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Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather

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JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 04, 2014 08:41PM
Day 2: July 16, 2014

The previous night had been unusually warm, despite the dew that covered our shelter, bivy sacks, and sleeping bags. Despite this, I hadn't slept well: the previous night's dinner--barbecue beef wraps--hadn't sat well with me, and I woke up with a distinct lack of appetite and energy. The consensus was that I had been hit by altitude sickness (with some food-related illness the runner-up diagnosis)--despite the modest elevation and the fact that I'd spent several nights over the past week or so in Tuolumne Meadows. Symptoms aside, I should have been well acclimated. I skipped most of breakfast, and I barely had enough energy to help break camp, preferring to lay down and rest whenever possible.

Fortunately, the first part of this day's leg was downhill, and I reached Rush Creek without too much difficulty. The clouds had stayed with us all night, and a light overcast was present as we hiked towards Thousand Island Pass and beyond. I had to rest several times while climbing this minor pass, and I contemplated that if I didn't improve, there was no way I could climb the real passes along the JMT.

I did finally make it to the top of Thousand Island Pass, where I rested and attempted to eat a bit more. A prepared an electrolyte drink for me, which seemed to help a bit with my (lack of) appetite.

After resting for awhile, I continued down to Thousand Island Lake. Despite the clouds, the sun was quite strong, and I sought out a small tree for shade to rest under once near the lake's outlet.

The others in the group decided to take advantage of the sun and warm water and announced that they were going skinny-dipping in the lake. Despite my protestations "sick, not dead", I felt closer to the latter than the former and chose to rest some more.

We discussed dropping to a lower altitude--the correct recourse if in fact I had altitude sickness--but other than lethargy, I wasn't feeling that bad. (In fact, I was probably hiking about as well as the "average" hiker in this area, based on my comparative pace.) I didn't have a headache or nausea, and I was able to eat--a bit.

The original plan was to include four Sierra High Route segments on our JMT trip--the first would have started at Thousand Island Lake and went around its head, over to Garnet's head, then over Whitebark Pass--we would convene for camp somewhere along Shadow Creek. My illness took this segment out of consideration--but there was still a chance that we could do the Ediza-Iceberg-Cecile-Minaret Lake

We left Thousand Island Lake and headed towards Garnet Lake--and perhaps beyond.

By the time we were at Garnet, I was in fact feeling much better. We had decided to not camp where the trail first hits the lake (at the "terraces"winking smiley and instead decided to seek out the much better camping midway along the north shore that JKW had heard about on her last JMT trip. I took off along the fisherman's trail and eventually located a decent site on the large northern peninsula. JKW, M, and A were a bit behind me, but arrived and found an even better spot as the rain began to pour. Just as we had the shelters set up, the rain hit hard.

For the next several hours we watched from underneath our shelter as heavy rain fell on us and the lake. A few times we had to divert water from flowing under our shelter--the sand we were camped on had become saturated with rain. Thunder echoed around us, and a few strikes were only a mile or two away. Still feeling drained, I slept on and off during most of this storm. We had a direct view of Whitebark Pass, which in retrospect would not have been a good place to have been this afternoon.

We were able to contact the H party via radio; they had camped at the "terraces", all three of them crammed into their Fly Creek UL2, a tent I consider a comfortable one-person shelter. At least they were warm and dry.

Just as the sun was ready to disappear behind the Ritter Range, the rain let up, and we had a few moments of filtered light.

We were able to enjoy dinner "outside", and after the sun set we slept warm and dry. It had been a short day, but between my condition and the weather, I don't think we could have pushed much further, and on previous trips we knew that Garnet was by far the best camping until well past Reds Meadow, which we would easily be able to make by mid-afternoon the next day, even if we took the JMT instead of dropping at Garnet or Shadow to the River Trail. The first segment of the High Route was off the table, but we had three more planned.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2014 09:20PM by basilbop.
Re: JMT '14 - Under the Weather
August 04, 2014 09:13PM
thumbs up There's nothing quite like sitting out a storm under a tarp!
Re: JMT '14 - Under the Weather
August 04, 2014 09:33PM

