Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
My CT 2013 list and possible PCT 2014
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mike Stromsoe
(phstudio) - F

Locale: So. Cal.
My CT 2013 list and possible PCT 2014 on 04/09/2013 18:50:12 MDT Print View

I've commented on a few lists recently, so it's only fair I post my list for this year. I'm more than likely doing the PCT in 2014 so I will consider the CT this year to be my shakedown hike with some of my new gear and a new big 3.

My old big 3:
Pack - SMD Swift
Quilt - Jack's R Better Sierra sniveler
Shelter - TarpTent Moment

When I decided I was doing the CT last May, my goal was to have a 12 pound base weight. Looks like I nailed that one on the head. I probably could go lighter on the clothing, but frankly I don't trust mother nature in alpine. I guess I like to be prepared for adverse weather and I guess I hate being cold. However, I like being in the cold. :)

It looks like Colorado is getting some recent snow. I'm starting on June 28th, so if there's still snow up there I'll add in a pair of seal skinz, some MLD gaiters and possibly some Micro Spikes. Too early to tell, I guess.


Edit: Had trouble with the link.

Edited by phstudio on 04/09/2013 18:54:07 MDT.

Reggie Garrett
(regarrett) - M

Locale: Lost in the mountains
CT gear list on 04/09/2013 19:15:23 MDT Print View

Things look good to me. Only comment I have is on the Katabatic Gear Swatch. I use the Palisade and love it. It's the 30 degree quilt and it is very accurate with its rating. I've actually used in down to 22 degrees with a lightweight down jacket. Was very cozy.
On one 30 degree night all I wore was my lightweight Icebreaker long underwear bottoms and top. I had to sleep in a valley on wet ground and I was very, very warm. Didn't want to get up for the pee break, but nature called very loudly that night. And, I was rewarded with a great night sky.

Mine is a long version and weighs just about 18 oz. If I need a bit more warmth or protection I use their Bristlecone bivy under my shelter. It adds unbelievable warmth for 7 oz.

You look like you are all set....

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Ideas on 04/09/2013 19:21:57 MDT Print View

Edit - the wrong gear list came up back in a second.

Edited by Cameron on 04/09/2013 19:23:17 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Looks good, pack question on 04/09/2013 19:31:29 MDT Print View

Looks like a very solid list. My only question is with the pack. I think the Windrunner 2400 will be a great pack, its layout is similar to the pack I used on the CT. However would you prefer the 3400 model? I think with your kit 2400 inches will be enough on the CT but you might want the extra space if you are doing the PCT later. The weight penaly for the extra space is pretty small.

Other then that it looks pretty solid, hope you have fun. I'd suggest learning about weather patterns a bit. Might come in handy in deciding whether to push over one last pass or not.

Mike Stromsoe
(phstudio) - F

Locale: So. Cal.
RE: CT gear list on 04/09/2013 19:57:25 MDT Print View


You'll have to trust me, I sleep very, very cold. I can literally sleep comfortably in my Sierra Sniveler quilt at 68 degrees F with my arms tucked in. All this winter I have been dreaming of and coveting a nice warm Sawatch while I've been not so warm in my present quilt. Also, I can't wait to push the Sawatch next winter in my local mountains. That said, I do plan on adding a Enlightened Equip 30 degree quilt into my quiver early next year, but just not for this hike. I'll let you know if I end up roasting on my CT trip. :)


Sorry for the original bad link. Good question! My present pack, the SMD Swift, is roughly the same size as the Windrider 2400. I was able to get my gear, a bear canister and 10 days worth of food into my Swift for my 2011 JMT hike. Just barely, though(overflow food was in a Ursak). I'll double check with my gear when I get it and do an exchange if needed. About the weather. Note to self: Do not die from lightning strikes! Yes, I need to read up on that. Thanks.

Edit: D'oh! Spelling and grammatical errors.

Edited by phstudio on 04/09/2013 22:41:44 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Lightning Strikes on the CT on 04/09/2013 20:58:45 MDT Print View

That was the scariest part of the trip! REI sells a booklet on lightning safety. I think its by Mountaineer Press and its also available on kindle. I'd buy the hard copy because the diagrams and pictures are too small on a kindle.

If you'd like I can give you a pretty detailed list of the hairy spots and where there are place to hunker down.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Lightning Strikes on the CT on 04/09/2013 22:04:47 MDT Print View

Here's a good resource on lightning safety (note: link opens a PDF):

The only thing I disagree with in that PDF is the "lightning position". I don't think it would do any good and it's impractical to maintain for extended periods of time.

Mike Stromsoe
(phstudio) - F

Locale: So. Cal.
Re: Lightning Strikes on the CT on 04/09/2013 22:50:40 MDT Print View


Holy cr@p, that pdf might give a nightmare! :) So much death and destruction. Very good info, though. Thanks!


I'll check out that book. I'd be foolish to pass up any first hand knowledge you might want to pass on. I think others can benefit too. Very much obliged!

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Re: Lightning Strikes on the CT on 04/10/2013 17:00:32 MDT Print View

Sorry I can't open your gear list, but I did the CT in July 2011. The thunder and lightening storms are for real! I would be prepared for that as well as a lot of rain, hail and snow, you'll see it all, especially since you're starting early. The storms are generally in the afternoon, but can occur as early as 1200.

I also had the Palisade 30F quilt and I was always plenty warm. On really cold nights I just put more clothes on.

