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Trip Advice for October

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Trip Advice for October

Postby llegoz » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:22 pm

Hello! I'm going to be in Merced in late October. I'm hoping to get in a 1-2 night trip in the Sierra mountains while visiting. My only concern is the weather. Will a trip up Pioneer Basin or Emigrant Wilderness be difficult due to snow? I have a good number of summer trips under my belt but none during the fall. I've done some research and seen that temps can get as low as 29 degrees. My only winter gear is a down jacket and a 20 degree bag (aside from a rain jacket which is hardly cold weather gear) so would I need anything special aside from a good jacket?



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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby rlown » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:37 pm

llegoz wrote:Hello! I'm going to be in Merced in late October. I'm hoping to get in a 1-2 night trip in the Sierra mountains while visiting. My only concern is the weather. Will a trip up Pioneer Basin or Emigrant Wilderness be difficult due to snow?


Wait.. Let me look into the crystal ball for a minute..... I see a full on drought on and the weather isn't predictable but maybe for a week out at a time. Are you not looking at conditions in viewforum.php?f=34 because you should be.

You worry about snow as the event occurs before you go. If you don't have the gear, you don't go.

Depending on weather/smoke/act of god, just do Chain lakes out of Quartz Mtn. simple and an easy exit in a storm. YMMV
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby tim » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:44 pm

Not to be facetious but you'll want a good tent, stove, decent sleep mat. You'll have to play it by ear, the weather could be nice or not, there may be snow or not (depends on El Niño). For a 1 night trip if the weather is good and the forecast stable, you should be OK, but be fully prepared to cancel if not. Remember there won't be many people around so think carefully about taking a SPOT, leaving route details etc.

I went to Pear Lake in early November 2011 and had a great trip: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7169
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:09 am

Temps can be 20f in July. 20 degree gear is my SUMMER gear. i take a 0 degree setup starting late October. it has already dropped a little snow up high, which will be gone soon, but it is a good indication of where temperatures in the high country will be. roads will be closed, or closed to overnight parking (tioga). chains or cables are required to be in your car, and should be functional.


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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:54 am

Emigrant Basin good choice because it is mid elevations. Pioneer Basin dangerous choice because to reach that from Rock Creek requires going over the 12k Mono Pass. OK if one has winter gear and experience but otherwise there is fair probability areas about the pass will already have snow covering trails. For anyone out just a day or two per your time also a poor choice because the destination is a long hike even during summer and by late October one should be carrying heavier gear that makes a long trail day even less a wise choice. In any case backpacking late October tends to be unpopular because days are so short that one ends up enduring a long dark night period stuck in a tent while air temperatures are cold making even reading inside a tent unpleasant.
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby peaksandpotatoes » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:07 pm

Oh I think going out during shoulder season is wonderful. Very few people, no bug issues, the landscape is full of colors you don't see in the summer, and walking with a pack is more pleasant without the oppressive, dusty heat of late summer. True the days are shorter, but I like relaxing in my tent and sleeping a lot! Yes, you need proper gear (sleeping bag rated around 0 degrees, warm sleeping pad is very important because it won't matter how nice your sleeping bag is without great sleeping pad, tent with reliable rainfly, I would do full rain gear just in case: rain jacket, pack cover, rain pants... don't forget gloves) do careful research on where you are headed, check National Weather Service reports for your exact destination often before you head out, keep the elevation and daily mileage lower than you would for summer, consider that some streams might have dried up, and be prepared to cancel the trip if the weather forecast does not look good (research some backup day hikes?). I was out around 12000 feet in the eastern Sierra late last October and there wasn't snow yet, though shallow ponds had frozen up. I guess I was lucky to have such a nice trip, but hopefully we will not experience that kind of drought this year. I agree with the other commenters that Pear Lake would be a good idea, Pioneer Basin is probably not a good choice, and Emigrant Wilderness probably good idea too. If it is your first fall trip, I would just plan for one night and you can see how you need to tweak your gear and planning for next time. Good luck and stay safe!
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby mschnaidt » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:50 am

llegoz,

Here is a link to the National Weather Service site. I have Wood lake in Emigrant selected. It's a great planning tool.

As for clothing, I would suggest gloves and a warm hat. Depending on where you go, hunters may be in the area. A blaze orange hat is a good idea.

A sleeping bag liner can add some extra warmth to your bag but even more important (as mentioned) a warm sleeping pad is critical.

