19 Days of Solitude

11:51 p.m. on December 3, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

It's hard to believe but my NovemberThanksgiving backpacking trip went 19 days without seeing a single backpacker!  This is a new record.  This trip can be fully viewed here---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2013-1/19-Days-of-Solitude

TRIP 151
November 14--December 2  2013

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

**  19 DAYS IN A THANKSGIVING SNOWSTORM

**  19 DAYS OF SOLITUDE

**  INTO THE SNOWBIRDS AT BIG JUNCTION

**  CAMPING IN MITCHELL LICK

**  EXPED DOWNMAT FAILURE IN THE FIELD

**  PAD FAILURE BAIL OVER HAW MT TO THE WHIGG

**  PROLITE 4 EMERGENCY PAD CACHE PICKUP AT JEFFREY HELL

**  TWO HARD DAYS OF ROADWALK BACKPACKING

**  DEEP CREEK TRAILWORK

**  CAMPING AT THE DEEP CREEK FOOTBRIDGE

**  A NEW CAMP ON THE HAOE LEAD TRAIL

**  JENKINS MEADOW TRAILWORK

**  TRAILWORK ON THE NAKED GROUND TRAIL

**  THANKSGIVING STORM ON THE NAKED GROUND TRAIL

**  46 HOURS OF A COLD NOVEMBER RAIN

**  SNOWSTORM IN THE SLICKROCK

**  8F NIGHT IN THE SLICK

TRAILS
Entrance at Big Junction
Snowbird Creek trail
**Mitchell Lick**
Backtrack Snowbird Creek trail
Big Junction
Haw Mt
Mud Gap trail
**Whiggs Meadow**
Mud Gap trail
Scarway Roadwalk
Beech Gap
Roadwalk
Jeffrey Hell trail
**Frustration Camp**
Jeffrey Hell
Backtrack Roadwalk to Beech Gap
BMT/Fodderstack to Cold Gap
Trail 149
**Barrel Gap**
BMT Connector
54A North
**Bob Bald**
Four Mile Ridge
**Naked Ground**
Four Mile Ridge
Hangover Mt
Deep Creek
**Deep Creek Camp**
Deep Creek
**Footbridge Camp**
Deep Creek
Haoe Lead
**Haoe Spring Camp**
Haoe Lead
**Toad Camp**
Haoe Lead
Jenkins Meadow
Naked Ground Alternate
**Low Dog Camps**
Naked Ground trail
**High Dog Camps(3)**
Naked Ground trail
**Naked Ground(2)**
Four Mile Ridge
**Bob Bald Raven Camp**
54A South
Fodderstack
Beech Gap
Scarway Roadwalk
Jeffrey Hell
**Frustration Camp**
Jeffrey Hell and OUT




TRIP%20151%20035-M.jpg

Little Mitten and Zoe Dog drop me off at Big Junction on the Cherohala Scarway as I stand hoping my 90 lb pack does not tip over onto the dog.


TRIP%20151%20010-M.jpg

A new item on this trip are these down Nilas mitts inspired by Patman.


TRIP%20151%20040-M.jpg

Wouldn't you know it but on the first night of the trip my Exped Downmat blows a tube baffle whereby two tubes become one.  Exped crap.  I have to bail out of my Snowbird recon and hike into the Citico where I have a couple emergency Thermarests.


TRIP%20151%20067-M.jpg

After a 12 mile or something day I reach my emergency Prolite 4 cache and it isn't chewed by rodents and serves me the rest of the trip---a 3 season pad for winter.


TRIP%20151%20082-M.jpg

I leave Jeffrey Hell trail and begin my long climb to Bob Mt and stop along the way for a rest.


TRIP%20151%20104-M.jpg

I pass over the Bob and the Hangover and descend Deep Creek trail to do extensive trailwork and find this new campsite.


TRIP%20151%20118-M.jpg

The pretty footbridge on the Deep Creek trail.


TRIP%20151%20133-M.jpg

I finish the Deep Creek trail and junction with the Haoe Lead trail in a butt cold rain and reach this "overlook rock" which the trail passes above.


TRIP%20151%20128-M.jpg

A difficult day of backpacking in a cold rain as the temps drop to 15F or below in a nasty wind at around 4,000 feet. 


TRIP%20151%20143-M.jpg

The Haoe Lead trail is a killer but it finally junctions with the Jenkins Meadow trail so I am glad because my night's camp is just a quarter mile ahead.


TRIP%20151%20173-M.jpg

What's for lunch?  It's a new product---OvaEasy powdered eggs and they work very well.


