Cold clothes tip

November 15th, 2011

You’re hiking alone and crossing a knee-high stream on a cold, rainy day when you slip on a mossy rock and fall backward into the icy water. You reach the opposite bank–but you, your clothes, and your pack are totally soaked.

Your biggest worry is hypothermia, which can kill in temps as high as 50°F when you’re wet. Strip down, wring out clothes, then put them back on (if you don’t have dry ones). “The water in dripping wet clothing will suck the heat out of your body much more than damp clothing,” says Gordon Giesbrecht, PhD and the co-author of Hypothermia, Frostbite, and Other Cold Injuries. Wring out the rest of your clothes and layer them on, saving waterproof gear for the outer layer to protect from wind and rain.

Make a fire, if possible. If not, pitch your tent and take shelter. Get on top of a sleeping pad to insulate from the cold ground. If your sleeping bag is synthetic, wring it out completely and get in (a wet down bag loses its ability to insulate). Maintain body heat with food and exercise until the weather improves enough to walk out. Snack on foods with sugar, fat, and protein (like gorp with chocolate), sip a hot drink, and do sit-ups or push-ups in your bag.

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Mount Baldy trip report posted

November 9th, 2010

Just posted a video trip report of Mount Baldy via the Ski Hut trail. The descent was done via the Devil’s Backbone trail. Look in the trails section of the site, or click here for the video.

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Evolution Valley – July 2010

September 10th, 2010

During early July of 2010, I went on a three night backpacking trip starting at Florence Lake in the Sierra National Forest. There is a ferry service that will take you to the other side of the lake, where you meet up with a trail heading southeast. This trail passes near the John Muir Trail Ranch (private property catering to paid customers), then intersects the John Muir trail and heads towards Pilute canyon. After crossing the raging San Joaquin river via bridge, we continued a few miles down the trail and set up camp for a first day of 12 miles. The next morning we continued south, followed the JMT up into Evolution Valley and set up camp at McClure meadow. The entire trip was very scenic, but this area was out of this world. On day three we did some day hiking, then trekked back out of Evolution Valley (waist high creek crossing) and descended back into Pilute canyon. Our final day was 14 miles back to the Ferry. The snow line was about 11,000 feet and we only went that high for a few hours on our day hike.

This area of the JMT is well worth the trip. We ran into quite a few PCT through-hikers, as well as a few doing the North-South Lakes loop from the Bishop area. Highly recommend this area.

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Swelling hands

September 10th, 2010

When hiking Half Dome a few years ago, my wife, Sarah, experienced “sausage fingers,”  each of them much fatter and larger than normal.   Maybe some of you have experienced this on the trail.  What’s going on here?

After some research it’s likely she experienced peripheral edema, a swelling caused by lymph fluid pooling in the hands, feet, or face. It’s common among backpackers, often the result of too-tight shoulder straps or standing for long durations. The symptoms typically disappear within hours after a hike. Adjusting her pack to place more weight on the hipbelt, and using trekking poles for better hand circulation could have helped in that situation.

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Audio ,

Nike + iPod

June 21st, 2010

Many people these days have iPods and some of us like to listen to them while hiking.  I do think that on special hikes or hikes with friends using a iPod can be inappropriate at times, but for all the training days, you can listen to your music and chart your mileage at the same time.  Nike makes a small receiver that fits on your shoe and transmits a signal to a receiver that fits into your iPod Nano.  You can choose a goal or you can just start the recording and walk.  At the end of the workout it syncs to your iTunes account and charts your walk, including the speed, distance, etc.  This is a really cool way to chart your miles over the months and years.  You can also post your workouts on your blog or send them to your friends.  They even let you set up challenges with your online friends.

The only drawback that I’ve found is that when you stop for longer than 1 minute the workout pauses itself.  If you don’t have your headphones in you won’t hear the robot voice saying “your workout has paused.”   So that 20 mile hike is logged as 4 miles.

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Wilderness Survival

April 16th, 2010

You never know if you’ll be in a wilderness survival situation, but if you mentally prepare for it you’ll have a better chance at making it through.   Most of these tips are common sense but in the heat of the moment might not come to mind.

