The Sierra backpacking season came to a bit of a strange end this year -- we all know to expect the unexpected in the form of wildfires and weather, but having a government shutdown come between us and the outdoors was something new. Please remember to support the towns outside of the national parks if you're passing through. Yosemite was especially hard-hit -- a double-whammy in the form of the Rim Fire and the shutdown right at one of the park's busiest times. As people who sleep in tents and don't buy more than we can carry there's not too much we can do, but there are plenty of good places outside of the park to pick up some food or stop for lunch/coffee.
For most of us the season for mountain backpacking is over, but there are plenty of local options for fall and winter. Consider Henry Coe State park if you like grueling hills, Sykes Hot Springs (as if anyone doesn't like hot springs...), and everyone's year-round favorite, Point Reyes. Skyline-to-the-Sea is another hike that's lovely all year -- it's a three-day trip for all but the lightest and quickest, but I think you could make a very nice overnight of the Castle Rock to Big Basin stretch. You'd miss the waterfalls and the beautiful coastal views of the last leg, but you'd also avoid the crowded Big Basin trails and cut a big piece off that awkward car shuttle.
If you're planning on doing any fall or winter backpacking, remember that your sleeping bag's temperature rating is about survival, not comfort -- a 20-degree night in a 20-degree bag will make you never want to go outside again... I think European bags are now rated for comfort, so if you see odd temperature ratings like 37.5 degrees you probably have a bag with the newer, more user-friendly rating. But if you see the standard 0-degree, 20-degree, etc., rating, then you should consider the comfort level 15 to 20 degrees higher than the bag rating.
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.