A Tuesday in SoCal
It all started off with me checking the weather report Tuesday morning. I knew rain was in the forecast, but I quickly realized that the local mountains were going to get snow. One of the coolest things about living in San Diego is that I can have a coffee and check the surf in the morning, and then be in the snow by noon. I made the decision that morning to go on a one night trip to Thomas Mountain in search of snow. I threw some warm layers in the camper, filled the propane tank, and put whatever food I had in the house in the camper fridge. I had a few hours of things to handle at work before I could leave, but after that, I was on the road, headed Northeast.
After driving 60 miles through the pouring rain, I was pretty excited to start driving up the mountain. The turnoff to the forest road is at 4,500 feet in elevation, where temperatures were hovering right around 40F at the base. I threw the F250 into 4wd and started climbing. About halfway up I started to get worried. With a lack of precipitation and the temperatures not dropping, I started to wonder if I was going to get skunked and just end up camping in the cold rain.
At about 5,500 feet the weather started to change, there was a dusting of wet snow on the ground and temperatures had gotten down to about 34F. Not enough snow to really call it snow camping, but I still kept pushing to the peak.
Up top, all I found was wind, sleet, and slush. It was around 3pm and I had some friends on their way, so I climbed into the camper, fired up the heater, and decided to wait it out. Being the weather nerd that I am I pulled up the radar and decided to see what storm cells were on their way, and what I saw got me pretty excited.
Half an hour later it started, just a few flakes at first, but soon enough it was dumping. The ground quickly turned white and as the snow started to pile up. We set up camp, lit a fire and I started shooting photos. Camping in the snow is something I love to do, there's not much better than standing around a fire while huge snowflakes fall.
A few hours of hanging out by the fire had gone by, snow was still falling but it was time to call it for the night. At this point i’d say there was about 3” of heavy wet snow on the ground, with the temperatures hovering right around 28 F. One of my favorite modifications i’ve done to my camper so far is the Propex HS2211 heater. I had cranked the heat up a few hours earlier, and by the time I climbed inside it was a toasty 65 F, perfect sleeping temperature. I cracked a window, climbed into bed, and drifted away to the sound of snowfall and wind through the trees.
Waking up in the morning was a bit of a surprise, I expected to wake up to a good amount of snow, but at some point during the night the snow had turned to rain. There was just a slushy 2” left on the ground. I packed up, fired up the trusty ol’ 7.3l diesel engine, and started working my way down the mountain. I had to be into work at 9am that morning. Within 5 minutes of driving the snow had disappeared, just the peak of the mountain had gotten measurable snowfall. We got pretty lucky with the amount of snow that was at the campsite, 500’ less elevation and we would have just been standing in the rain around the fire.
Not all trips have to be planned out weeks in advance, sometimes you have to just go for it last minute and see what happens. Yes, life doesn't always allow for that, but when you have the chance to go camp in the snow on a Tuesday night, you go for it.