SHELTER—-

It must be large enough and level enough for you to lie down comfortably.
It must also have escape routes.
Provides protection against wild animals and rocks and dead trees that might fall.
Is free from insects and poisonous plants.
Avoid flash flood areas in foothills.
Avoid avalanche or rockslide areas in mountainous terrain.
Can be seen by rescuers from the air.  For best results when signaling for help, select a signal site close to your shelter with good visibility such as a clearing, hilltop, or a lakeshore.

Low ground such as ravines and narrow valleys could be damp and collect the heavy cold air at night and are therefore colder than the surrounding high ground. On the other hand, the tops of mountains are exposed to higher winds. The best is to seek shelter somewhere in between.

WATER—-

Finding water is critical. If not, dehydration will inevitably occur. The first symptoms you will face are weakness and decreased mental capacity. Your health problems will become more serious until they result in death.

To prevent water loss just rest, keep cool, stay in shade, seek shelter. Avoid fatty foods and alcohol as they can cause water consumption by the body when broken down. Do not wait until you run out of water before you look for more.

First look for surface water such as streams, rivers and lakes. Running water such as springs or streams in isolated areas at high altitudes is probably safe for consumption. Be aware that melted water from ice and glaciers contain bacteria in abundance.

In areas where no surface water is available, dig into damp soil and allow this muddy water to settle and become clear.  If you have iodine tablets or a filter then use it.

FOOD—-

Use food from the nature as your food survival supply before using your rations.   This can include insects, edible plants, fish, bird eggs.

Hot rock cooking

Simply light a fire above a bed of non-porous rocks. Don’t use soft, porous stones with high moisture content, which might explode on heating.

Let the fire burn for half an hour or more. Meanwhile, prepare your food. Brush away fire and embers with, for example, a handful of long grass.

Cook food directly on the hot rocks. Use it in the same fashion as you would a frying pan. This survival cooking method is ideal for fish, thin meat slices and frying eggs.

SIGNALS —-

Visual signals

If you do not carry a two way communication radio, cellular phone or a whistle as an emergency signaling device, you mainly will have to use visual signals. Depending on your situation, and the material you have available, you can use either fire and smoke, signal mirror, flares and flashlight or strobe light to create your visual distress signal.

Search

Will there be a search for you? Put yourself in the searchers place. Will they be looking for you from air or ground? A search will probably start from your last known location and sweep over your proposed route.

SOS signal

SOS (Save Our Souls) is the best known internationally distress signal.  Everyone who ventures into the wilderness, should be at the least familiar with SOS. The SOS signal can be transmitted by any method, visual or audio. The code for SOS is 3 short, 3 long and 3 short signals. Pause. Repeat the signal.

The SOS signal can, for example, be constructed as a ground to air signal with rocks and logs, or whatever material you have available. At night you can use a flashlight or a strobe light to send an SOS to, for example, an aircraft. At day you can use a signal mirror.

SOS

If it is difficult to produce long and short signals you should know that almost any signal repeated three times will serve as a distress signal. Use your imagination.

Signal fires

When signaling for help, the most noticeable signal is your fire. It is easily seen at night, and during the daytime the smoke from your fire can be seen for many miles.   Green branches give off more smoke.

Build three fires in a triangle, or in a straight line, with about 30 meters (100 feet) between the fires. Three fires are an international recognized distress signal.

Signal mirror

On a sunny day, a mirror is your best signaling device. Any shiny object will serve – polish your canteen cup, glasses, your belt buckle, or a similar object that will reflect the sun’s rays.

A flash can be seen at a great distance. Sweep the horizon during the day. If a plane approaches, don’t direct the beam in the aircraft’s cockpit for more than a few seconds as it may blind the pilot. Use the code for SOS.

Use your signal mirror properly when signaling for help. Determine where your signal is going, use your free hand as a sight line.  As with any wilderness survival skill this one also requires some practice to master, long before you really have to rely on it.

Audio Signals – Whistle

——–
Never forget that your brain and your ability to remain calm and not to panic are your most important survival skill.

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Sleeping Pads

March 26th, 2010

Choosing the right backcountry sleeping pad is vital for two reasons:

Cushioning while sleeping on the naked earth, and just as important

Insulation against the chilly ground, which can be really cold.
Certain mattresses offer more insulating value than others, so make sure you look into this.

There are estentially three types:  Self-inflating, foam and manual-inflating.

