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4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

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4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby counselor » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:32 am

Does anyone have any ideas for a good 4 day/3 night backpacking trip over the Thanksgiving holiday? I'm based in LA but would be willing to drive up to 7 hours each way (looking at you Zion and Grand Canyon). I'm a very experienced backpacker, but don't have any cold-weather gear (i.e., crampons, ice ax, gaiters). I've come up with Zion and Grand Canyon on my own, but I heard even Grand Canyon can get a lot of snow and a rim to rim is nearly impossible due to the snow on the north rim. Zion sounds fun...but I'm not sure I want to do the narrows at the end of November. And I've gone to Big Sur about 6 times already this year, so I'd like to try something else. I love to climb in Joshua Tree, but I'm looking for more of a backpacking trip this time around. I'm assuming there's no way I can do a Sequoia/Inyo trip as the threat of a heavy snow will keep me away. I also thought about heading up to the Lost Coast, but multiple people have told me that I will be miserable the entire hike due to rain and winds (in addition to warning me that it's a particularly dangerous time to hike the lost coast).

Does anyone have any suggestions? As an aside, what kinds of gear would I need to go into the mountains this time of year? If it's just cold weather tent/bag/boots I don't mind, but I have a feeling the high country is blanketed by feet of snow and unless I'm willing to bring showshoes/skis, crampons and ice axes (I'm not) that it's out of the question. What does everyone do during the winter months?



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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby SSSdave » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:02 am

Hello counselor,

Just pick up a guide book. Go on Amazon and search with:
hiking Southern California

This board is about backpacking in the Sierra Nevada which is a late spring thru early fall activity. Late fall through mid spring is not a time to be in these mountains unless one is snow savvy. Almost all summer backpacking destinations are above mid forest elevations with the most at timberline. As of yesterday's storm that has now been well sealed in depths of snow. For those areas and seasons this board can provide a lot of information beyond that in any guide books, but not winter. Accordingly you will find far more expertise by reviewing one of the guide books or joining one of the Southern California hiking groups, especially check on your local http://www.meetup.com groups.

There are also myriad interesting places in our deserts for short backpacking trips that don't require hiking on trails since off trail travel in the desert is often wide open. All one needs to do is grab a topo, drive out on one of the endless dirt roads and head out carrying water. And the amazing thing to this person is how very very few take advantage of it. As a Death Valley NP park ranger related to me once after listening to some of the places I adventured out to over a couple weeks, 99% of visitors in the desert are utterly afraid to venture off from dirt roads or trails. Besides DV, Anza Borrego, and Joshua Tree have immense areas to explore. Want craggy granite peaks, go check out the New York Mountains in JT.

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2015_Trip_C ... les-0.html
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby Tom_H » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:15 am

The places you've listed sound the best to me. You could consider Point Reyes National Seashore just north of SF. It's just beyond the driving time you want. The thing is, you could get endless rain, or it could be clear. That's impossible to predict until right before the trip.
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:54 pm

If we get more rain to green things up and provide some flow to water sources, Henry Coe State Park is one of the few winter hiking areas where you can do a 4-day trip and cover lots of ground. I have put a few trip reports of the trips I have done. Henry Coe is also a lot closer than Point Reyes. I find that to do four days in Point Reyes the route has to be a bit contrived. But if you prefer ocean and coastal views, then Point Reyes is a fine spot. Point Reyes requires getting camping permits, which are very hard to come by on the Thanksgiving weekend. I doubt there are open spots. People reserve these way in advance.

You are about as close to the Grand Canyon. You may be able to get a permit but this is not a sure bet. I have hiked the Canyon in November with a first-come permit due to cancellations when it was quite cold on the rim. It was perfect in the canyon.

Although not a 4-day backpack, Channel Islands National Park is very nice.

