Winter, where are you?
This has been one weird winter. And given the weather over the past ten years, that's really saying something.
We began with our usual (at least, recently) drought conditions through the fall. Very little rain, and fire conditions that we have now come to expect and dread. But then the glorious atmospheric river arrived in December, and blew normal out of the water. Snow levels were way above normal, ski resorts were wildly busy (and happy,) and the future looked...bright. That's a photo of the lake near our cabin at about 3500 feet near Yosemite. The snow lasted for weeks.
That future is now considerably dimmer. We had no precipitation at all during the month of January. Not a drop or a flake. And there is no end in sight to the sunny, dry weather. Wind, that only helped dry things out even more. It's enough to make a man worry about the future of our planet.
What does this have to do with backpacking? The snow level in the Sierra pretty much determines when you can start getting into the high country--and that's where the backpacking is best. It is certainly too early to make many plans for this summer. When will the trails be relatively snow free? When will it be so dry that campfires are banned, or the skies filled with smoke?
Inquiring minds want to know. But we also want to know if we will ever escape this drought. Tough times, all the way around.