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Yosemite in April shelter
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Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
Yosemite in April shelter on 01/24/2005 12:15:44 MST Print View

This is my first post here, so hello to everyone.

Briefly, I am a 49yo man who spent a lot of time outdoors when young, just now getting back into it. The lightweight systems have evolved enormously, so I am on a steep learning curve now. This site has been an enormous help.

I just finished reading The Shelter and Clothing system book-it was a much needed, different view of lightweight systems.

My question is this. In April, I will pack into Yosemite. I expect the weather will be tough to predict and there will likely be snow on the ground.

My bias is to use a bivy/tarp for shelter rather than a tent, but I wonder if this is enough. I also read the reviews of the Hennessy Hammock on the site; it looks like there are some advantages, but it does not look like there is a way to protect gear well if the weather goes bad.

What type of shelter would you use for this type of scenario?

Thanks very much for a great site,


Bob Nunnink
( - F
Yosemite in April Shelter on 01/24/2005 16:00:00 MST Print View

I own a Henry Shires Squall Tarptent and a Hennessy Hammock Ultralight. Both are excellant light weight shelters. They each have their limits and I have found that as is the case with much of the ultralight equipment they are best suited to very specific weather conditions. Neither is a four season shelter and I almost feel that each is not a true three season shelter. My definition of a true three season shelter is something that you can take to any state in the lower 48 and it will work resonably well in spring, fall, and summer. The hennesy hammock is the most comfortable nights sleep you will ever get in the wilderness. It's main problem is cold and trees. The hammock design is great for hot humid summer days. The hennesy hammock will out shine all shelters in this environment. Go below 60F and you have to bring extra equipment with you to keep warm because of heat loss by radition and convection. THe system currently can be set up for conditions down to the teens but I feel that the extra weight of insulation needed overides the utility of the tent. As for rain and your equipment being kept dry and protected, the fly on the hammock is more then adequate and if you have major concerns you can order the oversized fly. My shires tarptent is easy to set up and super light and will go places that there are no trees. The tarptent hates rain and humidity. A driving rainstorm will get you wet and humidity can cause condensation on the inside of the tent. The shire tarptnt was developed for the pacific crest trail and in that environment it shines. As an east coastern my tarptent would not be my first choice to take on the AT. Neither of these shelters is 4 season and my quess is Yoesmite can get some white stuff in April. My recomendation would be to look at a Shires Cloudburst It handles snow the best of the tarptents.

Kenneth Gurney
(Drunkenblade) - F
Hi Steve... on 01/24/2005 16:03:55 MST Print View

I'm just wondering about your route?

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
reply on 01/24/2005 18:05:51 MST Print View

Thank you both for your responses. You would be amazed at the amount of time I spend thinking about this stuff. I had forgotten how much I need to be outside, at altitude, to recharge my batteries.

We are still planning, but likely will start in Yosemite Valley. We'll never be as high as Tuolumne Meadows and will not be too far off the open trails for this trip.

I suspect I will be at no more than 4000ft or so.

I just finished Beyond Backpacking, where tarps seem to be favored over tents, but I don't know that I would want to be in a storm similar to that of Oct 04 in a tarp/bivy.

If I need a tent, though, I would have no issue with carrying one.

Thanks again, steve

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Yosemite on 01/24/2005 19:21:38 MST Print View

Hey Steve I was in that storm in Emmigrant Wilderness and it snowed a couple of feet on me. My buddy used a tarp and I had a Henry Shires Tarptent Virga. It was a rough night but in between waking up, my tarptent performed like a champ. I don't reccomend this for everyone but I was totally dry for the rest of the night. My buddy used a Go Lite Cave tarp with a pertex quantum bivy and ground cloth and he too was dry as ever and very comfortable. The secret that night was the spot that we chose to camp at. We chose an elevated non impacted spot where we did not have to worry about rainfall drainage. Good luck on your Yosemite outing.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 01/24/2005 19:22:53 MST.

Bob Nunnink
( - F
yosemite in April Shelter on 01/25/2005 06:06:36 MST Print View

Beyond Backpacking is a great book(just don't try and eat the corn pasta!)Tarps are great and are cheap to buy. The Jardine book was originally written 13 years ago. Many of todays lightweight tents and tarps were not invented at the time the book was written. Tarps are great as long as you take the time to pitch them right. Todays new tents are as light as tarps and much easier to pitch. They also provide better weather protection. You originally said that you were getting back into backpacking after a number of years. My recomendation would be to ease into the ultralight method gently. A tarp is lighter and requires greater outdoor skill then a tent to use properly. One of the tents from backpackinglights single wall shelter review <>
will definely be more comfortable for you then a tarp.

Good luck

Edited by on 01/25/2005 06:21:21 MST.

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
reply on 01/25/2005 09:53:15 MST Print View

It has been awhile since I did this, esp in the snow. I used to snow camp on Sonora Pass, eons ago.

I just missed the Oct storm. We returned from the Mt Vogelsang area the day before it hit. On that trip, my pack weighed in at a svelte 38#. We covered the area from Eleanor Lake to Vogelsang Lake to Tuolumne Meadows the last day, by which time my motivation to lighten the load was pretty high.

On that trip, I used an OR Adv bivy and a tarp, but it was very cold and dry until the later storm I dodged. Although I have not backpacked much in the last 20 years, I camp about 3 times/year otherwise with my 2 sons, aged 7 and 8.

I think I'll probably make the final call as I watch the weather reports prior to leaving on 4/21/05.

Thanks so much for all of your help.

By the way, is this a bad season for mosquitoes/ticks in Yosemite?