solo hike Observation Mt. in Kluane NP, Yukon

6:07 p.m. on May 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Hello Outdoor-Enthusiasts,

I'm an exchange student currently in Canada for a year and am planning to travel along the west coast before I return home. I am particularly interested in doing a ferry tour from Vancouver to Skagway, Alaska, then continue to Yukon and do the hike to Observation Mountain in Kluane National Park. Since I don't know many people in Canada, particularly not on the west coast, I am thinking about travelling on my own and doing solo hikes.

My question is whether a solo hike in Kluane is considered rather risky, because of black bears and grizzly bears, and is more something for very experienced hikers.

From what I read, the Observation Mt. hike is one of the most popular in Kluane, but by Yukon standards, so I will probably not see anyone. The trail is 64km long (with return) and I have read a report from people doing it in three days, so I intend to do it in max. 4 days (3 nights in the backcountry).

I consider myself slightly experienced, as I did three moderately easy backcountry tours so far. However, I haven't done a solo hike so far. Before I'm in Yukon, I plan to solo hike the Skyline Trail in Jasper, the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island as well as the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to Canada.  So when I'm in Kluane I'll be a bit more experienced and know my gear and routine very well.

From the perspective of "knowing how to camp", I think I am prepared for a solo hike in Kluane, but I am having difficulties assessing the bear issue. I don't have any experience with bears, never seen one in the wild. I have only spent some time reading on strategies to avoid and handle encounters. I know that Kluane is bear country, but is it a hot spot for bear encounters and rather the extreme bear country? What are the chances of seeing a bear? Is it uncommon not to see a bear?

I would be very thankful for some advice on how dangerous this trip actually is, especially as a solo hike.

Thanks!

12:50 a.m. on May 27, 2011 (EDT)
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I am a retired former employee of two Canadian provincial forest services, the BC Fish&Wildlife (briefly), the Canadian Coast Guard and some private professional forestry firms. I have very extensive, longterm remote solo wilderness experience and some 55 years of active hiking experience in  this region. I used to teach bear safety as a part of my supervisory duties to forestry crews of people from all over North America and some from "Yurp".

I mention this to tell you that you have NO business on the West Coast Trail alone and certainly NOT in Kluane, except with a guide or a party of mostly experienced wilderness trekkers. You CANNOT carry a gun there, it is a national park and you are NOT sufficiently skilled to be there alone, end of story.

My wife was an "outpost" RN in the Yukon-NWT, my brother is a retired "paramedic" who has hauled out many "bagged and tagged" hikers from the BC mountains and I have worked with Canadian Forces SAR personnel at the training school in the Canadian Rockies outside of Hinton, AB. We have all seem far too many visitors come out in bags on the skid of a 206.

I don't know where you are from, but, you are a guest in Canada and we do not want to send you home in a box...go to Jasper, Banff and so forth and leave the Kluane for when/if you can go with some locals, a guide or just find a safer trip to enjoy Canada.

5:41 a.m. on May 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for your advice.

I guess I will have to collect some more experience before I can safely enjoy Yukon backcountry. A good reason to visit Canada again in a few years :)

What I didn't expect is that you also consider the West Coast Trail too dangerous for a solo hike. I know it is difficult, but from what I read, it is so popular that it's very likely to meet lots of other people on the trail. Am I mistaken about that? Also, I thought it is roughly as difficult as the Skyline trail in Jasper, which as I understand you have no concerns about.

Edit:

To avoid a misunderstanding: I am 22 and on a university exchange. I wouldn't consider myself as someone who takes an uncontrolled risk, that's why I'm asking. From the stories I read about people who had to be rescued from the trail, I figure that most of the time this happens because people don't follow basic rules of backcountry (navigation, weather, bears, gear, ...) or decide to take unnecessary risks, such as going off trail. I know you can't learn camping from a book, but I'd say from the theory side I am quite prepared.

11:10 a.m. on May 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Your post contains the essential problem with your approach to this and it is also commonplace with foreigners who choose to venture into Canada's wilderness areas. You are relying on others to assist you if you have a problem and that,  my young friend, is the quickest way to become a statistic in the bush.

