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Topic: Crater Lake - Winter Hike/Camp< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 22 2012, 11:22 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Was just hoping to gather some opinions on gear needed for Crater Lake around mid-December.  I will be camping for 3 days in the same spot if I can find somewhere nice, with some snowshoe exploration during the day.

Here is the tricky part -

I've pretty much never seen any depth of snow over a couple of inches and have never been to Crater Lake.  I've solo-hiked a little over a week on the JMT coming out of Yosemite and just spent a week in Zion this summer.  I don't care to do much strenuous hiking though like those two other trips....and more plan on just enjoying the atmosphere and serenity.

Besides snowshoes, what is some other winter gear I should rent (I live in Houston, unless the gear is cheap, I have no good reason to buy anything "winter" related).  I'm fairly proficient at the idea behind layering, of course, but once again....not in regards to specifically being in and surrounded by snow all day.

Also, any suggestions on where to try and camp/best way to get there would be appreciated.  Crater Lake's NPS page is un-surprisingly not helpful at all in this regard.  I'll call within the next couple of days if no suggestions.  Thanks in advance...

All tips about winter, snow and Crater Lake are appreciated.  I'm a fairly experienced hiker....but I am not too proud to ask for good advice!
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 12:23 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Temps can/will hit 0 and sometimes slightly below (without the wind chill). If you don't know about winter camping, you shouldn't be out in it for three days solo. Shoot for very short distances 3 miles or less - You'll be surprised at how long it takes in deep snow. In my opinion, unless the snow is really fluffy, there isn't much difference between a few inches and ten feet. Of course, a sled to pull your gear makes deep snow much easier. I would shoot for 35 lbs of gear or less (assuming you have light but safe gear to get there). Heavier gear in deep snow can be brutal to pull. In December, you won't/shouldn't have massive build-up yet but enough to build a decent wind break at least depending on your elevation. When I get to camp, that is one of my main priorities. Often, I will fully build the Wind break before I even setup a shelter. I like gloves with removable liners so if you get them damp from sweat, you can always swap them out. Gaiters are a must but you probably already know that. A good snowshovel is a requirement in my opinion. I tend to use a bivy to help ensure my sleeping bag is dry/keep possible spindrift off. Down jacket, down booties, and two base layers (again...if I sweat), and four pairs of socks are in my arsenal. Goggles (duh), a GPS, a couple candles with a candle lantern to keep the chill off at night, a bottle of whiskey to stay warm, put your gaiters over your boots to keep them dry at night but put your insoles in your sleeping bag to keep the toasty for morning, try and camp near a water source so you don't have to melt snow as much (uses lots of fuel), bring plenty of snack foods because you'll spend a bunch of it sitting around wondering what to do next, a two-radio for "just in case" goes in my winter gear, cell reception will be minimal except for at the crest near the south side if you're lucky, the roads can be really nasty (chains and 4-wheel drive recommended - Snow tires wouldn't hurt either since just getting there can take hours), Snow can be heavy depending on conditions (December isn't really "mid-winter" and can be warmer also so be check conditions ahead of time. If it near freezing, be extra cautious as that is when your gear will be tested to the extreme. DWR your rainfly to ensure ice/snow doesn't stick as easily, same with your shell, boots, gaiters, pack, and nose...What specific type of advice are you seeking?

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 12:31 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Pretty much that type of stuff exactly.  I know there is a certain amount of danger in the idea behind being alone and doing something for the first time.  But I'm pretty level-headed when it comes to what I can handle and cannot.  I have no issues with getting out there, realizing the conditions are too harsh and taking up lodging.  If I have to turn it into 3 days of me just coming out for the day and looking around, so be it.  I like life.

