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Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.

Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby mbehlen » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:07 pm

Good Evening Everyone!

I am very happy to have found this forum. Thank you for creating an awesome place for discussion. This is my first post so please let me know if I am breaking any rules by posting this question here!

Let me start out by saying I have never done a backpacking trip. I have yet to buy any gear suitable for the advice I am seeking though I am an avid car camper and camp about every other weekend (for the last 18 months or so). On the bright side, I have refined my gear to the essentials for my bi monthly excursions.

I am growing tired of car camping and want to do my first backpacking trip as soon as late March or Early April. I am located in Fresno, California and would like some suggestions for a one night two day or a leisurely 3 day trip less than four hours from me. I know the high sierra will have a lot of snow and wont be ideal but I am hungry to get my feet wet into this. If you could offer any suggestions I would be very grateful. My other passsion is photography and some type of water is 100% a must for location, idealy a lake!

Also, I can add that I would be comfortable doing small river crossing, nothing to intense.


Thank you for your advise ahead of time!

Best Regards,

Michael



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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby rlown » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:20 pm

Welcome to HST!

March/April might be early unless you aim low. June might be ok for Chain Lakes or even Rutherford. You can use the search function to see what gear you might want to get. What is your daily mileage estimate and estimated pack weight (I know you don't have that yet, but what can you carry comfortable for lets say 5 miles?)

Best way to plan a trip is pick a place and then let the snowpack and weather decide when you actually get to go.. Also get some guide books (Sierra North; Sierra South, etc) and read through them to get a feel. Google Earth can be helpful as well for looking at the terrain.

PS: try and keep the feet dry :)
Last edited by rlown on Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby mbehlen » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:27 pm

rlown wrote:Welcome to HST!

March/April might be early unless you aim low. June might be ok for Chain Lakes or even Rutherford. You can use the search function to see what gear you might want to get. What is your daily mileage estimate and estimated pack weight (I know you don't have that yet, but what can you carry comfortable for lets say 5 miles?)

PS: try and keep the feet dry :)

Hi! Thank you for your response! Pack weight goal is below 30 pounds hopefully closer to 25. Big three will be under 10 ideally, I think this is a good estimate. With that weight I could do 5 to 8 miles a day depending on elevation gain. I am a young man in decent shape but I don't want to over estimate how much I will be able to do. I know it will be early in the season but of course I'm hungry for it. Perhaps I should do my first trip somewhere not in the HS and do a trip in June based on what you said. I have three weeks of vacation time to kill this upcoming year and I need to get them on the books!
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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby rlown » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:32 pm

I'm not sure what to say now. 30 lbs is a target I guess. I've never gotten below 42lbs upon leaving for 5 days. I do recommend starting with an overnight trip, or maybe two nights. Tent, Stove, Bag, Pad, FOOD, clothes for the weather depending.. Thoughts?
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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby mbehlen » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:36 pm

rlown wrote:I'm not sure what to say now. 30 lbs is a target I guess. I've never gotten below 42lbs upon leaving for 5 days. I do recommend starting with an overnight trip, or maybe two nights. Tent, Stove, Bag, Pad, FOOD, clothes for the weather depending.. Thoughts?

I think that is a good idea. I probably over estimating milage and under estimating weight! Suggestions for some over night trips in that area in early seasons?

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby rlown » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:44 pm

several will chime in after the turkey coma wears off. Many prefer doing coastal routes like the Lost Coast and Point Reyes during the Winter. Do you have experience with any of those things I mentioned (eg, tent stove bag pad food...)
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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby mbehlen » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:46 pm

rlown wrote:several will chime in after the turkey coma wears off. Many prefer doing coastal routes like the Lost Coast and Point Reyes during the Winter. Do you have experience with any of those things I mentioned (eg, tent stove bag pad food...)

I have not backpacked but I did spend two nights in big sur last weekend through the rain and it was a blast! Perhaps doing the LCT would be a good idea in late March...

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby rlown » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:52 pm

boots? got some? that are comfortable?
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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby mbehlen » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:53 pm

So far I have done all my hiking in running shoes though I know I need to upgrade. I was lucky in only rained while I was in my tent and early morning!

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Re: Beginner Backpacking Trip from Central California

Postby balzaccom » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:56 pm

The challenge to Chain Lakes or Rutherford is that Beasore Road might well not be open until May. If you are serious about March or April, then I'd look at shorter trips at lower elevation. Hite Cove is a nice short overnight that can be stunning when the flowers are blooming. Hetch-hetchy is your best bet in Yosemite itself. Lady Bug Trail in Sequoia is another option.

And if you head West, you're not far from Henry Coe State Park, which has steep hills, miles of trails, and everything you need to get yourself and your equipment into shape for the Sierra season, which really doesn't start until June or so...

We have reports on these trails (and a lot of other stuff) on our website: backpackthesierra. The link is in my signature.
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