Enjoy the trip!
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby WarrenFork » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:08 am

There's no common standard for sleeping bag temperature ratings so they aren't very meaningful. People differ in how "warm" or "cold" they sleep, as well. But you don't necessarily need a "0 degree" bag for your trip. If you're sleeping in a tent, that will add warmth to the margin provided by your bag; one common estimate is 10 degrees. Wear a down jacket inside the bag (especially a hooded one) and you will be warmer still. A thin fleece under that and a lightweight base layer of a synthetic or wool/synthetic blend would probably get you down into the low teens temperature-wise, assuming an insulated pad underneath.

The down quit I use for three seasons in the Sierra is filled with 11.3 ounces of down and is rated to 30 degrees. Wearing a hooded down jacket that weighs less than 8 ounces total over an 8 ounce fleece pullover and a 4 ounce merino/synthetic base layer, I've slept comfortably inside a tent in temperatures measured at 5 degrees.
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:29 am

As much as proper equipment is the ability to judge weather so you know when to quickly bail out. Since you have neither winter-weather gear or experience, it is important to be sure "late fall" does not unexpectedly turn into "winter". Late October can be quite warm or an unexpected winter storm can hit. Because of this, I would choose a location that is easy to bail out (no high passes or off-trail stuff to go through in order to get out), a trailhead that will not be closed trapping your car (ie; Sonora or Tioga Passes NOT a good choice), and overall elevations because night temperatures can get mighty cold at 11,000 feet (ie: NOT Humphreys Basin).

Also stay out of deep canyons, because you will be in the shadows both morning and evenings making it even more difficult to avoid too long tent-time. In early November I have experienced below freezing temperatures in Yosemite Valley, and bundled up for a hike up Yosemite Falls only to be sweltering halfway up! Cold air sinks into the Valley.

From Merced, if you go to the east side, you need to go over Tioga Pass - not often, but sometimes it temporarily closes a few days after a storm. Assuming the pass is open, and no forecast storms, a very nice Fall trip I have done in the past is take the "River Trail" from Agnew Meadows (8200 ft) up to Lake Ediza (9200 ft) or, possibly to Garnet Lake (9600 ft) Also, you can drive to the trailhead parking since the required shuttle rules do not apply. Or staying on the west side, the Lake Vernon loop from Hetch Hetchy is a nice fall hike with elevations under 7000 feet.

Unless we get some significant rain, Emigrant Wilderness lakes will still be very low. I just got back from a trip there (will do a trip report soon). Many streams are dry. The area is used heavily by horse groups so at the end of the season, trails are beat to death and very dusty. I personally think the Crabtree TH is quite unpleasant late season. Also, check to see if it is still hunting season. If so, be sure to have some hunter-orange clothing.

And we hope all the current fires will be out, but if not, you could still have smoke problems. Smoke usually settles into the valleys, another reason to stay out of deep valleys.

Although it may be a bit far for you to drive, I always like Desolation Wilderness for late Fall trips.
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby oleander » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:34 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:a very nice Fall trip I have done in the past is take the "River Trail" from Agnew Meadows (8200 ft) up to Lake Ediza (9200 ft) or, possibly to Garnet Lake (9600 ft) Also, you can drive to the trailhead parking since the required shuttle rules do not apply.


One year I had that thought myself, WD, and here's what happened...It was around October 6, or so. Forecast had been for 100% clear skies. Instead, we got a big snowstorm while camped at Garnet Lake. Took the trail that runs from Garnet Lake's outlet to the River Trail...Proceeded to get lost in the snow for a bit. Made it back to the car, the only one left in the parking lot. Miraculously, the road was plowed...And only because a muckety-muck doctor stranded by snow down the road at Reds Meadow had spent several hours raising a ruckus with Mammoth city officials. (The plan had been to *not* plow the road). Even on a plowed road, my little rear-wheel-drive car skittled wildly back and forth on the slick stuff, over those drop-offs. Yes, I should have put on chains. Although the trailhead is at 8200 feet, to drive there and back from Mammoth, you have to go over the higher pass.

That's the last time I chose that trailhead for an October trip.

My favorite for late fall is Paradise Valley out of Roads End in Kings Canyon.

YMMV.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby maverick » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:40 pm

And only because a muckety-muck doctor stranded by snow down the road at Reds Meadow had spent several hours raising a ruckus with Mammoth city officials.


Was that not in 2013?
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Re: Trip Advice for October

Postby oleander » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:19 pm

maverick wrote:
And only because a muckety-muck doctor stranded by snow down the road at Reds Meadow had spent several hours raising a ruckus with Mammoth city officials.


Was that not in 2013?


It was in 2009.
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