Oct 25, 2019 at 2:50 am #3615616
I’m planning a Veteran’s day weekend trip out to the South Sierra. I’ll be on my bike and on foot. I know it’s not the most popular area nor is it the most popular season, but I’m wondering if anyone here has experience backpacking in the region during shoulder season, or at least has an idea of what to expect. My understanding is that days will be mild to cool and nights will be cold, especially at elevation.
My plan is to ride my bike from the Owens Valley to Kennedy Meadows and then to spend a few days on the PCT. Olancha Peak is a possible destination, and there are other spots that seem like they could be worth checking out. If anyone has a favorite spot, I’d love to check it out.
I’m also not sure whether to bring so-called “3-season” or “4-season” gear. If there’s a storm in the forecast, I just won’t go, so I can’t imagine needing too robust a shelter. My plan is to bring my cuben tarp and maybe a waterproof bivvy just as insurance. I’m also debating between bringing a 20 degree quilt and a 0 degree bag. The bag is considerably warmer, but seems like it might be overkill for most nights, especially at lower elevation. I just worry that if I camp at 8,000 feet and the temps dip below 20, that I’ll be pretty uncomfortable….
Thanks!Oct 25, 2019 at 4:15 am #3615623Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Go for it, even if the weather’s bad.
KM is so beautiful during this season – and it will be that rare time of year where you won’t be sharing it with a lot of other people (if anyone, depending on the day of week).
I spent the night there about 25 years ago in November, and it was one of the most memorable, quiet, beautiful backcountry nights I’ve ever spent.
Take the 0 deg bag. Cold temps overall mean you lose more heat, it’s not just about the minimum nighttime low temp…
Enjoy, and come back here to post a photo of your camp!Oct 25, 2019 at 5:00 am #3615625Terry SparksBPL Member
@firebugLocale: Santa Barbara County Coast
To get weather updates at KM, you can probably get it at minimal cost from a person (forget his name) that has a mobile home and allows access to hikers and a minute walk from the store. You can ask at the KM store for the info, they will set you up if he’s home. Also, there are two places on the trail where you can get cell signal. Both locations are just off the PCT, about 50 yards or so, overlook Owens Valley and are a few miles south of Olancha Peak.
I’d also write down or take screen shots of the weather forecast for the time you’ll be on trail. This will remind you to observe the clouds overhead and compare what you see to what is forecast. The cell phone you carry probably has an air pressure (barometric) sensor built in, load a couple apps that can access that sensor. The apps that I like are Pressur, Barograph and Dark Sky. Using these apps will allow you to follow trends for incoming high and low pressure weather systems.
The trail will be fun and if you get a few inches of snow while out hiking, even better.
Enjoy.Oct 25, 2019 at 5:57 am #3615627
Thanks for the insights, Ryan!
I’m glad to hear you had a positive experience on a similar trip. Peace and quiet amidst beautiful scenery sounds excellent. And I’ll do my best not to let weather get in the way. I figure I could always camp at lower elevations if there’s more snow than I’m comfortable with.
I’ll bring my toasty sleeping bag along and post a picture of camp when I’m back.Oct 25, 2019 at 6:02 am #3615628
Good to know about getting cell service on the trail, Terry. I’ll have a GPS, which should mostly keep me covered, but it would at least be nice to be able to make a phone call while I’m out there.
As for the weather, I’ll check out the apps that you’ve mentioned. Thanks for the tip!
My understanding from looking at their website is that the store is closed for the rest of the off-season. I’m expecting to be fully self-sufficient once I leave the Owens Valley. But hey, if the store does end up being open, that wouldn’t hurt.
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