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Comments

Gil Aegerter

Now that looks cool! I've been using a GoLite Hex 3, but I must say the hex design is finicky to put up and is really not useful for more than two people. But what you're doing there -- now that's the ticket.

Jonathan Ryan

With a shelter like this how do you keep the bugs and other little critters from joining you at night? How big of a concern is this for you on your trip?

Roman Dial

Thank goodness the only bugs that bug us are mosquitoes (we will be too early for white sox/black flies). And there are no ants, centipedes, scorpions, chiggers, ticks, or bed bugs. Bug populations are small and slow on the ground. In short, we never seem to mind the creepy crawlers in the Arctic 'cause they are no bother.

Now a shelter like this in the tropics or even East Coast would likely not afford a very comfortable sleep --

As for mosquitoes, they can reach very high densities on the North Slope in early July (a month after we start). On an Arctic Refuge trip I once killed 84 with one hand, one swipe, no smearing, this on my lower leg while wearing tights!

They do get into the tent, yes, but the shape -- or maybe carbon dioxide concentration -- always funnels them to the top where they don't bug us. We will also have head nets. We generally sleep in these at high bug season. Our hope is that we have timed our journey between the snow and the bugs.

This is a well tested shelter design -- although a new fabric application-- for long (1 week to 1 summer) trips to the Alaska and Brooks Ranges. I would consider it the standard.

richard

I have made a number of trips in the Brooks range during the summer months and found mosquitoes started about the middle of June and reached awesome numbers in July and were miserable until the first freeze in August. Early June is not bad, after the middle of August they are a negligible problem. I also found river crossings quite hazardous during peak summer with much lower levels later in the season. High water can significantly delay a trip for days. More recently I have shifted to mid August as the start time for all my backpacking there. I wonder about the choice of dates for this trip respective to mosquitoes and water levels.

Ryan Jordan

Re: Choice of dates by Richard (above)

Richard, choice of dates is explained in the post above, at the end.

Mosquitoes are unpleasant in the Arctic but they aren't a deal breaker for a long unsupported trek. Darkness, warm temperatures, and uncrossable rivers are. We'll take risks in our river crossings not normally taken by most trekkers, for sure, but we won't be stupid about them either. And that's where we could use a bit of luck to see us "somewhere East of Point Hope" ;)

At any rate, an uncrossable river won't necessarily "delay" our journey. We'll still walk, only via a different route option(s).

I guess it all depends on how we all define criteria for success of our own journeys. Ours is simply to walk far. Others may focus on completing a predefined route. If the latter, then, yes, I could see why planning a trek around river levels would be quite important.

Could you elaborate a little on the expected weather conditions for this trip as far as wind velocity and direction, temperature range, humidity and precipitation? Why is hiking in temps above 60F in the Arctic a problem--is it due to high humidity?

Also due you plan to navigate mostly with GPS instead of compass?. I have heard the magnetic declination is pretty variable and extreme up there.

Good luck with your epic endevour gentlemen; I will be following your progress on my computer with great interest!

John C.


Good luck with your epic endevour gentlemen, I will be follwing your progress with my computer!

doug

Best of luck, boys.
As a big fan of double quilts under a typical wedge shaped tarp, I don't quite see how you'll work it with that pesky center pole in a 'mid. What am I missing here?
Again, best of luck. After hearing of some 40 oxygen breathing, Sherpa supported Everest aspirants passing by a dying Brit, style seems to matter more than ever. I admire you for kicking it up a notch.

Miguel Arboleda

I'm curious whether you will be employing the pertex bivy in conjunction with your quilt. After your article about the best strategy for using the quilt system I got the impression that a bivy/quilt system seems to work the best in inclement conditions. Will that not be necessary with the new quilt/ pullover/ pyramid system you have now?

I ask because your preparations for this trip are very educational for me. I have come to the point where I understand the light system quite well; what I want to learn now is efficiency. So far what you've presented here seems to be all about efficiency.

Ryan Jordan

>> Could you elaborate a little on the expected weather conditions for this trip as far as wind velocity and direction, temperature range, and humidity.

On the coast of the Chukchi sea, it's cold. The wind blows, it's very humid, and it rain or snows, I'm told, perpetually through May and June. Once we leave the coast, conditions should improve. The North Slope can get some windy, wet weather in June, and temperatures stay pretty cool. Right now low temperatures on our route are in the 20s, highs are in the 30s, and it's raining/snowing every day. It should improve somewhat through the duration of our trek, and I'd expect lows in the 30s and highs around 50, with wind and rain.

>> Why is hiking in temps above 60F in the Arctic a problem--is it due to high humidity?

