How Recent California Winter Storms Will Impact Summer Backpacking in the Sierra

It has been DUMPING snow in the Sierra this winter, and this past week, which gives us goosebumps to think what the summer may hold. As of end of January, the Sierra snow pack was tracking close to 100% of normal. These recent storms are sure to put the snow pack well over the top for the remainder of the year… AND the storm gates remain open.

It’s still too early to call, but end of season totals could be between 150-200% of normal, putting this winter on par with some of the wettest in recent memory. Think 2017, 2011, 1998 and mother of all seasons 1983.

Our team has backpacked through each of these seasons (though only Mike can speak to 1983!). What this means is we could expect Spring Like Conditions in the Sierra through the end of July. Think knee-to-waist-deep rushing water, snow covered passes, waterfalls around every corner, trail lost under snow and bulging streams, and lingering ice in high Sierra lakes.

Backpacking in these conditions can present new challenges. Travel can be slow and tedious, and unfamiliar trail can be difficult to navigate. But experiencing the Sierra in a rapidly changing raw, primal state is an opportunity of a lifetime.

If you haven’t yet set your summer schedule, you won’t want to miss this. If planning your own trip, be safe and travel with experienced friends! If you prefer the safety and experience of a group I have the perfect idea…

Join us on a Hell For Sure Challenge trek to experience primal Spring Like Conditions in the Sierra firsthand all summer long. Our 3 and 4 night looped backpacking treks to Hell For Sure traverse wilderness that remains untamed, brimming with jagged granite cliffs, dark pitted canyons, burnt-red mountains, and ice cold lakes. We’ll be off the grid, and at times, off trail, trekking through some of the most remote, least traveled regions of the Sierra. The series of inspirational long-weekend trips begins late June. All experience levels welcome.

Learn more about the Hell For Sure Challenge.

Let it snow… Let it snow, let it snow. And then, let’s enjoy summer!