"Do I sense jealousy that you don't have this opportunity right outside your back door? (HE-HE)"
Au, contraire :)
I apologize for hijacking the thread. We need to focus on the OP's desire to hike in Minn this winter. And winter is a time when many hikers go into hibernation, which is not necessary. There are some great benefits derived from winter backpacking, especially the fact you can have the wilderness to yourself.
I have worked in Minnesota in the winter. You folks have SERIOUS weather, and I hate it! Okay, call me a sissy.
For those not familiar with So Cal, we have excellent winter/snow opportunities. I do some snow trips every winter, although as a desert rat I struggle with the cold. My house sits near the base of Mt San Jacinto at an elevation of 517 feet. San Jacinto Peak is 10,834 feet. I sometimes hike to the peak from my house, but it is a strenuous undertaking. And we get a lot of snow every winter. Also if I drive 10 miles north to the PCT, I can hike to the top of Mt San Gorgonio (11,503'). San Jacinto is the 6th most topographically prominent peak in lower 48 states. San Gorgonio is 7th.
The nice thing about living in the desert is that I don't have to deal with snow, but I can go visit it whenever I wish :)
Here is a view of San Jacinto from my front yard.
I have posted this picture here before. This was a spur of the moment trip this year at the end of March. Packed up, took the tram up and was in the snow within a hour of leaving my house. Got some snowfall on this trip too.
The north face of San Jacinto is one of the steepest escarpments in the lower 48.
Here is a picture of the north face I found on summitpost.org. I did this route once when I was in my late 30's but it is not the route I take on my hikes. It is too dangerous for me now, and the public is no longer allowed to climb the lower section of Snow Creek as it is on land owned by the Desert Water Agency.
Dan McHale sent me a video of some guys who SKIED down the North Face of San Jacinto. Dan builds packs for the extreme fringe... so I guess this is normal stuff for him. I thought it might be interesting to share some pictures from that video. These guys took the tram up and then went to the peak. From there they skied down until they got into mountain climbing terrain. They roped down and spent the night near the bottom.