We've had very little rain since BABW first started up three years ago, but now we are getting a refresher on what winter in the Bay Area really looks like. My guess is that this winter will see less backpacking activity than we've had in past winters, but hopefully we'll get some trips in between the soakings....
Be ready for last-minute postings this season, since organizers will be keeping an eye out for sunny weekends. After December's rain, the streams and springs at Henry Coe should be running again, though the trails along the fire roads may be muddy if they don't get a few days to dry out before a trip. Point Reyes is lovely in the winter, even in the rain, and reservations are much easier to get :) If you do a trip out there this time of year I recommend sticking to Coast or Wildcat camps, since Glen and Sky are shady and can get pretty muddy when it rains. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail is another nearby wintertime possibility, though I think it can get pretty cold out there at night.
Car camping can be a nice wintertime option and a good way to try out new gear. There's lots of excellent camping not too far away in Big Sur, plus some nice sites at Pinnacles National Park. I think Point Reyes and Inverness also have some nice campsites.
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 700+ 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.
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 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!