Not humidity, just uncomfortable. 60 is warm, especially in the sun with no wind. It's hard to maintain a fast pace for a long time without overheating at 60F or higher.

>> Also due you plan to navigate mostly with GPS instead of compass?

Map and compass is always a faster way to navigate if you are competent at it, but it requires better visibility. I've been monitoring area webcams, such as those at Anaktuvuk Pass, and visibility is coming and going right now with alarming frequency, due to the unsettled weather! We'll carry a Geko 301 GPS, primarily for navigating to the remotest spot, and sending campsite coordinates back to the blog, but it probably won't serve as a terribly useful navigation tool unless very foul conditions warrant it.

Declination adjustments and compass use can be an issue up there, but more as you approach the magnetic North Pole, which sits far NE of our route. The edges of our route are about 1000 mi away from the region at which compass use becomes erratic.

Ryan Jordan

>> Pertex Bivy Use with the Quilt:

As Miguela mentioned, I'm a big fan of a breathable bivy sack/quilt combo when tarp camping, to afford some extra protection from wind and windblown rain and snow under a tarp.

There are a number of reasons why I won't be taking the bivy on this trek.

Although my bivy sack I'm currently using these days weighs only 3-4 ounces (Nano Bivy), it's still "another piece of gear to deal with" and on a physically stressful trek such as this, I'd prefer to keep my kit as simple as possible. I'd rather have four ounces of food than a bivy sack, because (1) I have a headnet for mosquito protection, (2) I have a tarp that provides wind protection on all sides, (3) I have other items in my kit that can serve as a ground cloth, and the big one, (4) I have a synthetic sleeping bag that can afford to get a little dampness on its shell. Where a bivy really shines is in combination with an ultralight down bag, which controls heat retention less effectively than synthetic insulations (heat loss occurs more quickly through down clusters than through synthetic fill, so wind can really kill the effectiveness of a thin down bag) and is more sensitive to moisture.

If I was doing a trek up here at a more leisurely pace, I might reconsider the bivy sack for additional warmth in windy conditions and protection from mosquitoes.

Doug wrote, "As a big fan of double quilts under a typical wedge shaped tarp, I don't quite see how you'll work it with that pesky center pole in a 'mid. What am I missing here?"

Jason and I will likely both sleep on the same side so that the mid pole isn't in the way and we'll capture more of each others heat. The other half of the mid will be for our food and wet clothes. I like to keep track of all my gear and food and we use the space to pack in the rain.

On other long distance packrafting trips (where we each carry a dry suit, paddle, boat, PFD, and helmet) we sleep under a 4 person quilt that we use with a mid. The 4-person quilt has a hole in the center for the pole. It works well and everybody stays warm.

Jim Owens

A friend and I walked from the head of the Sheenjek River to the mouth of the Firth River in the late 70s. To keep our weight down, we used light Polarguard Elephant's Foot half-sleeping bags and Polarguard parka. The system worked great, in the warm temperatures we found in the Interior and the blustery cold weather we ran into near the coast and on the divide.

Headnets and cotton gloves were the key to staying sane when the bugs were out in force.

Good luck with your trip.

tony

First of all, I'd like to wish you gentlemen good luck on your adventure. I can't wait to read the postscript.

Ryan, I suppose the same rationale you gave for omitting the bivy holds for the groundsheet. Obviously my experience in the backcountry pales to yours, but it seems to me that the additional comfort (in light of not being deemed a necessity) is worth the 2 oz. penalty. Wouldn't it buy you a better night's sleep, especially at the beginning of the trip (when the worst fatigue has yet to set in)? Wouldn't it also open up more terrain for setting up your shelter and thus cut down on the effort needed to find acceptable sites? I would be interested in reading your thoughts on going sans groundsheet after the trip.

Finally, it will be interesting to observe any change in your pace as your pack weight dwindles.

Ron Strickland

Good luck on your epic trek. I am a great fan of the Arctic, Ron

kcg

Hi, Can you speak to why your chose Polarguard Delta for your insulation rather than Primaloft? Thanks and good luck.

ulf

if days are to warm to walk in, how will it be if you are to sleep in a 1-layer tent with the sun burning down??
in north of scandinavia - where i do my backpacking - i would hate to have a 1-layer tent. both due to condensation in humid periods (the most frequent), and being able to use only the inner when it's warm (read "HOT")
have a great trip
many enviouse feelings
ulf lyng

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What is Arctic 1000?

    In June 2006, adventurers Roman Dial, Ryan Jordan, and Jason Geck will attempt the first unsupported trekking traverse of America's most remote wilderness - Alaska's western North Slope and Brooks Range - a distance of 1,000 km (600 miles).
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