Cucamonga May 2012

Three cold nights at Kelly Camp, Memorial Day Weekend 2012

Good thing we just bought that new +15 degree F goose down sleeping bag! We would have been frozen solid without it. Brrr!

Now, the entire week prior to this trip, the second of our planned hikes this summer season, I had been checking the weather forecasts. I’m a weather geek; it’s what I do. Ten days earlier, the long range models showed something odd happening, but I ignored these premonitions of doom since ten days was at the limit of their range. But as time passed, it became more and more obvious that an anomalous closed low, a late-season cold-cored closed low, was going to form way up north in icy Canada and drop down into southern California. How cold, how far, and how fast it would drop was relatively unknown; closed lows aren’t handled very well by the weather models, as they are no longer attached to the main flow of the jet stream. Just the same, a week later, on Wednesday, the weather service was predicting a half inch of SNOW on Friday night! Snow! True, I thought that snow might be kind of fun, in a photographically lovely sparkly icey sort of way, since we wouldn’t be hiking until Saturday morning. Not that I was particularly thrilled at the idea of snow on Memorial Day Weekend, the traditional start of summer. At any rate, the forecast said that it would continue to be cold on Saturday, when a second trough riding on the back of the closed low would spin through the area, but afterward we would see gradual warming through Monday, while Tuesday would be back to more normal temperatures.

And if I didn’t like the thought of camping in cold weather, my only other option was to give up and stay home. Not much of an option. Especially with our new sleeping bag! But did I pack lots of extra-warm clothing? Of course I didn’t! I packed an extra (very thin) shirt and an additional (very thin) wool cap, so as not to substantially increase the weight of my backpack. My reasoning was that I’d simply hide inside my beautiful new sleeping bag if I got cold. In other words, I was a complete idiot. How long can you hide in a sleeping bag before it drives you insane?

Vicki and I on the Cucamonga Peak Summit - elevation 8856 feet

Click on the photo to read the complete Trip Report


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