  • Basilbop was ill, was I next? - I've never seen Basilbop so ill. It made no sense. We'd been backpacking and camping at elevation almost every weekend for months. But it was either that or a bug... And if it was a bug... was I going to get it? We share bags of food. I was really worried for him and for me. I'm usually the one who gets taken down hard. I have a lousy immune system. I have a cold right now - started this morning. Sheesh. Only in the mountains do I seem relatively hardy. I was thinking what with the weather and the illness, Reds might really be the end. And Basilbop isn't one to complain or allow a lot of coddling, so I just hiked along with M at our pace and hoped for the best.
  • Skinny dipping fun - At Thousand Island Lake it was too pretty and too warm not to swim. Then one of the girls says should we skinny dip? We all prefer it. There was no one outside of our group around at that point, so we just went for it. "Sick, not dead" was uttered by Basilbop as he lay in a small patch of shade. I was told later that we apparently did attract a little crowd and apparently some female hikers were shocked while their male partners were angling for a higher rock for a better view. Whatever. Used to be skinny dipping was the norm. Sigh. I have now developed a new appreciation for Thousand Island Lake after having that lovely swim. And I was pleased the H party was just fine with the cold water! The members of my party preferred warmer water in general!
  • Sitting out the storm - As Andrew points out, there is nothing like sitting out a storm under a tarp (shelter). The Trailstar allowed for a very big opening, so we could see not only Whitebark Pass, but Banner and Ritter as they were getting pummeled by the storm. The lightning was amazing and the thunder peals and rolls were fabulous! The cuben fiber shelter, we found out, amplifies the sound of the rain tremendously, so it sounded worse than it was... but it was pretty darned heavy! I've never worried about getting flooded out before. And the downpour lasted a long time - between 3 to 4 hours, IIRC. The four of us ended up lying down next to each other to rest and stay warm. There was an amazing rainbow at the end and a glorious glow to the sky. So utterly lovely after a good storm. It was only during the course of the next couple of days that we realized how much water had come down. Trail sections had runoff over them in numerous places. It was only after hitting civilization that we realized how bad the storm really had been - the thousands of strikes in Yosemite and beyond - and the fires started, etc. We were actually tucked up in a gorgeous location, warm and mostly dry. And it didn't rain that night. We were lucky.
  • That sitting thing.. - I had brought some luxuries on the trip. Many, actually. My Crazy Creek Hexalite chair deserves honorable mention. Darned thing weighs a bit. But by the end of day 2, I'd spent HOURS sitting in it watching and enjoying storms. My back and I did not suffer! I used my thin light pad to keep my legs warm - I wrapped it around my legs. Handy. Now it really has double-duty! I'm big on (ultra)lightweight gear. On this trip, I'd opted for more luxuries with more weight. I never ever regretted my toys.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2014 09:39PM by JustKeepWalking.
avatar Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 05, 2014 09:01AM
YEAH!!! Day two and I'm keeping up on my virtual hike with you guys. I suspect it's not the same as being there but loving it all the same.
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 05, 2014 09:34AM
I'm really enjoying following along. I was over at Alger Lakes for this storm. Lightening, thunder, hours of rain. But it gave me a good excuse to relax.
I anxiously await Day 3,4 &5

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/2014 09:36AM by lschaaf.
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 05, 2014 10:03AM
Our original plan (since the decision to do the JMT was made long after the reservable Lyell permits were gone) was to have been at Alger Lakes on the 15th - our first day. But weather and luck with permits had us change to the more traditional Lyell canyon walk - which was lovely.. But I have YET to camp at Alger Lakes! Every bloody time we walk by, I get annoyed and want to camp... smiling smiley Gorgeous spot! Relaxing at Alger is something I have yet to do... smiling smiley

Glad you and JasonS are enjoying the trip reports!
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 05, 2014 11:54AM
As a skinny dipper devotee, could you please tell a shy Englishman the correct protocol on encountering two lone female 'dippers' who are unaware ( or maybe they weren't) of the approach of someone who just needs to draw water from the inviting pool in the GCTR in which they are swimming/sitting on a rock. I tried being invisible but it didn't work.
As it was a very hot day I was quite steaming by the time I moved on and found a quiet spot to drink.
Any thoughts on the matter will be greatly appreciated and considered for future reference. wink
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 05, 2014 02:58PM
Hi Pines!

I take personal responsibility for *me*. I know that if I skinny dip outside, someone "else" might see. In order to not shock anyone (or blind them with my very pale skin), I usually try to find a secluded area. At Thousand Island, for a variety of reasons, we did not take time to hunt for a more secluded spot. Poor Basilbop at that time just plopped in the first little bit of shade he could find. That was obviously our break point.

