Thanks @REI-JohnJ ! Lightning strikes are a very real danger here in Utah - especially in higher elevations. My good friend's husband was struck while hiking in Bryce Canyon, he sustained severe burns and was in a coma for 3 weeks... so, yeah. I have serious fear of lightning. My original plan was to simply choose 100 miles of the Great Western Trail that runs from Mexico to Canada because 2000 miles of it runs along the Utah mountain range [where I live]. However, the GWT website was apparently hacked a while back and shut down. There's no ETA when that site will be back to be able to gather more info on the trail, and I've had zero luck connecting with anyone who knows anything about it. So, that led me to discover the Wasatch 100 race course - which mostly follows the GWT trail from Kaysville to Heber Utah. It's a very intense, but extremely beautiful stretch. There's a few reasons why I like the idea - #1 it literally starts a couple miles from my house. #2. Friends/Family can meet me at mile 50 for a resupply. #3. I'm never going to be too far away from civilization since it runs along the ridgeline above many cities [hoping I might even have cell signal most of the time ..??]. #4. I will drop down and up out of canyons that could be a potential exit point if something goes terribly wrong. #5. The race organizers have created a TON of maps and topo info plus detailed instructions on their website step by step through the course, so that the runners don't get lost [since they have to finish under 36 hours, at least half the race is run in the dark in rocky/steep cliff bear/cougar country!]. I even reached out to the race coordinators and they were super cool about letting me download everything from their website. In exchange, husband and I plan to help clean up the trail along the way, put up markers, and alert the team if anything has changed on the trail before race day which is 1 or 2 weeks after our planned trek. Overall, I feel good about the route. But, there's still a lot of anxiety about actually carrying all the gear, food, and finding water and places to pitch the tent etc... all the details! You guys will probably get pretty sick of hearing from me! I've got lists of questions! 😁
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Thanks for reaching out and happy birthday!
Admittedly, it's been over a decade since I climbed Mt. Hood, but I still have a lot of the gear I used! My experience was climbing the 'standard' route up the south side from Timberline Lodge. If you are planning a different route, particularly one that is more committing, please bear that in mind when weighing my advice. Additionally, the gear I used was purchased in order to climb all the Cascade volcanoes, from a long, one-day Mt. Hood climb to a four day climb of Mt Rainier.
In terms of a sleeping bag, I prefer a down bag for its warmth to weight ratio, however, there are lots of solid synthetic options that should work for you. What's most important is knowing whether you run warm or cold in a sleeping bag and getting one in the appropriate temperature range for you. I tend to run pretty warm, and even so, I typically use a sleeping bag just below a 30° F rating. Even at the height of summer, temperatures at altitude can drop below freezing in the Cascades. Here are some options to consider:
The North Face One Sleeping bag. This is my wife's (who is a more accomplished climber than I!) go-to choice for mountaineering trips. She appreciates that ability to add or subtract insulation depending on conditions.
The REI Co-op Down Time 25 sleeping bag. I actually use a 0° version of this bag because I lived in Alaska up until recently.
In terms of boots, here are a couple of options that work well in the Cascades:
Scarpa Charmoz HD Mountaineering boots - Women's - (Also available in Men's)
La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX Mountaineering boots - Women's - (Also available in Men's)
Both of those models are waterproof, have a full length shank, and accept hybrid or strap-on crampons.
When thinking about your clothing, layering is your best friend! Generally speaking, you can do the same on bottom as you do on top, keeping in mind if you run hot or cold and what conditions may be. You can read more about layering strategy in this Expert Advice article, Layering Basics. For a Cascade volcano like Mt. Hood, a thin base layer, a mid-layer or a mid layer shell is a good start. Then you'll want to carry a hardshell and an insulating layer. If the weather is good, you may not need your hardshell and you may only use your insulating layer when you're taking breaks or for that summit selfie.
Here is the system that I use on top and has been adapted over many years of trial and error:
Base layer: REI Co-op Midweight base layer top.
Mid layer: REI Co-op Hyperaxis Fleece Jacket 2.0.
Or a mid layer softshell: REI Co-op Activator Soft Shell Jacket.
Hardshell: REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket.
