Hiking in March

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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SSSdave
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Re: Hiking in March

Post by SSSdave » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:00 pm

Reads like your friend has usual visions of idealic higher elevations of the Sierra with rivers and lakes. Yes there are places below the usual snow line that is about 5k to 6k feet, but those places are likely to disappoint those who have that other vision. For instance one can hike up the main Kern from here at 3.8k.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=35.97426,-118.48094&z=15&t=T:

Looks interesting on the topo heh? Now select the satellite tab at browser upper right. Oops the 150k McNally fire started by that inconsiderate homeless woman. And there are other low elevation river trails along some other west slope Sierra rivers but all have issues that make them nothing like what people think in terms of the high country. Most certainly will not be in wilderness. For instance hiking downstream along the lower Merced from end of the dirt road over the Briceberg Bridge. Or up the South Fork to Hite Cove. Instead one is likely to do some bush whacking and if not careful will bring back a good dose of poison oak.

Desert in March is much better. I'd bet your friend has never been out in desert areas in late winter after decent winter rains? Instead he probably has only seen it when it is hot, dusty, dead, and miserable. Or maybe he has and is a narrowly focused fishing enthusiast. If so no where in our southern mountains is going to be worthwhile even along lower elevation rivers.








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joshuacourter
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Hiking in March

Post by joshuacourter » Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:15 pm

Main roads into Golden Trout Wilderness and Domelands are closed for the winter. They typically don't open till May. You still could get into those areas, but it means more miles to hike where you could have driven.

As others have mentioned desert trips are great in winter. I enjoyed Anza Borrego a few years back in March as well as Death Valley NP. Those are some cool places.

Whatever you choose, definitely watch the weather reports before going out so you can be prepared as much as possible. We have had those Miracle Marches come through and dump a lot of rain and snow.

Joshua

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by sparky » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:49 pm

Hiking in the foothills is your best bet. Even then I come prepared for winter. Find some cool sequoia groves, get some views of the high country covered in snow.

Or just go hit the desert. There is so much great stuff out in the desert there is no reason to go to the Sierra unless you are going there specifically for the challenge of winter.

Or just dayhike the valley.

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by coff20 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 8:46 pm

SSSdave, he's not a fisherman but yeah he does kind of have that idealistic vision of the mountains. Like I said I've been meaning to head to sespe and was planning on using that as a backup plan, but all things considered now that's probably what we'll plan on doing. Sespe isn't really exactly what he's looking for either, but because of it's convenience he's alright with going there. And if that doesn't work out for whatever reason, I'll just have to try and convince him to give the desert a shot. Thanks guys.
"Let no man be ashamed to kneel here in the great out-of-doors. Remember the woods were God's first temples." Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

"There's nothin' better than a boy and his dog just out travelin' 'round the backcountry" -Some Old Hippie

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by HiSierra » Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:21 am

Hetch Hetchy back to Rancheria Falls seems to fit your criteria. You can keep going beyond the falls to make it longer. It not the High Sierra but it has the feel of the high mountains at a lower elevation. Side trip to Yosemite Valley another possible add-on.

http://www.yosemitehikes.com/hetch-hetc ... -falls.htm

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by Big Ed » Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:36 pm

I do Fall, Winter, and Spring backpacking trips in the Sierra East of Fresno. It's in the lower elevations, 1,100' to 4,500'. I don't see others doing it, I think it's mostly thought of as a summer activity. I think if you look around, you can find places to go. Try hiking trails, old roads, or seasonal closure roads.

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by mort » Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:20 pm

Hi coff20,
I think most southern east side will be accessible, very little snow at Horseshoe meadow, and Kearsarge.
Or you could do what I do, most years. Check out Mt. San Jacinto. Take the Palms Springs tramway and then many miles of fine trails.
http://pstramway.com/long-valley-cam.html
-mort

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coff20
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Re: Hiking in March

Post by coff20 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:29 pm

HiSierra, that sounds like a good trip, but it's just too far.

