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Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

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Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby maverick » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:36 pm

Most of us who have been visiting the Sierra for decades, and those who have
just started, will always hear of the unpredictability, and possible freaky snow storms
one may encounter when visiting in this precarious month.
It would be great if you had a personal experience to share, so those who have only read
warnings about going out in October can really understand what the possible dangers
are by reading there fellow backpackers experiences with mother natures wrath during
an October trip.

One of my October weather trips was a decade ago while visiting Emerald Lakes, up
the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek.
Got hit by a storm for which the forecast was a few inches of snow each day but turned
out to be more like a couple of feet.
Had to get up ever hour to get the snow off the tent, this went on all night.
At around 3 am, and sleepy as hell, set my watch alarm for a 2 hour wake up instead
of an hour because it sounded like the snow had died down, and wanted to get some
extra sleep.
Bad idea, when my alarm went off at 5 am I looked up at my tents ceiling, it was
covered in snow, my whole tent was enveloped by snow, had to dig for quite a while
to remove most of the snow from around the tent.
By 7 am the skies were blue with some clouds drifting in from the west as I looked
north, but as I turned around towards the Sierra Crest there were some grey clouds
slowly moving in towards my position, and I could see the heavy snow falling from
these clouds.
Since my plan was to get up early next morning anyways I decided to head out instead
of taking the chance of it still snowing on me the next morning during my hike out.
There was at least 2 feet of fresh snow, a lot more in some places, and of coarse no
trail to follow.
While hiking out ran into some folks who had stayed at some of the higher lakes, and
were surprised by the snow.
They had been hiking in circles trying to make it out to there cars, obviously lost, and
unprepared for these conditions.
We hiked out together, and as we got pasted Blue Lake it really started to snow on us
and it made me wonder what these folks would have done if no one would have come
by while they were wandering around lost, and suddenly they experienced whiteout
conditions.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby Cross Country » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:04 pm

I wish to share this with as many people with an open mind as possible. Earlier this season I often and passionately shared my thoughts with many to point out that there was a lot of snow (more that ever for, I believe, all of us), and a high water danger (unsurpassed for all of us).
We need to make APPROPRIATE choices as to snow, high water creeks, and weather. Weather is fairly predictable. I went into the high country in June only on below average snow years. I crossed potentially dangerous creeks depending on the (snow) year and time of year. I never went into the high country in October because it never makes sense, even a little bit (to me). After Mid Sep I never went above 8K, in october, never above 6K. My first goal was always to enjoy myself.
If your goal is to test yourself I suggest you wait for a really strong storm in the winter and head out. If you live (survive) you'll have a great story to write on this website.
And this comming from a hard core backpacker.
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby rlown » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:15 pm

It's a little limiting to restrict this thread to October, cuz there's tons to do out there regardless of weather. Weather just IS. If one is on skis and the weather is favorable for that, the Sierra is a great place to glide along.

The only bad part about October is the USFS and NPS usually close their gates. Just means we have to hike farther for a different, er, special experience.

I did the rescue/guide out shtick once.. Off of Round Top Mtn. It was November, and the couple I led back to their car were very nice. We played cards in their tent until the storm lifted the next day, and then out. Not sure why they were out there, but then, why was I out there on thanksgiving day?
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby balzaccom » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:46 pm

Let's see....

We were at 5,000 feet, and first it started raining, then sleeting. We set up camp and got into the tent. In the middle of the night I could hear that the rain had stopped...and now there was the gentle swoosh of snow sliding down the walls of the tent.

The next morning we got up and got out...hiking through snow and then sleet and then rain.

Oh yeah.. That was 2011, over 4th of July Weekend.
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby rlown » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:49 pm

so, not October.. :)
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby sparky » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:28 pm

I'm not a sierra expert by any means, but yesterday I bailed on day 2 of a 5 day trip over piute pass because I just wasn't feeling the weather. Just a little white stuff fell that turned to rain, but a really cold wind gave me flashbacks to a sudden blizzard on san jacinto years back. For that one I only had a light fleece and a 40 degree bag, forecast was for sunny warm weather two days prior.....and it never snows in Oct on san jacinto ;-) This time I was decently prepared, just didn't want to deal with it.
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: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby balzaccom » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:12 am

rlown wrote:so, not October.. :)



Exactly my point. You can get crazy weather in the Sierra just about any month of the year. I've had WORSE weather in July than I ever had in October--but then, I'm a lot more careful about where and when I go in October.
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby BrianF » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:59 am

I have not had many "bad" experiences with weather in October, but I have seldom backpacked after about mid-October. I always watch the weather closely before I go and carry gear and clothing for cold weather and some snow. Often the afternoon thunderstorms are snow, which tends to stick in shaded areas, like the north side of passes. If storms are predicted count on snow. My "worst" experience was trying to get over Alpine Col in early October. There had been afternoon snow storms that had melted off except for the talus above Goethe lake - incredibly teacherous! Now I don't plan on trips like that in October. The key is to watch the weather for weeks ahead of time to see if there have been earlier snow falls that may affect your route - and don't go if storms are predicted unless you are fully prepared to have conditions like Maverick describes.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby no2haven » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:12 am

Fairly timely topic, since the weather for this coming weekend (Oct 1st!) is trending towards stormy and colder, with possibly the first significant snowfall of the season.

A lot can change in 7 days, especially with forecast models, but its time to start paying (more) attention to the weather before heading up to the mountains...
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby Captain Slappy » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:42 am

no2haven wrote:Fairly timely topic, since the weather for this coming weekend (Oct 1st!) is trending towards stormy and colder, with possibly the first significant snowfall of the season.

Where is there a forecast for "significant" snow??? I'm supposed to be out there starting about midweek for about six days so slightly concerned, especially after reading maverick's post. :paranoid:
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby rlown » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:48 am

Probably shouldn't be concerned. Like others have said; look at the forecast before you go. there is that lil disturbance in Mexico that might work it's way up. Note that the hunters are out now.. Wear orange..
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Re: Share Your Worst October Weather Experience

Postby FeetFirst » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:06 pm

I would just like to add that the road that you have to drive back down in said potential storm should be considered as well.

A couple of years ago I was coming back from a late season trip (maybe Oct., but I can't remeber for sure) that had me hiking out in over a foot of new snow. No big deal, since I expected some snow and was prepared, but then I got back to my car and realized that I had to drive back down this super steep Forest Service road and cross an old metal plank bridge with no guard rails. Longest and scariest 12 miles of my life. I now take the whole trip into consideration.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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