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3 Years Worth of Trips
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Forbes Belk
(ForbesB) - F

Locale: Bay Area
3 Years Worth of Trips on 11/19/2010 11:31:04 MST Print View

So, I recently graduated from UNC and moved cross country to start a new job in the Bay Area. A lack of hiking partners (and cash) led to a serious decline in my backpacking through college.

I've decided to rectify that, and have been spending the last couple of months rebuilding my gear closet from the beating it took helping to finance my move.

It looks like the plan is to spend at least 3 years in CA before looking at Business School that will most likely take me back to the East Coast.

So the point... What do I have to do while out here? I'm talking trips that are classics, trips that I probably haven't heard of due to most of my experiences being the the TN/NC Mountains.

On the list so far:

1) JMT (Currently hoping to do this in Summer of 2012)
2) Half-Dome (Feel like it's a must even with all the touristy nonsense)
3) Grand Canyon R2R2R
4) Big Sur Hot Springs
5) Point Reyes Area of some sort
6) Lost Coast Trail
7) Skyline to Sea Trail

Trips within driving distance and Trips that are doable in a weekend are the ones I'm most interested in, but over 3 years there is obviously some room for trips to fly to and a couple longer excursions. West Coast focus obviously.

What are your thoughts? What's the best time of year for your hike? Permit Situation?

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: 3 Years Worth of Trips on 11/19/2010 11:53:15 MST Print View

Many options in the Sierras, here's a few ideas not on your list:

Rae Lakes loop in Kings Canyon NP
Some sort of Mt Whitney excursion in Sequoia NP
Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne in Yosemite NP
North Rim in Yosemite NP

Probably need a long weekend for most of these. Henry Coe Park is pretty nice too and fairly close. I've only been there once and I think it's blazing hot in the summer, but probably a good place to go in the other seasons.

Edited by csteutterman on 11/19/2010 11:59:22 MST.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
A few categories on 11/23/2010 10:26:51 MST Print View

Skyline to the Sea (and the other Bay Area or nearby attractions) are not in the same category as Grand Canyon, Sierras, etc. The Bay Area stuff is merely what you do in winter when the weather is not welcoming in those other places.

If I had three years I'd look at it seasonally:

1. Winter: Sure, stick close to home. Big Sur, Point Reyes, Skyline to Sea, Lost Coast all good options. Personally I prefer day-hiking over backpacking during this time, not only because the nights are long, but also because most of the really great Bay Area *hiking* spots do not have backcountry campsites (or do not have good ones).

For hiking, IMO the must-sees are: Climb Mt. Diablo from the north side/Regency Drive; hike the Steep Ravine Trail (Mt. Tam) to Stinson Beach; Big Basin waterfall loop (actually a good backpack trip; has some overlap with Skyline to the Sea but better IMO); Peters Grove; Pt. Reyes; the singletrack trail that hugs the coast between Muir Beach and Tennessee Valley. Moon's 101 Great Hikes of the SF Bay Area is the best reference book for these places.

If you are a trail runner then you will be in heaven here.

2. Spring and fall: This is the time to schedule some incredible trips to the desert. On top of Grand Canyon I'd say you *must* go to Southern Utah. Loads of backpacking choices in southern Utah but if I'd have to choose I'd say: Zion NP; Escalante River; Grand Gulch; or Canyonlands. Generally, March 15-May 15, and Sept 15-Nov 15, IMO are the best times to visit these areas, although be aware that elevations (and therefore temperatures) vary considerably from place to place.

Spring weekends, February through early May, are also the prettiest times to hike in the Bay Area. Everything turns green and the wildflowers come out.

3. Summer (July 1 - Sept 30): If I had a week each summer, for 3 years, in the West, I'd probably do this: One long trip in the High Sierra (anywhere south of Yosemite); one long trip in Washington State (North Cascades or Olympics); and one long trip in the intermountain West (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho). To narrow this down, you can ask a more specific region-specific question on this forum. Here's a link to my recent query about Washington State:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=38141

As for summer *weekends*, I'd go to the Sierra. You can get surprisingly far into the Sierra wilderness even on a two-day weekend, if you are organized and get an early start. Tahoe (Desolation Wilderness, etc.) is my choice for a 2-day, only because it's a short drive; if I have 3+ days I will almost always go somewhere south of Yosemite and/or through Yosemite to the spectacular east side/highway 395 trailheads. Half Dome is a good 2-day weekend option; hike up it one day, see some of the other sites the other day. In the northern part of the state, the Canyon Creek trailhead for Trinity Alps wilderness is a 5.5-hour drive, good for a 3-day weekend; you just have to check that out, beautiful forest there.

- Elizabeth

Forbes Belk
(ForbesB) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Thanks! on 11/24/2010 10:40:59 MST Print View

Elizabeth,

First of all Thanks for all the suggestions. That's exactly the type of information I was looking for as trying to get a grip on everything to do in the area has been giving me sensory overload.

The anecdote about doing the local stuff during the winter had seemed like the right choice to me, but it's good to hear it directly from someone with experience. Mt. Tam area is already being planned for February.

I get the feeling I'm in for a great 3 years and a long time of reminiscing if I do in fact leave the Bay Area when this job runs its course.

Thanks Again!

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
California on 12/01/2010 01:16:24 MST Print View

I have been searching California for years for the best spots for backpacking, and and have tried most of them at one point or a time. And I think most here would agree that you cant beat the high country of the Sierra Nevadas. In my opinion I think you should try to stick to the southern sierras and above 7,500ft. My personal favorite is the John Muir Wilderness.

In the off season I would agree, hit up Big Sur, Lost Coast and other coastal areas.

Anyway...just my two cents.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: California on 12/01/2010 01:19:51 MST Print View

Start from Tuolumne Meadows and go for one week either north or south, not on the PCT.

--B.G.--

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: California on 12/01/2010 08:07:10 MST Print View

Section hike any portion of the California PCT.

The Sespe Wilderness up near Ventura/Ojai is nice, too.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
more trips on 12/10/2010 12:24:47 MST Print View

one week hikes in the Sierra
Cottonwood to Shepard pass, on the back side of Whitney
South Lake to Onion Valley or Whitney
Evolution Valley to South Lake
South Lake to Sawmill Pass
Onion Valley to Whitney
nine lakes basin from West side of Sierra

Weekend or long weekend hikes:

top of Yosemite Falls
1000 Island Lake
Lake Ediza
Glacier point ski trip in winter
half dome overnight in Little Yosemite valley
Palisade Lakes
Whitney overnight hike
Immigrant Wilderness near Tahoe
Matterhorn region of Sierra

At Bixby Creek Bridge, so. of Monterrey, downclimb the cliff and spend the night on the beach

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
more trips on 12/10/2010 12:27:40 MST Print View

Havasu Falls backpack
Sawtooths of Idaho
Titcombe basin in Wind Rivers
Cirque of Towers in Wind Rivers

Climb Shasta if you have those skills or interest