In your case, if I understand "GCTR" to be the Tuolumne River in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, it can often be narrow and there aren't always great water access spots. And it can be uncomfortably hot. So people should share - especially if it's a great water access spot. If you'd announced your presence and intent, *I* would not have minded. I would prefer up-front introduction rather than trying to be invisible, which seems to have a high failure rate. I'm big on drinking water and staying cool. I probably would have encouraged you to take a dip too. I do that. I will remind you that eye contact is key. Keep the eyes on the eyes. grinning smiley

I like skinny dipping, but am okay keeping the "bikini" on too... and depending on the group, I'll get a sense of people's comfort range. No need to make anyone uncomfortable. But make no mistake, I will be getting in the water whenever feasible.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/2014 02:59PM by JustKeepWalking.
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 06, 2014 01:25PM
thanks for the guidance. yes, it was the 'bottom ' end of the Tuolumne river, and at THE best spot for swimming_ a bend in the river, deepish, slow water, wide and with a rock for jumping off. as for keeping eye contact, I am oldi-sh and often find it difficult to concentrate!! as I also wear spectacles I sometimes find it difficult to focus on people close to, and often it appears as if I am staring.
given all of that, I think it probably best if I just silently 'run away' . as I noted in my diary- I did envy them their freedom. but as for joining in, I always think it best not to frighten wildlife.eye popping smiley
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 06, 2014 03:06PM
My rule of thumb: You don't make a big deal of it, I don't make a big deal of it. I'm just sorry you didn't get a chance to enjoy what sounds like a lovely spot! Sounds like you were very considerate.
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 07, 2014 01:51PM
hi, JKW,
just caught up with 'basilpop's report of your July GCTR trip. his 2 photos - of your camp and the river, is the exact spot where I 'looked the other way'.Brown Chicken
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 07, 2014 05:02PM
I didn't actually swim in the pool, but was downriver a tad to be out of potential easy sightline of the 14 year old son of one of our backpacking buddies. He'd plopped into their tent to rest, but just in case. But did have a nice skinny-dip soak and clean up. It had been a warm day... But that's a pretty big area, if the girls were at the pool, downriver would be out of the sightline..mostly. smiling smiley
avatar Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 12, 2014 06:12PM
Bare swimming??...take pictures!
avatar Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 05, 2014 11:26PM
What did you guys carry for rain gear? I'm expecting to hit rain during my four days in Yose this September (Sunrise HSC, Clouds Rest, Tuolumne).
Re: JMT '14 - Day 2 - Under the Weather
August 06, 2014 09:44AM
Hoo boy.. LOVE talking gear! And I haven't been keeping myself as up on the market as I used to... so... if you have comments/suggestions, I'm all ears!!!

For many years now, we have used the O2 Rainwear Original Hooded Jacket.
  • Highly Breathable - Backpackinglight evacuated breathability of waterproof-breathable fabrics years ago, and it was much more breathable than GoreTex options (at the time) and only Event ranked better. (I think it's basically the same now.)
  • Right weight (5 oz) (for us) - not as bomber as Frogg Toggs, not as delicate as DriDucks. We are careful with our gear, but we've also bushwhacked with them with minimal issues. And a little Tenacious Tape fixes small issues. They last multiple years (I can't say seasons anymore, since we use them and go out all year round). In deep winter, when the jackets are on a LOT, we use our Event jackets for snowshoe/XC trips. YMMV.
  • Generously sized - I use a size Medium and it fits over my down puffy jacket and vest combo. Handy to block wind as well. I am 5'5", 125. Basilbop is 6', 165 and uses a Large. The arms are long enough we can put them over our hands while using our poles. When actively moving, just use it over my regular hiking shirt.
  • Cheap - lists at $32 now (used to be $25) Can find in a variety of online retailers, at minimum, probably cheaper. Used to be in REI stores years ago, cycling dept.
  • Yellow - I'm a true believer in bright colors for rain/emergency gear. And bright yellow makes me happy!
  • Use a big brim hat - the sun hat I use to keep sun off me in good weather doubles as an excellent rain shield under the hood.
  • NOT our Wind Jacket - We carry a lightweight (3 oz) wind jacket that has good DWR as well. It's probably on me before the rain jacket comes on, but if I haven't waited too long - I'll take it off and put the rain jacket on instead. If it's obviously a very short burst of light water, this will usually be enough. This is also used as my Vapor Barrier (VB) layer at night. Currently it's a Marmot Ion (no longer made). We need to replace, I'm researching now. Some use their rain shell as their wind jacket. We don't. (Lots of discussions about the different techniques on other sites.) We find it more comfortable to use the lightweight wind jacket when working hard when it's actually windy - not wet. It breathes better and keeps us drier. It's a trim fit, which is more comfortable when working hard. If cold, I put the down over this jacket and if really cold, put the rain jacket over the puffs. And when needed in camp, I put my sleeping quilt on over all of it. I do not like to suffer.

