Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Non-Summer Weather

Two-Heel Drive points to a story about a women who was lost but survived in snowy conditions, and goes on to comment about the importance of understanding the weather conditions during different seasons.

Many California backpackers (yes, I’m one of them) lead a sheltered life in terms of weather. Not only do we usually experience successive days of lovely, warm (and eventually boring) weather in the Sierra, but when it does rain there in the summer it rarely amounts to more than an hour or two of afternoon thundershowers followed by a glorious sunset.

However, that is summer and the other seasons are not. Many of us who have backpacked into the fall season in the Sierra recall the first time we learned the difference. My lesson was a gentle one. On a mid-October trip into the Cathedral Lakes area it began to cloud up in the afternoon – much as it might on a summer afternoon. Not thinking too much about this we ascended a ridge and were perched up high enjoying the view when one member of the party exclaimed, “Hey! It’s snowing!”

We stayed there for awhile, enjoying the surprise of light snow before it occurred to us that the reason it was snowing was that a Pacific front was moving through, and that this was not necessarily your friendly little afternoon shower. We left the ridge and headed back to our campsite as the mix of snow and rain began to come down harder.

We were lucky; the front more or less washed out over us and we had only a couple hours of this weather before it turned clear and cold. However, I have heard stories about summer-conditioned backpackers who did not recognize the difference between the weather they were used to and these winter-like Pacific storms… until they emerged from their tents two days later when it finally cleared up.


November 21, 2006 - Posted by | Commentary

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