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the 2018 backpacking season

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the 2018 backpacking season

Postby bobby49 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:37 pm

The 2017 backpacking season did not turn out like I expected due to the excessive snow. I had three trips planned for somewhere in the High Sierra. The first two had to be cancelled because of snow. The third trip was on the High Sierra Trail, itself. The July start was terrible, and I had to turn back because of the snow, ice, and high stream runoff. The August start was very reasonable and successful.

So now I am planning for 2018. Right now it is still a bit too early to guess how the winter season will be for snow. From the preliminary snow reports, it seems as though the snow will be somewhere between moderately bad and below normal. The final judgment happens around the third week of March when the maximum snow level is reached. So far I have not committed to anything or requested permits.

This year it would be nice to do the west side of Whitney again from Crabtree Meadow, but by some different approach than the High Sierra Trail. So, I was thinking of starting in at either Kearsarge Pass or Shepherd Pass or Cottonwood Pass, doing Whitney, and then exiting by one of the other passes.

Any good predictions about when this would work best? I don't mind a little old snow on the trail, but I hate to go mile after mile with postholing. If I don't learn anything, I would shoot for going up the west side of Whitney around mid-July.



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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby balzaccom » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:13 am

Check back with us in May and we'll have a much better idea. It all depends upon what weather happens between now and then.
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby maverick » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:57 am

Like B said, way too early to be making any predictions, if you have to make an early decision due to work, then shoot for mid to late August.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby bobby49 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:18 pm

On a normal or dry year, August is way too late. The trails will be in good shape, but the wildflowers will be gone. When possible, I like to hit the trails soon after the snow has melted and when the ground is still moist for the flowers. Of course that varies with the elevation. Most of the time, I find myself camping overnight at 9000 or 10,000 feet and crossing passes at 12,000 feet.

The maximum snow depth is generally around the third week of March. After that, there still may be some new snow, but the depth is decreasing due to melt. That is about the latest that I set out to get permits reserved for summer.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:45 pm

The initial post says nothing about wanting to see wildflowers at peak. Right after snowmelt is prime time for mosquitoes. I NEVER go then!

To me a sure bet, regardless of snowpack, is mid to late August, unless you run into a very unusually high or low snowpack. If you have to reserve a permit or reserve your vacation time far ahead, I would choose anytime between mid-August and mid-September. Yes, it may not be ideal, but it also will not be a total bust.

IF on the other hand, there is no hurry, then just wait and see. Particularly if you go solo, getting a first-come permit is not that hard. But if you plan on a larger group, you will need to reserve permits.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby bobby49 » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:14 pm

"Particularly if you go solo, getting a first-come permit is not that hard."

I'll bet that you've never been on the Mount Whitney Trail. Over the last several years, it was getting nearly impossible to reserve a permit for the primo season.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:17 pm

A "first-come" permit is NOT a reservation. You get in line at the FS office and they give out permits for canceled reservations. A LOT of people cancel, particularly in groups. There are always permits to be had- you just have to get in line early.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby bobby49 » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:34 pm

Believe me, I've wasted a lot of time at the Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine. One of my goals in life is to avoid spending much more time there. Plus, when I have to drive 400 miles to get to a permit station to pick up my permit, I need about a 99% chance that they will actually give it to me. If I lived in Greater Metropolitan Independence, it would be a different story.
For Yosemite, I know when to reserve a permit and exactly when to leave home to get to the permit station and pick it up.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:50 pm

By all means, if you are on that tight a schedule, then reserve a permit. I do, however, resent that you assume that I have never been on the Whitney Trail just because I suggest a first-come permit as an option. I have easily obtained a first-come permit three times in the last 5 years - the most recent last year. You do have to have a "Plan B" in case it does not work out.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby KevinDo » Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:30 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:By all means, if you are on that tight a schedule, then reserve a permit. I do, however, resent that you assume that I have never been on the Whitney Trail just because I suggest a first-come permit as an option. I have easily obtained a first-come permit three times in the last 5 years - the most recent last year. You do have to have a "Plan B" in case it does not work out.


Of the 3 times I've tried to obtain a fcfs, I was successful twice so I think your chances are good if you have a flexible schedule/plan and can arrive the day before your entry!

I actually am hoping for lots of snow because I love snow traveling :D
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