Killer Sunset at The Sisters near Carson Pass
Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail   Need a Map? Lost Al near Lost Keys Lake
Emigrant Wilderness under Tropical Thunderstorm, September.
Round Top Lake
Whitebarks and Grizzly Peak in Emigrant Wilderness under Tropical Clouds during September 2013
 
Lost Keys Lake
 

Tahoe to Whitney
Backpacking Calendar

2014

Important Dates for High Sierra Backpackers

Resupply, Seasonal Transitions and Concerns, Permit Dates, Weather, Water, and Mosquitoes

   
Resupply Permits Weather trail guide index trail maps index trail miles index Download FONT


Updated
2015
High Sierra
Backpacking Calendar

2014 INDEX
January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

January 2014
North Desolation Wilderness

Dicks and Fontanellis Lakes in the North Desolation Wilderness.
View North across Dicks and Fontanillis Lakes. Phipps Peak and Pass are the prominent peak in the middle-Right background. Note Middle Velma Lake nestled in below Phipps Peak. Our route from Meeks Bay on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe crossed Phipps Peak to join the Pacific Crest Trail in the Desolation Wilderness just a bit North of Middle Velma Lake.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

January 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

FULL WINTER CONDITIONS
The Fall Gear has been stowed or complimented by the heavy Gear of Winter.
Reserved permits for June 2014 now available from Yosemite NP and Desolation Wilderness.

 

1
Permits


Permits for JUNE 18 2014 available from Yosemite TODAY.
New Year's Day

2

3
Backpackers

 

Full Winter Gear and precautions
REQUIRED

4

5

 

 

 

6 7 8 9 10 11

12

 

 

 

13 14

15
SNOW CAMPERS

 

Track snow, storms, and temps to determine character of Winter.

16 17 18

19

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

M L King Day

21 22 23 24 25

25

 

 

 

27 28 29 30 31  

NOTES: 2014’s weather is forming up for an early start for both the Spring and Summer Hiking Seasons. This can change. Last year was one of the earliest openings of the high trails I remember. The year before was one of the latest. Extremes have become the new normal.


At this point I put the chances of any Southern Storms blowing up to relieve our drought at less than 1 in 3. The Northern Storm Gate has been blocked most of 2013, and the heat blocking it has not brought tropical moisture to replace the lost Northern Storms. Time will tell, but my money is on continuing cold and dry conditions bringing an early opening of High Sierra Trails.

Permits
Yosemite National Park and Desolation Wilderness accept reservations six months in advance for Summer backpacking dates.

June 2014 reservations are available in January, July in February, and so on.

The cold and snows of January provide both excellent backpacking experiences and establish the terms, a baseline for this year’s transition into Spring Conditions.

Deep snows, regular storm activity, and cold temps indicate a long Winter into Spring transition. Not this year, so far.

Light snows and irregular storms may indicate a quick and early transition into Spring conditions.

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February 2014
Summit City Canyon
January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Summit City Canyon from Mount Reba.
The full length of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route through Summit City Canyon in the Mokelumne Wilderness. Note The Sisters in the upper Right hand corner, and Horse Canyon in the upper-middle of the image. At the middle-bottom we can see the North Mokelumne river passing through its narrow gorge just above where it runs past Camp Irene, where we began this climb up the NW flank of Mount Reba. That is the narrow section where the catastrophic Spring Thaw of 1997 pushed up a massive log jam, causing massive destruction in the surging pool of timber behind it, and which swept away all in its path when it broke.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

February 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

PRECAUTIONS AND OPPERTUNITY
Backpackers are observing patterns and trajectory of Winter storms and temps to find Hiking Windows into the
Winter Wonderland.

        1

2

 

 

 

3 4 5 6

Winter Gear

 

Be geared for sub-freezing and sub-zero temps with wind chill

7 8

9

 

 

 

10 11 12 13

14

 

 

Valentine's Day

15

16

 

 

 

17

 

 

Presidents' Day

18 19 20 21 22

23

 

 

 

24 25 26 27 28  

NOTES: Short days and long cold nights are the bookends within which we plan our trips.


High Sierra hiking trips can be followed up with exciting trips into the moderate Winter Climate of Death Valley.

 

 


Are Weather Conditions
Moderating?
Accelerating?
March can be Great for Snow Backpacking.

Piercing Cold this month or just “Normal Cold?

Heavy Snow Storms or None at All?

Our Observations of how this series of Unusual Seasons works out determines our Range of Hiking Possibilities and the Gear Necessary to Explore them.