TRIP%20151%20269-M.jpg

I pack up in a very cold wind and descend the Jenkins Meadow trail and by Thanksgiving Eve get a real cold snap at around 12F with about 3 inches of snow.


TRIP%20151%20186-M.jpg

Thanksgiving morning is very cold and as always difficult to pack up the tent.  This is at about 4,000 feet on the Naked Ground trail.


TRIP%20151%20207-M.jpg

I finish the Naked Ground trail and get to the high gap at Naked Ground and show off my new mittens.


TRIP%20151%20220-M.jpg

It stays cold all Thanksgiving week so I pull a zero in Naked Ground and check out the November view.


TRIP%20151%20242-M.jpg

I leave Naked Ground and climb back up to the Bob and set up in Raven Camp.


TRIP%20151%20272-M.jpg

I eventually leave the Bob and hike about 6 miles to the Jeffrey Hell trail and set up at Frustration Camp.  On my last day I sit in the Hilleberg tent without the inner hooked in and wait for another bout of cold rain to stop before my ride out and evac.

It ends.

8:09 a.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
770 reviewer rep
1,289 forum posts

Tipi,

Wow you got some great pictures on this trip. I only saw one backpacker coming out as I went in and then one coming in as I went out. Otherwise I was alone the whole time too. There were some frigid days huh? Did you enjoy the Nilas? I know I used mine several times last week.

8:41 a.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

I used the mittens several times on very cold mornings to help in packing up whereby I'd take them off for quick work and put them back on just as fast.  I even hiked in them a couple times and they are excellent.

Just don't do trailwork in the things as my Corona folding saw cut a 3/4 inch slit on the side of one but easily repaired with a ripstop patch.

8:51 a.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
210 reviewer rep
4,243 forum posts

Nice trip report and pictures! That is interesting country.

10:21 a.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
351 reviewer rep
287 forum posts

Pretty cool Tipi.  I like the pics and great report.  

I just started using an Exped Synmat 9.  I like it a lot for comfortability.  I hope I don't blow any baffles.  I think Exped should warranty yours if it isn't the UL version.  That is pretty cool that you cache spare gear.  First time I have heard of someone caching a spare mat.  Obviously came in handy.  Pretty cool.  

11:17 a.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

Jason Ruff said:

Pretty cool Tipi.  I like the pics and great report.  

I just started using an Exped Synmat 9.  I like it a lot for comfortability.  I hope I don't blow any baffles.  I think Exped should warranty yours if it isn't the UL version.  That is pretty cool that you cache spare gear.  First time I have heard of someone caching a spare mat.  Obviously came in handy.  Pretty cool.  

 Caching a spare pad wouldn't work for thruhiker types on a linear trail but it's a great system when exploring a set wilderness area, if you're willing to detour many miles and circle back to the cache.  In the winter on frozen ground it's a no-brainer.

I've had up to 3 separate Thermarest caches at one time spread over a wide area but sadly around 20% of them get raided by rodents or bears and either ripped apart or chewed into submission.  This may be prevented by careful prep beforehand (i.e. wrapping properly) or not.  I wonder if Ursack makes a stuff sac for a Thermarest?

It's also good to have a spare stove and stove pump (MSR white gas stoves) just in case you get a stove blowout.  Beyond this, I carry ample repair kits for both the stove and the pad.  AND I learned the hard way that it's good to carry a spare coil of shock cord for when the cord in a tent pole breaks.  The challenge with a "field break" is to get all the pole sections in the right order when replacing the cord as many poles have pre-bent sections and get all mixed up when loose.

As far as the Exped, well, while it's the most comfortable winter pad made (and exceedingly warm), it offers no protection if flat and uncomfortable in my case when a baffle tube bursts.  Therefore I would not rely on an Exped downmat for winter use as a stand alone pad, in fact I will probably never take out an Exped again.

My current solution is this---to bring 2 lightweight inflatables like a Prolite coupled with another Prolite or a Prolite Plus with either a NeoAir or a closed cell foam pad---two are always carried on a winter trip.  Then if you have a blowout you won't have to detour your trip route and can probably get by with a single pad.

10:09 a.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

I figured you got out in the snow! I was out in the woods Thanksgiving morning, but all we got on signal was some frost. 

I'm going to have to try out those eggs! As you know, I love me some eggs on the trail, but most powdered eggs are awful. 

I simply love that cold November morning light photo you took looking out from Naked Ground. The dawn colours in winter are so very beautiful. 

3:17 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
770 reviewer rep
1,289 forum posts

I agree Gonzan, he got some great pictures on this one.