I guess the most helpful thing would be a good list of equipment a summer hiker like me wouldn't typically have.  I've got layers but a good suggestion on cheap outerwear that I could buy (since renting seems unlikely really) would be great as well.  Obviously, spending only 3 days out there and perhaps not having a chance to be out in a real winter again for at least another few years, I'm not super concerned with long-term durability, more than I am concerned about adequacy, function and price.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 12:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use Army Surplus Gore-Tex shell (About $150 for a full set) over the top of a cheap LandsEnd Down jacket  (Paid $25 years ago) and two pair of Polypro fleece pants (About $15 a pair) in winter (been doing it for years in very similar conditions to Crater Lake). Doesn't get much cheaper than that. The only thing I dropped money on was my shelter (lots of room and floorless) and my snow gloves (I hate being cold). Sierra Designs Down Booties are also a must in my opinion. Two mattresses - closed cell foam combined with a self-inflater works great. R-Value underneath is important.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 1:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

http://shop.vtarmynavy.com/complet....dHxgA5g

Something like that seem like an OK buy for baselayers?  I definitely think I'll be going with the SD booties you suggested, hadn't though about how tired my feet would be and the need to still keep them warm.  Would have been out there with my regular boots on at my site!
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 1:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes. I use mid-weight thermals because when I'm hiking, I get hot pretty easy, even in temps near 0. I hike in my base layer with a mid-weight fleece top under my rain shell (usually with pitzips open) if it snowing. If it isn't, just the fleece on top is usually enough. I would wear something like that at camp with my fleece pants and down jacket. When just sitting idle if it at/close to 0, I throw on another pair of fleece pants. Those "heavy weight" thermals might substitute as a second pair of fleece pants and work in general. Having several options to layer really helps a bunch. I spend lots of time changing layers so as not to overheat.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ended up with -

http://shop.vtarmynavy.com/polypro....95.aspx

and this extra fleece bag to use as a blanket, extra sack just in case

http://shop.vtarmynavy.com/fleece-sleeping-bag-closeouts-p10123.aspx

Both shipped to me for $38.

Then scanned through REI's black friday sale and came out with these -

http://www.rei.com/product/833079/rei-triad-3-in-1-parka-mens

and

http://www.rei.com/product/786842/rei-taku-pants-mens-32-inseam

Both shipped to me for $227.

Probably order the booties later this week and I want to go find the gloves I want in person....hand sizing is always drastically different it seems.  I think I made out pretty good.  Especially with the REI gear.  I typically don't buy the more expensive REI items but 50% off will make it happen.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Make sure you have good gaiters.  I like Outdoor Research Crocodile gore-tex gaiters.  I use them in snow from late October (usually) to mid March or April.
You might want to check out a book like Allen & Mike's Really Good Backcountry Ski Book or NOLS Winter Camping book.
So much is personal and weather specific I don't feel comfortable recommending gear that may or may not be critical.  
I'm a wuss that way.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I know what you mean.  Specific gear doesn't have to be suggested.  Just actual items I perhaps wouldn't think about....like the booties and I even the goggles.  I hadn't even thought about those really.  The fact of the matter is...being out there only 3 days and keeping a stationary camp, I should be ok with most anything.  It's not like I'm trying to thru-hike an area and need to make sure my temp stays balanced out so I don't have to keep starting and stopping.  I'm OK with some leisurely adjustment.

Damn, these winter gaiters are expensive.  Wasn't expecting that.  Not sure why....lol...
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 10:38 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Food for thought:

Last Spring, I went on a five day trip that had relatively "decent" winter weather predicted. At night's end on day two, a storm moved in. Winds reached over 100 miles per hour and we had over two feet of snow fall that night. We were one mile from our destination. We had a buffer day built into our trip so we decided to wait out the storm. I ended up having to dig out the edge of the shelter as the center tent pole on my four season started to bow. The winds never died down and it continued to dump snow. It snowed all day and through the night with winds that reached even higher at times. By night's end, we had five feet of fresh snow fall. The next day (day four), the temp went straight up to nearly 40 degrees. The winds died down quite a bit, but the danger of avalanche and snapping branches forced us to get out as quick as we could. Luckily, most of it was downhill on the way out so we made much faster time.

