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Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:55 pm
by A_Frogswamp
Hey all, I'm planning a trip for mid-March and am trying get a better idea of what weather/snow is like currently. Some snow is fine, but I'd like to go somewhere that we can actually still find the trail and trying to avoid getting crampons, ice axes...etc. I've found some really awesome trip ideas from previous posts, but wanted to check in if anyone has gone anywhere over the last few weeks and has an idea of conditions right now. I was originally looking at the palisades out of Bishop or Yosemite, but I'm open to Kings/Sequioa as well. I've never posted here so I went ahead and filled out the questionnaire below. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Happy trails!

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 2- Some backpacking trips, using trails

What terrain are you comfortable with?
- Class 1 terrain/trail hiking

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Forests
- Big Mountain scenery

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?

Do you have a route logistics preference: loop, out and back, point to point (which
may require 2 vehicles or hitchhiking)?
loop preferred, out and back totally fine too

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKI
western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?
Primarily Western sierra and Yosemite, but open to anything new

Will you be hiking with a dog?

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:54 am
by balzaccom
There's not a lot of snow up there, but if you are hiking 8 miles from the East side, you are going into some pretty high elevations, at least over 10,000 feet, and there will be snow and very cold temperatures. And bear in mind that at any time a storm can come through and dump a foot or more of snow on you--enough to obliterate the trail.

March in the SIerra, even in a low snow year like this one, is for people who like winter in a big way, or who aim for lower elevations (and consequently shorter trips--most of the lower elevation hikes won't reach 30 miles...eventually they start climbing into the high country)

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:13 pm
by ciclista
It's not the Sierra, but Henry Coe Park is very good in March. Wildflowers everywhere, green hills, nice weather, spring water for drinking, hardly any people, and the fishing is very good for bass. The shortest hike will be 8 miles each way, with 2-3 thousand feet of climbing, but the best fishing requires at least 10 miles, and up to 20 miles to get to it. We go on foot or by mtb.

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:17 pm
by mort
Hi A_Frogswamp,
Maybe you do this already. Every day I check these 3 web cams:
Whitney from Lone Pine
Mineral King
These are both southern Sierra, I assume there's more snow north.
Just because: Long Valley, at Mt. San Jacinto, in the mountains above Palms Springs ... y-cam.html The web cam is at 8500 ft.
I also check the weather for instance: Search for "Aspendell" that is the little town at the junction of the North Lake and South Lake roads west of Bishop. This gives you a heads up for a few days ahead. And I also use weather radar to see where storms are and what they are doing. I think the Mineral King cam gives you the best idea of what to expect. It's snowy today, there was a storm yesterday. Two days ago there was almost no snow, and by Monday I expect it will look like spring.


Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:31 am
by A_Frogswamp
I didn't know about those webcams- huge help! Thank you!

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:30 pm
by Tom_H
Even in this low snow winter, a big storm could still strand you in the backcountry at that time of year. At your experience level, you might not survive a worst case scenario. People with the right experience and equipment know what to do. I really would encourage you to think about the Coast Range or the desert for that time of year.

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:13 pm
by Jimr
I second Tom's suggestion in a big way. Winter is no joke. Heck, a small storm could get you into a lot of trouble without the proper winter experience. I suggest go low or go shallow, IOW, find a lower elevation trip or stay within a very short distance from a trail head. A couple of miles in snow with no visible trail can lead the unfamiliar into disaster. :soapbox:

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:25 am
by A_Frogswamp
Huge thanks to all of you. We're thinking at this point to just push the trip back. As tempting as it is to just go out there and hope for the best, I think we're just asking for a bad situation. I'm just anxious to get out there!!

Re: Mid-march backpacking trip

Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 10:55 am
by Cross Country
Sespe Creek in southern california. We went there in March 1976. There was no trail but the terrain was not dificult. We caught dinner both days on the creek.