather

leaftye
12-31-2011, 21:06
On my next freezing rain trip, I'm going to try 2 or 3 things. A synthetic or fleece vest. I got cold and need some type of insulation, but it can't be down because it's going to get soaked. If I make it myself, I won't insulate the back because that part would be useless under a pack. I use a poncho, and my arms got bitterly cold, so I'm going to use arm chaps. They'll basically be waterproof sleeves that go from the elbow to past the wrist. Going past the wrist will help keep the rain off my hands. I might also do the same for my legs since they get very wet when it's windy...maybe not though since my legs and feet weren't cold.

Tipi Walter
12-31-2011, 21:22
The most trouble that I've ever been in because of the weather was 40* and raining (with 30MPH winds) in Vermont. Going over Bromley, I was so wet and so cold...going slower and slower...shivering so much...it finally occured to me that hypothermia was setting in. I pulled into the first shelter that I found, stripped off everything, crawled into the sleeping bag, made some hot tea with LOTS of sugar, and drifted in and out of sleep for about 2 hours. Stayed put 'til morning.

This wasn't so much the weather BY ITSELF, but I wasn't prepared clothing-wise (after all, it was only a summertime hike...how cold could it get?)

Yeah, right. Preparation is the key that REALLY determines your limits, IMHO.

This is a fairly common occurrence and as you I can remember my most memorable times. Gloves get soaked and hands become wooden blocks, unable to pull apart zippers or even undo hipbelts. The real fun part is getting to a campsite on some open bald in windy conditions and hurrying to set up the tent. You're fortunate you had a shelter handy. What would've happened if you had to set up a tent?


On my next freezing rain trip, I'm going to try 2 or 3 things. A synthetic or fleece vest. I got cold and need some type of insulation, but it can't be down because it's going to get soaked. If I make it myself, I won't insulate the back because that part would be useless under a pack. I use a poncho, and my arms got bitterly cold, so I'm going to use arm chaps. They'll basically be waterproof sleeves that go from the elbow to past the wrist. Going past the wrist will help keep the rain off my hands. I might also do the same for my legs since they get very wet when it's windy...maybe not though since my legs and feet weren't cold.

Arm chaps and a poncho? Why bother? Just get a bombproof Proshell goretex jacket and forget about it. My rain jacket has saved my butt more times than I can count in these conditions---I just forego the fleece and wear a long sleeve silk turtleneck baselayer under my merino t-shirt with the rain jacket over top. When it's cold and raining in the 30's, this system is cold at first but warms up very fast. The rain keeps in the heat. Shorts and bare legs are the norm in butt cold rains unless I feel liking wearing my thin gtx rainpants---not usually.

leaftye
12-31-2011, 21:54
Goretex will make me sweat way too much. I already sweat a lot under the poncho, and that's with the wind breezing through it. I certainly don't need anything bombproof. I don't think I need much extra warmth. The arm chaps alone might be enough since it'll keep the rain from directly wicking away my body heat. I also favor the poncho because it serves other purposes. If this system fails this winter, then I'll try something else.

Papa D
12-31-2011, 22:08
my freezing rain wear is as follows:

shoes with smartwools
gaiters - with snow on the ground and more coming - no gaiters without
marmot rain pants over patagonia mid-weight long johns
patagonia polyester silky top
arcteryx rain jacket
silky hat under Outdoor Research Rain Hat
patagonia wool glove liners
warm dry things in pack

leaftye
12-31-2011, 22:15
I forgot something. I'm also trying a Dri Ducks poncho. The idea is that it will still keep the rain off my body as well as a regular poncho, but will breathe even better. Add a puffy vest with insulation only on the chest, and arm chaps to keep the rain from freezing my forearms, and that should be enough to keep me warm in the rain.

Wearing shorts was mentioned, and I've thought about it because splashing through a trail that's essentially a big puddle just results in very wet and muddy pant legs. The problem is that then the rain and wind would directly hit my legs. One thing I forgot to do on my last hike was put a DWR treatment on my pants. I usually do that, but I bought brand new pants the day before. So I'll try that too. My dream DWR works like Never Wet (http://www.neverwet.com/) claims to work. It'd be awesome if rain, splashes and mud just slid off my pants.

Papa D
12-31-2011, 23:37
Really one thing here we have all missed: weather changes - you are hiking in freezing rain (it doesn't get any worse yall - colder and snowier is better) and it stops, the sun comes out, or it snows, it clouds up, it gets windy, it gets sunny and warm -- backpackers roll with it all - as they say in the mountain towns, "if you don't like our weather, wait about 5 minutes and it will change" - I've waited a lot longer but it makes sense - every situation - even the long winter freeze that seems endless changes. We should feel very fortunate to do what we do.