There is a strong movement here in Canada, to ban all foreigners from trekking into our wild country without an accredited guide and I strongly support this policy.

Jasper and Banff are patrolled by professional Parks Canada staff and STILL we have frequent deaths by Grizzly, falls and the odd drowning there; these are the only areas I consider "safe" for solo hiking by those without extensive Canadian wilderness experience....and, as I said, even then, some hikers get killed.

If, you must do the Lifesaving Trail on V.I., go with 2-3 others or on a guided tour, going solo is not a wise idea. Theory has little to do with dealing with a fractured ankle on a morning like this, when it is about 50*F, raining a very foggy on the BC coast. In such conditions, in pain, going into shock and alone, you will probably become disoriented, forget your "theory" and soon succumb to hypothermia....dead. It happens every year in every season here, in the mountains I can  see from the window in front of me and all along the coast.

BC is NOT country to play around with, it is beautiful, but, can be deadly and you are not prepared for the situations you envisage.

1:28 p.m. on May 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks again. I think I will stick to exploring Banff and Jasper. When I'm in Vancouver I will try to find people to join for the West Coast Trail.

4:24 a.m. on May 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I looked a bit for guided tours, but everything I find is quite expensive (1000$+). Do you have any suggestions about guided tours on a student budget?

3:00 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi

I first want to apologizefor my english because I'm from france.

I think that if you hike in July or August, you can hike alone in Kluane NP as long as you stay on these routes:

Slims West and Observation moutain (base camp at canada creek, so you only carry your food and a few clothes to Observation moutain, numerous creek crossing, sometimes hard if you dont have neoprene socks)

Slims East (easier than slims west but nice views)

Cottonwood (long but easy to follow, very spectacular landscape)

Auriol Trail to the auriol range (easy trail to the camp, and then no trail, no route but with topo map, easy to get orientation)

I did not try the donjek route but it's said to be difficult and very remote but for example the Slims west is higly travelled, easy to follow, flat or nearly flat to canada creek campground and if you are used to hiking, the ascent to Observation Moutain is easy to moderate. You can't miss the route, always carry the 115B15 topo map in case of you're in doubt.

You need to register and to take a bear container.

You also need to come back at the end of the trek to tell them everything was OK.

Staff in the center are very nice and helpful, they will help you if you have question, and tell you more about water level and bears sighting.

I saw two grizzlies in kluane, but it was not front to front encounter so they avoid me.

You can also hike in northern BC the wokkpash lake and gorge.

It's a 5 days hike, easy to follow, long days of hiking but not to demanding. It's for me one of the best hike I did !!

You should try to buy the topo maps 94K.

Just ask if you've got some questions and don't always listen to alarming people, hiking in northern canada in july and august is very interesting and quite easy if you've got proper gears (always carry sleep. bags for negative temperature).

I know people with zero experience that hiked the west coast trail and they told me it was a bit demanding but it rained 90% of the time.

In kluane NP in july and august, expect  minimum around 0 to 3 deg celcius and maximum 21 to 25 deg celcius. You can have some cold rain, even some snow at night.

ENJOY and don't be frigthened: Canada will remain free of hiking for everyone in the future !

3:02 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey said:

BC is NOT country to play around with, it is beautiful, but, can be deadly and you are not prepared for the situations you envisage.

 I'm sorry to tell this but if you obey to strict rules, ask advices to the locals, cary proper geard: BC is the coutry to play around in SUMMER !

French Alps are more dangerous in summer than BC.

3:08 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey said:

I mention this to tell you that you have NO business on the West Coast Trail alone and certainly NOT in Kluane,

 I think that you are too alarming !

Staff in the VC are very helpful, very nice, and not so alarming.

they only told you to obey strict rules !

You dont have to hire an expensive guide to travel the Slims West or the Cottonwood.

If yoy want to do climbing and venture into very remote wilderness, You need an experienced guide.

When I hiked Berg Lake last year at the end of june, I discussed a lot with Park Rangers and they told me that people were more and more responsible.

And don't forget you can get killed in a car accident everywhere, anytime...

5:39 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Thank you for your reply!

