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14

Some helpful points from someone who lives in the western US... Altitude: is a big factor in hikes, often in the West, especially around the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevadas, you will experience a lot of altitude changes. the Western terrain varies widely - even in the space of a few miles. Make sure your equipment (boots, pack, supplies, etc.) can ...


9

American black bears They are somewhat common in some wilderness areas of California, mostly in the mountains. In their natural state, black bears are thinly populated on the landscape because it takes a large area to support one, and they are also shy of humans. Black bears are not very large; females can be the size of a large dog. There are certain ...


9

If you choose to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada in April, prepare yourself as if you were going in winter, because there will still be significant snow, and you could be hit by a blizzard at any time. To quote the National Park Service: Hiking and backpacking options are still limited in April. Expect snow above 6,000 feet (this varies from year to ...


8

Here's a brief summary of what I can let you know. I should say this will apply more to the Eastern parts of the state, either North or South. I live in Arizona, which has similar difficulties... Altitude: While not all hikes in the West are done at altitude, there are many more opportunities. I routinely hike 8000 feet in elevation, which is very ...


7

I am not a lawyer, or an expert on California knife laws. This post is based on my understanding of state laws both as written, and as summarized by other sites. This is the summary website that I used to determine what to carry here in southern California. http://www.ninehundred.net/~equalccw/knifelaw.html#SECTION TWO It tries to decrypt the legal speak ...


7

There are several concerns Rodents. Unlike the eastern US, rodents in the West are much more likely to carry Hanta virus and Bubonic plague. These are not common, but unlike the Eastern US, they are also not unheard of. Scorpions. Scorpions in the east are a minor annoyance. Some of the Western ones kill. Wild Horses. Again, unheard of in the east, ...


7

Ok, now that it looks like I've earned a reputation I have edited my post and now include some links that should be helpful in monitoring weather and snowpack in the White Mountains region. I received an email from Gerrit yesterday with some questions about the White Mountains. He asked me to respond here so the info below is largely aimed at addressing his ...


6

What you want to do seems to be referred to by the Forest Service as "dispersed camping," and you can find a lot of information by googling on that phrase. Different jurisdictions seem to have different rules, but this blog post has a nice attempt to summarize how the rules usually work in national forests and on BLM land. Basically what they seem to want ...


5

The US doesn't have anything like the Scandinavian right to roam (Swedish allemansr├Ątten, etc.). Private land is usually fenced, and it's against the law to enter private land while hiking without the landowner's permission. The US term for wild camping is "backcountry camping" or "backpacking," as opposed to car camping, where you pay to park your car in a ...


4

Bug Spray: Unless you're backpacking in and are extremely weight conscious of how much you're carrying, if you think you might need bug spray, why wouldn't you bring it? Better to have it and not need it then the other way around. How to stay cool when climbing: Wake up early and climb from sunrise until it gets hot. Then, take a break through the heat of ...


4

The other answers have great information. I would add some specifics that I have learned from living and backpacking all over Arizona and the white mountains for most of my life. Don't have everyone pee on the same rock/place at night. It will dry out and the salt can attract deer. If they get brought in to camp for the salt, they might smell something else ...


3

I live in the northeast US, but have done a bunch of hiking in the desert of AZ and NM. Big animals aren't really the problem. Most everything like that will run away from you. Camping with bears around is something you have to think about, but that is not really different from New England. In fact, you're quite unlikely to bump into a bear in the ...


3

My results: That particular April was unusually warm. We needed to be prepared to start hiking in hot weather (70-80F) and end up hiking in 4 feet of snow at higher elevation. Snowshoes are a must. The trail we were on was impossible to follow perfectly in the winter, so be prepared to end up off trail frequently. Cut logs are one helpful indicator of ...


3

Adding to what Don Branson said, Try not to dismantle or peep into a pile of stones, small cracks. With reference to :"During winter, do most of these reptiles go in some sort of hibernation, or can some/many still be found and seen during the day where there is some sun?" What I've observed is, It is most likely that you may come across a snake/serpent ...


3

Maybe Pinnacles National Park. Or if you go across the Golden Gate, Point Reyes is gorgeous. Watch out, because some of the trails in the more remote central coast backcountry areas have not seen any maintenance for a long time, partly due to government budget cuts. I tried to do a long-distance trip there a few years back, and had to turn back due to stuff ...


2

To add to what others have mentioned, reptiles do indeed go into hibernation, but not in the thought of "traditional" hibernation, such as that of a bear or other mammals. Reptiles usually do burrow down, but they can certainly be awoken. Here in the southeast, if the temperatures rise just a bit, we have plenty of snakes and lizards around sunning ...


2

The Henry W Coe State Park is within reasonable driving range, and offers many hiking trails with good vistas and surprisingly few people. I go into more detail here.


2

If you want to do this as a hobby, there's lots of places you can go. The American, Yuba, & Klammath rivers have the most gold. A lot of the parks have something in place to allow to do a little panning. You should be able to find a few flakes to show your friends, but you won't make any substantial money doing it. Also, using any kind of mechanical ...


2

I live in Sunnyvale and my favorite place for hiking is Rancho San Antonio near the Los Altos Hills. It butts up against the Santa Cruz mountains, and there are a network of trails including some that venture into the mountains. I like this area because there are some great views of the bay, and much of the hiking occurs among the trees (more shade) and ...


2

Different parts of California have different wildlife, so you should probably narrow the region. Anyway, I'll talk about the areas I'm familiar with. In the Santa Cruz mountains, there are a lot of pumas (mountain lions.) Encounters are very rare. The advice is that if you do encounter one, make yourself appear large and noisy by waving your hands and your ...


1

Bears in California are a huge problem in certain highly impacted areas such as Yosemite Valley. They are almost not a problem at all in less traveled areas such as the White Mountains. Rattlesnakes are fairly common. Keep your eyes open and don't step on one that's basking in the sun on the trail. They're not aggressive. If you get bitten, don't try to do ...


1

You can visit Columbia, CA (also near Yosemite) to check out a historical state park where they offer gold panning activities. This might be a fun place to go since you can see a lot of history for the CA gold rush. Link to CA Park website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=552



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