Trip Report: Tamarack Lake, Desolation Wilderness, CA/Lake Tahoe Region 11-14 Nov 2018

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on November 17, 2018 by William Hooks

Driver: Jim Garrett; split gas expenses. VERY glad Jim used his car- mine was not yet in shape for this journey (It is now).

First evening at Motel 6 South Lake Tahoe ($49)

Second day: full tour of the border of Lake Tahoe, west to east

Second evening : same- NPS office closed ,due to Veterans Day holiday

Arrived at trailhead for Desolation Wilderness located at Echo Lake south terminus in AM third day, buried some trash near Lodge and noted that lot nearest trailhead was closed, parked uphill at secondary lot
Trail outside Desolation area not marked at all; much more elevation change on trail compared w pretrip plan evaluation. Used Lil Sami bear canister
Encountered 3 unleashed dogs inside Wilderness in violation of regulation- these threatened attack on us and were repelled with trek poles; owner showed almost no concern about this confrontation
Arrived at Tamarack Lake mid-afternoon, established camp 100 yd east of lake and used the following gear:
E2 Revelation +20F quilt- enhancing Jim’s inadequate sleeping bag and liner; he expressed great interest in adding a 5F bag to his gear
ZPacks Duplex tent-excellent!!! with vestibules open
TD Caldera alcohol system with Zelph Mega stove (~ 3.5 oz fuel more than adequate for 850 ml water at c freezing temperature) Boil in ~ 30 minutes; Jim could not light stove w firesteel but had success with Bic lighter

WM +5F Antelope bag: excellent! in temps to +27F as measured by my Casio Analog-digital watch at 7820 ft
Left all shell clothes, camp boots, BD Ice gloves and WM Vapor jacket in car- not needed
Did not use Icebreaker leggings in pack, several snacks, 2 desserts, nor REI Glomitts
No wind chill encountered, no rain or snow
Warm temps on return to car, used only base layer top and Marmot Scree SS pants; Return route via Markleeville / Monitor Pass to US 395, stopped at Bishop, got 2L CNOC Vecto flexible water container weighing 3 oz at Sage to Summit in Bishop, CA

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Southern margin of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA

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Jim’s breakfast table at start of trip

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Desolation Wilderness map at trailhead

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Looking down on Echo Lakes

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My 5 deg F WM Antelope on the left, Jim inflating his X-Therm pad

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ZPacks Duplex at sunrise

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I wished that the US president had been standing on this ice

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Scouting our return route

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Z Packs Duplex: 19.5 OZ of joy in the backcountry

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags on October 27, 2018 by William Hooks
Duplex_DCF Duomid_Sil Duomid

ZPacks Duomid (blue), MLD Duomid DCF (gray), MLD Duomid Silnylon (citrus)

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Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm regular pad included for scale

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I decided to add this shelter to my selection because it’s extremely light, made of cuben fiber/DCF, provided full protection including from insects, is one-piece and not modular (ie, very simple/fast setup), and has no zippers except for the 2 interior windows. Very spacious- a palace for one, very adequate for 2 persons.

I got one of their bargain bin shelters said to have minor cosmetic defects, for $25 discount ; haven’t yet had any issues with it.

Its weight is similar to those of my Duomids, especially the one also made of DCF. It is not in my opinion a 4 season shelter like  Duomids or my Black Diamond Megalite, and will not handle high winds as well as those; can’t dig beneath it into snow. But for 3 season use-especially where mosquitos or other insects are an issue, and for rain protection- this has become my default tent. No center pole….[yes, I know that the mids can sometimes be used that way]. Unlike mids, this shelter comes pre-rigged with guylines.

Very important features include the 2 spacious-ventilating- windows also allowing 2 people to use without going over each other;  simple setup with 8 stakes (I’m using 6 carbon ZPacks and 2 MSR Carbon Cores); ease of packing up in wind since it doesn’t require folding. The 2 vestibules are of useful size.

I plan to rig a very light transverse cord over the interior ridgeline to allow hanging of gear, and add a ridgeline micro-LED  as with the Duomids and the Megalite. Eventually I may add the $125 Flex poles, to allow this to be a freestanding tent when I wish; this 2018 model is already set up to adapt for flexpoles.

Postscript: it’s useful to realize that for air travel, the ZPacks carbon stakes will pass inspection. Not insigificant…

MLD Silnylon Duomid shelter/ Big Agnes Air AXL Insulated sleeping pad

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on July 23, 2018 by William Hooks

HDR_Duomids-3HDR_Duomids-1HDR_Duomids-2BA Insulated AXL Air pad (1)BA Insulated AXL Air pad (3)BA Insulated AXL Air pad (6)BA Insulated AXL Air pad (8)

I can now select between the silnylon and previously described Dyneema Composite Fiber (DCF) versions of Mountain Laurel Designs’ Duomid shelter. I plan to use the silnylon orange ‘mid as my default for these reasons:

1- Half the price of the DCF shelter and almost twice the weight (24 vs 14.5 oz with guylines): reserve the cuben fiber shelter for trips where weight is at a premium, and to reduce wear on that ‘mid

2- Absorbs water, but I do not often visit locales where rain is incessant (at least so far): so little penalty on that score

3-Slightly larger dimensions: slightly more desired for 2 persons or larger gear loads; but still accepts all accessories, such as my inner mesh attachment for insect portection

4- Much easier to pack because it can be stuffed, instead of folded- especially in wind

