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Greg Hounsell
(mudman) - M

Locale: Western Canada
Shelter recommendation for PCT south end... on 03/13/2013 13:03:07 MDT Print View

My wife and I will be hiking a short PCT section north from Campo to Warner Springs in late April but we are still debating our shelter choice. We will either be taking our MLD Cuben Grace Duo or the Trailstar but opting to bivy out under the stars a much as possible! This will be our first time in a desert environment and have concerns about shelter setup in the sand as well as space requirements (especially for the trailstar). Any suggestions as to which would be the best option for us?

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
YMMV but ... on 03/13/2013 19:57:53 MDT Print View

I hiked the first/dry part of the PCT in 2008 with just a poncho tarp as both shelter and rain gear, leaving Campo in late April (right after the ADZPCTKO event). I brought a very light (water resistant, not water proof) bivy, but only crawled into it a couple of times; I wouldn't bring it again.

That said, I had essentially no rain in those first 700 miles. It's possible, of course, to get hard rain in there, so you do need to be able to manage. But it should be a relatively rare event I suspect.

I think there were a couple of nights in the first 700 miles where bugs were a little bothersome; I used the bivy for that, but could certainly get by for a night or two with just a head net.

As you said, I pretty much cowboy camped (no shelter) every night, with the poncho handy on evenings that looked even the least bit sketchy.

In any event, so long as you can deal with the possibility of hard rain and possibly even some snow, I'd err on the side of lighter weight and minimal required shelter/gear.

Frank Dumville
(fdumville) - M

Locale: SoCal
RE: Shelter recommendation for PCT south end... on 03/13/2013 22:42:32 MDT Print View

Chances are it will be sunny and hot at the end of April, but it can also rain or snow. The trail from Campo to Warner Springs goes up to about 6000 feet. It can also get really windy. San Diego is at the southern end of the storm track so they can usually predict about a week out if a storm may be coming. Storms usually pass through in a day or two once they get here. I would check the weather just before leaving and make the decision then between the Trailstar or Grace, but bring something.

The trail goes through high desert and low mountains, you're not going to be walking over sand dunes. There are some sandy areas but most of the terrain is pretty hard packed. Finding space to camp shouldn't be a problem.

Flying bugs aren't much of a problem down here. We do have some annoying little flys but they don't seem to bite. You may encounter ticks.

Snap

Alasdair Fowler
(MessiahKhan) - F

Locale: Newcastle, UK
Shelter recommendation for PCT south end... on 03/14/2013 03:24:48 MDT Print View

During our PCT thru last year we were hit by a storm 3 days in, just south of Mount Laguna. We were carrying a Cuben Supermid and full rain gear so were ok, but without a decent shelter or raingear it would have been a very unpleasant situation and we could easily have ended up hypothermic. Having said that, we only received rain for about 5 days in total on the whole trail.

I think the Trailstar would make a good choice of shelter. I know people also had success with the hexamid.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Right track on 03/14/2013 06:37:56 MDT Print View

Greg,
IMHO a tarp bivy is the ideal combination for SoCal. It allows you to cowboy camp with the bivy which was great for wind protection. Your proposed plan (and Brian's) is identical to what I did. I was also lucky to have had no rain at all in the first 1000 miles so I never set up my tarp. Nothing better than rolling up the bivy and quilt, throwing it in your pack and hiking.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Right track on 03/14/2013 08:36:57 MDT Print View

Wind will be your biggest nemesis.

Greg Hounsell
(mudman) - M

Locale: Western Canada
Shelter recommendation for PCT south end... on 03/14/2013 10:28:27 MDT Print View

Thank you all for your helpful comments and insight...this is why I love BPL!!!

Myla Fay
(swimming) - F
Dumb snake question... on 03/14/2013 15:21:57 MDT Print View

I hate to sound like a crazy person but I wasn't planning to bring a full shelter for the desert section of the PCT until someone told me rattlesnakes come and curl up with you at night to stay warm! Has anyone else heard of that happening?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Dumb snake question... on 03/14/2013 15:30:50 MDT Print View

Rattlesnakes are not a big problem as long as you take your trail mongoose along on a leash.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Dumb snake question... on 03/14/2013 16:49:36 MDT Print View

I have been living and hiking in the lower desert (not far from the southern PCT)since 1977, and mostly sleep without a shelter. Never had a snake curl up next to me.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Snow & Wx, Southern PCT on 03/14/2013 18:36:03 MDT Print View

Chances are it will be sunny and hot at the end of April, but it can also rain or snow. The trail from Campo to Warner Springs goes up to about 6000 feet. It can also get really windy. San Diego is at the southern end of the storm track so they can usually predict about a week out if a storm may be coming. Storms usually pass through in a day or two once they get here. I would check the weather just before leaving and make the decision then between the Trailstar or Grace, but bring something.

That's pretty sound advice.

By the way, and maybe you already know this, but it's been a really dry year here. It hasn't been raining much, and a lot of hikes I might not ordinarily do this time of year (due to snow) have been entirely passable.

Here, I'm out hiking with my daughter about 2 or 3 weeks ago above 6,000 feet in the San Gabriels. Just patches. More snow in shaded spots.

That's not normal for late February, not even for So. California.

Here's at about 7500'.


I was on a ridge with southern exposure. North facing slopes will have a lot more snow. North facing slopes:


Obviously these are not desert sections of the PCT, but it should give you some idea of what to expect in the high country en route to Warner Springs. I wouldn't expect much snow on anything south facing. North facing may be another story, but it has been a very low snow year.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Dumb snake question... on 03/15/2013 09:57:05 MDT Print View

Had a ringtail jump on my chest when cowboy camping in the Grand Canyon, but never a snake. The other fear that people express is that scorpions will get them. Or just generally other creepy crawlies, and you're always seeing little lizards out there.

There are all certainly many things that a person can fear when laying out in the open at night if inclined that way. If you are so inclined, the things I suggest that you fear include freeways, various forms of age-related dementia, and arteriosclerosis.

David Erickson
(trailwolf)
Re: Dumb snake question... on 03/15/2013 10:37:12 MDT Print View

I never used a shelter when I camped in the western deserts 30 years ago. What the locals taught me was to layout poly/tarp/blanket then tie/prop-up the corners creating a bowl to sleep in. This will keep the snakes/scorpions/crawlies from snuggling up with you at night.