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March 2014
The Tahoe to Yosemite Tral across Emigrant Wilderness

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Tower Peak beyon Grizzly Peak and Meadow.
View across the High Emigrant Meadow with Emigrant Meadow Lake of Emigrant Wilderness below, Grizzly Peak in the middle distance, and Tower Peak in the distance. Note the three ridges between Grizzly Peak and Tower Peak. Crossing the second ridge brings us through Bond Pass into the top of Yosemite's Jack Main Canyon, where we will rejoin the Pacific Crest Trail. Tower Peak sits at the head of Tilden Canyon, which is the last variant of the TYT from the PCT route on our way South across the North Yosemite Backcountry to Tuolumne Meadows.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

March 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

OBSERVE
The Winter and its Snowpack.
HEAVY? LIGHT?
Character and Sources of Storms?
Are Spring Conditions arriving with Spring?

 

 

 

 

      1

Summer Hiking
Plans

 

In agreement with the progress of Spring?

2

 

 

 

3 4 5 6 7 8

9

 

 

 

10 11 12 13 14 15

Tahoe to Whitney & PCT--JMT hikers

Order food, prep resupply packages, and repair gear.

16

 

 

 

17

The Big Green One

 

Saint Pat's Day

18 19 20

First Day of Spring

 

The Vernal Equinox

21 22

23

 

 

 

24 25 26 27 28 29

30

 

 

 

31          

NOTES: Are heavy storms rolling in? From the North or South? Is a pattern forming?

 

 

 

  THE QUESTION
Have temps risen enough to start shifting into lighter Spring Gear from our heavy Winter Gear?
Correct Layering is Vital.

The nature of our Snow Backpacking trips are determined by the character of the snow.

Deep, soft, wet snow makes for rough going, as does fresh powder.

Cold hard well-packed snow can be faster than good trail.

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April 2014
Tropical Thunderstorm climbs the East Sierra

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Tower beyond Grizzly Peak, Emigrant Wilderness.
A beautiful and powerful cell of tropical weather out of the Sea of Cortez slams the steep East Sierra flank with heavy lightening and downpours. The storm sucked up red, yellow and golden colors of the sands it crossed from the intervening deserts between our high mountain position in the Emigrant Wilderness and warm tropical seas far to our South.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

April 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Spring Conditions?
It Depends.
Conditions on the ground, NOT a date on the calendar determines our gear and skills requirements.

1

 

 

 

 

2 3 4 5

6

 

 

 

7 8 9 10 11 12

13

 

 

 

14

15

Backpacking
Plans?


Are our hiking plans and conditions on the ground in agreement?

16 17 18 19

20

 

 

 

Easter

21 22 23 24 25

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, Highway 108,

 

OPENS

26

ADZPCTKO.org

 

 

Annual PCT kickoff event.

27

 

 

 

28 29 30      

Conditions vs Plans
Is there a huge snowpack?
Have you Late Spring or Early Summer Hiking Plans?
Current conditions will tell you if your early season hiking plans are possible.

NOTES:

 

 

 

 

It is TIME
Consult with Resupply Location Information to assure resupply buckets are mailed in a timely fashion.
Some will go early, some will be mailed later...

RESUPPLY TIPS
Always use plastic buckets to ship your resupply: Any container a mouse can chew through or water can penetrate is at risk.

Think about what you'd like, as well as what you need in your resupply bucket. A bottle of wine or whiskey is a nice thing on a cold Sierra night at the resupply.

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May 2014
Forsyth Peak

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Forsyth Peak on Northwest corner of Yosemite National Park.
A glimpse at Forsyth Peak in the very Northwest corner of Yosemite National Park under the soft but fierce pastel clouds of a thunderstorm dying as sunset approaches.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

May 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Last Spring Snow Trips?
Once the Spring Thaw gets going the rivers and creeks will rage, making fording very dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

WHAT’S UP??

Heavy Spring Snow pushes Summer back,

No Snow brings Summer early.

2 3

4

 

 

 

5

Spring Gear

 

Lighter than Winter, Heavier than Summer Gear. Maybe Now?

6 7 8 9 10

11

 

 

Mother's Day

12 13 14

15

Permits


Make Sure we have our long distance Summer permit information worked out.

16 17

18

 

 

 

19 20 21 22 23 24

25

 

 

 

26

Memorial Day

Echo Lake Chalet
and
Lake Alpine Lodge

OPEN
Depending on Weather

27 28 29

30

Sno-Park Permits


End of permit restrictions for us of Sno-Park parking lots.

