Mar 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm #1299968
New to southern California (San Diego) and new to the Forum. I've been lurkin hard for a good while now but I figure it's time to register. Most of my backpacking experience is East Coast / Minnesota, so this warm, dry and overly beautiful climate is new to me. I've been searching through the site for local information, and there seems to be a fair amount on the PCT and JMT. As I am a poor college student without a car, my adventures may have to be limited to where I can walk to or take a bus from San Diego. There seems to be a bunch of cool places locally, and even though I'll probably figure this stuff out as I go I might as well ask about a couple of things:
Sneaky rainstorms? Do they materialize from nowhere like they do back east, or is a sunny forecast fairly accurate
Ferocity of micro-bears? I usually hang my food but i've noticed there are areas here with few trees…
Bugs? People say they're not that bad, but I'd rather not find out otherwise when I neglect to bring a mosquito net
Water? Hiking in the desert seems like it might be different from the BWCA. Do you pack it all or can you find some
Anything else that you locals may take for granted?
Other than that I think I landed on the easy side of the transition; I'd rather go from cold to warm than the other way around. I hope I can get into the mountains at some point and make use of my winter gear. Thanks for taking the time to read,
– JamesMar 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm #1961106
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
My grandparents on both sides went to Yosemite in the 1920's. I attended SDSU for a while.
>I am a poor college student without a car
Get thee to a University Outing Club. During my numerous tenures at UC Berkeley, the Hiking Club never limited membership to students. Alumni, non-students, and hangers-on were all welcome. It worked really well for drivers and non-drivers because the paradigm was that "drivers don't pay" (since they cover capital and insurance costs) – all gasoline was covered by NON-drivers.
Edited to add: So if you're at SDSU, check out UCSD. And vice-a-versa. Also Harvey Mudd, Scripps, etc.
> Sneaky rainstorms? Do they materialize from nowhere like they do back east, or is a sunny forecast fairly accurate.
The weather forecasts should be accurate a few days in advance. It isn't New England, where, truly, "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes." The summer is predictably warm and dry. The winter storms are large-scale events that you can hear about on the evening news. As you get to higher elevations, especially in the Sierra in the summer, remember, "thunderstorms require two things – heat and humidity". By late afternoon, there may (or may not) be thunderheads forming. Learn to watch the sky and learn to predict (for your particular elevation and RH that day), what might happen.
> Ferocity of micro-bears? I usually hang my food but i've noticed there are areas here with few trees…
I see many more grizzlies than black bears now in my status as a former-Californian, present-Alaskan. Brown bears and I have a lot of respect of each other and we have always figured out a way to head in opposite directions. CA black bears? I yell and run at them with a stick, intent on how much harm I will do to them when I get there. They are never there when I've run the 50 yards, having retreated into the woods.
> Bugs? People say they're not that bad, but I'd rather not find out otherwise when I neglect to bring a mosquito net.
I rarely carry DEET up here, but I'm a Hiker, not a Sitter or a Photographer and when I Fish, I go to Catch on the salt water, not be a Stander along a stream. If staying in one place around water at dusk, bring the smallest possible container of 100% DEET. If you are going to be hiking, don't bother.
> Water? Hiking in the desert seems like it might be different from the BWCA. Do you pack it all or can you find some.
Bring it all, unless you have great intel on reliable sources. There are places (Half Dome hike) that in every summer month of the even drought years, I know which springs are reliable. Until you get to that point or hook up with a really trustworthy buddy, err on the side of caution. Personally, I'd rather carry water in my belly than on my back. If I've pee'd in the last 2 hours, I've decently hydrated. If you can't remember when you last pee'd or if it was dark and stinky, find water or bail!
> Anything else that you locals may take for granted?
If you see funny-looking, medicinal plants, turn around and leave. If someone is acting like a street person in Manhattan, treat them accordingly. Expect more stable weather than you are used to.
-DavidMar 3, 2013 at 11:39 pm #1961119
…Mar 4, 2013 at 6:28 am #1961160
Erik BasilBPL Member
Welcome to SoCal and to San Diego, James.
Dave gave you some great suggestions (except for the reference to Harvey Mudd, which is 100 miles away): both USCD and SDSU have active outdoor programs run out of their extra-curricular centers and you can get on backpacking trips without owning a car.
Right in the local San Diego mountains, you won't need more than your bag system for the mini-bears, which will be squirrels and racoons. Racoons will tear open stuff sacks and can climb like mad, so you might consider a bear canister in some locations — and the local beta is good, just ask.
