Welcome to Bay Area Backpacking Women! We're rolling into our third year and it looks like the 2014 backpacking season is going to get an early start -- Glacier Point Road in Yosemite opened in April, and Tioga Road plowing began on April 16th. The flip side of the early start is that seasonal water sources will probably dry up early, so keep that in mind when planning trips this year.
I am hoping we'll see a lot of lake hikes on the calendar this season, and hopefully more beginner-oriented trips than we've offered in the past. Keep an eye on the schedule if that's what you're looking for, and feel free to post any trip ideas on the Suggested Meetups page -- we haven't been using that page as much as we should.
If you're a beginner, 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 550+ members and most of our trips are for 4 - 10 participants, so 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. We have reached a point where we will probably just silently remove you from the RSVP list rather than trying to track you down (we are getting a bit jaded...).
If you're an organizer or potential organizer looking for some local trips to get started this year, you have plenty of options. Sykes Hot Springs is always popular, as is Skyline to the Sea. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail is very beautiful and challenging, and you'll want to do that one before it gets too hot. I think most of the longer trips in Henry Coe might not be doable this year, as most of the water sources other than lakes have already dried up. Everyone's year-round favorite, Point Reyes, is always a great option, and I hear that Nisene Marks State Park in Santa Cruz has a backpacking camp. Waterless alas, but it's only 6 miles in and might make for a nice overnight getaway. Another interesting option is the Tassajara Mountain Resort and Zen center in the Ventana wilderness. From May 1 to September 15 this year, the resort will be open to guests. Most people arrive by car, but you can backpack to a nearby campsite in Ventana (about 9 miles) and pay a fee to enjoy the hot springs, the spring-fed pool, and a vegetarian lunch -- a very appealing non-standard backpacking trip! Wildflowers along the trails are supposed to be pretty spectacular. Reservations must be made in advance.
As always, if you have any general questions or comments, you can post them to the discussions page (and hope someone notices!). If there's a trip you're interested in doing, feel free to add it to the suggested meetups page. 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 I hope everyone who is interested gets a chance to get out in the backcountry this year!