Winter camping can be a blast but you should be prepared for just about anything. One of my primary hiking areas is just north of Crater lake. It can be the equivalent of being on Everest weather-wise, without the elevation.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 12:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What size boot do you wear. I have a lot of extra gaiters since I consolidated everything in one place, maybe I can help you out.

Do you have a tent? This is a good deal:

REI Arete ASL 2: 4-season tent. Read about it here:  
http://tinyurl.com/ca9926q
Sell for $170.00 shipped CONUS

I would my high recommendation that you start out with a very easy hike, or just a camping trip for your first winter trip if solo. It really is a whole other world and winter is not forgiving.

That said I love it.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Nov. 23 2012, 10:38 am)
QUOTE
Food for thought:

Last Spring, I went on a five day trip that had relatively "decent" winter weather predicted. At night's end on day two, a storm moved in. Winds reached over 100 miles per hour and we had over two feet of snow fall that night. We were one mile from our destination. We had a buffer day built into our trip so we decided to wait out the storm. I ended up having to dig out the edge of the shelter as the center tent pole on my four season started to bow. The winds never died down and it continued to dump snow. It snowed all day and through the night with winds that reached even higher at times. By night's end, we had five feet of fresh snow fall. The next day (day four), the temp went straight up to nearly 40 degrees. The winds died down quite a bit, but the danger of avalanche and snapping branches forced us to get out as quick as we could. Luckily, most of it was downhill on the way out so we made much faster time.

Winter camping can be a blast but you should be prepared for just about anything. One of my primary hiking areas is just north of Crater lake. It can be the equivalent of being on Everest weather-wise, without the elevation.

I have no doubt that winter storms can be just as brutal and instantaneous as any spring/summer.

You run a certain risk on inclement weather any time you are hiking for a stretch but I feel like I'm mitigating a lot of that by staying put for 3 days and quite likely not camping out far from my exit point regardless.

The way I see it, all you can do is be prepared psychologically and equipment-wise for it....but you're gonna have to go through it sometime.  I've ran into a fair amount of weather flashes (including a sudden dump on rain while at the summit of Angel's Landing).  Just have to stay calm and use your gear.  Now obviously a winter storm hitting when I've barely even seen good snow is different but I'd bet I'd be more prepared in various ways than 90% of the other people out there who have grown up with snow.

Site-wise, I'm looking for something with good views and not too far from where I'd enter at.  Good hiking would be nice, but as I've said I'm primarily looking to find somewhere with solitude and just enjoy the atmosphere in and around me.  Exploration can occur one trip when I have a better clue of what I'm doing.  I'm still not entirely sure where and how that will occur.  Help would be appreciated in this aspect.  I think exploring out in the snow away from my gear is a lot more dangerous for a completely new environment than camping stationary within it.

Again, thanks for all the help.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rayestrella @ Nov. 23 2012, 12:09 pm)
QUOTE
What size boot do you wear. I have a lot of extra gaiters since I consolidated everything in one place, maybe I can help you out.

Do you have a tent? This is a good deal:

REI Arete ASL 2: 4-season tent. Read about it here:  
http://tinyurl.com/ca9926q
Sell for $170.00 shipped CONUS

I would my high recommendation that you start out with a very easy hike, or just a camping trip for your first winter trip if solo. It really is a whole other world and winter is not forgiving.

That said I love it.

I wear an 11.  I think I have found some serviceable ones for around $35 so if you think you can help me out, that'd be awesome, but don't worry too much.

The tent I have been using for the past couple of years when thru-hiking is a SMD Lunar Duo.  I love it, but I am a little concerned that it is not self-standing by any means.  I can get it pretty damn buttoned up but once again, in snow....I'm not sure.  I've got to rent some snowshoes anyway once I fly into Portland and was somewhat expecting to just rent a tent as well.  Also might rent a larger stove cause I don't believe my little MSR Pocket Rocket is going to do the trick out there.

