Looking for suggestions

Posted by: Claude

Looking for suggestions - 02/05/16 01:46 PM

I have the opportunity to be in California (from Europe) in April and I am looking for a 5 to 10 day hike with spectacular scenery and hopefully very little civilized life in the vicinity.

I looked at the JMT but it seems really early in the season unless this becomes a heavy ski/mountain expedition.

Any suggestion for me? I hear Big Sur is great but could not find any long distance paths there on the www.

Thanks for your help!

Cheers
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Looking for suggestions - 02/05/16 10:25 PM

Three things come to mind. California is large- depends on which end of the state you will be in.

Lost Coast. Up north. 7-8-day trip if you do the whole thing from Matolle Beach to Hwy 1. I have done this twice and April is a perfect time. It does help to have low tides but not impossible even at high tide- just not as much leeway in getting over some points. You also need transportation from one end to the other - it is almost a 4-5 hour trip to get back to the beginning, not because it is that much distance but roads are bad and slow. There is a commercial shuttle service that works well, but is expensive. Lots of information on internet. Just "google" Lost Coast. No problem with permits either- you just self-register.

Grand Canyon - good time of year for this. There are some longer trips. One problem is getting a permit. From Southern California (LA area) it is actually closer to the Grand Canyon than northern California. Zion National Park in Utah is another option.

This year looks like a normal to higher than normal snowpack in the mountains. April in the Sierra is going to be a snow trip. Early April is also quite different from late April.

This probably would not appeal to you, but April is the time PCT hikers start from the Mexican border. There are plenty of 10+ day trips on the PCT before you even get to the Sierra! They are plenty remote- but not what you likely had in mind.
Posted by: Claude

Re: Looking for suggestions - 02/06/16 03:27 AM

Thanks,

I shall look into those 3 options over the we, great to have open minded fellow hikers to connect on the other side of the atlantic.

I was browsing the www yesterday after posting and looking at the Lake Tahoe Rim, may be snowy there, i was wondering how to explore this option?

Cheers
Posted by: bluefish

Re: Looking for suggestions - 02/10/16 09:44 AM

I edited my post, as I realized my suggestions were not long distance and more suited to a week long trip at most. Good luck. and have a good trip.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Looking for suggestions - 02/11/16 12:37 AM

Here is a good web site to watch the snow conditions in the Sierra.

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/current/snow/index.html

The Tahoe area generally melts later than southern Sierra. I guess it depends on how much snow you are willing to walk through.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Looking for suggestions - 02/11/16 12:44 AM

As for April in the Sierra - there is snow on the ground but day temperatures are moderate. This is actually a good time of the year for a multi-day ski-tour. But you still need the right kind of winter equipment and experience. You would most likely be camping on snow at anything in the mountains.

In a normal snow year, April 1 is considered the peak snowpack for the higher elevations. Memorial Day weekend (end of May) here is considered the start of the backpack season. Even then, a lot of the mountain passes are still closed.

Tahoe Rim would be a ski trip.
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Looking for suggestions - 02/11/16 10:55 AM

Quote:
"In a normal snow year, April 1 is considered the peak snowpack for the higher elevations. Memorial Day weekend (end of May) here is considered the start of the backpack season. Even then, a lot of the mountain passes are still closed."

I would say that Memorial Day weekend is a somewhat early start for backpack season, of course very much depending on the snowpack that year. PCT thru-hikers typically hike through there starting sometime in June, and in normal years it's considered somewhat tough/dangerous, with an ice axe being a very good idea.

In my year, perhaps a 'normal' to slightly 'high' year, I started through in early June and finish the JMT portion in late June. The issues weren't just snow (though there was lots of it), but creeks swollen by snowmelt at a lot tougher/more dangerous to cross than in normal times. And the transition zones could be a PITA, i.e., you drop back down from higher snowy areas (typically descending from a pass) down to lower non-snowy areas, and the transition in between would often be a sodden wet area of just-melted water running along the trail.

Another issue is postholing; one would typically try to do a "pass a day", and try to be getting down from the pass before afternoon sun and temperature softened the snow too much.

Still. If you have experience at backpacking in snow, it's not that bad. Consolidated spring snow isn't at all like hiking in actual winter, and there are less people out there (apart perhaps from a stream of thru-hikers headed north). You typically don't have to actually camp in snow, the mantra is "hike high and sleep low". And the bugs aren't out when the temps stay low enough, whereas they can get fierce shortly after (while there's still snow in the passes).