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Home Forums Ask a Question Hiking Cactus-to-Clouds in mid-January?

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    Jeff Hester

    My friend Russ writes:

    Hey Jeff, its Russ. I am intrigued by the Cactus to Clouds Trail. Do you think a traverse might be possible in mid-January? I could bring microspikes but that is about it. Would you be interested in such an adventure? The other half of Bpack is not interested, but I would really like to do this trail with somebody. If not you, do you know of any local trail running groups I can contact? Seems like a lot of trail runners do this trail.

    My gut says that January is not a viable option. Of course, anything is possible, but I think the ice and snow on some parts of this would add risk and take too long.

    But then, I haven’t hiked C2C (yet). So I’m calling on my friends who HAVE hiked C2C for their words of wisdom. First, is a C2C hike in mid-January insane, or is it simply a matter of knowing what to expect and being well-prepared?

    And second, is there anyone (or groups) interested in doing this in mid-January?

    C2C is definitely on my list, but I need to whip my body into better shape before I tackle that one, and that isn’t going to happen in a couple weeks. Advice?

    H Peter Ji

    Hi Russ, I am Peter, a friend of Jeff. An avid hiker, peak bagger and backpacker. Came across your question, and I’d like to share my two cents with you.

    First, what time of January are you planning to do C2C? If I am not mistaken, you’re not from around here, which means you have not done either Skyline, the first portion of the C2C, and the C2C.

    If you haven’t done much research, here’s the quick insight. Skyline alone has an 8,400 plus feet elevation gain with a 9 mile distance to Long Valley, which is where the ranger station is and also the tram is. You have to stop by this ranger station because you need permit. And then you keep going up to the peak, which becomes C2C.

    Now, Skyline alone takes a toll on many, even when there’s no snow, and if you want to do C2C, it’ll be a lot harder. I did Skyline in late October and C2C in early November last year, so I can’t say what it is like to do C2C in snow. However, some of my good friends did it when we had recording break rain and snow just over 3 weeks ago, but that was only Skyline. Because mostly it is dangerous because of ice and all. But if you’re confident that you are going to be okay because you have snow hiking experience, then, only concern would be daylight. You won’t have a whole lot of time if snow slows you down.

    Since you will have cell signal most of the time on Skyline, so if you have problem, call 911. Although it is straight forward from Long Valley to the peak, and a whole lot less strenuous than Skyline, but if you feel tired when you reach Long Valley, just take tram down. But make sure that they’re in service. If the wind is severe, they just shut it down, which means you will have to walk back down, and most people agree that 1. how hard it is, 2. even those who have done C2C2C (you go up to the peak and hike back all the way down to the museum) think it is pointless. But of course, it is your to decide.

    So, there you have it. Make sure to check the weather not only at Long Valley but also at the peak. And it is the wind that will make you miserable there, so bundle up. If you don’t mind hiking slowly and being exhausted by hiking in snow, then, go for it. But, you will know for sure by the time you reach Long Valley.



    Thanks Peter for the info. Your info solidifies the prior research of have done. I consider myself in tip-top shape logging about 2,000 trail miles a year (either backpacking or trail running). Elevation gain wise I get in about 5,000 ft every week minimum. I’m pretty confident in good conditions, but since I am not from around the area I will not be bringing my winter gear (can bring microspikes though).

    I was planning on a Jan. 18. If you know of anyone who may have first hand trail info for the current conditions I am all ears 🙂

    Thanks for the help.

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