Dewey might have been too alarming about the dangers and required skill for such a hike. But I think he is right about the point that I am currently not well prepared for it. Going to Yukon to start doing solo hikes is perhaps not the best idea :) which is why I now plan to gain some experience in Banff and Jasper.

Canada has so many stunning places to go backpacking and Kluane is one of the spots that I'm most interested in. The hikes you describe sound fascinating. I will definitely visit Canada again some time and do a long and more challenging tour up the west coast.

Also, one thing about the West Coast Trail that I didn't anticipate before was that it seems to be quite expensive. From what I know you pay at least 100$ for park permits and tickets for the small ferries plus another 60$ and 80$ for the Bus from Victoria to trail start and trail end to Victoria again. Over 240$ just to get on the trail is quite a lot! What do you think are the chances of hitchhiking from Victoria to the trail and back?

From what I can tell there are not too many busses in Banff and Jasper either. But I would think the region is more frequented and it is easy to hitchhike. Do you or does anyone else have experience on this? Thanks!

2:45 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Hi

I think that the major problem with hiking alone is the fact that you can have physical problem (twist your ankle,...) and if you hike in a remote place, a less travelled trail, you can remain one day or more stuck without seeing anyone.

I hiked a lot in Jasper and Banff and Northern BC (stone moutain and muncho lake area, muskwa kechika eastern aera).

From Mid June to mid september, banff, lake louise and jasper trails are highly frequented, kind of "highway hiking".

But It's wonderful, great scenery !!!

I never tried hitch hiking in these areas.

I hitch hiked in northern BC along the Alaska Highway, between whitehorse and haines junction and to the trailhead of the above mentionned trails/routes in Kluane NP. It was in July and August.

It's not a problem, I did not wait for more than 30 minutes to an hour

even at 7am or 8pm so I think that hitch hiking around jasper could be easy.

One trail I recommend you is the Berg Lake trail in Mt Robson Park west of Jasper: This trail all the way up to the Glacier (and to the passes you can find around) is one of the best hike I did in my life.

You can do it alone in July and August, consider at least 2 or 3 nights depending on your level. (You can do it in one day if you start around 7am and if the weather forecast is said to be sunny but you won't enjoy the area)

9:21 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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I second Deweys concerns although I don't think that menas you shouldn't do it. Canada is a large and beautiful country and its wildernesses is not to be underestimated. That said educate yourself and be prepared, both physically and mentally. It has a lot to offer and enjoy, the flip side of that is the dangers it can present.

On another note emmanuel- My dad just got back from touring Europe from Spain over to Italy, and said Chamonix was one of the nicest areas hes ever been.

10:26 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Jake W said:

I second Deweys concerns although I don't think that menas you shouldn't do it. Canada is a large and beautiful country and its wildernesses is not to be underestimated. That said educate yourself and be prepared, both physically and mentally. It has a lot to offer and enjoy, the flip side of that is the dangers it can present.

On another note emmanuel- My dad just got back from touring Europe from Spain over to Italy, and said Chamonix was one of the nicest areas hes ever been.

 I totally agree with you.

Canada wilderness shouldn't be underestimated.

For me Western Canada is the best place on earth for hiking and Kluane NP is awesome !! The landscape, the scenery, everything is so dramatic !!

If I had enough money I would love travelling to Yukon for longer times each year.

I'm leaving in ten days for Whitehorse (and the Yukon) for 4 weeks and I can't stand waiting for it !!!

Your dad is very lucky ! The Alps (Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria) are very beautiful moutains and village like Chamonix at the foot of the Mount Blanc Valley are very cool !

10:44 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks again for the replies. I didn't really plan on particular hikes at the moment. My plan was to go to the park offices and ask what they recommend and how the trails are currently. From what I see here (http://www.trailpeak.com/trail-Mt-Robson-Prov-Park-Berg-Lake-near-Valemount-BC-201) the Berg Lake hike you're recommending seems very much like what I'm looking for: scenic, a little challenging and not too far off.

I have a few questions about the hike, perhaps you can help me with that.

1. Apparently you have to make reservations for campsites, do you think that's a problem if I just show up a the office? Or is a few days in advance enough time for a reservation? How's that with other popular trails in the Rockies?

