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Late march Sierra backpacking --- ideas??

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Re: Late march Sierra backpacking --- ideas??

Postby Tom_H » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:42 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I find it hard to believe that you would not have snow in late March from Levitte meadows up the river, even in a low snow year.


And I agree it's highly unlikely it would be free of snow then. Yet I think the possibility (though very small) that there might be very little snow does exist for two reasons.

1.) The West Walker valley really does melt an awful lot sooner than the rest of Stanislaus/Toiyabe. (And due to the precipitation shadow, it snows less there to start with.) I remember during later spring of 1983 trying to get ready to lead my summer trips. Sonora Pass was closed with no opening date even projected. The snowpack was still very deep. We didn't have resources like HighSierraTopix back then for any beta. Though I directed the program, I did have a boss in the parent corporation who owned a Cessna Skyhawk. Near the end of May we spent a day doing aerial recon. of the entire Stan/Toiyabe area. From the west, there was deep snow starting around 5,000 feet which extended east all the way past Tower Peak. What was amazing, however, was that there was no snow at all up the West Walker, to Kirkwood Creek, then Up Kirkwood, over the summit, and down Buckeye Creek. We drove all the way around on Hwy. 88, did that route and saw no snow. We came back to our outfitting base near Pinecrest via just opened Sonora Pass, and there was still a lot of really deep snow there. The difference between our route and the rest of the area was stark.

2.) This winter has been so wacky already. I am starting to really worry that this high pressure area is not going to collapse. I read somewhere that an El Niño is building, but the high pressure cell keeps pushing all the systems through OR/WA and the stubborn thing doesn't show signs of collapsing. I so hope you're right and that valley is under dozens of feet of snow in late March, but this weather is being so weird that I am getting this bad feeling that it might actually not snow. God help us if it doesn't.

To the OP: Another alternate location besides the Lost Coast is Point Reyes. You could string together a week long loop in there, and it's doubtful there would be any problem pulling a permit at that time of year. You need to be ready for rain and cold, but you won't have to worry about snow.

Edit: I see you posted while I was typing. Good luck wherever you go. Even if it's outside the Sierra, I hope the mods would at least let you post a little blurb on the end of this thread to let us know how it went.



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Re: Late march Sierra backpacking --- ideas??

Postby natebottman » Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:00 am

I thought I'd make a very short post about our trip. We ended up doing a 4-night trip in the Needles district of Canyonlands NP. We spent the first night in Cyclone Canyon, then 2 nights in Chesler Park, then a night in Lost Canyon. We visited Druid Arch on the Chesler Park layover day. The weather was perfect: blue skies and moderate temps, except one day when there was a dramatic storm with rain and 60+ mph gusts. I attached a couple pics, and there's more at my dad's flickr site (user name jeffbottman).
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Re: Late march Sierra backpacking --- ideas??

Postby rlown » Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:37 pm

nice TR.. thanks for following up! a very different landscape than the Sierra but appreciated!

I love that area.
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Re: Late march Sierra backpacking --- ideas??

Postby maverick » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:03 pm

Like Russ said, thanks for coming back with the TR!
Would love to see what folks who dislike ducks have to say about one of the pictures
in your dad's flickr photo stream. :eek:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffbottman/13616447854/
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Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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