Tar Jacket Ridge Backpack, 17-19 January 2014 Trip Report, Notes, Rant

Tar Jacket Ridge Backpack, 17-19 January 2014 Trip Report

View trip photos here: http://www.meetup.com/OCBackpackers/photos/19574942/

Sixteen people signed up. Fifteen showed up and suffered through extreme cold temps Friday night.  Two bailed out Saturday morning.   Thirteen intrepid souls, many on their first winter backpack (yikes!), hiked the almost 8 miles on the snow covered AT to the shelter.


Temps below 10F Friday night and also at the shelter Saturday evening.

Snowed 2-4” Friday night.

People standing around the campfire in the meadow at Hog Camp Gap needed to be aware that they needed to keep their down jackets dry as the snow started

Looked like over a case of beer was consumed around that campfire the next morning.

My best buddy Gunny had a beer waiting for me.


Stored 2 water bottles in my tent, right side up and covered with nylon, partially froze, but because they were upright, massive freezing on the lids, almost did not get one open.  Second night, stored bottles upside down and covered with nylon bags, in the tent, out of the wind, and was able to open both bottles, only minor freezing (frozen water).

Saturday night stored water in my stove as a last resort, to enable direct thawing on stove (jet boil), covered it with rain pants, in vestibule, out of wind, only minor freezing on surface.

Water froze in canteens on Saturday’s hike, plus couldn’t get lid off.  Sunday, turned bottle upside down in pack side pocket while walking, the top surface froze but was able to open lid to drink.

Tough to get a flame out of almost empty fuel canister,when only warmed with hands, for Saturday breakfast inside tent, under vestibule.  Sunday, put canister in sleeping back about 2 hours before rising, canister was completely warmed and had full flame.

Zack had his jet boil plastic bowl/pan base cover freeze to the unit and had to borrow my stove.


Two people bailed out of the trip Saturday morning because of the cold.

Several people walked too fast on Saturday and sweated, causing drastic cooling once they stopped walking when reached the shelter, no backup dry clothing, that must of sucked.

I didn’t sweat at all, at least to the point of making my clothes noticeably damp, However, socks were damp and I warmed up fast once I put on dry socks and heavy long john bottoms in camp.  Walked all day with rain paints on due to the vicious “slight breeze” that was absolutely killer in those low temps, but pants didn’t seem to get damp, at least I didn’t notice it.

Spring was flowing great.  Used my steripen to treat the water.  Had my gravity filter, but using it was out of the question.

Put my tent up on a slight incline and kept sliding down hill on my nylon air mattress, extremely annoying!

Used my Kelty zero bag, worn thermals, shirt and thick pile sweater, and extra thick balaclava, and a buff, I was only “ok”, Saturday night I could feel the temps dropping, but clouds came in, it snowed a little and warmed up a bit.  Temps dropped again in the morning when the sky cleared up.

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Used 2 chemical hand warmers in the foot of my sleeping bag Saturday night, I couldn’t tell you if they worked or not, I guess you have to have contact with them and they don’t really radiate that much.

Really didn’t get to know any of the first timers.  Everyone was so bundled up, you could only see people’s eyes and there wasn’t a lot of chit chat standing around the campfire Saturday night.  Kudo’s to whoever got the fire started.  It was already getting started by the time my slower, and last, group arrived.

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Now some ranting.

Sadly, the fast of group of 4, departed by the time my group reached the trail head, not sticking around to say goodbye or to see that we all made it back in one piece or that everyone could get the cars started.  No goodbye, no fuck you, no nothing.  And when we arrived at Vito’s in Amherst, they were getting in their car leaving after finishing their lunch, and didn’t even make an attempt to say hello or good bye or fuck you.  So I went over to invite them to join us, but alas, I guess they were in too much of a rush to socialize.


I find it constantly incredible that people would go on a “meet up” and never socialize one bit. Oh, they may be friendly when addressed, but otherwise will not ever try to start a conversation, will purposely hike far ahead of the main group **, never wait at a trail head, never say they are leaving the camp and heading out, and just leave when done, never thinking that the host might just wonder if someone had a broken leg and was freezing in the forest. The huge reason meet-ups are so popular is that people are looking to meet and have fun with other people, duh!  One guy even boasted how extremely few people hike with him a second time, and almost no one a third time, and I’m thinking, what the fuck dude?  Are you bragging about that?

**Ok ok, I know some people have a fast hiking pace, in fact almost everyone I know hikes faster than me, that’s not my point at all.   Hiking fast is not the reason for not waiting at trail junctions or leaving the forest without the courtesy of informing the host, who believe it or not, may just show some responsibility and worry that everyone gets out alive.

I had to make it a point on Saturday at the shelter to ask everyone to out of courtesy to let me know when they were departing camp so we wouldn’t be wondering if anyone was lost, especially in that cold weather.  I had already made it clear that no one needed to hang around waiting for others, once they were packed up and ready to go, because otherwise you would just be standing around freezing; but hey, be smart, let somebody know when you’re leaving, and how about this, be smarter, and let the trip host know where you are, because most of the others are not concerned about where you are.

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1 thought on “Tar Jacket Ridge Backpack, 17-19 January 2014 Trip Report, Notes, Rant

  1. Mike

    Preach it brother. Just because you are fast doesn’t mean you leave trail etiquette and courtesy behind. Faster doesn’t mean superior, or that common decency doesn’t apply. The fast antisocial types should just set up their own meetups, announcing in the write up that the trip is intended to be for fast hikers only, and that socializing is not the important aspect of the hike, but that mileage covered is.


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