Welcome to Bay Area Backpacking Women!
Despite a burst of optimism brought on by heavy December rains, it looks like the drought is going to continue. This will of course have an impact on trip planning, as routes that are usually not open until midsummer will be snow-free much sooner, and routes where water is dependable late in the season or even year-round might be much drier this year.
Hard-copy hiking guides and trip descriptions from previous years might not be reliable 3+ years into a drought, so unless you are counting only on larger rivers and lakes for water, I encourage you to look to online resources for up-to-date information.
It might already be too late for Henry Coe this year, but if you're thinking about a trip there, check out this excellent water-resources page from the Pine Ridge Association (do NOT depend on information from Coe rangers): http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/planning-your-visit/water-resources
Big Sur is always beautiful, but it's especially beautiful in the spring and early summer. If you've been discouraged by reading about poor trail conditions there, be aware that dedicated volunteers have vastly improved things in the last couple of years. You can find up-to-date reports on trail conditions and water availability here: http://www.ventanawild.org/trails/trailconditions.html And if you'd like to become a volunteer, check out the calendar of trailwork here: http://www.ventanawild.org/aboutus/about-events.html
If you're looking for any kind of information about Sierra trips, High Sierra Topix is an outstanding resource: http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/index.php You can get info on anything from the current availability of water on a specific trail to to general info about the best trips for X number of days and no more than a 4-hour drive from the Bay Area. Don't ask about anything that's not Sierra-related though or they'll get a little cranky :)
For information about possible Yosemite trips, Yosemite rangers are the best! They get out on the trails all the time, and if they don't know the answer to a question they will tell you so and try to find someone who does. Try to call at off times (not weekends) so the person who answers the phone will have a little time to chat. Also, don't be discouraged by anything you've heard about how hard it is to get permits for backpacking in Yosemite. It's not hard at all -- you just need to know your trailheads and be a little bit flexible. I posted info in the discussions a couple of years ago: http://www.meetup.com/Bay-Area-Backpacking-
If you're interested in getting out to Yosemite or elsewhere in the Sierras soon, check trail guides for early season trips. Generally "early season" means mid-June or so, but this year you might be able to get out as early as April. And again, be very careful about your water resources if you're planning to head out in the summer or fall.
As for Point Reyes, the BABW favorite, the water there comes from pumps and as far as I know it is reliable year-round. It's also pretty much never hot there. We haven't had a kayak trip there yet -- maybe this will be the year! The boat-in campsites always have space available....
And always, remember that we are a leave no trace group. If you're unfamiliar with the term or if you could use a refresh, please visit the LNT.org site: https://lnt.org/: https://lnt.org/
If you're new to backpacking and would like a short overview of what backpackers carry with them into the woods, check out the suggested packing list on the "Pages" page (poorly named, sorry) for a list of essentials and nice-to-haves, plus a bit of discussion about various pieces of gear. If you have any questions, you can try posting to the Discussions page.
When you RSVP for a trip, please take it seriously and consider it a commitment. We have 800+ members and most of our trips are for 4 - 10 participants, so things book up quickly. If you sign up for something and drop out at the last minute, you are likely to be depriving someone else of a chance to participate. And please be considerate of your organizers -- if you are asked for information or input, don't ignore the request. Without organizers we'd have no meetups, so keep your organizers happy.
If you're interested in organizing, check out the organizer info on the "pages" tab, and get in touch with me if you'd like to post a trip. We welcome all organizers, from first-time backpackers to seasoned trip leaders. It's all about finding a trip you'd like to do and seeing if anyone wants to come along....
As always, if you have any general questions or comments, you can post them to the discussions page (and hope someone notices!). And get in touch with me any time you like -- if you click on my profile you'll see an option to send me an email.
Thanks everyone for joining the group, and special thanks to all of you who have become organizers -- I hope everyone who is interested gets a chance to get out in the backcountry this year!