Someone else with more experience can chime in- but what about the lower Kern River from Kernville?
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby robow8 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:36 pm

Trans Catalina?
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby KathyW » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:11 pm

I wouldn't rule out Grand Canyon completely. Years ago my son and I did an overnight trip down to Phantom Ranch via the South Kaibab and up the Bright Angel over Thanksgiving. There was no snow. It never snows down at the river. Maybe just a pair of those microspikes in case you run into snow near the rim, but it's pretty low elevation. You have other options than going up to the North Rim or you could just go as high as you're comfortable depending on snow conditions. Ribbon Falls is beautiful. Then there's the Clear Creek Trail and the Tonto Trail too.

I agree, this probably should be posted over in the Beyond the Sierra section.
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby gary c. » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:47 pm

You might want to look into the Sespe Wilderness. Rugged country and cold nights but lots of trails and options.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby Beantown » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:01 pm

gary c. wrote:You might want to look into the Sespe Wilderness. Rugged country and cold nights but lots of trails and options.


the gene marshal peidra blanca trail is some wild wilderness, you wont be disappointed. its 19 miles, you can link it up with other trails thru the sespe for more miles. water may be an issue though.
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby gary c. » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:07 pm

Beantown wrote:
gary c. wrote:You might want to look into the Sespe Wilderness. Rugged country and cold nights but lots of trails and options.


the gene marshal peidra blanca trail is some wild wilderness, you wont be disappointed. its 19 miles, you can link it up with other trails thru the sespe for more miles. water may be an issue though.

I agree with Beantown about water concerns but I think that with recent storms a call to the local FS about availability should be enough. I don't think I would have been so willing a month ago.
Last edited by gary c. on Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:31 pm

I have campsites in Point Reyes over Thanksgiving this year (it's an anniversary with the significant alien, and he's never been - we're staying in trail camps and then at the hostel for the third night, before heading out to Tomales Point to visit the elk herds) and each New Year I take a group of backpackers (usually from a meetup group) on a three and a half day trip - if you manage to get campsites at Sky, Coast then Wildcat (or in the other direction Wildcat, Coast then Sky) you can manage a leisurely outing, with sites that feature trash cans, pit toilets, water faucets and charcoal grills (you pack the charcoal, no wood collecting is allowed). It's in my opinion the best time of year to visit (winter) due to the lack of crowds and fog (both of which are at their worst in summer).

Sespe from Rose Valley can be a 4 day trip - go to Willetts hot springs on the first day, Sespe Hot Springs on the second, reverse course to the car. Sespe is the hottest spring in the state - if the creek is not running to cool the water in the pools, it won't be a good place to soak! - and Willetts has a large stock tub to sit in. At Willetts there are faucets (near the old sheds) fed by a cold mineral spring that have potable water. If the Sespe River is down to stagnant pools, it would be possible to carry enough water to hike the nine miles to Willetts and refill there. (Did that last year.)

The issue with Sespe in winter will be roads to trailheads - many are gated in November to reopen in spring. Rose Valley is one of the few that are open year round - it's paved.
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby gabe&mel » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:04 pm

I'll put another plug in for Henry Coe. Went there with a buddy Thanksgiving of 2013, had a good time. Definitely plan to carry a bit more water whenever you filter water, many creeks are bone dry (as WD mentioned hopefully the rains continue to alleviate this problem). Some surprisingly steep hills there! Some of the old run down cabins had warning signs for hantavirus (didn't see the warning sign until after I explored a bit ](*,) ).

If the skies are clear point reyes has really gorgeous views, but if you get caught with rain/fog/mist it can make for a cold damp miserable trip. Solitude can be lacking at some sites which can get a bit rowdy especially on weekends. Not very strenuous hiking and relatively short distances between sites allows you to pack in primo food and beverages.

Gabe
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Re: 4 day, 3 night trip over Thanksgiving

Postby Tom_H » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:33 pm

This is farther than you wanted to go, but The Lost Coast might be a possibility. Wandering Daisy posted a magnificent trip report of it a while back:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12855

Here's her Henry Coe TR:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12450
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