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[pct-l] Re: So. Cal deserts

In a message dated 8/19/04 6:53:39 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
pax2002@earthlink.net writes:

> Hi, My wife and I are interested in doing the So Cal part of the PCT maybe 
> in late Feb or early Mar to escape the heat (which is why we left Las Vegas) 
> and Anna is terrified of rattlers, scorpions, etc., and we figure by leaving 
> at that time that we will be okay in that department. We contacted a friend 
> of ours Lonetrail and as he was not familiar with the area he suggested that I 
> get in contact with you. I realize by leaving that early we will run into 
> snow on the Lagunas, aside from that where would the next snow problem be? Some 
> snow is fine as that will alleviate some of the water shortage problems that 
> we would be facing. We would really appreciate any info that you can give 
> us. Do you know Ole Geezer Bill? I think he mentioned your name in one of his 
> e-mails. Thanks again for any help that you might be able to give us.      
> X-Man and X-Lady


There are many PCT hikers who are better informed than I am about conditions 
on the southern PCT in February-March, so I'm taking the liberty of copying 
the PCT list with your question.  I hope you don't mind because you will (please 
help me out here, listers) get some really first-hand information from folks 
who know the conditions on that part of the trail.

Here's what I can offer:  We started our hike from Campo in early May, 1997.  
Snow was not a problem.  We crossed a few patches, but nothing that slowed us 
down.  Water wasn't a problem either, even though there were no "official" 
water caches then.  We knew from the guidebook and data book where the next 
water would be, and planned accordingly.      

However, I believe you would be much safer facing the rattlers in late April 
or early May, than the weather you're likely to encounter in late Feb or early 
March.  People die in the San Gabriels and San Bernardinos.  There were at 
least one or two casualties last winter, if I correctly recall reports on the 
PCT list.  So, don't get stupid.  Even if you are very experienced winter 
hikers/campers, don't underestimate the conditions you may have to face just because 
it's "Southern" California.

Anna, In 1997, we met 12 rattlesnakes between the Mexican border and Kennedy 
Meadows.  Not one of them attacked us.  They're interesting, beautiful 
critters, and part of the PCT experience.  (Okay, maybe I won't change your mind 
here.)  On the other hand, I wouldn't recommend hiking in the desert after dark.  
Have a great hike!