31

NOTES:

May gives us a good indication of the unfolding trajectory of Spring.

Thin snows on the Sierra Crest and light Storm Activity indicates an early opening of the High Trails across Mountain Passes.

May marks the center-point of openings of our High Sierra Resupply facilities

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station opened last month.

The Tuolumne Meadows Post Office, Reds Meadow Pack Station, VVR, and Muir will all open next month

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June 2014
Magical pond on the South end of Seavy Pass

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Seavy Pass in North Yosemite Backcountry.Seavy Pass is the high point in a wide bowl filled with beautiful ponds atop the ridge separating Bensen Lake from Kerrick Canyon along the combined TYT-PCT routes through the North Yosemite Backcountry. Above we are passing around the Southernmost pond before beginning the great descent to Bensen Lake.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

June 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

1

VVR Opens

 

Depending on Weather

2 3 4 5 6 7

8

 

 

 

9 10 11 12 13 14

15

Reds Meadow


Accepts resupply packages on

Father's Day

16 17 18 19 20

21

First Day
of
Summer

22

 

 

 

23

24

Muir Ranch

 

Begins offering resupply package pickup

25 26 27

28

 

 

 

Ramadan Begins

29

 

 

 

30          

NOTES: The Snowpack on the Sierra, storm activity, and temps during June are going to allow us to get a bead on when the Sierra Trails across the High Passes will start opening up, as well as the trails approaching them.

When the snows melt millions of mosquitoes rise from the saturated soils. It starts low down the mountain early in Spring and rises up the mountainside as Spring progresses. Be ready for the rising clouds of mosquitoes.

 


Permits
Only remnants of reserved permits are available out of Yosemite, Mount Whitney Zone, and Desolation Wilderness.
Through-hiker permits into or across these areas are still available.

The real danger of June is found between the swollen banks of rivers and even normally small placid creeks, surging with the power of the Spring Thaw.

During heavy Spring Thaws one can hear the grinding of unseen great granite boulders as supercharged river flows easily roll them downstream.

Carefully assess all river crossings, have contingency plans for being knocked down and losing your pack, and turn around if the dangers are too great.

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July 2014
Volunteer and Double Peaks

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Volunteer and Double Peaks, Yosemite National Park.
Descending towards Bensen Lake we observe the massive climb following our descent when we continue South from Bensen. This is one of the hardest sections of the whole Tahoe to Whitney hike.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations
July 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Backpackers
Shift to Summer Gear well under way. Be ready for last bursts of Spring Weather.
Ignore the Calendar.
Gear up for the Conditions on the Ground, not a Date on the Calendar.

1

Tuolumne Meadows Post Office

OPEN
Depending on Weather

2

 

 

 

 

3

4

All Parks, Forests, Wilderness, Campgrounds and Trails are
BUSY


Independence Day

5

6

 

 

 

7 8 9 10 11 12

13

 

 

 

14

15

MOSQUITOES

Mosquitoes rise when the snows melt.

Mosquitoes are THICK.

16 17 18 19

20

 

 

 

21 22 23 24 25 26

27

 

 

Ramadan Ends

28 29 30 31    

NOTES: I’ve seen years when the snowpack sticks through the Summer, and years where the snowpack clears by mid-June. The past four decades the average annual snowpack has radically declined and the date the snow clears has gotten earlier and earlier.

Independent of the long term trends our trip planning and gear selection are guided by careful observations of the character of each season’s weather. This year is no different.

 

DANGERS
Monitor weather for afternoon Thunderstorms

Beware of dangerous fording conditions

Mosquito conditions are going Hog Wild

July brings the peak of the Summer Thunderstorm Season in the High Sierra. These are local weather, caused by heat waves in the San Joaquin Valley swept up the West Sierra Flank.

Hot wet air on a fast ride up the West Sierra flank to high elevations squeezes out what can be substantial daily rain and lightening activity lasting between 2 pm and sunset.

Don’t cross open ground under one of these storms. They are deadly. Lightening and Fording are the leading causes of High Sierra backpacker deaths.

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August 2014
View down Tuolumne River from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Looking down Tuolumne River from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp.
View down the Tuolumne River while hiking across the footbridge just South of Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp at morning sunlight lighting up the canyon.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

August 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Prime Time Backpacking
Mosquitoes diminishing to irrelevance.
Hot Temps moderate into cool backpacking.
Lowering Sun brings increasing contrasts to terrain.
Hiker Traffic Decreasing.