My hiking will basically be just cruising the area in and around my site.  I am more looking to stay put, enjoy the atmosphere and "camp."  Much different than my normal trips of thru-hiking or constantly relocating to the next day's day hike.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Looks like a decent season for a try at winter: the Visitor Center webcam


One thing that can catch winter hikers by surprise is how long the nights are ( conversely the days are short but for day hiking that's more of a scheduling issue than anything though keep in mind even then you could get caught by the dark so always carry light and plenty of it on the day hikes). For other seasons and with partners I recently stick to headlamps but for winter and solo a small lantern to brighten your shelter overall can lift the mood substantially. Keep batteries as warm as you can.

The Portland REI has the items you're interested in for rent as listed there. Best to call and check on what they have directly of course.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 2:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Nov. 23 2012, 2:55 pm)
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Looks like a decent season for a try at winter: the Visitor Center webcam


One thing that can catch winter hikers by surprise is how long the nights are ( conversely the days are short but for day hiking that's more of a scheduling issue than anything though keep in mind even then you could get caught by the dark so always carry light and plenty of it on the day hikes). For other seasons and with partners I recently stick to headlamps but for winter and solo a small lantern to brighten your shelter overall can lift the mood substantially. Keep batteries as warm as you can.

Lol. Funny you mentioned that cause I was just about to look for a lantern to put in my shopping cart with my gaiters.  

I was sitting there thinking how that might keep the place much more inviting than my headlamp on more 15 hours.  Thanks, any suggestions?
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 3:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've got an original* model of this one, today I'd probably look at one of the Black Diamond battery ones that people seem to like.

* But with newer candles.
http://www.rei.com/product....ge-of-3

My thinking is I'm not relying on the lantern for task lighting, my headlamp is far better at that, but just for generally lightening of the shelter interior.

ETA: with dry winter air you'll need to think about water. Staying hydrated is a good start for staying warm as your blood flow to feet and hands gets restricted as your blood volume declines during dehydration. Old trick: once making sure the cap is VERY tight, invert your water bottle, that way any ice doesn't block you from your middle of the night water refill sips.

To that end you might research whether you'll have access to liquid water (the lake is too far down)  as if not then you'll need to anticipate and gear up for snow melting. Larger pot, stronger stove / more fuel etc.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 3:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Those Black Diamond lanterns are really cool.  About to buy the Voyager model.

Think I'm going to rent my gaiters and snowshoes from outfittr.com

I really don't want to have to rent a tent.  Would my Lunar Duo be feasible? Are there specific stakes I should look into?  Not sure how that all works with snow.  If the Duo is just too lightweight and open I will just rent.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 3:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use "dead men" rather than relying on normal stakes once there's substantial snow. That requires extra cord. For main structure lines I'll use a nylon stuff sack while for less important points I'll use doubled grocery bags that I always retrieve no matter what and found objects like tree branches. Just fill the bag with snow, tie off to the length of cord and bury with a nice tamping down to solidify the burial.

For a three day stay I'd doubt the buried items would get so locked in you'd have too much trouble digging them out. There are more specialized "snow" stakes about like there is for sand and similarly unconsolidated terrain but I've little experience with them. Though such snow anchors are well thought of.

ETA: have to say Crater has been off my radar for a long time, was probably last through there in the late 80s, the webcams brought back some great memories, so thanks for the reminder! Added to the list. :)
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 4:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't use stakes either (I don't even pack them in winter). I use broken sticks or tie off to large snow blocks instead. I'll second the lantern. I have switched to a candle lantern though. Puts off a little heat as well as light.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 4:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Gotcha. I bought some cheap goggles, a Thermarest Solar pad to go with my Exped DLX Airmat, Gerber shovel and Black Diamond Voyager lantern.  Got extra cord for the tent but may pick up some snow stakes as well to be safe.  

