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the 2018 backpacking season

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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby KevinDo » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:26 am

bobby49 wrote:We had an interesting interaction at the Roads End permit station early one morning. I got there super early, about one hour before the scheduled opening time. There was one guy ahead of me, and he was all dressed up in a down parka for the cold. He sat by the window and was dozing. I approached, so that meant that I was second in line. The first guy stood up and wandered off. I stepped forward to be the first in line. Pretty soon, there were six or eight in line. The ranger showed up and announced that he would be open in a few minutes. Then the guy who had been first reappeared and started to push his way toward the head of the line. The guys in fourth or fifth position paused him to ask him where he thought that he was going, and he announced that he was at the head of the line. I informed him that I was now at the head, but that there was plenty of room at the back. There was a whole discussion about the unwritten rules of standing in a line and what it means when you leave the line.
Of course we can only accurately predict weather in the short term. However, based on climate and recent history, we can make some good guesses about how the summer trails will be, even if that is six months in advance. Group-think is slightly better than just one guy's guess.


I've seen something like that happen before at Roads end...It turned into a light fight...crazy people these days



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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby creekfeet » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:09 am

As a general rule of thumb, if a place is so popular that I'd have to put any sort of effort into securing a permit, that's not a place I want to be.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:43 am

Popular places are popular for a reason- some of the best scenery in the Sierra. Rather than avoid them, simply go off-season.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby SSSdave » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:37 pm

bobby49 wrote: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.


Nope. The peak of timberline wildflowers in the High Sierra wildflower areas in normal years varies to some extent due to specific species, exposure, elevation, weather during the specific summers, geology, and more. It is true some early species like heathers, buttercups, and asters rise soon after snow melts but the greater number and showier species tend to rise between the third week of July and mid August. A period when mosquitoes are on the wane, most gruss camp spots are nicely dry, snow is melted in sunny exposed flats and southern slopes but still decorating steeper shadier slopes, and vegetation is at its peak summer green.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby creekfeet » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:28 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Popular places are popular for a reason- some of the best scenery in the Sierra. Rather than avoid them, simply go off-season.


Agree and disagree. There are certainly places that are popular because of their undeniable beauty. Yosemite Valley, the Rae Lakes Loop, the High Sierra Trail, and the Pear Lake Trail come to mind. But plenty of other places that are no more exceptional than many off the beaten path places are popular simply because of easy accessibility or other reasons. In my opinion, the Whitney Zone is some of the least appealing terrain in the Southern Sierra, and the route up the mountain itself is uninteresting, but it's extraordinarily popular because of our desire to climb the biggest thing available. Same goes for the General Sherman. It's not a particularly interesting sequoia as it's not near a meadow, and lacks any defining fire scars. However, because it's allegedly the biggest tree in the world and it's conveniently located next to a parking lot, it gets a hundred times the foot traffic of many other far more scenic places in the Giant Forest.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby bobby49 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:37 pm

creekfeet wrote:As a general rule of thumb, if a place is so popular that I'd have to put any sort of effort into securing a permit, that's not a place I want to be.


Take Kings Canyon National Park as an example. There are places near the highways where you can get wilderness permits, but those places are where all of the tourists are. If you drive the extra distance to get to Roads End (past Cedar Grove), then the crowds thin out. The permit station there expects all sorts of rough-looking backpackers. There is a small number of trails that emanate from Roads End, so the per-trail permit quota system has to be dealt with. Within the first 5-10 miles from Roads End, that is where you expect to find lots of backpackers. However, those trails also deliver a backpacker to spots where ordinary people simply do not reach. Reflection Lake, for example. Ansel Adams probably had to ride a horse for a long day to reach it. You want seclusion? Get out to Longley Pass or Harrison Pass. There are many of these backcountry "gems," but you need to go through the formalities of a permit. If I am going that way, it takes a certain amount of logistical planning, and if I'm going to do that, I prefer to have the wilderness permit reserved in advance. That's why I try to collect the "group-thought" in advance, and then modify that later as the summer approaches.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby markskor » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:03 pm

My plans, as always, depend...on what the Sierra brings us in the months ahead. We will get snow but how much?

Living in Mammoth Lakes at 8,000', the early season (April?) always includes local day hikes - early season fishing, doing some miles, getting in shape. As soon as Tioga Pass opens (could be late May or late July), I'll grab my backpack and head for a few backcountry weeks Yosemite - somewhere. Soon thereafter, the Tuolumne Store will re-open. BTW, Surprise! Yosemite invited me back to work the store register selling beer to you cretins...will again be living my summer Tuolumne in the famous "Club Med" employee tent-mansions. Stop in and say hi to the old cranky guy...(look for a silver-haired dirt-bag.) After that closes down for the season, my regular hiking buddy Mike probably already has another epic two-week adventure planned out. Where to, who knows?...thinking somewhere upper Lyell - Yosemite.
I am good until October.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby oldranger » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:44 pm

Seems like I have little control over my summers any more. Family dictates that I go to a wedding in Colorado the end of may, several days at local lakes in June, the week of the 4th of july at Holden Village in the North Cascades, a few days later a week of salmon/trout fishing in Alaska with my two daughters, a weekend at Paulina Lake at the end of July, then 2 weeks volunteering at Holden, then, finally, my window for backpacking beginning around August 20. Where depends on whether my son can go or not. If he can go we will probably do a repeat of my 2016 trip from Horseshoe Meadow working our way thru fishy basins between there and Shepard Pass. If not I'll return to the Upper Merced. My guess is I won't know exactly when and where until summer. Mark may have to quit early, again.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:19 pm

Whitney zone "some of the least appealing" terrain in the southern Sierra? I beg to differ!! Whitney Zone is a lot more than just the trail up Whitney. And even that is stunning! And as a climber, I find it as unique and wonderful as Yosemite Valley. If you go in with the attitude that it is not appealing just because there are other people on the trail, then you may be viewing it through "dirty" glasses. Or, perhaps you just do not like the high stark alpine terrain; I just love it. To each his own.

Must also disagree with the statement that there are a small number of trails from Roads End. Actually there are more from Roads End than Crescent Meadow. There is the Copper Creek trail, the Woods Creek Trail, the Bubbs Creek Trail, which shortly splits right to the Avalanche Pass trail. It is quite annoying that there is not a "pass-through" permit for the Avalanche Pass trail (which gets lumped into the Bubbs Creek quotas). There is also a shorter loop trail along the Kings River. Two more trailheads towards Cedar Grove.

Both Lodgepole (Crescent Meadow) and Roads End have their "big name" trail; the HST from Crescent Meadow and the Rae Lake Loop from Roads End. Both are crowded and both tend to take suck most of the permits available. What keeps Roads End less crowded is that large tour/shuttle busses cannot get down that road! Has nothing to do with the trailheads.

On the other hand, the shuttle services at Lodgepole, Wolverton, Crescent Meadows, are very handy; such as starting at Wolverton and loop through Tablelands on way to Hamilton Lake and beyond and out the HST to Crescent Meadow.

I plan my trips in detail, with tons of logistics involved, yet prefer to get first-come permits. In the last 5 years, I have only not gotten my preferred route twice, and then only a half day delay.

I get it. Some backpackers like to reserve permits; particularly a good thing to do with a group of people. But I maintain, that solo backpackers really do not need to reserve. Particularly we retired backpackers, who can be a lot more flexible and do not have to squeeze trips into vacation time.
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Re: the 2018 backpacking season

Postby QITNL » Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:29 am

I like snow and hope we get some soon.

The 2018 backpacking season is ON!

Happy new year.
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