2. In the video of the report the guys had snowshoes, do you think that's necessary?

3. As I'm travelling for a while, and not just camping, I have a lot to carry, 22kg perhaps. Do you think that's too much for such a mountainous trail? And is a tarp+light bivy enough or do I definitely need a tent?

4. I was considering to buy a GPS (if my budget will allow). Do you think it's a good idea to have one? Or is it more of a toy or an extra safety? How's that with other trails in the rockies? Are they usually well marked?

5. Should I carry bear spray? Do bear bell's have any effect?

Thanks a lot!

10:57 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Well, there is an old saying to the effect that "it is better to be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt" and this "expert" on MY country, so typical of his kind in his arrogance, has demonstrated the truth of that maxim.

His comment that ...Canada will remain free of hiking for everyone in the future... is both false and highly offensive; this is all too typical, again, of a high percentage of "Euros" who come here and seem to think they have a "right" to be here.

There is a growing and very welcome movement here in BC and some other regions of Canada, to make some form of insurance mandatory and also insist that foreigners be guided in wilderness activities. This, is to offset the substantial costs of rescue when  some moron who won't listen to locals and professionals gets into trouble and we taxpayers must bear the high costs of helicopter rescue.

I suggest that you re-read my initial posts to you and think carefully about what is contained therein and then decide how to approach your hiking in Canada. I am trying to help you and based on a very active and professional lifetime in the mountains where my ancestors pioneered, I was born and where I have seen all too many "experts" from foreign countries come to grief due to arrogance and a lack of wilderness skills.

The BEST way to approach this is to hike with companions and gradually build your skills and then attempt more difficult and remote treks as you progress in doing so. Since, I have seen all too many "experts" flown out in bags and have participated as a part of my employment in such sad events, I take safety very seriously and try to give advice based on reality, hope you can benefit from it.

 

11:21 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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To give a response to your queries:

1. Make reservations, saves a lot of stress.

2. NO snowshoes, it is a very late, cold and snowladen spring this year, but, you should not need "misery slippers" and should gain some experience using them before trying them in the mountains, alone.

3.22Kg....not too heavy, IF, your body type, size and strength is suited to this weight. I carry about 40 lbs. on many hikes and much more on mountain hunts. Get in shape and it will be OK.

4.GPS-don't waste your money, you do not need one for any hiking here and need to develop traditional route-finding and mountain trekking skills long before you will ever need one of these.

5. Bear spray, I never carry this over-rated stuff and "bear bells" are a joke. If, you feel "safer" carry spray, BUT, watch how you deploy it in windy conditions. I DO recommend carrying a light "airhorn" and a spare canister, these are used in cover to alarm bears to your presence and are just a great bush tool for alerting searchers to your position, if you are injured.

ASK the "parkies" and use caution, being injured in the wilderness is not "cool".

1:51 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey Dewey, thanks again for sharing your expertise. Actually I'm a "Euro" too, I'm from Germany. I didn't want to mention it because I know there are a lot of people from my country who come to Canada and think they are awesome adventurers, just because they bought the most expensive gear. That's basically why I'm asking here, to get an "unbiased" opinion of someone who doesn't just feel like a cool backcountry guy because he ocasionally goes on treks.

There is a growing and very welcome movement here in BC and some other regions of Canada, to make some form of insurance mandatory and also insist that foreigners be guided in wilderness activities. This, is to offset the substantial costs of rescue when  some moron who won't listen to locals and professionals gets into trouble and we taxpayers must bear the high costs of helicopter rescue.

To lower the concerns about your tax money, I have a Canadian insurance through my university and one from home :) Making it mandatory for foreigners to get a guide is certainly the most secure thing to do. I'm not the one to decide on this issue and I don't know how that discussion has been going on, but what do you think of introducing something like a "wilderness license"? People could go on guided tours at the beginning, gain experience and get it certified. When they have the license, they can go on their own.

Thanks also for your answers to my queries. An air horn is something I haven't thought of. How do you suggest using it? Do you use it regularly, say every 15min, when you're on the trail and more often when it's a noisy background? And is it a wise idea to use it when a bear is charging you? Or could it make the bear more aggressive? (not that I'm keen to make that experience)

Could you also give an opinion on using a tarp+light bivy on mountainous trails like the one at Berg lake. Is there any problem with this?

