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What to Expect when Hiking in the Sierras in the Fall

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Well if you are anything like me, I love the month of October in the Eastern Sierra.  It’s what many of us locals refer to as the “shoulder season”.  Back-to-School has already hit, Labor Day is over, days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, the bike park at Mammoth Mountain is closed, and we are still weeks away from the ski area opening for its 2013/2014 winter ski season.  In summary, as a Realtor, all that just adds up to no income for a month or two.  🙂  But that is okay, as I sincerely look forward to the fall each and every year.

McGee Creek

For me, the fall time is a time to relax and really enjoy the amazing place in which I live.  During the winter it’s go, go, go as this is our busy season and outside of every hour of work, I’m doing my best to play outdoors in the great snow-country we live in.  The springtime here always seem to come and go in a blink of an eye, as I’m still wrapping up winter escrows, and then all of a sudden it is the 4th of July.  Summers are always a whirlwind eight weeks of constant weekend festivals and many property showings.  And on my down days it’s a constant battle to appease my abundant cravings of trying to fit in camping, hiking, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, running, jiu-jitsu, etc.  And people wonder why I don’t ever golf or fish anymore. Haha!

But once October hits and Mammoth Lakes quiets down, there’s nothing more enjoyable to me than hiking through one of the beautiful local canyons amongst all the aspen trees that are in the middle of having their leaves turn.  Just this Sunday I set out with a friend to try and get out to McGee Pass from the McGee Creek trailhead.  Sizing up for a 20+ mile day, we woke up early.  The weather forecast the day before was showing cooler temps, but no clouds and nothing but sunny skies.  So we made the plan to depart Mammoth at 7am.  Well, at 6am my alarm went off and as I usually do, I peeked my eyes outside to check things out.  There to my surprise it was snowing with a sort of grapple type hail coming down everywhere.  I called my friend and we quickly pulled back up the local weather.  No clouds, sunny skies, and only a 10% chance of precipitation.  We thought to ourselves, well this must be just a freak storm passing through.

Early Snow

So we still headed towards the trail.  As we left the car it was chilly out, but the skies were clear.  Within an hour we were seeing snow flurries come down.  As the day progressed, the snow and wind became heaver and the temps continued to drop, especially as we continued to gain elevation.  Long story short, we made it within about a mile or two of the pass and threw in the towel.  We had every layer we brought on, frozen fingers and toes (and we both even had a light pair of gloves with us), and were too cold to even reach in our bags to eat our lunch, despite both of us being hungry.  So much for those sunny skies they forecasted!  Well about 7 hours later and 18 miles of hiking, we were finally back to the car.  It was a good adventure, but also another reminder that hiking during the fall months in the Eastern Sierra can bring a vast array of conditions, and those conditions can change in an instant.  So please get out there and enjoy your fall hikes, but remember to pack extra layers at all times, especially some warm winter gloves!

McGee Pass

Written by Eric Leach / 800-921-6520 / Eric@ResortPropertyRealty.com

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