Big Ed, thanks I will take a look at some maps of that area.

Thanks Mort, I was wondering how much snow was up around horseshoe. I'll take a look at Mt. San Jacinto that look interesting.

I really appreciate the responses guys. Being able to plan ahead and go over options for trips like this really helps me stay sane while I work through all my classes. I'm definitely looking forward to spring break and a break from organic chemistry!
"Let no man be ashamed to kneel here in the great out-of-doors. Remember the woods were God's first temples." Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

"There's nothin' better than a boy and his dog just out travelin' 'round the backcountry" -Some Old Hippie

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by SPeacock » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:15 pm

'Normally' around Father's Day (mid-ish June), the road to Horseshoe Meadows is plowed and first trail covering snow is around 11,000'. Possible berms of snow across the trail at times but the lower Cottonwood Lakes (including Muir) are snow free. This was the family's (with single digit kids) opening trip for the season. We got a very heavy snow one year and baled at 8PM so we wouldn't be stranded. By end of July most passes would be well traveled.

Looks like 2015 will be an abnormally low snow year. Just check in with the Rangers in Bishop as to when when the roads are plowed. It can be well below freezing at least at night at 10,000' in April/May/June. Plan on it. It was 19F in August on the west side of Shepherd Pass.

Most trail heads on the east side (from US-395) start above 9,500'. Horseshoe Meadows, the highest, is around 10,500' and about a 6 mile walk in to the first lake.

A favorite day hike in early May is towards Bishop Pass from South Lake out of Bishop. Again check on plowing of the roads. It can be a pleasant enough snow back pack, as usually there is snow above Long Lake, but the scenery is awesome and the snow is firm and consolidated -- "Sierra Cement".

My favorite of all early Spring day hikes is as far as I can get on Shepherd Pass trail (Symmes Creek) just a few miles south of the road going up to Onion Valley. Trail head is at around 6,000' and a fairly good workout up to a ridge. That then lets you descend 500' toward a raging Shepherd Creek - which you never quite get to. The views are spectacular with spring melt coming from waaay up high on your left (going up hill) and waterfalls near first water after you regain the 500' lost from the ridge. From there it just keeps better as you get to the first camping available at Mahogany Flats and then an expansive switch back that takes you over a head wall (and waterfall) up to Anvil Camp. You watch two 14r's (Williamson/Tyndall) do a slow strip tease as you get closer to them. In the summer this is the "express" to the high Sierra and can be connected to a lovely loop at Kearsarge Pass and Onion Valley.

A fun long weekend with friends is to stay in Bishop or Lone Pine and day hike Cottonwood Lakes, Kearsarge Lakes, Big Pine Lakes, Bishop Pass, etc coming back late each evening for a nice bath, meal, and bed. Or not be a wimp and stay in one of the campgrounds in the area. This will give you a 50 mile swatch of what the Sierra provides for the first night out on a back pack (about 6 miles in) that will the next day take you over a pass into a National Park.

If you are in the Sierra in the summer, be sure that you have 200 (or equivalent) fleece and rain protection handy. August will still dump 3" of hail and a couple of inches of rain on you in an hour.

It is not too late to start getting fit for long hikes at higher altitude than you might be used to. Rule of thumb is that after slow jogging for 20 minutes you should be able to carry on a continuing conversation with your training buddy.

Take a look at http://exrx.net/Beginning.html, jog/walk program.

Have fun out there, just be ready for it.

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Re: Hiking in March

Post by maverick » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:39 pm

SPeacock wrote:
Most trail heads on the east side (from US-395) start above 9,500'. Horseshoe Meadows, the highest, is around 10,500' and about a 6 mile walk in to the first lake.
Correction: Horseshoe Meadows is at 9960 ft, New Cottonwood Lakes is at 10000 ft, but Mosquito Flats is
at 10272 and is the highest trailhead in the Sierra.
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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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