6:44 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey said:

Well, there is an old saying to the effect that "it is better to be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt" and this "expert" on MY country, so typical of his kind in his arrogance, has demonstrated the truth of that maxim.

His comment that ...Canada will remain free of hiking for everyone in the future... is both false and highly offensive; this is all too typical, again, of a high percentage of "Euros" who come here and seem to think they have a "right" to be here.

There is a growing and very welcome movement here in BC and some other regions of Canada, to make some form of insurance mandatory and also insist that foreigners be guided in wilderness activities. This, is to offset the substantial costs of rescue when  some moron who won't listen to locals and professionals gets into trouble and we taxpayers must bear the high costs of helicopter rescue.

I suggest that you re-read my initial posts to you and think carefully about what is contained therein and then decide how to approach your hiking in Canada. I am trying to help you and based on a very active and professional lifetime in the mountains where my ancestors pioneered, I was born and where I have seen all too many "experts" from foreign countries come to grief due to arrogance and a lack of wilderness skills.

The BEST way to approach this is to hike with companions and gradually build your skills and then attempt more difficult and remote treks as you progress in doing so. Since, I have seen all too many "experts" flown out in bags and have participated as a part of my employment in such sad events, I take safety very seriously and try to give advice based on reality, hope you can benefit from it.

 

 If I want to fly back to France in a bag, it's my right !!

I have no lessons to be told from anyone !

I'm a world citizen ! Canada does not belong to canadians !

Canada will remain free of hiking in the future !

If not, people will travel to south america or the himalaya !

6:49 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey said:

There is a growing and very welcome movement here in BC and some other regions of Canada, to make some form of insurance mandatory and also insist that foreigners be guided in wilderness activities. This, is to offset the substantial costs of rescue when  some moron who won't listen to locals and professionals gets into trouble and we taxpayers must bear the high costs of helicopter rescue.

 I think that you're jealous of people who can travel the world and that you're a friend of Wall Street that spoils the world ! You think you know hiking but you have never left canada and in fact you don't know anything.

you're only afraid to die and what is important for you is money and your money.

You will never live in my world ! My world is free !

You have no right to tell me what I should do !

Viva canada !

7:52 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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I was gonna post a response pertaining to the subject of discussion but due to hostility I demur. We are all trying to learn from one another here and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Not my place to get involved in this but I think this link needs reviewed.

http://www.trailspace.com/about/community-rules.html

Play nice guys. Argumentive statements kill threads and its really not fair to the original poster.

9:00 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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The great German poet and friend of the immortal Lugwig Von Beethoven, Heinrich Heine, once sadly observed, "There are some kinds of ignorance against which even the Gods, struggle in vain"....... and, that says what needs to be said here concerning the posts by "Emmanuel". I will refrain from further comment to this poster, as I do not wish to detract from this thread or cause Alicia, any discomfort.

9:32 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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JuGl said:

Hey Dewey, thanks again for sharing your expertise. Actually I'm a "Euro" too, I'm from Germany. I didn't want to mention it because I know there are a lot of people from my country who come to Canada and think they are awesome adventurers, just because they bought the most expensive gear. That's basically why I'm asking here, to get an "unbiased" opinion of someone who doesn't just feel like a cool backcountry guy because he ocasionally goes on treks.

There is a growing and very welcome movement here in BC and some other regions of Canada, to make some form of insurance mandatory and also insist that foreigners be guided in wilderness activities. This, is to offset the substantial costs of rescue when  some moron who won't listen to locals and professionals gets into trouble and we taxpayers must bear the high costs of helicopter rescue.

To lower the concerns about your tax money, I have a Canadian insurance through my university and one from home :) Making it mandatory for foreigners to get a guide is certainly the most secure thing to do. I'm not the one to decide on this issue and I don't know how that discussion has been going on, but what do you think of introducing something like a "wilderness license"? People could go on guided tours at the beginning, gain experience and get it certified. When they have the license, they can go on their own.