Bowlegs
01-01-2012, 18:10
I just purchased the Kelty Coromell Sleeping Bag 0 degree Down sleeping bag. Iam 6'2" 250# at present. Great reviews for a bag just over 4 #, though I will have to carry it outside the pack. This bag is a modified mummy, part rectangular and should be more versital layering clothes than my marmot atom 40 which I tested in 28 deg nights with a silk liner and multiple base layers and was mildly chilly. Gotta get REM sleep above else!

lemon b
01-01-2012, 18:21
Never been worried about goretex and sweating because it's use is warmth. Don't know how to start a new subject so I'll bring up an insect question. About 25 clicks southwest of catfish dropzone in North Carlonia. Feel asleep with jungle boots on, woke up with all these circlar with puss in the middle bits on my feet which itched like heck. Still remember the itching but I was healed up in 2o clicks or two days later. What the heck were those critters? Never found anything under my skin. No eggs, no nothing so couldn't s been a spider. Daddy said a chigger? Oh ya teepee was thinking about the Panama thing, and the hammack hanger crew, them guys be rich down there. Anyway Black flys never did bother me cause I've used a hood since my daddy gave me one in 62. Seen Deer dead hitting trees from them bugs.

canoehead
01-01-2012, 18:27
14720 We camp and work in the outdoors for a living so things like blizzards can be fun and scary. The right gear, training, experience and attitude will get you through most of what we do outdoors. So no limits for me, exceptions being hurricanes tornadoes and such. But there's no guarantees out there. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

lemon b
01-01-2012, 18:28
Also I always get a charge outta equipment buffs cause in bad weather experience is more important. Freeze me once my fault twice and mother nature is surprising me, three times my fault, then one gets old and needs to rethink. Thats half the fun of hiking rethinking the weather. And being ready but I mean my knees and the weight I carry vs the miles I gotta go is another question alto gether. I can not longer handle much more then 50 lbs. I know that somewhat under my age and field days but hey some of us work.

Driver8
01-02-2012, 13:27
Great thread.

Started a day hike last 1/15, three days after the record snowstorm, in single digits F. Loved it. Short hike on a usually easy path - more challenging with two feet of snow, minimally tamped down on the upper half, past the scenic cliffs - Sleeping Giant State Park, CT. Loved the cold, crisp air and had no problem, just extra redness in exposed facial areas, which resolved quickly on rewarming.

Camping on a cold night - that awaits me yet.

I've hiked in a very familiar place near home on a day with 50 mph winds. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful as it gusted through the mostly shorter, sturdier trees atop the cliffline. I did lose a favorite hat that day, wind gust whipped it right off my head and hid it amidst isolated and vine-covered ledgetop. Much windier than that day would be daunting, especially amidst bigger trees - the harder they fall, &c.

I hated rain when I was a golfer, enjoy it, if not too cold, as a hiker. I prefer a day with great views to a cloudy, rainy one, but love being doused. One of the great sensory pleasures of hiking. As to lightning, my initiation to the AT in 2006 was capped by a dash from the summit of Bear Mountain, CT as a thunderstorm bore down, complete with hail and heavy rain, from Mt. Frissell to the northwest. Intense, exciting, bracing, but not something to be repeated often.

vamelungeon
01-02-2012, 14:32
I don't own the equipment for really extreme cold camping. If it's really hot I'm OK as long as I can stay hydrated and I remember to not over exert myself.

coach lou
01-02-2012, 14:52
Rain*Rain*RAIN. The worst weather ever was 20 years ago on the Long Trail, 4th of July weekend. Three days, packed lite with only a blanket. Luckily the shelters were empty and I wrapped my shivering body in my buddies tarp and survived to walk again. My last ultralite walk!!!

BlackCloud
01-02-2012, 15:41
Who hikes in the rain? Yuk. I'll camp out till 0 degrees F. Below that gets scary. If it's above 70, I won't go backpacking in the East.

hikerboy57
01-02-2012, 17:16
Who hikes in the rain? Yuk. I'll camp out till 0 degrees F. Below that gets scary. If it's above 70, I won't go backpacking in the East.you liver in fla and wont hike over 70 degrees? which malls do you hike?:confused:

coach lou
01-02-2012, 17:22
you liver in fla and wont hike over 70 degrees? which malls do you hike?:confused:
Must not hike in the Appalachians