Brave you are . . . if I had a choice I'd want to be fully enclosed from all the mosquitos you're bound to encounter. hopefully your cape tent will provide enough enclosure around the edges to keep them out. As for a 20 versus zero bag, you ought to be fine with the 20, and if you get chilled now and then, put an extra layer on.
Having a good amount of snow around will no doubt keep the nights a bit cooler, but nothing a 20 degree bag shouldn't be able to handle. And the days will certainly be warm.
As for the spikes, I'd leave them at home as the passes, if they've got anything on them will already be plowed and post-holed by many others. Better to just make sure you've got a good pair of trekking poles.
The only place I've ever consistently encountered ice and a desire to have a pair of crampons (but really all you need are spikes) would be the ten or so yards on the cable section on the east side of whitney. Be careful when you get to this spot as I know a lot of people aren't expecting it to be icy and they hit it and bingo––down they go. not pretty.
I did my first JMT in June of 96, which I'm betting was an even heavier snow year than this year. Lots of snow, but the days were hot and the bugs, abundant.
The worst snow was on one of the lowest pass/summits which is Donahue––it was post-holing hell and to make matters even worse, Donahue is not like all the major passes, where it's like a knife edge and you hike up one side and then down the other––it's a very flat summit and with a good amount of snow on it you get all sorts of paths, as no one can really find the trail and you end up wandering all about, getting your bearings, if not just kinda getting lost––so as vague as it sounds, if there's lots of snow headed up donahue, stay to the right–––if you are climbing up and constantly have Lyell Canyon in sight, you're headed too much in a south-easterly direction and might end up walking around, behind the pass . . . . well, I see it clear as day, but anyway . . .
Thunderstorms are a gamble. Usually you get the afternoon thing (if anything) and it's a little rain, a chance to hunker down for lunch, and then they've passed. Most get you wet to one degree or another and you have the rest of the day to dry out.
I've only ever had one spell of thunder, lightning, big winds and rain, that lasted almost 20 hours and I was damn glad I had a full-on, bomber tent. "your results may vary."
As long as you can ratchet that "cape" down against big winds, you ought to be fine, but not necessarily pleasant or happy or well-rested . . .
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 03:48:06 +0000
Subject: [John Muir Trail] Temps/last minute shivers
I will be heading south from Mammoth Lakes to Kearsarge Pass starting Saturday. Any updates on snow in the passes would be helpful as I am still undecided about bringing my micro spikes. I am also hoping to get by with my 20 degree bag instead of my 0 degree bag. It has been such a late summer this year that I am a bit hesitant but am hoping that things will have warmed up a bit by mid July. I should hit Muir Pass around the 17th.
I am also planning on going with nothing more than the Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape for a shelter. I like its light weight but it does mean that I need to be careful of the slope of the land where I pitch it, as it does not have a bathtub floor. That is not such a problem but I won't have a rain fly. This has not been a problem in light rain and even small hail storms. I have camped in it on snow in the past near Tahoe and Forester Pass. Still, I have heard stories of late afternoon thunderstorms in the sierras and wonder if my insistence on keeping it light may be an unwise risk. Your thoughts?
If you happen to be out there in the next two weeks, look for my Columbia hat with the JMT pin on it.
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