Here are some pictures of an overnight trip I did recently to the Snow Mountain Wilderness Area in California. Thanks to Bruce for pointing this area out.
After talking to a Ranger on the phone about possible routes, I started at Deafy Glade Trailhead which is basically on the south side of the wilderness. The road in was paved up to the trailhead although you had to watch out for the huge potholes.
This is the creek crossing at the beginning of the hike.
This is the view south from Deay Glade. The trail was mostly in the trees at first but there were a couple of meadows with nice views of the surrounding mountains.
This is me in front of a cloud covered Snow Mountain. In this picture I'm holding up my homemade 6.5 oz pack. I've been modifying my SUL gear so that I have a bit more flexibility. For this trip I was using a new pack, a homemade rain wrap and a homemade tarp. My luxery for this trip was my new 11oz short thermarest that put me just an ounce or two over 5 lbs. It was well worth the weight.
With clouds blowing over the top of Snow Mountain I didn't see the point of trying to climb to the top. I was leery of getting caught in a thunderstorm and besides I would not have seen much. Instead I explored the ridges below the summit.
As I was exploring I found a campsite on a ridge with great views in all directions. There was a sheltered spot out of the wind where I could pitch my tarp and a fire pit with a pile of wood. The only thing missing was water. I decided to explore a bit more and come back to camp here if I didn't find anything better.
As I was heading up the trail again it started to rain. I put on my raincoat and rainwrap and headed down to get under the trees in case there was a thunderstorm.
When the rain stopped I got some water from a creek and headed back up onto the ridge. On the way up I saw the ridgeline through the trees and thought I could bushwack up too it instead of taking the trail. This wasn't the brightest idea. It would have been easier to stay on the trail but I got there eventually. It was getting late so I went back to the campsite I'd found built a fire and rigged up a bear bag.
After warming up by the fire I walked to the other side of the ridge and watched the sun set.
This trip was my first chance to try out my new 8 oz homemade tarp. It is a bit bigger and lighter than my poncho tarp I usually use on SUL trips. With the new tarp and pack I can usually get a SUL weight and have a seperate shelter and rain gear.
I have learned that if I go to bed as soon as it gets dark I'll wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 A.M. and I won't be able to sleep again. So I stayed up by the fire and read for a while than went to bed.
I woke up to a nice sunrise over the mountains.
I packed up and ate breakfast quickly and decided to have another try at getting to the top of the mountain.
As I headed higher I started running into more and more snow.
Eventually the trail dead ended in about 5 or 6 feet of snow. The snow would bear my weight but the trail was nowhere to be found. I could not find any blazes or anything that would show me where it was. I thought about going on but I desided not too for two reasons. For one I had lost my good compass and only had a key chain compass. I wasn't sure how well I could navigate with it. Second the snow was bearing my weight but it seemed to be softening up. I figured by the time I got anywhere near the summit I would have to post hole all the way back.
I explored around a bit and checked out a large rock that I think was High Rcok on the map. With the clouds moving in again I headed back down.
I hurried to beat the storm down but I did stop for a few pictures.
As I was going through the snow banks on the way down I lost the trail. I looked around and couldn't find it so I backtracked. I found the trail and went back and lost it again. Even though I knew how to get home just fine without the trail I did not feel like bushwacking again. I kept looking and eventually spotting the trail farther down the mountain and cut straight down to it. Somehow I missed a couple of switchbacks in the snow and trees. It was a good reminder to keep track of where I was.
With clouds blowing in I headed down the mountain in a light but constant rain.
I got back to my car and headed for home and a cheeseburger to celebrate.
Post Trips Thoughts
1. I need to find my good compass or buy another one. I just don't like having to depend on a small imprecise compass if I might have to go cross country or if I loose a trail in the snow.
2. I loved my pack. It fit my back better than my old Golite Ion, its lighter, and it holds more gear. I might change the diminsions just a bit at some point but for now I'm content.
3. My Sierra Designs Ion raincoat wasn't very breathable at all. I think I'll switch to a slightly heaver but more breathable Golite Virga in the feature.
4. I left my wind shirt behind because I thought a. its won't be that windy and b. if it is I'll wear my raincoat. This was a bad idea. The wind shirt would have been very nice to have and its WAY more comfortable than the raincoat.
5. I liked my thermarest. It was the first time in a while I've used one and it seemed to be worth its weight for the nice sleep I got.
6. My homemade rain wrap worked fine but than I accidentally pulled the draw string out from it so the second day I had no good way to fasten it on. Also it was just barely big enough. I've since made it longer and put a few stiches through the drawstring so I won't loose it again.