Mountain Laurel Designs Event Rain Mitts
  • Warm hands - Worst part of hiking in a mountain storm is getting cold and wet. Wind can do a number if you are damp. These keep my fingers comfy with minimal bulk. They are big enough I can wear gloves underneath for extra warmth, but are fine when active just by themselves. This trip, I only used them on the morning coming down from Whitney, but they pack small and are light and make me very happy.
  • Easy to pack - as mentioned - small, light. Easy to pack. No excuse not to carry them. Makes a huge difference in cold/windy rains, hail, etc.

Etowah Outfitters Orange Hi-Vis Silnylon Packcover
  • Safety - The orange pack cover has been mentioned a few times in other posts here. It really stands out. That's a safety issue. Whether or not you go off-trail into remote areas or not, if something goes wrong, you should be seen. Finding folks is a huge problem for SAR. I don't want to make things harder in a tough situation. Also, I like bright colors, period. I originally found this at ULA equipment. Turns out Etowah was making this for ULA. Now, ULA just tells folks to go to Etowah.
  • Safety trumps weight - in my book, it's worth the extra weight to have THIS pack cover over a cuben pack cover. 3.2 ounces vs 1.4 ounces. Yah, I'll carry that and not eat so many french fries in town.
  • Generously sized - the Medium fits over our Osprey Exos 58 packs and covers my attached chair and Crocs nicely. I don't have to fight it, and it is snug enough. A friend who had a cuben fiber pack cover (from a different manufacturer) found out that though it was listed as being big enough for a 58 liter pack, it really wasn't. It was really snug and didn't quite cover her pack as much as she wanted. So test before you head out.

Dancing Light Silnylon pants
  • Anyone remember Dancing Light? - I miss them. Anyway, I use the Silnylon pants as part of my VB layer when sleeping. But if it's really wet/windy, they come out during the day.
  • Only when necessary - if I think that having wet legs is going to get me into trouble, I'll take the time to put these on. Otherwise, I prefer to hike in rain/hail with my regular hiking pants. I do not have any problems with my legs getting cold - TO A POINT. On this trip, they never came out for rain duty. I used them every night in camp under my puff pants. If strong winds, I would have put on OVER my puff pants.
  • Need to find replacement - These poor things are so old, they just don't work as well as they used to anyway, and I need to replace them, but ... with what? Ideally, I'd prefer a lightweight non-breathable material. Sadly, ZPacks has breathable Cuben/Event pants for $165. Better for hiking use as rain pants, worse for use as VB. I am too lazy (or too busy cleaning existing gear we have and prepping for the next trip) and haven't learned how to make my own gear, but honestly, the time may be coming...
  • Winter use note: - I use Marmot Full-zip Pre-cip pants in winter when snowshoeing/XC skiing. They are more durable and allow for venting - and I have them on much more frequently while moving. Too heavy/unneeded for "spring/summer/fall" use in Sierras, IMO. If I thought I was going to be in rain A LOT and was worried about the cold, I might take them with me for a non-winter trip. Haven't yet. Haven't really missed them either.

You will get wet. If it comes down - you are going to get wet. No jacket or pant combo will keep you totally dry. If you have a pack and are working, you are probably going to generate moisture inside the jacket, not to mention all the little drips and whatnot that leak in over time and motion. The key (and this is not news to most of you) is to stay warm while wet. If you are wet and cold, you have a problem. Or will have a problem unless you figure out how to fix one of those.

Good luck on your trip! I hope that the weather treats you well. If it should storm, I wish you a comfortable time enjoying it! Stay safe. Depending on your situation, there are just times that waiting out a storm under shelter in a "safe" location is prudent, and other times when hiking through the storm is the better option. As we've seen in Southern California, if you have the misfortune of being struck by a crazy downpour (4 inches in an HOUR!), be very aware of your surroundings.

So many of my non-hiking friends worry about bears and mountain lions and rattlesnakes and such. Jeez. I worry about water (in all its forms) and wind most. Then lightning. Then people. Then fire and rocks. Then bears, lions and such... maybe. (In the Sierras. I've been reading the thread on grizzlies - that's a totally different situation in a different area.)

Respect the weather at all times, and work with it, I say.
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