5-Color easier to locate in snow than white shelter

 

The new BA pad is very comforatble, offers larger sleeping are than the Thermarest NeoAir for the same weight, and is simple to inflate and deflate especially using the matching Pumphouse Ultra

 

Using the MLD Solo Inner Net as a mesh shelter @10 oz

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , on December 11, 2017 by William Hooks
Solo Sil Inner Net (1)

Elastic pullout to stake

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modified pullout

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2 poles used to erect shelter

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detail of UL cords securing pole tips

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side view of shelter-set poles @ 120 cm or longer

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detail of shock cord to pole handle

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enter via zipper at right

MLD Solo Silnylon Inner Net for Duomid shelter

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on December 5, 2017 by William Hooks

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Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben Duomid shelter

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, ultralight techniques with tags , on November 10, 2017 by William Hooks

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2 black button-type snaps on the front panel allow closure from inside, releasing tension on the zipper. A third snap is located at the foot of the same panel

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This shelter height is achieved using a total pole length of c 145 cm, including pole jack

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4 corner anchors using MSR Carbon Core stakes

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Detail of mid-corner guylines attached to bungee cords

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If needed, the attachment clips shown on the interior of the shelter can support a biv sack netting away from the user’s face- as well as use for inner mesh net

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Large peak vent- from inside, the upper larger wand or strut can be removed to allow closure in storms

front view

The apparent translucency of the cuben material changes with exterior light intensity and direction

half side view

peak view from interior

next to the top of the trek pole is the black, small plastic clip which allows hanging of the inner mesh net- I connect this to microcarabiners to prevent damage to the clip

10 cm pole jack

6 in =10cm pole jack attached to trek pole tip

The Duomid ($440) arrived 5 weeks and 3 days after ordering online from MLD.com, located in Roanoke, VA. The shelter weight is 14 oz for 1-2 persons; I will be writing separately about the modular, Solo silnylon inner tent which hangs within this shell as needed for insect protection ($175).

The tarp was sent with a 10 cm= 6 in pole jack, which extends a standard trek pole if needed for a taut pitch. I find that to pitch near the ground, my 130 cm trek pole alone can work but the pitch is probably more wind-resistant using the extension. I use 12 stakes as standard. The shelter has 8 ground-level tieouts and 8 mid-tieouts, with a peak hang tieout=17 total.

With the option of hanging the tarp from its apex if desired, no pole or stick needed in appropriate locations.

There’s a great deal of  covered space – over 45 sq ft- a palace for one with a huge covered vestibule… I would be fine using for 2 so long as the conditions were not very wet, because one person would need to cross the other inside.  The peak vent is well designed including an integral stiffener, and can be completely closed if need arises.

Being made of Dyneema/cuben, this shelter is extremely light and does not absorb water, with almost no stretch after pitching.  I like that there is adequate privacy, but at the same time I can judge weather as it is translucent and do not need a dedicated window built in.

I will be treating the one front door zipper with care, including closing the base buckle before operating it to reduce stress. I opted to use Zip Care lubricant as well, available from MLD.

Super-ultralight backpacking: recent refinements

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Travel, ultralight techniques on May 26, 2017 by William Hooks

First, there’s my HMG square tarp setup which has evolved to modified pyramid mode as seen above. It requires a minimum of material in addition to the tarp itself- only 1 support such as a trek pole, up to 9 stakes (I use 6 titanium shepherd-crooks and 3 MSR Carbon Cores), 1-2 guylines.. the tarp fits into its original storage bag with total weight of 10 oz. If I include the second guyline it can bolster the first at the front of the shelter as seen, or be used to rig an A-frame setup for example. Here’s a shot of the setup from the side:

Modified pyramid tarp setup (1)

Next, there’s a DIY modification of the reservoir for the Sawyer Squeeze water filter to use as a gravity-fed system. I perforated the bottom with 2 x 1/4″ holes with a paper punch, attached a short black cord, and added a Tedco Tornado Tube from Hobby Lobby [don’t let it get out that I ever go there].  It connects where the sip top is seen at the upper aspect in this image. This system lets the water drain through the filter passively into whatever clean container you like which has a standard connection, such as a Propel or Smartwatter bottle.DIY Sawyer Grav-feed water_20L pad inflator

On the right, there’s a green 20L Sea to Summit silnylon sack which has been converted into an inflator for my Thermarest sleeping pads, by gluing a Thermarest AirTrap outlet at one corner; it has a piece of green tape on it in the upper left. That conduit connects directly to the open valve of the pad, fill the bag with air and compress into the mattress several times. No more blowing up pads by lung…..

I have also added a pair of Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes and matching Darn Tough socks. The shoes weigh 25 oz per pair.

Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (1)Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (2)Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (4)Darn Tough socks_merino_Coolmax

The SUL pack I now use most of the time is from Gossamer Gear, the 2017 version of  the Murmur which weighs 8.5 oz and can be used with removable components- a hip belt w pockets, a rear foam sitpad which gives the pack structure, as shown –

Gossamer Gear Murmur 2017 model (1)Gossamer Gear Murmur 2017 model (2)

One of my favorite features of this pack is the addition of 2 keepers for trek poles. The limitations of this pack must be appreciated: it is not suited for loads > about 18 pounds, bush travel, off-trail desert travel or carrying dense loads such as camera gear or large water containers. If those and relatively bulky items usually associated with winter travel and longer trips with large food bags are not needed, I can get to a total pack weight of approx 11 pounds including food and water.