Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter?


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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/09/2013 14:35:22 MST Print View

I'm converting to winter backpacking and I'm going to use a hot tent setup with a stove.

I'm obviously going to need wood for the stove.

With small amounts of snow I imagine it's easy to find wood but then gets HARDER as the snow gets deeper.

In typical Sierra Nevada conditions (think Tahoe, Yosemite) in the 8-10k foot range, how easy is it going to be to find wood in a typical season.

I was thinking that in an EMERGENCY situation I can always break dead branches off a large standing dead tree / widow maker. However, this is normally illegal and definitely in violation of LNT so I would only do this in life threatening situations.

One option is to keep hiking until I find a good wood source and then camp there. Maybe in a spot where the snow is shallow,.

Would love some feedback from people who have done this before.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/09/2013 15:26:44 MST Print View

Well, here's a picture from March 2011 of the trailhead sign near Boreal:

Edited by requiem on 01/09/2013 15:27:33 MST.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Re: Re: How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/09/2013 15:40:33 MST Print View

ha. That doesn't help too much besides being beautiful :)

If there is still standing wood every once in a while (propped up next to trees) I can just go for a little hike before dusk with my pulk and stock up.

That's about 7' of snow?

I guess what I could do is head up to Tahoe and do an overnight in the snow for a day and just try at first but I want to see what other people have experienced.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/09/2013 16:09:17 MST Print View

Standing wood? Most trees are more than 7 feet tall. I don't see any ethical issues with breaking dead branches off a tree. They are going to fall off eventually. I think that law is there so that you don't end up with every tree completely stripped of dead branches around campsites.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/09/2013 18:36:52 MST Print View

7' minimum; I haven't seen the sign in summer so don't know the exact height. Could easily be more; I think the max snow depth that year was a bit over 16'. Assuming at least 7-8' is probably safe.

I generally stay clear of trees in snow just to avoid sinking into the wells. Moving off-trail on snowshoes was slow enough; we were still post-holing even with snowshoes. You can get an idea of what the trees tend to look like from what little is visible, as well as the link below. My assumption is that dead branches may be in reach, but I don't recall seeing much in the way of propped up wood.

Someone else's trip: http://trektogether.blogspot.com/2012/03/peter-grubb-hut-ski-trip.html

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/09/2013 20:38:14 MST Print View

If when you mention Tahoe, that would have to be outside Desolation. In Wildernesses, you can supposedly only gather down wood, so it would be tough in Desolation where fires are banned but not sure about their take on woodstoves and gathering fuel for it. Yosemite will be tough too, may have to be selective and look for Lodgepole meadows for their limb wood. Otherwise, in NF lands, you are free to use any deadwood for stoves, you'll probably be limited to limb wood as it is easy to break off. With more snow, you can reach trees now that had previously been stripped by summer campers who did not have the snow to stand on.:) I just sold my old snowmobile last weekend, but I liked taking it snow camping as I could ride around in an area, get a lap full of firewood and drive back to my campsite. Enjoy your trip when you get out, I've been solo on two snow trips already this winter, headed out again this coming weekend. I have so many old bp stoves, I have to get out and we have over three more months to do more snowcamping.
Duane

Edited by hikerduane on 01/09/2013 20:41:05 MST.

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/11/2013 01:16:04 MST Print View

Kevin,

Aren’t you just setting yourself up for that emergency situation or breaking the law / violating the LNT guidelines by “converting to winter backpacking and I'm going to use a hot tent setup with a stove”.

What I mean by that is if your strategy for winter camping requires a wood stove in a tent to make it through the night and you are camping someplace (think Tahoe, Yosemite) where it is illegal to break dead branches off trees, then you will force yourself to do this if all the scattered dead wood is wet under 6 feet of snow.

Wouldn’t you be better off by just using the right shelter / sleep system to get you through an “emergency situation” without having to count on wood?

I hope that does not come across as to critical. I have thought about doing a similar thing to get my wife out winter camping with me and my son, but I would only be in areas of crown land where it is legal to gather standing wood and I recognize that I’m violating some people’s idea of LNT to some extent. The Tri-goat stove would just be a luxury item that I would not even count on in an emergency (obviously it would serve some use).

Edited by Sparticus on 01/11/2013 01:17:28 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/11/2013 22:06:22 MST Print View

My experience is I see very little dead wood in the Sierra in the winter or spring. You may find a downed snag that is situated in a spot such that it gets blown clear, but mostly I don't see much.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
How difficult it is to find standing wood in winter? on 01/11/2013 23:51:12 MST Print View

A scavenger hunt comes to mind.:) You just have to locate a good spot. Since I cut firewood, I look for Lodgepole Pine, usually a gppd supply of limbs, later in the winter they are dry or early Spring after the sun has dried them after most of the storms have passed. I have a few spots up here in N CA on the Plumas NF and a spot I go to north of Truckee, CA. Of course they won't be accessible now since I sold my old snowmobile.

PS check out Wintertrekking, they are a group in Canada and the northern tier USA mostly. They do a lot of hot tenting.

Duane

Edited by hikerduane on 01/11/2013 23:52:59 MST.