Have fun!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re Lightning Strikes on 04/10/2013 22:20:29 MDT Print View

Mike do you have a data book yet? I just discovered I have my databook and some maps from the trip here. Tomorrow I'll try to post some thoughts on where to watch out. If you know where the hiding spots are you can weigh risks better.

Mike Stromsoe
(phstudio) - F

Locale: So. Cal.
Databook on 04/10/2013 22:33:11 MDT Print View

Luke, I don't have it yet as the last edition is sold out and apparently with the addition of the new West Collegiate route and loop, they are pretty late with the new edition. They might not even come out with it in time. If that's the case I'll probably just buy a used edition off of Amazon to supplement my CT Atlas from Erik the Black.


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
A database of all the bad spots for lighting on the CT on 04/11/2013 10:43:39 MDT Print View

Okay here is my best attempt to list everything place on the CT that is exposed to lighting danger. I use major landmarks like passes for easy reference. An exposed area may start slightly before or after a major landmark. Distances are my best estimate using of how much trail is actually above treeline.

Note - You are responsible for your own safety here! I list even marginal sheltered spots just so you know were they are in case of an emergency. Use your head!

When I say a places is okay in "marginal weather" I mean this. "Marginal Weather" means a thunderstorm is possible but I expect to have 15-30 minutes before it gets really bad to find shelter. I would not start hiking across Snow Mesa in "Marginal" weather for example.

Here are all the high and exposed spots from North to South.

1. George Pass - 1.5-2 miles above treeline

2. Ten Mile Range - 4 miles above treeline, no bail out points, very high and exposed in places.

3. Searle Pass to Kokomo Pass Area- 4-5 miles above treeline from Guller creek to basin below Kokomo Pass. Willows at the top of several small creeks are a spot to hunker down in an emergency (only in an emergancy!).

4. Holy Cross Wilderness - 3-4 miles in sub alpine forest with one two ridge crossings above treeline. Dangerous area in thunderstorm, bail out options make it okay in marginal weather.

5. Collegiate Peaks Wilderness (northern section) - Trail close to timberline at times. Mostly safe except during a bad thunderstorm, quick bail outs.

6. Collegiate Peaks Wilderness (southern section after North Fork Cottonwood Cr) - Saddle in trees not exposed. For great view walk through trees to open ridge to the east (not on trail).

7. Monarch Pass Area - 3.5-4 miles above timberline in two sections with a forested saddle in between.

8. La Garita Wilderness Part 1 - 3-4 miles above treeline starting at Cachetopa Creek headwaters. Trail briefly enters forest again at the end.

9. La Garita Wilderness Part 2 - From treeline the trail climbs up for about 1.5-2 miles to San Luis Pass. Trail is very exposed. Bail out option at San Luis pass, forest is just to north down overgrown side trail.

10. La Garita Wilderness Part 3 - San Luis Pass to East Mineral Creek Headwaters, very high and exposed for 2-3 miles.

11. La Garita Wilderness Part 4 - East Mineral Creek to West Mineral Creek Headwaters, CT goes over two small passes above timberline, briefly in trees at the top of each drainage.

12. West Mineral Creek across Snow Mesa - 7-8 miles no trees, very exposed in places.

13. Jarosa Mesa to Big Buck Creek headwaters - 6-7 miles, no trees. Trees at headwaters of Big Buck Creek (I believe there was a Yurt around here too).

14. Ruby Creek Headwaters to Carson Saddle - 8-9 miles, no shelter, high and exposed, do not do this if the weather looks bad. At Carson Saddle a dirt road leads down to treeline (not on trail). Stealth campsite in willows above trail on right. Note this willow campsite is is the best campsite I am aware of between here and Elk Park. It is not perfect but the willows provide a bit of a wind break and its probably one of the safer places to camp above treeline.

15. Carson Saddle to Elk Park - 20+ miles, no shelter, some places very exposed. Look at a map for possible exit routes if weather gets bad.

16. Molas Pass to West Lime Creek Headwaters - Trail stays close to treeline for the most part. Avoid in bad weather but bail out options make it okay in marginal weather.

17. West Lime Creek Headwaters to Rolling Pass - 3-4 miles, no shelter until the basin below Rolling Pass.

18. Grayskil Creek to Bolam Pass - 1-2 miles above treeline. Most exposed on Rolling Pass.

19. Bolam Pass to Blackhawk Pass - This whole section is tricky because you are either close to treeline (below Harmosa Peak) or walking a narrow ridge that is exposed whether you are technically above treeline or not. Its not as bad as some of the other areas but if a thunderstorm started I'd probably stop at the first good spot and wait it out.

20. Blackhawk Pass - 1.5 miles above treeline. The creek south of Blackhawk Pass was the last water between here and Kennebec Lake when I finished the trail in September of 2012.

21. Indian Trail Ridge - Trail follows high narrow ridge. Forest ends south of Cape Good Hope Trail. Some parts of ridge very exposed with no exits but it is possible to go down from several saddles to the west.

22. Kennebec Pass Area - 3 miles mostly above treeline. Some trees in basin. Last above treeline spot before Durango.

Mike Stromsoe
(phstudio) - F

Locale: So. Cal.
Thanks Luke! on 04/11/2013 20:24:35 MDT Print View

Luke, thanks a bunch for your insights! I really appreciate the time you have taken to do this. I'm going to print this out (at a reduced font size, of course. Don't want to have too much paper weight :)) and put it in with my maps.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Thanks Luke on 04/11/2013 20:42:04 MDT Print View

Hope it helps. I did my best but it makes more sense if you have a map in front of you. I'd suggest looking at Good place to print off topo maps for free.