When planning an overnight in the backcountry, the weather can always be unpredictable. Perhaps never more so than in the month of October when the days can be temperate, and the nights can dip to near freezing.
On a recent backpacking trip to Mt. Whitney, we witnessed firsthand how lack of preparation can ruin a perfectly good adventure. Several hikers underestimated the challenge of the portal route. They got a late start, thinking they could summit in a day, and were completely unprepared at high camp when the sun set and temperatures plummeted. Members of our crew lent a woman warm clothes as hypothermia set in and she waited for rescuers to arrive.
Our takeaway: tackle trips based on your ability, know your route and plan to be out longer than anticipated-just in case. Travel with a friend, check the weather forecast up to the minute that that you lose cell reception, and pack accordingly. Wear clothing that will keep you dry and warm. Bring extra lightweight layers - Merino wool base layers, mid layers and of course a great outer layer. You never know when you - or a fellow hiker - might need them.