There are some great places for you to check out that are relatively close and I suggest you Google "Mt. Laguna" and "Big Laguna Meadow" to get a start at what may the the prettiest, most Sierra-like piece of SoCal mountains there are (despite being 3000' lower than Agnew Meadows, which it looks very much like). Great winter opportunities up there and the local kooks, er… "Sierra Club" do backpacking trips up there.
By now you know we've got 3 REI's you can hit, the original Adventure 16 shop (plus another) and a lot of open space/canyon parks you can dayhike or mountain bike in (camping is only allowed if you're a migrant worker or bum).
Depending which college you're at, and presuming you live near it, there are a lot of such hikes near most of them. If you get to a bookstore, look up "Afoot & Afield in San Diego County" by Jerry Schad. This is the bible of local trails for hiking and running. Get that, and you're set for day hikes.Mar 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm #1961571
Thanks for the insight and answers. I'm at UCSD, and it's nice because I can pretty much make up my own schedule around what I need to get done in the lab. The school appears to have a pretty solid Outdoor Recreation department, and I took a look at some of the trips they offer and they seem fun but a good chunk of money goes towards renting equipment and guides. I need to find more of a "club" composed of like-minded students (I'll check the other schools as well). I've also joined a few of the Meetup groups around here, but haven't made it to any of the events yet. Fortunately I am thoroughly capable of enjoying the outdoors by myself, and I know the backpacking friends will come with time.
I'll look into the rental car thing, I didn't even think of that. I'll also have to hit up Adventure 16, and I did see the Jerry Schad book at Barnes and Noble but I didn't have any money on me. It looked thick and full of good info though.
I honestly would be pretty happy if the weather stayed exactly like this all year, I sweat my ass off during the day in a t-shirt and it makes me uncomfortable seeing people in sweatshirts and winter hats.Mar 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm #1961590
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"Dave gave you some great suggestions (except for the reference to Harvey Mudd, which is 100 miles away):"
My bad. Form the subarctic, it all looks like Southern California!
Yeah rental cars, especially split among 3 or 5 students are quite a deal compared to keeping your own car on the road. Look to the off-brand outfits (not Hertz and Avis that want >21, charge extra for <25, etc). The best I did at Berkeley was taking 9 people to the trailhead in a Toyota Corolla. I'm not saying everyone had a seat belt to themselves, but it was about 360 people-miles per gallon which beats a Prius. Speaking of which, owning and operating a Prius, Corolla and RAV and renting many different cars each year, go cheap – any light compact car. Hybrids rent at a premium and I'll only rent them when I'm doing more than 500 miles a day, every day. You'll be hiking most of the rental period so you want something that is cheap to park at the trailhead.
Here is a dang good trick: get two 1000-pound rafting sninch straps from NRS. Two 15-footers. Lay two or four backpacks on the roof, run the straps around the roof and packs (with the doors open), and really crank on them (P.S. do that AFTER you leave the rental car lot). I now do this on family vacations to get all the stuff to the hotel / trailhead in a compact car and it works fine. I've hauled a full-sized refrigerator 200 miles and, another time, three 55-gallon drums at once on a compact car that way.Mar 5, 2013 at 10:08 am #1961719
Erik BasilBPL Member
James, don't buy the Jerry Schad book at Barnes & Noble. You've already paid for it with your Reg Fees and it's waiting for you on the sixth floor of Geisel.
Learn to love Roger, he works great. They've also got the '92 and '99 editions. They even have it in an e-book for you new-fangled kids and your fancy phones! :)
Since you're on UCSD campus, your basic rental car matters are probably solved with ZipCar, which is on campus. Otherwise, get a longboard and a lid!Mar 5, 2013 at 10:59 am #1961739
> I've hauled a full-sized refrigerator 200 miles and, another time, three 55-gallon drums at once on a compact car that way.
Thats the way to get creative. I will miss my pickup, which fit all of my belongings neatly in the bed as I traveled between school and home and various parts of the country (although I won't miss the 25 gallon gas tank and low mpg's, nor having to help every single friend move a couch/bed/fridge)
> waiting for you on the sixth floor of Geisel
Perfect I love that floor
> Otherwise, get a longboard and a lid!
I've actually been developing a slight foot problem from skating ~25mi a week and might need to switch to a bike for commuting and leave the skateboard for DHMar 5, 2013 at 11:00 am #1961740
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
"I honestly would be pretty happy if the weather stayed exactly like this all year, I sweat my ass off during the day in a t-shirt and it makes me uncomfortable seeing people in sweatshirts and winter hats."
It gets a lot hotter — sometimes starting in April! But Jul-Sep are usually the hottest. Lots of German tourists descend on Death Valley — just to experience the heat.
Truth be told, while I prefer temperate weather too — I choose really hot over really cold any day. I guess that's why I like it here in southern Cal. Hope you will too.Mar 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm #1961941
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