 

 

 

 

    1 2

3

 

 

 

4 5 6 7 8 9

10

 

 

 

11 12 13 14

15

Mosquitoes


Mosquitoes die as terrain dries.
August 15 is the drop-dead date during “normal” Years

16

17

Cold Evenings


August evenings are getting colder and colder.
Begin adding layers as Fall conditions emerge.

18 19 20 21 22 23

24

 

 

 

25 26 27 28 29 30

31

 

 

 

NOTES: Wet years extends the mosquitoes’ reign past the 15th, Dry years shorten it.
Wet basins and lakes that hold water on vast sheets of solid granite below their green-grass coverings feed the mosquitoes later into the season than terrain that drains.

Thus we will find “holdout zones” where local mosquito populations remain high long after the surrounding terrain has dried out. My advice when you encounter one of these zones: RUN!

Stay Alert
Though August is wonderful, it also potentially puts us into range of early-season storms and temp plunges.
It’s getting time to start supplementing our Summer gear with bits of our thicker Fall Gear.

The diminishing heat of Summer days are intermixing with the deepening chill of cold nights warning of approaching Fall conditions.

The Summer “high season” is now over, and trail traffic diminishes. The PCT hikers are long gone, and the JMT hikers are down to a trickle by the end of August.

The normal unpredictability of Sierra temp changes and storms are increasing, and so too should our gear selection start thickening up with bits of extra Fall insulation, to match the rising potential of cold conditions as the seasons change.

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September 2014
Stunning colors of sunset in the John Muir Wilderness

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Sunset across lake in Island Pass.
Massif under Blacktop Peak from unnamed lake in Island Pass. Donohue Pass and Peak are to the Left out of the image.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

September 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

 

 

 

 

1

Echo Chalet Closes

 

Labor Day

2 3 4 5 6

7

 

 

 

8 9 10 11 12

13

Muir Ranch


Resupply Service stops accepting resupply buckets
Call Muir for Exact Date

14

 

 

 

15

Tuolumne Meadows


Store, Café, Post Office
Approaching closing date.

16 17 18 19 20

21

 

 

 

22

23

First day of Fall


Cooler Temps!
Shorter Days!
Note Weather Changes.
Thicker Gear for Fall

24 25 26

27

Galactic
Boo-Day

 

Happy Boo Day!

28

 

 

 

29

30

Muir Ranch


Last day to pickup resupply buckets.

Call Muir for Exact Date

   

The Season is Tapering Down
Labor Day marks the beginning of the end of the Summer Backpacking Season in the High Sierra.

Resupply Facilities begin closing up for the Season.

Danger
The potential for low temps is increased. Early season storm possibilities rise significantly.
Carefully begin monitoring weather conditions while
considering Fall additions to Insulation and Gear.

NOTES: The chances of early season cold and even an unexpected snow storm require we gear-up for the expected and the unexpected.

Though each month is getting colder, and the rising potential for some serious unexpected early snow as each month passes, hiking the Fall conditons of August, September and October offer some of the most spectacular views and beautiful experiences the High Sierra Nevada Mountain Range offers.

September brings the full palet of Fall beauty and cold conditions to the High Sierra.

From the golden grasses around diminished lakes to the great sweeps of bright yellow aspens cutting through the uniform evergreen canopy, beauty is bursting forth even as life slows into its Winter sleep.

The weight of the bear-proof can be left behind, but the pack gets heavier as the necessity of thicker gear demands we carry greater weight.

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October 2014
Black Giant rises in pinks of setting sun beyond Muir Pass with Wanda Lake in the foreground

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Muir Pass and Black Giant beyond Wanda Lake.
The Black Giant backdrops Muir Pass from our campsite on a rise above Lake Wanda.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

October 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Danger
Every couple of years late season backpackers are surprised by an Early-Season Snowstorm.

Two feet of unexpected snow strands backpackers.
ARE WE READY for the UNEXPECTED?

 

 

 

 

1

Reds Meadow
Stops
accepting Resupply Packages


Tuolumne Meadows
Facilities closed for sure!

2

Deploy Fall Gear

 

 

With the elements of Winter gear to survive unexpected events

3 4

5

 

 

 

6 7 8 9 10 11

12

 

 

 

13

14

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station


Highway 108,
Closes Today

15

VVR Closes

 

Depending on Weather

16 17 18

19

 

 

 

20 21 22 23 24 25

26

 

 

 

27 28 29 30

31

 

 

Halloween

 

NOTES: Cold conditions are a reality, even without unexpected snow and storms. Nighttime temps are cold and can PLUNGE.