Thanks also for your answers to my queries. An air horn is something I haven't thought of. How do you suggest using it? Do you use it regularly, say every 15min, when you're on the trail and more often when it's a noisy background? And is it a wise idea to use it when a bear is charging you? Or could it make the bear more aggressive? (not that I'm keen to make that experience)

Could you also give an opinion on using a tarp+light bivy on mountainous trails like the one at Berg lake. Is there any problem with this?

 First, let me make it VERY clear that YOU are WELCOME in the country that my family first came to in 1620 and I am VERY "pro" German and wish we had more young students and immigrants from Germany. I am not especially concerned over tax-funded costs for rescues, I simply wanted to point out what is happening here due to the number of fatalities and rescues in our "safe" wilderness areas....people are getting a bit concerned as many tourists do not listen.

I do not want to see further bureaucratic restrictions on Canadian freedoms, we have far too many as it is, the draconian and ineffectual gun control situation is one vile example of Canada's slow drift into totalitarianism. What I would like to see, is to have our resource agencies and military funded as they should be and thus have the people "out there" to manage these kinds of situations....we had better SAR when I started in resource management in 1965, with half the population.......

The airhorns are available at Canadian Tire and are inexpensive; one uses these ONLY when entering a brushy or confined area and makes that gawdawful noise, then waits for a few minutes for any bruins to depart and, you will hear them. These horns are also really useful in signaling rescuers where a whistle is useless due to noise from mountain torrents and let your contact people KNOW that this is how you will make noise to guide rescuers to your location should you go down with a leg fracture, etc.

I prefer a bivy-tarp combo in most short term camping, IF, you are using a GOOD bivy, Integral Designs eVent models are the best I have used in over 40 years of bivy camping in BC and AB. I like an ID Siltarp III with mine and this makes a fine "home" when hiking, except for bugs and that is another issue.

I would go with, by choice, an ID eVent Unishelter, ST III and work out a good bug system, I like the Canadian-made "Bugshirt" and you can "google" this plus MEC often has them....really GOOD stuff!

If, you are around Vancouver, you may PM me, meet with me and I may be able to assist you to do what you want to; I was a young student once and know how difficult it is to get the gear one needs and to afford enough BEER! If not, I may be able to help via PMs and my e-mail is  wodaxe@msn.com.  This, is a contraction of "Axel" and "Woden", the call names of my Rottweiler brothers, who now hike in "Valhalla"..... HTH.

9:47 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey, out of curiousity the ID Event bivy that you are referring too. Which model is it? I was looking at purchasing the Big Agnes 3wire. The Event fabric is a big selling point for me and I would like to explore other options. I have used a bivy(not mine) on a few occasions but do not have a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to purchasing them. I figure your 40yrs experience definitely gives me something to learn from.

I plan to use it primarily in the winter seasons here in Pa.

JuGl, I'm not trying to hi-jack your thread. Just had a quick question.

 

11:02 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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It is the "Unishelter" from ID and my pick as "best" all around bivy. I have an ID eVent South Col and also an ID eVent Bugaboo, for my dayhunting and dayhiking packs, respectively and have specific ID tarps that combine with them. They are NOT "cheap", work very well in really harsh weather and wear very well with reasonable care.

One of my oldest friends, a former BCFS Lookoutman and big game guide, now lives in PA. and he is currently visiting my home town for a massive party this week, to which I cannot go....ah, too old for all that superb music, and all that "other" stuff on an isolated farm above the Kootenay River ......... 'nuff to make an old geezer like me almost weep!

Another option and one I have and really like, is the ID Mega Sola, not the lightest, but, this shelter WILL keep you dry, warm and safe in anything. I carry mine anytime I hunt in the high country, where I might be trapped by severe weather and it can be erected by a person with a fractured leg and would then save your life.....I highly recommend this for a solo mountain trekker, but, it is "overkill" for most uses, IMHO.

11:09 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks alot for the info Dewey. I am gonna look into the Mega Sola. If it works well I am not too concerned with price/weight. Function is my main concern.

I also plan on travelling here in the not too distant future to broaden my horizons so over-kill may not necessarily be a bad thing. Better to have too much than not enough ya know.

I can't seem to find the Mega available anywhere thru Trailspace. Hmmmm... The search continues.

11:23 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Google "Integral Designs" and that should find their website. Check the "tents" and "bivies" sections there and it should still be there.