Insulating shell: REI Co-op Magma Down Hoodie.
This is what works well for me, you can adapt your system to meet your needs. One thing I have worked to achieve is the ability to wear all of the layers at once if needed. You never know when you'll have inclement weather roll in, particularly at high altitude in the Cascades.
Depending on your experience at altitude, which can affect your appetite, and which route you are planning on climbing (whether it is a long day trip or an overnight), you'll want to be thoughtful about your food choices. Personally, I like to carry food that I know I will be able to eat, even if I am not feeling great. That usually means homemade chocolate chip cookies or Girl Scout Thin Mints if they're available. When I climbed Mt Hood we slept in the car in the parking lot and hiked from the lodge to the summit and back in one day. As such, we didn't carry food that required preparation, although we did have a stove and fuel if we needed it. We took a thermos of hot chocolate which was a blessing as we sat and waited for the crowds to get up through the Pearly Gates and clear out the Hogsback. One of my favorite things about mountaineering is that it tends to be done in cooler temperatures and you can build a 'refrigerator' in the snow when you're camping. I tend to take summer sausage, sliced cheese, crackers, trail mix, some candy bars, and the aforementioned cookies. I also take some tea bags and a freeze dried meal just in case we are delayed and need warm food and drinks.
As my climbing mentor liked to say: ‘The most important piece of gear is right between your ears.’ Mt. Hood is an awesome climb and really fun, however, its accessibility and ‘relative’ short distance can make it dangerous when people are not prepared. Practicing with crampons, rope management and technique, crevasse rescue, glacier travel skills, ice axe use, and wilderness first aid are just a few of the skills needed to climb a mountain like Mt. Hood. When I climbed it there was a traffic jam of roped and unroped climbers on the Hogsback, posing an incredible danger if someone at the top fell. We wisely waited until everyone cleared off, and we had the summit to ourselves. As we descended in the afternoon, we passed a group of three people hiking up the snowfield, hoping to summit, wearing jeans and tennis shoes. I’m sure they had some interesting thoughts about our group, roped up, crampons and helmets on, hiking slowly down the mountain. Fortunately, they made the smart decision to turn around shortly after we passed them.
Don't hesitate to reach back out with more questions! Hopefully this helps, Mt. Hood is a great climb and I wish you all the best of luck!
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i used the VE 25 on Santa Rosa Island in fairly warm conditions and it was just fine. Its main asset ws its ability to withstand the islands ferocious winds. I also used oen of the VE 25s in 1994 on a prolonged paleontological dig 9the first complete pygmy mammoth ever found) on the island in August. It was a nice refuge from the sun and wind and it worked quite well. My two year old daughter spent a lot of time in the tent, no problems whatever.
The tent is nylon fabric like many other tents. Wht about its construction makes it unusually warm. The only possible drawback I see for the VE 25 is that it is quite heavy for my usual style of backpacking.
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Your post brings ack memories of trips to Horsshoe Mesa in the 80s when i and other memers of the Cave Research Foundation mapped some of the caves there, Just one of the many fascinating locales in the Grand Canyon. II am partial to archaeological sites and caves....
Wish you the best in your tussles with the long haul stuff.....
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Be smart on which trail you do first. Everyone seems to initially anchor on gear. I would also recommend that you carefully consider where & which trail you want to hike first. I would advocate the mantra of "Beginner Backpacker, Beginner Trail".
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I've seen power banks with a solar panel built-in on one side. I think that would only be good for a topping-off trickle charge instead of a full charge mode. When my existing power bank wears out, I'll probably look into getting one of those kind.
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Instead of buying silicone bags, I've opted to wash and reuse regular Ziplocs. I've been using the same bags to split my Mountain House into for more than half a dozen years. After I get back from a trip, people who come over laugh at my kitchen with all the lined up bags drying...getting ready for next trip.
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Permits are very hard to get. You can apply for 16 (I think) dates. to increase your odds find a small group of people and all of you apply together (if you have 2 people that's 32 entries, 4 people its 64 etc). If Whitney doesn't work out for you this year, there are TONS of great mountains nearby. Keep training and enjoy. I did Couch Potato to 5k before my first big trek.
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