5:44 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
188 forum posts

sounds like you made the most of the daze...

 

im looking through the pictures right now and have some random thoughts...

 

---that campsite at mitchell lick......hmmmm......that area has been calling my name the last few weeks but i havent been able to take the call...

----those logs that were at whigg meadow----do you know why they are there?    when i was up there a few weeks ago, i wasnt sure if someone was using them for some kinda project up on the meadow.....but they became dangerously close to becoming firewood that night...

 

also.......going back to mud gap from the meadow....maybe a half mile or so along trail, to the right----there's a trail that is ribbon flagged---any idea of what that trail is or where it leads to?

 

and im really surprised that nobody (of course there is limited traffic along the skyway) that nobody offered ya a ride seeing the large pack on yer back....

 

those camps along deep creek----boy did they really look inviting when i passed by them a few months ago......really really pretty campsites on either side of the bridge...

and thankfully, deep creek trail wasnt in as bad of shape as brush mountain trail.....

 

and that bridge along deep creek----yeah.....it looked really slick so i opted to rock hop creek instead of breaking my leg on it...

 

only halfway through photos today, so my thoughts may continue tomorrow...

9:27 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

Kevin---Here's a pic of those logs you saw on the Whigg---


TRIP%20151%20042-L.jpg

When I arrived here I found these 3 poles set up as a tripod with an ample trench dug around it.  I toppled the poles.

The ribbon off the Whigg/Mud Gap trail is the trail coming down/or going up to Haw Mt.  It's been recently completely cleared and ribboned and will take a backpacker from Whiggs Meadow up and over the Haw to Big Jct and the tie-in trail to Upper Snowbird Creek and down to Mitchell Lick, etc.

10:09 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
188 forum posts

Yeah....those are the logs....

I must have been up there after you as the logs were laying in that position when I was up there and I also saw that trench...

Couldn't exactly figure what it was for but I did see a big pile of horse poop in that general area so I didn't stay there but rather up on the bald near the fire ring...

Just past the fire ring in the brush, there's a memorial to a fallen hiker...I ended up running into that guys friends as they brought their trucks up and stayed near parking lot...

Maybe I shoulda burnt those logs....

I'll probably check out that other trail in the next couple of months....so many routes---so little time.....

10:24 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
188 forum posts

Just checked my calendar---I was up on Whigg the night of November 16....

11:43 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

I was up there in the rain on November 15.

11:54 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
188 forum posts

Well.....dang....

If I had seen ya on the road walk---I could have picked ya up....or at least beeped at ya...

1:14 p.m. on December 9, 2013 (EST)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
843 reviewer rep
123 forum posts

As always, your posts are entertaining and informative all at the same time! An impressive feat in my book. 

9:25 a.m. on December 13, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

Hi Walter. Always enjoy your trip journals. I had similar problems with my Exped Synmats. As a matter of fact, I had four of them(!) blow out baffles just like what happened with your Downmat. Exped has replaced all of them, free of charge. Send them an email and, if you saved the mat, give them the serial #, located near the exit valve.

I'm a regular on the backpacker forum, just getting settled over here.

Cheers.

1:51 p.m. on December 13, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

Thanks Martinb for the info.  Now I'll have to get motivated to package up the old Exped and send it out.  Problem is, do I really want another Exped??  Can't afford to have it fail on me again.  And welcome to good old Trailspace.

2:55 p.m. on December 13, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

Walter, I didn't have to send mine in. I just sent them an attached pic of the mat(s), inflated, and provided the requested serial numbers. Got my new mat(s) in just under two weeks. As long as they replace them, for free, I'll keep using them. I have been stashing a spare mat in the car, at the trailhead, just in case.

12:01 a.m. on December 14, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

Thanks for the info.  I have the necessary pics already so I'll send them an email after I look for the serial number.

12:54 p.m. on December 22, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,196 forum posts

EXPED UPDATE

Forget everything negatory I said about the Exped brand---the boys sent me a new downmat 9 just by sending an email with a few pics of the baffle delamination.  Question is---if I take it on my next winter trip will the thing POP again?  I guess I'm always gonna need a backup pad.

8:07 p.m. on December 23, 2013 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

Glad Exped came through for you. I have not had any problems with the latest replacement Synmats. YMMV. As many nights as you are out, probably a good idea to have a backup no matter what. Good luck with the new one.

October 31, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Views from where I live this morning Newer: Winter in The Zion Narrows
All forums: Older: Anyone ready for a PIF Christmas? Newer: I have a problem!