For what you are considering, I cannot think of a superior shelter, but, it is low and snug and meant for temporary uses, not really for comfy camping.

Also, check out the various dealers posted on ID's site as some of these hold some pretty awesome sales, every so often.

11:55 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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So far from what I see on ID's site I am looking at the South Col and the Uni. The mega isn't listed. For what I am doing I believe either would do fine.

1:15 a.m. on June 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks again! The bivys from Integral Designs look very good. Canadian quality, ey :) I was first thinking about saving some money and going with a cheap bivy, after all I'm not sure how often I will solo again. But aparently the breathability of eVent is excellent and a non-breathing bivy is not much fun to use.

How do the Unishelter (eVent Version), Bugaboo and South Col compare? Do the advantages of the Uni justify the higher weight and price? From what I read the Uni is a fully stormproof 4-season shelter and obviously has more space, so I could possibly use it on a winter hike in future. Is there any other advantage? Also, you mentioned a bug system. The Uni and Bugaboo have a bug net, which I see as a clear advantage. Do you take additional bug protection with you?

Before this turns into a gear thread, are there some favourite hikes you have in the Rockies?

Edit: I see that some bivys have loops for tent pegs. I can't see them on the Integral Design models. Are they missing? And does it make a difference to have them?

12:25 p.m. on June 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick, ID seems to have discontinued the "Mega Sola" and only the slightly heavier "Observer" variant is now offered, in their "tactical" section. It is heavier, but, the zipped entrance on top is very useful and this is the best severe conditions shelter for one or even a couple that I have ever seen.....pricy, but, it can save your life.

JuGl, If, I were limited to one light bivy, the Unishelter eVent would be my first choice, however, my Unishelter is the original type, bought in about 1994 and carried as an "emerg" gear item with some other stuff. I use the South Col eVent on dayhunts and it is "olive" for that purpose and the Bugaboo in yellow eVent with a yellow Silshelter for "emerg" uses on day hikes and so forth.

The loops on the Unishelter are useful to stake it to the ground when erecting it in a strong wind and they are not on the other models. I prefer to have them, but, would not lose sleep over it if they were not there. I only take additional bug protection in the form of garments for that purpose, head nets, etc.

I have no favourite hikes, I hike to hunt, fish, continue my "naturalist" studies and there are many places I love and enjoy returning to; I do have a deep attachment to the West Kootenays, which is west of the Rockies.

12:30 p.m. on June 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks again Dewey the feedback is greatly appreciated.

9:42 p.m. on July 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I got the Unishelter. Looks very neat and I'm looking forward to using it!

I looked a bit on the internet about bear safety, especially grizzlys. There's an article from U Alberta which says the following

  • Air horn (portable, inexpensive but can sometimes provoke a bear into attacking).
  • Bells (may help, but have sometimes attracted bears. Not recommended as they do not produce enough noise to let a bear know you are approaching.)
  • Shake a can filled partially with rocks for noise.

Noises that cannot be reproduced in the wild, (e.g. a metallic noise), will let a bear know that you are approaching and give them advanced notice to move out of the area. However, noisemakers that startle a bear, such as an air horn, can provoke an attack. If you release an air horn too close to a bear hiding in the bush and it startles them, they may charge. Bells may work well in remote areas where bears have not had a lot of contact with humans, but in areas where they have become accustomed to humans, a human food habituated bear may approach a person wearing bells. Bells do not make enough noise to warn a bear of your approach unless you are wearing several bells. A can partially filled with rocks makes a loud clattering noise and is very effective in letting bears know of your presence before they pick up your scent.

Source: http://safety.eas.ualberta.ca/node/13#Noisemakers

Bear bells are definitly out of the question. Air horns seem to be effective, but they have limitations. They also recommend the bear spray (with proper usage), so I guess I'll be taking both, spray and air horn.

I couldn't find good demonstrations for air horns, but I've seen videos on youtube where a bear was totally unimpressed by noise from big firearms like a shotgut. Dewey, can you share some more of your experience with using an air horn? Could you ever scare away a bear that has already noticed or even charged you or was stolling around camp at night?

November 28, 2014
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