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November trip suggestion

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November trip suggestion

Postby vitaminC » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:27 pm

A friend and I are looking to do a trip in the Sierras (western side) this weekend, Sat-Mon, and we would like to go somewhere where it's not going to be below freezing. Is such a thing possible? I presume that this would limit us more to the foothills vs any serious elevation.

Answers to the requested info:
What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 3- Numerous backpacking trips, some x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
Prefer to stick with Class 1/2.

What is your main interest?
Getting out of town! Lakes are a plus. Don't mind going over passes, just don't want to be at too high an elevation when night falls.

Any input is greatly appreciated!
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby Tom_H » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:37 pm

Since you are coming from the Bay Area, I have a suggestion that will keep you at low altitude where you can avoid snow and possibly avoid freezing weather. I am going to recommend the Nevada Point Trail down to the Rubicon River. You will need either 4WD, or a 2WD vehicle that can take a little bit of rough road (you need to be prepared to scrape the bottom once or twice) and a slightly steep short climb at the end. It is only 2 miles from the trailhead to the river. The trail is soft and gentle on the feet, but it is somewhat steep. You might actually glissade a foot or two in places on the slippery oak leaves. At the bottom, cross the bridge over Pilot Creek and approach the Rubicon. As you are reaching it, there are good camping spots to the left near the river. I go here several times a year with friends who fish. We never see anyone. There is more camping in flats and packed sandy spots at the site of the old washed out bridge (this is the 2nd bridge) that used to cross the Rubicon. If you can ford the river, you can hike some on the trail as it continues up the other side of the canyon. This place is wild and remote, even though at fairly low altitude. Check the weather and make sure there isn't going to be a flood, however, as you are in a steep narrow canyon that drains an immense area. About halfway down the trail, there may be a downed tree that you can either bend over and go under, or go around. We have called FS several times, but this trail is so infrequently used that it's not high on their priority list.

If it looks like rain and you still want to go, there is alternate camping just before you reach the Pilot Creek bridge. Get off the trail at the last switchback (maybe just down the trail from there) to the left and scramble/boulder around the hill a hundred feet or so to a flat secluded camping spot that's a good 30 or 40 feet elevation higher than the river.

You have to be really careful when approaching the trailhead. I have the trailhead marked on the attached map. On the topo, it looks like the foot trail begins directly from the old Rubicon Trail. It doesn't. You turn off the Rubicon Trail onto what looks like a steep jeep road and go 200 feet or so to a flat place big enough to turn around and to park several vehicles. From there, the jeep road turns left uphill to one more knoll top flat (smaller) where 1 to 2 vehicles could park, but turning around is difficult. Park at the first flat, walk through the second, and the foot trail begins shortly thereafter. If you miss the turnoff from the Rubicon Trail, you can only go about 1 mile further as the trail collapsed many years ago in a landslide. If you get to the place where the road disappears into empty space, turn around (back up until you can turn around) and go back about a mile to the turnoff which will be on the uphill side of the road.

Here is a map:

http://caltopo.com/map?id=6M4J

By the way, you might be able to snag a permit at Point Reyes at this time of year. It might be worth checking the website to see if any spots are available.

Hope this helps you,
happy hiking,
Tom
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:43 pm

Not a good weekend for the Sierra. Even at 4,000 foot elevation there is a chance of rain/snow with lows just above freezing. Not quite the High Sierra, but how about Feather Falls? Better weather predicted for Henry Coe State Park and Point Reyes.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby sparky » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:05 pm

If you dont want below freezing its time to dayhike and carpack. High country by day, stealth bivy under lots of blankets by night. Also a good time to check out sequoia groves. If you are feeling adventurous and are immune to poison oak bushwack to castle rocks in far southern sequoia NP .
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby vitaminC » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:50 am

Thanks for the replies! :righton:

We've already done Henry Coe and Pt Reyes this year. After more consideration it looks like we'll be heading to Ventana/Big Sur.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby Tom_H » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:36 am

One of the good things about Pt. Reyes is that there are so many ways to make differing loops with quite differing views and terrain. I would not dismiss it just because I'd been there once already this season. And it is so close to you.

WD is right about Feather Falls. Unfortunately the lower trail is closed due to a washed out bridge and you can't do the loop. You might be able to ford the stream at this time of year; I just don't know. There aren't too many places to camp between the TH and the falls. If you hike beyond the head of the fall itself, you can find good spots to both sides of the stream.

Remember, rain right at freezing temperatures can be far more dangerous than snow in negative numbers. In cold snow, with the right gear and right practices, you can stay dry. If you get wet from rain and are in circa-freezing temperatures, conductive/evaporative effects suck the heat out of your body. Add the convective effect of wind and you get exponential thermal loss and hypothermia is almost a certainty. Death can follow quickly unless radical intervention is taken.

Winter backpacking can be a demanding but rewarding experience. I have backpacked the Appalachians with ice cleats (much smaller teeth than crampons) in winter and nordic ski-packed the Rockies as well. You have to be prepared and know what you are doing in winter.

Whatever you decide, stay dry, stay warm, and have fun.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby vitaminC » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:34 am

I agree, Pt Reyes is quite nice. While it's close to me, my friend lives in Santa Cruz, so whether we go north or south, one of us gets to drive an extra hour...

Weather for the Big Sur area looks good for the weekend with nothing but a few clouds to trouble us- and make for more interesting photos :cool:
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby hurricaniac » Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:18 am

A good low elevation hike is starting from Buckeye Flat in Sequoia NP (elev. 2,800 ft.) and hiking up the Kaweah river to the Castle Creek Grove of big trees. No lakes, tho, just a good long trail with the reward of an intimate, remote setting of sequoias all to yourselves.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby hurricaniac » Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:30 am

Another possibility, but with some snow is to start at Wolverton ski area in Sequoia NP and hike to Heather, Aster, and possibly Pear lakes. You'll undoubtedly need appropriate gear. Only 4 miles to first lake on a good trail as long as you aren't post-holing over the Hump.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby vitaminC » Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:19 pm

Thanks again for all the suggestions!

We wound up having an excellent trip to and around Cone Peak in the Ventana Wilderness. If you're interested, I've posted up some photos here.
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Re: November trip suggestion

Postby DaveB » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:59 pm

Loved your photos - glad you had a good trip. The pictures took me back to a backpack I did in the Ventana around 1975. I remember loving the diversity of habitats - you could turn a corner and go from hot, dry chaparral to a redwood stream canyon in a few dozen yards.
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