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TR: Pear Lake ski hut, Apr 25-27

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TR: Pear Lake ski hut, Apr 25-27

Postby tim » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:26 am

The weather forecast for Friday was poor and the reality was even worse, with the snow starting around 7am when we left John Muir Lodge to head over to Sequoia (we were fortunate to reach Wuksachi for a good breakfast before the road was closed). The snow was getting heavier as we packed up and we finally got underway at 9.30am.

Heading out into the snow

There had clearly been no snow whatsoever most of the way up the hump before Friday morning, but it was getting deeper as we went: 3-4 inches had fallen by the time we got to the top. With the old snow as well, and drifts up to 12 inches in places, I was glad to put my snowshoes on, and even happier that I had knee length gaiters. There had only been one other car in the car park and there were occasional footprints and later ski tracks to follow, but both us and the other group got lost trying to find the route up from Emerald Lake to Pear Lake (we later found out they had taken the low route and gone up to the hut from below). After a few anxious moments contemplating whether we'd be spending the night in the one unlocked toilet at Emerald Lake, as the weather deteriorated and the wind picked up, we finally found the path round the side of the hill - we'd been a couple of hundred feet too high. We arrived at 3.30pm completely exhausted and glad to find a roaring fire and hot tea.

As it turned out there were only four of us there for the weekend (us 2 out of our original group of 4, plus the other couple who were originally in a group of 6) so there was plenty of room in the hut. The hut keeper, Major, turned up around 6pm and said it was his longest trip in of the season (4 hours compared to the 6 it had taken both us and the other couple). He also had spare beer he'd not managed to drink, which he was happy to share with us. He headed down the next morning on his skis and set some tracks which would make the route much easier to follow.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, although some mist was floating up the valley. We decided to head up to Matterhorn Peak and it was exhausting breaking trail through what was 12-18 inches of fresh snow. After 2 hours we reached Matterhorn Peak and a great view over the Tablelands, but decided there was no way we wanted to spend another 2-3 hours breaking trail to the Moose Lake viewpoint. As others have reported, there's a lot more snow above 10000ft than last year. So it was quickly back down for a restful afternoon in the hut. Though the mist stayed around most of the afternoon, it cleared by dinnertime and the sunset was beautiful.

Sunny morning

Matterhorn Peak

Breaking trail

On the ridge to Matterhorn Peak

Beautiful sunset

Hut at sunset

Sunday morning we headed out early, with the other couple (who were on skis) going first and us then following the tracks - as we were the last visitors of the season to the hut, we didn't feel too bad about using our snowshoes in the ski track. The few times we did have to break trail it was pretty tiring as the snow was getting heavier as the weather warmed up.

Leaving early Sunday

Emerald Lake

Heather Lake

Below the hump there was snow all the way to the car park but it was melting very quickly and we had to avoid the drips from the trees. Even at Wolverton (7200ft) there had been 10 inches of snow on our car and the snow level was around 5000ft. But I'd expect this week's warm weather to melt almost all the new snow below 9000ft by the next weekend. On the other hand, it'll be snow travel for a while yet in the high elevations.

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Re: TR: Pear Lake ski hut, Apr 25-27

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:02 am

Thanks Tim for posting this cool TR. Great to see a high usage area blanketed in spring
snow, quite and peaceful, for a few more months before it becomes a zoo.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:
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Re: TR: Pear Lake ski hut, Apr 25-27

Postby SSSdave » Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:37 pm

Enjoyed the read Tim. Thanks for taking the time to craft up a story, appreciated. I had considered driving down to Giant Forest for the weekend after snow storm event but opted instead for the shorter drive for this person to Yosemite Valley that worked out well.
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