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Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby rlown » Thu May 01, 2014 3:13 pm

franklin411 wrote: I am interested in hearing more about that Sugarloaf creek crossing because I can't swim, though. As you can imagine, I'm very cautious about fording anything.


Caution is good if you can't swim. I would recommend in your spare time you actually take a swimming class and learn how. You miss out on some experiences out there with that limitation.

I thank my mom for putting me in swimming classes at the age of 3.



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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 01, 2014 5:17 pm

Ability to swim has little to do with surviving a crossing of a creek when the water is icy cold and it is raging at peak flow. Even those who swim are in danger. Smart backpackers avoid peak flow crossings and plan trips where there are bridges.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby rlown » Thu May 01, 2014 5:26 pm

but it helps. if you don't even have the basics down, you're dead. on that I agree with you.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 01, 2014 6:04 pm

Maybe. If you cannot swim, you would not likely even try to cross a raging stream. If you think of yourself as a good swimmer but are not familiar with the dangers of snow-melt water or high flow currents, you may be stupid enough to try to cross. Yes, swimming is a good skill to have. Just know the limits.

Peak flow this year will be quite early and with the lack of snow, stream will likely be high only a short time.

Do not forget that regardless of what you find at a crossing, you can turn around and retreat! Many times I have gone out and been stopped by a crossing, but still had a good trip. Some days in the wilderness is better than none!
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby maverick » Thu May 01, 2014 6:36 pm

Number one cause of death in the National Parks, drowning. Some good reading
and useful info here Franklin: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=6043&hilit=river+crossing
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby oldranger » Thu May 01, 2014 8:40 pm

I almost lost it crossing Sugarloaf Crossing a couple of days before July 4 of 1983, a giant snow year. I was heading to Roaring River to meet up with the Roaring River Ranger and we were going to climb Brewer.

Anyhow that was about 20 years before I started using trekking poles. Luckily I did have an ice ax. About half way across the ford I started to lose it and pivited downstream and holding the head of the ax with both hands plunged the pointed end into the water to stabilize myself. I was still up to my elbows in water and gradually worked my way across the the stream. A few days later when I returned to Rowell Meadow (which was my ranger station) that year I kept on the s side of the Creek until Crowley Canyon and crossed the creek there then the outlet stream from Seville Lake. In my subsequent years I had a downed tree that I used about a half mile downstream from Sugarloaf Crossing when I had to Cross sugarloaf creek early in the season.

By the way markskor and I have a trip planned starting just before Memorial day weekend. We have a plan A, plan B, and a plan C. Plan A involves a 12,000 ft. pass, Plan B goes almost to 11,000 feet but in a s. facing basin, Plan C starts at 8000 ft. and goes down then up to about 7,500 feet. Which we choose will be a game day decision!

Personally, knowing the area well I would plan on doing Elizabeth Pass at that time but would give my self a couple more days given the uncertainty of the conditions.

Oh yeah in 83 to get to Rowell I hiked to Pear Lake then Cross country skied up over the tablelands and down to Crescent lake at the head of Crowley Canyon. Then did a miserable day of postholing through the forest between Crescent and Rowell Meadow. I didn't have to, just thought it would be fun. The Roaring River Ranger got flown in by Helicopter. They never flew me in at the beginning of the season when I was the RRR. :-({|=

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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby manbartz » Mon May 05, 2014 4:17 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Peak flow this year will be quite early and with the lack of snow, stream will likely be high only a short time.


When would you estimate peak flow will be this year?
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby tim » Mon May 05, 2014 5:11 pm

manbartz wrote:
Wandering Daisy wrote:Peak flow this year will be quite early and with the lack of snow, stream will likely be high only a short time.


When would you estimate peak flow will be this year?


See for yourself here: http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/awipsProducts/RNOHFSSPK.php
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby Bluewater » Mon May 05, 2014 11:29 pm

I've been reading this thread since the beginning. I haven't had anything to contribute, but I recently did a trip along the west ridge overlooking Deadman Canyon. Maybe these photos will give some idea of the current snow levels, especially on Elizabeth Pass. These are from 04/21. I hope this helps. Have a fun trip.

glacier ridge pano 91.JPG


This is looking north up Deadman Canyon, taken from the top of the ridge to the northeast of Lonely Lake.

dead man canyon 2.JPG


This is Glacier Ridge (not Glacier Divide)

glacier ridge pano 81.JPG


IMG_8186-PANO.jpg
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby oldranger » Tue May 06, 2014 6:37 am

Franklin…

The snow you see in the Elizabeth Pass and Horn Col pic will still be there in a few weeks.
The pic down Deadman shows lower Ranger Meadow to be snow free but you can't see Elizabeth Pass from there. So you can't make a judgement until you get to Upper Ranger which is about even with
Big Bird Lake but a few hundred feet lower. The s. side of Elizabeth should be snow free, barring a significant storm within a day or two of your arrival. If you choose to do this trip you will want to start over Elizabeth as early as possible if it is too icy be patient and wait for the snow to soften a little, then move as fast as possible so you don't have to posthole. Also be alert to the possibility of temperature gradient snow. There could be a breakable crust on the snowpack with temperature gradient snow underneath. You will recognize this condition when you hear a "woof" sound then the sound like sand pouring out of the back of a truck. If I heard that noise I would not enter any steep terrain as there is a potential for triggering an avalanche. This is a very rare condition in the Sierra, I have encountered it only one time, but it can occur at high elevations in low snow years like this.

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