Tod, it’s so interesting you post about this because so few people do what you did. Backpacking in freezing temperatures with the threat of a winter storm, deep in mountains with no people around. Sounds like heaven to me.
Those 1:1 high Sierra experiences are truly special. I don’t think I can convey how much I love that experience you describe, especially in the fall in the Sierra. It’s like a true therapy: completely disconnecting from the buzz of society, off the grid, and with minimal outside human contact.
I grew up exploring the Sierra with my family, friends and community. Literally thousands of miles of backpacking and hiking up there in my lifetime. But we never explored in the fall. Summer was time for exploration because we could go on 12 day trips without worrying about missing days in school.
As a young adult, I quickly fell in love with the Sierra in the fall. In recent years winters have been starting pretty late up there. It’s fairly common for minimal or no snow fall until mid November. There’s this sweet spot from September to November where it’s cold, sunny, and desolate with beautiful fall foliage. So that’s when I’m up there most now.
Here’s a pic of me last year, in mid November when my buddy Alex and I climbed Mt. Dana. No one but us on that mountain or any other mountain in its vicinity.