Self-inflating mattresses, blowup or foam pads all of which can vary in weight and thickness.  So you need to balances weight against comfort and price of course.  While self-inflating mattresses are two or three times pricier and heavier than manual inflators and foam pads but are more popular.  Self-inflaters inflate in minutes at the twist of a valve, though you usually have to firm them up with a few breaths.  Thermarest is the leader in this category and the ProLite 4 is their flagship backcountry pad.   It weighs 24oz and has a mummy shape.  You can also buy a kit that converts the pad into a chair.

——

Common are ridged pads that look like a washboard and are very popular and durable, and an egg-crate pattern, which is comfortable but provides little pockets where moisture or water can collect if it gets wet or you have lots of condensation inside a tent on a cold night.   Thermarest also makes one of these.

—-

I personally own the insulated air core inflatable mattress made by Big Agnus.  It comes in a mummy shape that fits into a Big Agnus sleeping bag, but I have the rectangular version.   It’s about the same weight as a Thermarest and is a little less expensive.  It offers about 2.5 inches of loft off the ground.  It also packs up really small and comes with a stuff sack. Thermarest makes an award winning inflatable called the NeoAir. It is very warm and comfortable, but also expensive at $150.

Another tip if the weather is really cold is to lay out a emergency space blanket on the bottom of your tent, then put your mattress on top.  These blankets can be purchased for a couple bucks and pack up really small. They kind of look like aluminum foil.

So best of luck choosing a sleeping pad that’s right for you.

Resources: www.gorp.com

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Uncategorized ,

Frostbite

February 26th, 2010

If you are in cold conditions you are at risk for frostbite, which is a freezing of the skin and deeper body tissues. There are varying degrees all with similar treatments. In any case, the real degree of the frostbite usually won’t be known until after it is treated and the damage can be determined.
The first sign of frostbite may be a loss of feeling in the affected area. White patches on the skin are the next obvious symptom. Watch for a white tip of the nose. The skin will appear pale and waxy. The fingers may even clack together like pieces of wood in serious cases.

Quick re-warming of the affected areas is the usual treatment. This can be as simple as putting your frostbitten fingers under your arms in mild cases. In more serious cases, the treatment of choice is hot water. Frostbitten toes can be effectively warmed against the bare stomach of a good friend.  Refreezing of thawed body parts can cause substantial tissue loss. Therefore it is important to not only treat the affected areas, but to have a plan for protecting them from the cold thereafter. For this reason, there are times when it may be best to leave the affected parts frozen.

There are four main stages of frostbite. The first stage is “frostnip” or superficial frostbite, which ultimately does not result in tissue loss. The affected area will turn from red to pale. Do not expose this area to windburn, as this might aggravate the condition. When the area becomes numb, this is first degree frostbite. Second degree, or partial thickness frostbite, can only be diagnosed during thawing, and is recognized by the formation if blisters. In third degree, or full-thickness frostbite, skin tissue will be purple or black, indicating tissue necrosis. As is stated in the article, thawing and refreezing of any frostbite can cause mummification and pretty much assures tissue death and possibly amputation. First, remove cold or wet items. Use loose dressings and splints (improvise) to transport the patient if necessary. If you are ABSOLUTELY sure that you can prevent refreezing, thawing should be performed in a warm water bath of 104 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Never use dry heat, like a fire, because frostbitten areas are extremely susceptible to burns. All thawing is extremely painful, so if the water is too cold, thawing will be unnecessarily drawn out in terms of time. Aspirin is useful for preventing clotting during this process, but it is also a risk to administer any medication the victim has never taken before. Also, the affected area should not touch the walls of the thawing bath.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and all this information has been sourced from the web.   Use common sense and discretion when treating frost bite on yourself or friends.

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Mosquitos and dark clothing

January 29th, 2010
Question: Does dark-colored clothing really attract more mosquitoes then light-colored clothing?


Answer: Mosquitoes are more attracted to people in dark clothing than in light-colored clothing.   They use sight, smell, and heat to find a blood meal, and those people that study mosquitoes agree that the bugs see dark objects more easily than light objects.
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Mount Baldy Panorama Posted

January 21st, 2010

I’ve just posted a moving panoramic photo from the summit of Mount Baldy. Be sure to use the drop down menu to access the other panoramas. Happy trials.

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