I don't camp. But if I did...[update: follow-up trip 8/2]

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Chip Down
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I don't camp. But if I did...[update: follow-up trip 8/2]

Post by Chip Down » July 27th, 2020, 6:18 pm

I bet my last night in a tent was in the 90s. But I must admit, I'm often tempted, when I'm coming down a mountain in the evening, and I wish I could linger, wish I was just a few minutes away from camp.

A mini heatwave and my third month of unemployment motivated me to finally do it: Pull all that gear out of storage, check it out, make sure it's all there and in good condition. My huge expedition pack, sleeping pads, stove and fuel, etc.

I started up the mountain about 7:30am. I knew it would be a scorcher, but it was breezy, as predicted. It was too breezy to sit on a rock; blowing grit encouraged me to stay on my feet, so my eyes weren't in the flow. So I kept going, hauling my heavy pack faster than I had planned. At 8000' I finally had a dust-free place to sit and rest. I donned my parka, and it felt good.

Above 8000' I was on a ridgecrest, expecting it to be ever windier, but no, it was calm and warm, uncomfortably so. But I had less than a thousand feet to go, so I soldiered on.

When I reached the big bowl where I was going to camp, I didn't see the creek I was looking for. There were a few snowfields, as I knew there would be, but nothing but dusty rocks below them. Hmm. I had enough fuel to survive on snowmelt, but running water sure is nice. I walked along the lower fringe of the snowline, hoping to get lucky, looking for the one creek that I had always found to be reliable, even in August. Aha, found a sandy basin with water flowing into it, and then sinking underground. That must be my creek. Followed water up, sure enough, found my planned camp. Less snow than I've ever seen here, but it was enough. All the decent campsites would take a bit of work to smooth out, so I kept this as my backup, and continued up and around the mountain.

I knew there were some great campsites ahead, but I worried about water. I probably spent an hour searching and evaluating, considering criteria such as water volume, clarity (silt), wind protection, view, etc. Finally picked a spot close to my preferred water source, thus giving me a separate kitchen and bedroom, separated by maybe a hundred feet of elevation.

I had wondered how I would kill time. Due to the heat, I wanted to start early, but how would I occupy myself until dark? It went well. Cooking, cleaning, setting up camp, wandering and exploring, drinking...heck, I kept myself busy enough that I never even took off my boots and let my feet breathe!

I really lucked out on the wind. I was camped on a sandy pass, so high winds could have been a nightmare.

In spite of our little heat event (hottest days of the year so far) it was too cold to sleep comfortably. That's frustrating. In the morning, it warmed fast, and before I even had my tent broken down, I knew I'd better hustle down fast. It's too bad there isn't some way to modulate the temp extremes. Like, you know, camp at a sensible elevation instead of 9000' :lol: [I wonder how high I was, really...let me go look at map...probably about 8700-8800]

Hike down was slightly uncomfortable, but not miserable. There was a cool breeze, enough to allow me to take a scenic route instead of the fastest route. Actually, in the shade when sedentary, it was sublime. Sadly, had to move somewhat fast anyway, knowing it would be brutal later.

I tried a couple new things on this trip:

1) I have a self-standing tent (stakes only serve as anchors, don't provide structural integrity), and walls are solid (not mesh). I've always said summer camping doesn't need a fly, so I left it home. That wasn't so much for weight savings, it was to keep things simple. Now, had it had turned out to be windy at camp, a vestibule would have been nice, but I lucked out, and was able to leave my tent door open with almost no sand/dust ingress.

2) No sleeping bag. Instead, I carried extra pads/clothes. I tried that once before, and my feet froze. That was in a bivy sack, not a tent. So this time I went a notch higher on socks. I've weighed extra clothes and compared to sleeping bag. Turns out it takes even more weight to carry extra clothes and pads. The benefit is simplicity and flexibility. When I exited my tent in the morning, it was even colder outside, but I was happy to be dressed super warm, more than I would have worn if I had carried a bag. I'm not sure what the best balance is. As a non-camper, I won't dwell on it.
Attachments
0.jpg
I grabbed this pic from a previous TR. This viewpoint was slightly out of my way, and with my heavy pack I wasn't willing to do it. Arrow is planned campsite (behind the indicated ridge). Actual campsite was so close, that on this scale it was essentially the same.
1.jpg
The end of the creek I was looking for. Finding this was a relief, confirmed that there really was running water above.
2.jpg
A little higher, same creek.
3.jpg
And higher yet, creek below.
4.jpg
Okay, this will do.
5.jpg
Looking down the snow gully I camped next to. This is a viable route, but not the easiest way.
6.jpg
If I didn't know this area well from multiple day trips before, I might have worried about finding camp (circle) when playing above. That tent kinda blends in, doesn't it?
7.jpg
As views out the tent door go, this is pretty nice.
8.jpg
I deliberately framed this to make it look like I was in a boring dustbowl with just one weird little rectangular snowfield. In reality, it was a nice spot.
9.jpg
It's just not a real campfire without smores. (I thought this pic would come out better, but forgot that stoves don't put out a bright warm inviting light, just a bluish glow.)
Last edited by Chip Down on August 3rd, 2020, 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by retired jerry » July 27th, 2020, 7:28 pm

Must be mt Hood. Can't quite place exact location

I was at 6000 feet. One night calm and warm, another windy, cooler. Dust got in everything a little. No tent.

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texasbb
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by texasbb » July 28th, 2020, 5:21 am

Dayhiking is work. Backpacking is play.

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retired jerry
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by retired jerry » July 28th, 2020, 5:27 am

Why waste a perfectly good backpack by going home?

I got rid of my 70's gear. Still have a few emotional attachments to get rid of.

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BurnsideBob
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by BurnsideBob » July 28th, 2020, 6:40 am

retired jerry wrote:
July 27th, 2020, 7:28 pm
Must be mt Hood. Can't quite place exact location

Chip, thanks for sharing your adventure!

Maybe this place? I've fantasized about camping here but worried about lack of water.


IMG_7063v2.JPG

BurnsideBob
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.

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retired jerry
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by retired jerry » July 28th, 2020, 6:58 am

I sort of fantasize camping at that spot above McNeil Point, a little before Ho rock

bushwhacker
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by bushwhacker » July 28th, 2020, 4:04 pm

That looks a lot like the Walrus tent I used to have. Great tent in it's time though air flow in hot weather sucked.

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mjirving
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by mjirving » July 28th, 2020, 6:00 pm

N-C hanging glacier area? Bummer about the job, sorry to hear that. Jerry that’s a good spot at Ho but up above Co is pretty cool too!

Mike

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by Chip Down » July 28th, 2020, 7:44 pm

Bob: You nailed it! I mean exactly! Impressive. Down to the left is my creek, which I've found running in August a couple times, so I figured it would be good. To the right is a big flat spot with nice views, but slightly harder to find a flat/smooth spot, and I didn't want to ravage the tundra to carve out a tent base. As for water, I knew there was still plenty of snow, so worst-case I'd live on melting in sun/stove. Later in the year (like september/october) the snow gets so dirty you'd have to dig a pit to extract cleanish snow.

Bushwhacker: Yep, it's a Walrus Rapeede. Good eye.

Mike: Funny you guessed that. That's where I first tried going without a sleeping bag. You may remember that huge flat rocky shelf right under the glacier.

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mjirving
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Re: I don't camp. But if I did...

Post by mjirving » July 28th, 2020, 7:56 pm

Yep indeed. Although the spot I love in there is the big ass spaceship rock “football field” with the creek running through it.

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