 

 

 

  The Tweener
October is the last month we can almost rely on great backpacking weather.
We can bank on serious early-season storms every few years. Don’t get stuck out without the gear necessary to survive, keep traveling, and enjoy it.

October in the High Sierra is stunningly beautiful, but potentially very dangerous.

Every few years a strong unexpected Winter Storm comes in early and dumps a couple of unexpected feet of snow on the High Sierra.

Leaving detailed trip plans with an outside monitor is required. Packing Winter Gear elements, knowing how to survive and travel in the snow, and having contingency plans is REQUIRED.

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November 2014
Looking back at the two Pallisades Lakes below, with the Pallisades Mountains rising to their Right as we climb through shattered rock to Mather Pass

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Pallisades Lakes and Mountains from Mather Pass.
Turning around to take a last look at the Pallisade Lakes below, the Pallisades Range surrounding them on the Right, and us hiking through the shattered rock leading South to Mather Pass.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

November 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Deploy Winter Gear
Our “base” layers are brought to Winter Standards.
Our insulation layers are thickened to Winter Standards as well.
Winter Shell, boots, socks, and camp gear comes into play. I love my down snow-camp booties!

       

1

Sno-Park Permits

Required for use of Sno-Park parking lots through May 30.

2

 

 

 

3 4 5 6 7 8

9

 

 

 

10

11

 

 

Veterans Day

12 13 14

15

Full Winter Gear

All Fall Gear elements replaced by Winter Gear.

16

 

 

 

17 18 19 20 21 22

23

 

 

 

24 25 26

27

 

 

Thanksgiving Day

28 29

30

 

 

 

NOTES: Highways 120 and 4 close with the first heavy snowfall. Date Vs. Conditions on the Ground
The calendar says Winter Conditions, but what are the conditions on the ground?
Late season clarity can quickly shift to blizzard conditions.
Hope for the best, pack gear for the worse.

With or without snow on the Sierra, November brings very cold temps, and clear skies can turn dark and unleash heavy snow very quickly.

Summertime backpackers are tracking the trajectory of Winter conditions to guess-timate the date snows will clear from the high trails during Spring.

Wintertime backpackers are carefully tracking conditions to determine the best times to access the Winter Wonderland, if and when Winter comes in 2014.

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December 2014
Iconic sawtooth ridgeline on Mount Whitney South of the final gentle climb to the Mount Whitney plateau

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Iconic sawtooth ridge feature on Mount Whitney.
Hiking past the iconic sawtooth ridge on our last steps to the great almost-flat plateau that is the crest of Mount Whitney.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

December 2014

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Full Winter Gear


Time to pull out the full Winter Gear. A thick base layer with thick insulation and shell layers necessary.

1

 

 

 

2

3

Observe


Storm, Temp and Weather Patterns to properly time upcoming Winter Trips.

4 5 6

7

 

 

 

8 9 10 11 12 13

14

 

 

 

15 16 17 18 19 20

21

First Day of Winter


Cold & Dark Equinox

22 23 24

25

 

 

Christmas

26 27

28

 

 

 

29 30

31

Backpackers

 

Time again to begin observing Winter transitioning into Spring.

 

The Winter Backpacker

Very short days and long cold nights makes Winter hiking trips very different than Summer.

I’m hopeful the trails will be buried under yards of snow by December 2014…
If so, our goals, our speed, and our expectations have fully shifted into Winter Mode.
Our changing inner perspective ideally matches external environmental changes.
May your perspective always complement your environment, and visa-versa.

NOTES:
Alex at Tahoe to Whitney hopes you had a killer backpacking year, that you’ve seen amazing things and met incredible folks on the long trails between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney. Woo Hooo!

November is the time to reserve permits in Desolation Wilderness or Yosemite National Park for next June. Half of each ‘s Wilderness Permits at these heavily used areas are available six months before the start date of the backpacking trip.

I am hoping my frostbite/heart is recovered enough to resume my annual Christmas-New Year Snow Camping Triangle at the end of 2014.

From Meyers to Round Lake to Showers Lake to Round Top Lake and back to Meyers is my traditional December 25 Christmas present to myself.

The terrain, the joy of navigation and route finding the snow-covered beauty of the High Sierra during Winter is a special experience well worth the efforts and hazards.

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January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December
Trailhead
Comments: on this
Contact: Alex Wierbinski

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Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to backpacking the Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

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