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Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

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Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby J ney » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:36 am

Good catch, Joe! glad you did correct me! Don't want more bad info circulating out there!



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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby Sierra Miguel » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:47 pm

You'll probably get better beta by asking at http://yosemitenews.info. I wouldn't be surprised if someone from that board has been up already.

In lieu of beta: bring microspikes and snowshoes and plan on snow camping. And Tiltill can be a muckfest.

J ney wrote:I was wondering if folks ever use other webcams at similar elevations/regions to scout out conditions (in this case, I'm looking at the Badger Pass webcam in Yosemite). Do you find that these could be reliable or are they recipes for disaster?

I looked at the Glacier Pt. camera for a Johnson Lk. trip in January. It was very different. http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php ... #msg-71698

J ney wrote:I'm also using CDEC to look at snow levels but sometimes having a pretty picture helps

Here's some pretty pictures too: http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/html/map.html
They didn't help.

J ney wrote:Other than calling up the rangers (who aren't always reliable, in my experience)

...because they don't go out there. ;)
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby SSSdave » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:49 am

Wondering the last week how the rest of you evaluate this kind of thing. And not surprisingly no one provided any snow cover or remote snow gauge links as my suspicion has been those who visit our Sierra spring snowy areas just tend to go and then find out after they get there. Years ago that was about all one could do.

Personally as a photographer, I avoid early landscapes still in considerable melt because they tend to be very contrasty given the rising spring Sun altitude and as an old winter skiing enthusiast don't find corn cycle snow particularly aesthetic even early late in the day. Much better are fresh snow scenes during or just after snowfalls. And as a hiker walking with boots on snow tends to be unpleasant whether it is hard or soft.

So as a skier, I've long been all over the labryinth that is the CDEC site and here is a useful page that comes out monthly:

http://www.cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/COURSES

And each of the remote sites can be brought up for current information. Thus with the OP's question go down to the Tuolumne River basin list and note Vernon Lake had a 12 inch snow depth on March 28 consisting of 3.5 inches of consolidated water. SImilarly Beehive Meadow along the trail had 9 inches. What it generally shows is there is a lot of snow about 7.5k but below should melt out by maybe early May if we don't get more storms. And that gets to my next link, a favorite thing for me when considering going up to Tahoe for some powder skiing but which is also useful for knowing where snow remains in the Southern Sierra.


http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/index.ht ... rra_Nevada


Scale may look rather small to know how it relates to any small specific area, like in this case Falls Creek, but believe me I can compare it to a topo and by scaling it up see a lot more than it appears to show.
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:11 pm

I regularly use both those websites. I believe I have posted the links here before. They help but each have their accuracy problems. You also have to read the description of the sensor location if you are going to extrapolate conditions. If the sensor is in a wide open south facing meadow, then that depth is representative of a similar environment. It would not say much about snow within deep timber on a north facing slope. The NOAA snow site is based on satellite data and ground verified with selected sensors (not all or the same as CDEC sensors). I have scaled it up and the resolution is coarse and it is difficult to exactly locate a specific spot. The websites are designed for input in snowmelt runoff models and focus on water content. The location of the sensors are selected to be "representative" of a runoff basin. The depth shown at the sensor itself can also be in error if wind has blow snow up against it. It is all helpful data but not intended for us backpackers! If you have done much early season you know that any one meadow can be bare in one spot and still have 3 feet of snow in other spots. I really find the blogs that the PCT hikers write are just as or more useful as they are reporting snow conditions that they walk through. The PCT hikers usually hit the Sierra early season.
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby SSSdave » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:24 pm

Would expect someone with your expertise would. Obviously the information needs to be considered wisely and when Beehive Meadow shows 9 inches and Vernon Lake 12 inches, only someone ignorant of the way snow depths vary during a spring melt out would expect everywhere in those areas to be about the same depth or that there were not many areas with sunny exposures that were bare rock or conversely areas in shady deep forests facing north where it was twice as deep. So the numbers are merely information to make some crude assessments in. And that information is hugely more valuable than what we had to do 2 decades ago that was go up there and find out. As for making sense of where snow is approxiamtely in the various basins and at what levels, that is readily discernable if one is map savvy. I do the same thing looking at the NWS 1km visible satellite maps that are continually updated hourly as long as it isn't cloudy. Although the difference between snow and barren High Sierra areas is subtle, much is noticeable.