Going to rent the gaiters, snowshoes and winter sleeping bag.  I know I could just buy the gaiters, shoes and bag from REI and then probably take them back but just doesn't seem right really....

Added with the baselayers and shell I bought above and I think I have most of it covered...anything else come to mind?
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 4:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't think that shell is warm enough (although "insulated"). I would definitely test it. I use a heavy weight rain shell, +15 down parka, and a mid-weight thermal layer underneath for conditions matching what Crater Lake gets. I'm only 75 or so miles north of it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 4:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Will do.  I should be getting by the end of November....if I have any doubts I imagine I can squeeze something else under it.  Unfortunately, I'm at a disadvantage cause I'll have no clue til I get out there....since it's still 80 here at times.  Once I get into Portland and start traveling down, I imagine I could find somewhere to stop off for more warmth.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 5:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(jaxwithanx @ Nov. 23 2012, 1:56 pm)
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Will do.  I should be getting by the end of November....if I have any doubts I imagine I can squeeze something else under it.  Unfortunately, I'm at a disadvantage cause I'll have no clue til I get out there....since it's still 80 here at times.  Once I get into Portland and start traveling down, I imagine I could find somewhere to stop off for more warmth.

If you are flying into Portland, you can come down over to Bend and straight down or through Eugene and over. Either way will have an REI on the route.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 5:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good advice in the above.   Ditto on a lightweight shovel.  Extremely uselful.  In winter I always carry two sleeping pads - an inflatable one and a closed cell one.  The closed cell one is for under the inflatable for extra insulation and can also be used for a sit pad in the kitchen.  It's well worth the extra weight in the winter, IMO.  As has been mentioned, I also find down or polarguard botties a nice item.  I expect some folks on these forums will disagree on this, but they're younger and tougher than me, but in winter I always carry a pee bottle which saves me from unwelcome and cold trips out of the tent when nature calls at night.  One other tip - once you've set up your tent, it makes things very convenient if you dig out a small hole right in front of the tent door so you can actually sit in the tent and extend your legs out. Makes getting in and out a lot easier as well as putting on boots, gaiters, etc.  Winter tends to have long nights, especially in December, so bring something to entertain yourself.  I always bring a paperpack book with me.  As for the snowshoes, I assume you'll have a pair of trekking or ski poles.  They make it a whole lot easier while snowshoeing.  Oh, and bring lots of socks and an extra pair of gloves.  They seem to get wet pretty easily.  At least they do for me.  

Now as much as I respect Tigger's advice - few have more practical experience,  especially in the winter than he - I'd skip the whiskey unless you really know what you're doing.  Alchohol is a vasoconstrictor and while it may initally make you feel warmer, it will actually increase your chances of being cold inviting both hypothermia and frostbite.  But I guess, that's a personal choice.  Personally, I never take any type of alcohol in the winter.  That's for when you get out.  Hot chocolate is my choice for a warming drink.  Enjoy your trip. Winter is a pretty magic time to backpack when done right.  When done wrong, it can be miserable - donwright dangerous, in fact.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 23 2012, 5:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Nov. 23 2012, 2:23 pm)
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Good advice in the above.   Ditto on a lightweight shovel.  Extremely uselful.  In winter I always carry two sleeping pads - an inflatable one and a closed cell one.  The closed cell one is for under the inflatable for extra insulation and can also be used for a sit pad in the kitchen.  It's well worth the extra weight in the winter, IMO.  As has been mentioned, I also find down or polarguard botties a nice item.  I expect some folks on these forums will disagree on this, but they're younger and tougher than me, but in winter I always carry a pee bottle which saves me from unwelcome and cold trips out of the tent when nature calls at night.  One other tip - once you've set up your tent, it makes things very convenient if you dig out a small hole right in front of the tent door so you can actually sit in the tent and extend your legs out. Makes getting in and out a lot easier as well as putting on boots, gaiters, etc.  Winter tends to have long nights, especially in December, so bring something to entertain yourself.  I always bring a paperpack book with me.  As for the snowshoes, I assume you'll have a pair of trekking or ski poles.  They make it a whole lot easier while snowshoeing.  Oh, and bring lots of socks and an extra pair of gloves.  They seem to get wet pretty easily.  At least they do for me.  

