- Sep 18, 2017 at 7:45 pm #3491800
Please talk me out of this. But how feasible is the PCT from Mx border to Anza in the dead of winter using, say, a 20* WM bag, enclosed tarp tent, and “normal” three season gear? (I know, what’s “normal”?)
Here are the average high and low temps i could find — so factor in cold snaps ~10 deg lower. the elevation doesn’t go above 5k’-6k’ at most and is often lower.
1.3m Campo (2600′) 63*/34*
43m Mt. Laguna (5980′) 48*/34*
109.6m Warner Springs (3040′) 50*/36*
129m Combs Peak (5595′) ?/?
151m Anza (4919′) 57*/35*
(north of Anza it climbs steadily to >9k’)
too cold? snow? better water than summer? what else do i need to know?Sep 18, 2017 at 8:19 pm #3491807
Ken T.BPL Member
Could be nice. I’ve had some great winter trips there.Sep 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm #3491837
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Those looks like great temps for hiking. Says the Alaskan.
This is BPL. Better to carry 8 ounces more down in your quilt than 8 (or 20) pounds more water on your back.Sep 19, 2017 at 12:37 am #3491839
Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Don’t underestimate winter storms in Southern California. I’ve been snowed on in the Laguna Mountains hiking the PCT, in that storm the snow line was ~4,500 feet. Heavy, wet snow, too.
Average high/low temperatures can be deceiving in desert areas – lots of temperature (and precipitation) variability. Look for high elevation weather stations near your route with long records. Try wunderground.com WunderMaps. You don’t need to plan for the lowest lows, but knowing that the area routinely gets (say) 20° F lower than average a few nights per month might change your equipment or camping strategies.
— RexSep 19, 2017 at 8:44 am #3491880
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Think it’s a great time but besides Mt Laguna, there’s also Fuller Ridge which can be a bear to cross when icy. Even the alternative could have a lot of snow.
Could temporarily skip if you could get a ride from Paradise Cafe or Idyllwild itself, then come back and do the ridge when the snow melts as Idyllwild is a great trail town regardless of season.Sep 19, 2017 at 10:36 am #3491909
helpful, thanks. yeah i wouldn’t attempt Fuller Ridge or anything north of Anza. elevation is too high for me for that time of year. but maybe as an “opportunity” hike if there’s a warm spell forecast.Sep 21, 2017 at 8:51 pm #3492454
Kiel SenningerBPL Member
@kiel-sLocale: San Diego
Do you have to travel far to get down there? If there’s a storm coming, it’ll be in the forecast 7-10 days out. You could just keep an eye on it and go when it looks good.
I used to hike out there a lot during that time of year. It could either be hot, “cold”, or just right. I say go for it if you can find a good weather window. Bring some extra layers and get all snuggled up in that 20* bag when the sun goes down.
Water will probably be better than during the summer, but I’d plan on it not being great.
At least there’s a lot of places to bail if you get in over your head.Oct 30, 2017 at 6:22 pm #3499337
Josh GBPL Member
Sounds like an excellent idea. I did Campo to Scissors Crossing in February last year. As Rex mentioned temps can be quite variable, when I passed through it was ~80F/50F at Campo and closer to ~60F/30F at Mt. Laguna.
I used a 30F down quilt that worked perfect for that variability. Although being more accustomed to the Mojave, I didn’t expect the amount of fog that settled in at night turning my tarp into a dew collector – suffice to say I was a little damper then I had anticipated.Oct 30, 2017 at 10:55 pm #3499378
Art …BPL Member
I live in San Diego and am very familiar with the first 80 miles you mention. I often go trail running on the PCT in the winter. most of the time it is great. that said it can get down in to the 20’s, sometimes low 20’s, at night in the Laguna area. It rarely snows, but sometimes it does, and when it does its typically 1-12 inches at most. If there is snow it will probably only cover 15-20 miles of your route. The winter storms that hit only last 1-3 days usually. So as long as you watch the weather and are prepared it should be a great trip. keep in mind natural water can be hard to find along the trail sections you mention unless there has been a rain storm or two (Dec – Feb are best months for rain). . .
p.s. in the Laguna area most of the non natural water spigots provided by the forest service tend to be turned off in the winter to prevent pipes from breaking. this may reduce your water availability even more.Oct 31, 2017 at 5:55 pm #3499513
very helpful comments. thanks all!Feb 1, 2018 at 2:04 am #3515946
a quick follow up. ended up going sobo from Anza to Lk Morena in early Jan. and it was great! highly recommended. loved the landscape and (prickly) flora. the water was extremely scarce, but doable with some advanced planning. in fact i found water caches to be more reliable than natural sources — the opposite of “best practices,” i know, but catch as catch can. weather was mild.. except i got annihilated in a 36 hour rain+wind storm atop Mt Laguna. but overall was a great trip. the trail was pretty quiet actually, passed only a few backpackers per day plus some random day hikers, and never once shared a campsite w/ another tent. absolutely zero bugs; no reptiles. by the end i was actually hoping to see a rattler, but no joy. ready to go back and do the San Gabriels next time (although due to elevation will go in spring or summer, not winter). thanks everyone for all your advice.. and let me offer encouragement to others looking for a good winter hiking spot. SoCal PCT south of Anza is a totally viable option in January. i ended up taking a 10* down bag; it never really got that cold, but come nighttime i was happy to be toasty. and would carry same if i went again. free to message me if anyone has specific questions about gear/water/weather/etc..
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.