David

Wandering Daisy wrote:I regularly use both those websites. I believe I have posted the links here before. They help but each have their accuracy problems. You also have to read the description of the sensor location if you are going to extrapolate conditions. If the sensor is in a wide open south facing meadow, then that depth is representative of a similar environment. It would not say much about snow within deep timber on a north facing slope. The NOAA snow site is based on satellite data and ground verified with selected sensors (not all or the same as CDEC sensors). I have scaled it up and the resolution is coarse and it is difficult to exactly locate a specific spot. The websites are designed for input in snowmelt runoff models and focus on water content. The location of the sensors are selected to be "representative" of a runoff basin. The depth shown at the sensor itself can also be in error if wind has blow snow up against it. It is all helpful data but not intended for us backpackers! If you have done much early season you know that any one meadow can be bare in one spot and still have 3 feet of snow in other spots. I really find the blogs that the PCT hikers write are just as or more useful as they are reporting snow conditions that they walk through. The PCT hikers usually hit the Sierra early season.
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby kpeter » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:27 pm

This might be tough. The trail from Hetch Hetchy up the switchbacks over to Beehive was mostly in the burn zone. I do not know if the trail has been cleared. I think the trail from Beehive over to Vernon escaped the burn this time.

I did this in the first week of June in a wet year and there were a few patches of snow in the shade in Beehive, but mostly clear until a dayhike high up on Morraine Ridge around 8000.

One thing to keep in mind on this loop is that you must cross Falls Creek. The bridge at the outlet of Vernon can be overtopped and surrounded by dangerous waters early in the season. The odds of that happening are probably lower in a dry year, but if there is a sudden melt when you go you could have a problem there. A woman was swept away from this bridge the day before I reached it that June.
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:46 pm

It is amazing the amount of data that is now available versus the "old days". We used to not even try to find information. We would just go out and see what it was like. Information was word of mouth. I remember doing climbs in areas where there were not even guidebooks. So, I agree, compared to the old days, the CDEC and NOAA websites are a leap forward. And they are useful as long as you realize their limitations.

Personally I would tend to stay away from the Hetch Hetchy area just because of the burn. There are some really great early season backpacks out of Yosemite Valley. This year you should be able to get up to Merced Lake with only a little snow. Going up the Merced River at peak runoff is spectacular. The waterfalls are amazing. I also like the Pohono Trail before Glacier Point Road opens. You do have to walk through some snow but I think the viewpoints of the valley from the Pohono Trail are some of the best. I have left my car at the tunnels, hiked up the Pohono Trail to Glacier Point and then the Panorama Trail and finally the Mist Trail to the Valley. It is fairly easy to hitch back to your car. You can also go up Yosemite Falls and then go over to the top of El Capitan. The North Rim Traverse - Yosemite Falls Trail- and down Snow Creek- usually requires snowshoes early.
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Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby J ney » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:36 pm

Thanks all for the replies... It is great to see the different resources folks use. Certainly it must be remembered that these are just tools and there is not substitute for human eyes and boots on the ground.
In that same thought, I am wondering how severe the fire damage is coming in from HH. It seems pretty bad coming from Eleonor but it looks like the trail from HH was on the fringe.

WD: great tips on the alternates; Merced Lake is my working back-up right now but I'll likely make the call a few days before taking a look at how the weather develops and what I hear here and at other forums.
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Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby J ney » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:37 pm

Image

Wanted to include this as well in case folks haven't seen it... Vegetation severity map.
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:35 am

Given that my primary activity in the backcountry is fishing, if I were in California, and had the time I would head up to Vernon and Laurel in a heartbeat in late April this year. Unless there are more storms the 3 inches plus water in the snowpack that SSSDave mentioned will be gone. Not saying that there won't be some snow on n. slopes below 8500 feet but nothing I couldn't deal with wearing my lightweight hiking boots and hiking poles with tiny baskets. As kpeter noted the most significant hazard will be the potential of high water in Falls Creek if it gets really hot. Also there is always the potential of a foot of snow or significant rain but if the weather forcast looks good then go for it. If the weather unexpectedly changes, adapt. As several people mentioned tiltil valley is not fun early in the season.

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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby tomba » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:24 pm

See viewtopic.php?f=34&t=3791#p68348 in a sticky thread in "Conditions Reports and Information" section for snow depth map.
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Re: Considering Lake Vernon for Late April

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:11 pm

Whoa! Checking the CDEC stations above vernon suggests much more snow than I thought. No problem getting to Laurel or Vernon but it looks like there is significant snow in nw yosemite above 7500 feet. Again I don't consider consolidated, low elevation snow a big deal in the spring. But with warm weather Fall Creek could be a serious obstacle and Till Till will be ugly (in terms of travel).

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