Now as much as I respect Tigger's advice - few have more practical experience,  especially in the winter than he - I'd skip the whiskey unless you really know what you're doing.  Alchohol is a vasoconstrictor and while it may initally make you feel warmer, it will actually increase your chances of being cold inviting both hypothermia and frostbite.  But I guess, that's a personal choice.  Personally, I never take any type of alcohol in the winter.  That's for when you get out.  Hot chocolate is my choice for a warming drink.  Enjoy your trip. Winter is a pretty magic time to backpack when done right.  When done wrong, it can be miserable - donwright dangerous, in fact.

A note on the pit in front of your door. Although convenient, it goes beyond that. A cold pit will draft cold air away from your tent and drop it into the pit which will leave the inside of your tent warmer. I actually build one inside my tent since it's floorless.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 24 2012, 1:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Nov. 23 2012, 5:23 pm)
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Good advice in the above.   Ditto on a lightweight shovel.  Extremely uselful.  In winter I always carry two sleeping pads - an inflatable one and a closed cell one.  The closed cell one is for under the inflatable for extra insulation and can also be used for a sit pad in the kitchen.  It's well worth the extra weight in the winter, IMO.  As has been mentioned, I also find down or polarguard botties a nice item.  I expect some folks on these forums will disagree on this, but they're younger and tougher than me, but in winter I always carry a pee bottle which saves me from unwelcome and cold trips out of the tent when nature calls at night.  One other tip - once you've set up your tent, it makes things very convenient if you dig out a small hole right in front of the tent door so you can actually sit in the tent and extend your legs out. Makes getting in and out a lot easier as well as putting on boots, gaiters, etc.  Winter tends to have long nights, especially in December, so bring something to entertain yourself.  I always bring a paperpack book with me.  As for the snowshoes, I assume you'll have a pair of trekking or ski poles.  They make it a whole lot easier while snowshoeing.  Oh, and bring lots of socks and an extra pair of gloves.  They seem to get wet pretty easily.  At least they do for me.  

Now as much as I respect Tigger's advice - few have more practical experience,  especially in the winter than he - I'd skip the whiskey unless you really know what you're doing.  Alchohol is a vasoconstrictor and while it may initally make you feel warmer, it will actually increase your chances of being cold inviting both hypothermia and frostbite.  But I guess, that's a personal choice.  Personally, I never take any type of alcohol in the winter.  That's for when you get out.  Hot chocolate is my choice for a warming drink.  Enjoy your trip. Winter is a pretty magic time to backpack when done right.  When done wrong, it can be miserable - donwright dangerous, in fact.

Thanks for the tip.  Funny thing is that I've been watching a few random videos of various things and noticed people did that, was definitely planning to.  Didn't know the functional aspect that Tigger mentioned so I will keep that in mind.

Yeah I love my Airmat, it's the one thing I have in my pack that splurges in regards to weight.  I'm not "ultra" light hiker but I do prefer to keep weight down.  In this case though, I don't mind packing more in considering I'll be stationary.  Had read the need for some CCF to lay on as well and that Thermarest looked like a good bet. Some said it was a little hard but I can fall asleep on a wood floor quite happily with a blanket, at least for a few nights.  Either way, Airmat will be on top.

I'm not a big drinker, no matter what time of year but have heard that some whiskey in a flask isn't a bad idea at night.  You can wake up, get some water down and take a swig if you get cooled off.  Either way, I doubt I could drink enough to really cause myself a problem.  Wouldn't be depending on its illusion of warmth by any means...

