I waffled about last night trying to figure out what I am doing next weekend. I was torn between backpacking in a few different locations and doing a track day. Its going to end up costing me just as much money as the track day but at least most of that cost is gear that I will get to keep for future trips. Where I ended up deciding to go was Duck Pass in the John Muir Wilderness of the Eastern Sierra. I have been to this area MANY times for sole purpose of skiing. However, I really wanted to check this area out in “warm” weather to do some backcountry exploration.
I say “warm” because looking at the weather, its going to get pretty darn cold at night! I have a 20 degree sleeping bag, a nice sleeping pad, hand warmers, and plenty of warm layers to bring. But that 20 degree rating is really just a survivability minimum assuming the pad and layers so that is what caused me to waffle about, not wanting to drop $2-300 on a nice 0 degree backpacking sleeping bag. However, I discovered sleeping bag liners and will be picking up this one from REI later today, along with some freeze dried meals:
Advertised to add up to 25F to a bag rating so I think I will do just fine. Still going to bring plenty of clothing and hand warmers but I will press the “i believe” button for at least a solid 10-15F to bring me to a decent level of comfort. I have used my current setup mildly comfortable at ~30 degrees so I am confident I can achieve ~20 with this setup. There is no precip in the forecast and humidity in the teens so I shouldnt have to worry about moisture to further the hurt of cold either. Another factor that I have to contend with is mandatory bear canisters for food. I have no idea how these work but I figure I can get a rental someplace and figure it out.
I havent quite figured out my itinerary entirely for the three days but the general idea is to drive up Friday night and stay in the hostel I use for skiing, hike out to Barney Lake and camp there on Saturday (marked X on the map above), and then probably day hike to Duck Lake and Pika lake, leaving the camp setup at Barney Lake for Sunday night before hiking down and returning home Monday. I believe that should leave plenty of time to deal with altitude, lots of water to refill with infinitely, and lots of cool side trips I could do in the area.
This will of course be a Scoobaru trip since the below freezing weather will break my Miata considering I run it with water and water wetter only. I still have lots of prep work to do for food but I have all week to figure that out. I booked my backcountry permit ($11) and booked the hostel ($47) so its not the cheapest hiking trip but its still a relatively inexpensive weekend. Should definitely be a wonderful experience though assuming a bear doesnt eat my tent and I dont freeze to death. And if I get lucky, I might even see some fall leaves on the drive!