[pct-l] Ned Tibbit's Snow Clinic

Dave and Cindy hikeon at surewest.net
Tue Apr 7 13:33:59 CDT 2009

Thanks so much to Ned and his wonderful family for a invaluable outdoor backpacking experience in the snow this last weekend.

We had a great group of hikers of all ages and experiences.  The weather turned out to be beautiful and the scenery was drop dead gorgeous.  On Friday we snowshoed up to Tamarack Lake from Echo lake.  The point of this was to learn how to route find by using the lay of the land.  We went one way while Ned took his sled on a different route.  Our group climbed a little to high but eventually we dropped back down to our destination at the outlet of Tamarack Lake.

I mostly wanted to post my experience during this weekend adventure since I feel that I learned a lot more than I thought I already knew about myself and my gear.

The first night we camped in a protected area on the snow within the trees as a wind barrier.  It was shady most of the day.  That night the temperature dropped to around 17 degrees.  Tarzan and I had our 15 degree bags and all the warm gear that we would take on a thru hike including wool long underwear and a Montbell down inner jacket.  We only had our thermarest light sleeping pads and that's where the problem began.  We were cold all night and sometimes shivering mostly due to the fact that our pads were not insulated enough for sleeping on the snow!

The next day we had a beautiful hike up to Aloha Lake and it was worth the trip.  I told Ned that we might want to go home that evening since being in a state of hypothermia was not fun!  We all came up with ideas of changing what we did the night before.  We were able to barrow thicker down jackets from Juliee, Ned's wife, and Ned.  We moved out tent into an open area that got sun all day.  We placed articles under our sleeping pad such as extra clothing, pads, maps, etc.  That night was so much warmer and we were so glad that we stuck it out.  

The next morning we went down to a fairly good slope and practiced glissading and self arrest with our ice axes.  I have climbed Shasta and read how to use an ice axe.  I have also self arrested on a fast glissade.  But, this was such a confidence booster.  It was so nice to have someone actually watch us all go down and make sure that we were doing everything correctly.  It was like night and day for me personally to know that I really could stop a serious fall if I had too and that I was doing it correctly.  Last year when I went over the Sierras in June, on my thru hike, I was always thinking to myself, what would I do if I fell?  Do I really know how to self arrest?   Now I feel like I can enjoy walking over the snow and not stress the night before and throughout the day as I traverse the steep slopes of snow.  

All in all in turned out to be a very informative weekend in many ways.  I learned skills that will last every time I go out in the wilderness.  And I learned that the way you might do something on one backpacking trip might not be the way you will do it the next time depending on the circumstances, so be open minded, flexible, creative and have a backup plan.  Most importantly, I learned to trust myself.

Thanks so much to Ned and his wife Juliee, and son John for taking the time to share your love of the outdoors with all of us.


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