Good advice about the bottle.  I usually bring a crappy water bottle in my pack, just in case, that's usually decimated by the end of my hike.  Probably will utilize a pee bottle.  I'm young, but not tough for the sake of being tough....that sounds much easier....
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 24 2012, 1:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In moderate amounts alcohol is a vasodilator : you feel "warmer" because your peripheral circulation that has shut down a bit to conserve core heat, cooling off your hands or feet,  is being overridden by the alcohol. So ultimately you're losing more heat and will get more chilled as you transfer ever more core heat out to where it can get lost, though as that's where your sensory nerves are you feel "warmer" for a while in the processes.

http://firstaid.about.com/od/heatcoldexposur1/f/07_alcohol_warm.htm
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 24 2012, 1:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes indeed, that's why I mentioned the brief "illusion of warmth".

I can see it's purpose when you've woken up for a brief second and got chilled moving around (peeing or adjusting mat).  You likely aren't going to be downing a few shots in the middle of your sleep and you only need the momentary "warmth" to fall back asleep.  Sitting around before going to bed and downing a handle doesn't make much sense.

Either way, I'm just as likely to forget it as I am to actually remember it.  It's not like expirementing with that idea is going to lead to my death.  I'm not looking to spend my nights of winter wonderland in a drunken haze....
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 24 2012, 2:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It will be beautiful up there!
Keep in mind that it is especially easy to become disoriented and lost in snow. Trails are covered. Things can look much the same. If it is snowing, foggy, or dark it can be so easy to lose track of where you are, even if it is a short distance to your trail head.
Storms can be brutal. Going through snow, with or without snowshoes, depending on conditions can be magnitudes more fatiguing than hiking dry ground.
Have fun. Be safe.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 24 2012, 11:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Although Tigger covered quite a lot, there are whole books on the subject of camping in snow as it is a rather difficult challenge to do at a level one will enjoy it.  

A primary challenge is keeping water out of one's clothing and tent.   In foul weather it is impossible to keep at least some snow out so at best it is a constant war.   One of the primary tasks one often is faced with winter camping is drying off clothing that has become wet.   Any clothing with moisture in it outside one's sleeping bag is certain to freeze overnight.   An item you should bring are some open ended retail shopping plastic bags.   Then you can say put your wet gloves into those bags and slide them into your warm sleeping bag where they can then slowly dry some without getting the rest of your bag wet.  

Also one's boots may be put inside such bags else putting them on in the cold morning may be not only mechanically difficult but once one feet are inside they will quickly become cold unless one immediately begins hiking.   One may need to put boots into a plastic bag that will go inside a sleeping bag or at least next to a sleeping bag.   That is one advantage of also using a bivy because some items can go outside a sleeping bag while inside the bivy.  Of course mounatineers often sleep with their boots on inside a sleeping bag, never taking boots off at all during adventures.

One also ought to have a brush/broom that can knock any snow off the hard to shake off crevices and such of a boot.   The brush/broom  is also needed to push snow that gets inside a tent into little piles where it can then be scooped up and thrown out.   And one ought to bring some synthetic chamois pieces to wipe up water that gets into a tent including that which condenses on tent walls then drips down.   The chamois like a sponge can be squeezed and then put inside a plastic bag underneath one's sleeping bag to keep from getting other items wet and freezing.

There will a very long dark period of night.  Anyone that thinks they are just going to bring a book and read, is in for a reality check.  On cold nights after holding onto a book ouside one's sleeping bag for a half hour or more, even hands inside gloves are certain to become unpleasantly cool.   Thus useful is to buy one of those little book holding clips that one can prop upright on one's bag and read without having to leave arms and hands outside.   Of course if one is going to read several hours over a couple days a headlamp will be necessary that has a hefty battery.  Easier to use than a book is a Kindle.   Much more...


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