Jul 8, 2020 at 4:28 am #3656952
Given the Covid concerns, I’ve been hemming and hawing about getting on a plane….but have about (almost) convinced myself that it will be ok wearing an N95 mask and sealing myself up with a DCF bivy sack, oxygen notwithstanding!
My question is this for folks in the know… previous trips to the Sierra have been in Mid-August, but my permits this time are from September 10-19. Can you give me a clue what differences to expect in terms of weather and temps? For prior trips I’ve been essentially blessed with warm and sunny days, little to no rain, and nighttime temps somewhere in the 30s. Subtle changes or something more dramatic? Hopefully the trade will be low or no mosquitoes. Your insight would be most appreciated!Jul 8, 2020 at 6:04 am #3656957Erica RBPL Member
Probably no rain. Always a possibility of scattered afternoon showers, though. It can be quite a bit colder at night, maybe the 20s F. It is not uncommon to be camping at 9000 ft in the Sierra. Fine days. You may catch some early fall color at higher elevations.
Check for smoke conditions before you go. It can get pretty nasty if the fires are bad. Right, no big mosquito problems.Jul 8, 2020 at 10:46 am #3657000
Thanks Erica…kind of what I was thinking but didn’t know. A few additional clothes as trade for no mosquitos is a good deal! They almost carried me away last August!Jul 8, 2020 at 3:24 pm #3657043Amy LauterbachBPL Member
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
We have taken a lot of long trips in the SEKI in September and October and this is by far our favorite time of year in the Sierra. Mid September is an absolutely perfect time to go, except for the lack of a good percentage of the wildflowers. After Labor Day, the crowds thin out significantly and mosquitoes are almost guaranteed to be not an issue. As to the weather, worst case just assume that you can get a bit of snow at elevation almost anytime of the year, but until mid to late October, it won’t stick. Unless a monsoon up from the Gulf of Mexico is around, don’t expect any serious storms. Yes, nighttime temps at high altitude can be down, but the 20’s, in our experience, would be unusual. I can’t recall ever having our water bottles freeze overnight in September.
Have a great trip.
James (and Amy)Jul 9, 2020 at 5:26 pm #3657246Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
September is supposed to be the best month. I have not been to the Sierras any later than August, unless you count a trip I did in October once in the Southern Sierras from Walker Pass on the PCT. It was pretty cold in October but otherwise beautiful.Jul 9, 2020 at 9:09 pm #3657306Tom KBPL Member
Completely agree with Amy and James. September is by far the best time to be in The Sierra, for exactly the reasons they mention. I, too, have found the weather to be benign, for the most part. That said, there can be exceptions, and I think it best to be prepared for a cold snap clothing wise. Worst case just crawl into your bivy, but a slightly heavier upper body insulating layer would not be amiss if you plan to be camping high. I had a 1.5 liter Platy freeze solid in 2016 at ~11,000 feet just below Kearsarge Pass, on my way out of Gardner Basin. Unusual? Yes, but it does happen. I had a WM Summerlite sleeping bag, and it required all my clothing on to sleep comfortably, hence my suggestion of a heavier upper body insulation layer.Jul 14, 2020 at 8:10 pm #3664429MinerBPL Member
I hiked the JMT from Sept 21 to Oct 6 in 2017. Had some snow to start with but it melted off quickly. Not unusual as I’ve been snowed on the 3rd week of September more than once over the years. Usually a few inches that melts off in 1 to 2 days. Had gorgeous weather the rest of the trip. Did the Tahoe Yosemite trail (parallels the PCT or is the PCT from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite) in a late September in 2014 and had a thunderstorm dump hail on me one late afternoon that turned to rain till near midnight. I pretty much do at least 1 hike after Labor Day of some sort in the Sierra and usually prefer it due to less people, no mosquitoes worth noting, good weather most of the time, fall colors in places and cool hiking temperatures. The nights can get down in the high teens and low twenties at elevation. I usually cowboy camp in a 20F quilt and a lightweight bivysack with a tarp for weather. Early October can be nice, but anytime in October can be a gamble as a winter storm can come in, the later in the month, the more likely.Jul 16, 2020 at 7:15 am #3664647
Thank you for all if the insight. Assuming I can make it from NC to CA in one piece, it sounds like this is going to be a great time to go.
Given all of the discussion, it seems like the main differences in gear choice involves planning for a bit more warmth at night.
Thanks all!Jul 17, 2020 at 10:49 am #3664886
Im heading there mid-August (only time I could get in the time frame needed). Microspikes really needed?Jul 17, 2020 at 11:19 am #3664889
Well….this is supposed to be a low snow year and if you’re staying on trails you should be fine. Last year, a buddy and I attempted a good portion of off trail and ran into significant ice mid-August. Crossing some of the high passes (12k+) we encountered very sketchy conditions and had to curtail our ambitions a bit. It varies depending on the orientation of the pass. I understand that last year’s snow resulted from late dumping in April and May, which was unusual.
I’m planning off trail again this year and not bringing spikes and feel like I’ll be fine. When in doubt, back up and re-route!
Perhaps somebody that has actually experienced conditions this year will chime inJul 17, 2020 at 11:48 am #3664894Aug 30, 2020 at 7:58 am #3673837
Well… It almost seems like I’m gonna pull this trip off. I have 2 remaining questions….
Are alcohol stoves permitted? I can’t find anything on line to suggest otherwise. My preference is to use a Zelph creation that is spill proof.
Secondly, is HEET in the yellow bottle easily available in California?
Thank you – RussAug 30, 2020 at 9:02 am #3673842jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“Unless a monsoon up from the Gulf of Mexico is around, don’t expect any serious storms.”
I usually check for weather coming in from the West. These storms coming in from the South and the Eastern flank of the Sierra need to be checked for too! These monsoonal storms will bring lightning and hail and rain that goes on all night and day. Unlikely, but if you check and something’s brewing, I’d suggest preparing accordingly (heavy rains for hours.)Aug 30, 2020 at 9:12 am #3673844
I believe alcohol stoves are allowed now in SEKI. There was a time about 8 yrs ago when they were not. To be safe, call there fire specialist:
Acting Fire Education Specialist, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Ph: 559-565-3703
And based on fire stage this will help: https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/fire-restrictions.htm
And Heet is still available, esp in most Auto Part Stores. And if you are flying into Fresno there is an Autozone pretty close.
BTW, I just did Raes Loop 3 weeks ago. Was soo beautiful – but it kicked my Cincinnati 300′ elevation ass.Aug 31, 2020 at 4:03 am #3674001
Thank you Gunslinger! I swear I looked at the link you posted before and was unable to find anything. It clearly states alcohol stoves are permissible.
My 1st 3 stops in Fresno will be In-N-Out, Autozone and REI, in that order!
I’m coming from the other Queen City, Charlotte, so I have the advantage of about 350′ more in elevation, and I don’t have to worry about the negative effects of Skyline, Gold Star and Graeter’s! Thanks for the information.Aug 31, 2020 at 11:13 am #3674032
If REI doesnt have something you need they have a place called Sportsmans Warehouse near REI. Ironically, one of the must have condiments in my condiment bag is Skyline Chili hot sauce. Took this picture up at Rae Lakes, was going to post it to there Facebook page.Aug 31, 2020 at 11:46 am #3674038
That is too funny! Everything is better with hot sauce except the next morning! I spend quite a bit of time in Cincy so I’ll try the Skyline version next time.
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