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Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

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Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby softscientist » Sun May 04, 2014 10:56 am

Hi, I'm a level 3 backpacker, exploring the Sierras for decades, mainly on trails, some peaks and many passes, not terribly fond of river crossings or dubious snow. I wanted to get out for a very early backpack the week after next. I understand there's snow at 9000 feet around Mammoth. I live in LA, and want to get a feeling of springtime, since there was a pretty short one here. Any advice for 3-4 night loop or out and back, west sierras I presume? Wondering about approaches to the Kern River Valley. Thanks!



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Re: Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby tim » Sun May 04, 2014 2:30 pm

Roads End to Paradise Valley would be perfect right now if the weather stays decent. The road is open but this year before Memorial Day weekend there are no services at Cedar Grove. You should be able to do a day hike to Castle Domes Meadow without too much of a problem as last weekend's snow should be largely gone below 8000ft.
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Re: Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby balzaccom » Sun May 04, 2014 9:55 pm

The nice thing about springtime is that you can pick your elevation and chase the flowers as they bloom higher and higher. The less nice thing is that snow is still quite a possiblity in any forecast.

Right now 4000-5000 feet has lots of flowers in the central Sierra...so plan accordingly
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby AlmostThere » Mon May 05, 2014 7:41 am

We day hiked and fished at Paradise yesterday. There were a ton of backpackers up there. Also lots of bear poop.

There are bear lockers, which should be used, and a privy, also should be used, and designated campsites. Please bring something to haul quantities of water to douse your campfire thoroughly should you have one. People do not do this well enough and it is very disturbing in this dry year to walk up to a smoldering, or even lit, fire that is clearly abandoned.

We went up in the morning and came back in the late afternoon, which much improved the experience of walking the last two miles on decomposed granite back to the car - that section has always roasted me to a crisp in the mid afternoon with all the exposure and full sun.

There were tons of Indian Paintbrush and other flowers almost ready to bloom, and the snow is nonexistent - the river is running well but disappointingly low as compared to regular snow years. The trout are small and you cannot keep rainbows, no bait, barbless hooks are required - but we caught brook trout as well and those can be kept.

Careful if you go in the river, the current is VERY fast and VERY strong, and the strainers (piles and piles of logs) at the end of Paradise Valley are deadly. In fact - don't go in the river if you can't read the eddies and currents to know where the current is. Stick your head or feet in, and stay safe. It's quite cold.

When you get to Mist Falls, look up and right for the falls high on the granite - the snowmelt is streaming out of Gardiner Basin. Snow is visible on the peaks around, and will get a recharge this week, so should still be visible by the time you get there. There's a 70% chance of snow up there this week, but it will melt fast.
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Re: Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon May 05, 2014 1:08 pm

AlmostThere wrote:We day hiked and fished at Paradise yesterday. There were a ton of backpackers up there. Also lots of bear poop.

Did you stay at Sentinel? And was it full? Thinking of heading up there the weekend of May 16-18, and I'm not sure what to expect (though I'm hoping the whole no services thing will keep most people away).
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Re: Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby SSSdave » Mon May 05, 2014 3:34 pm

Probably your best bet on a backpacking trail with wildflowers is north of Kernville along the Kern where at the trailhead at 3.7k park before the road climbs out of the canyon.

Otherwise unlikely to see many wildflowers on usual summer backpacking trails this early in May above 6k despite the drought. Most species will stay dormant despite lack of snow and note there was lots of snow above 5k a week ago that took a few days to melt.

At the Yosemite latitude peak now is about 3k with minor numbers of flowers about the valley floor at 4k. Was up to 6200 feet in Little Yosemite Valley Saturday and there were a few species like phlox and snow plant just coming out but most plants were just little herbs yet to bud. Even El Capitan Meadow at 4k had few flowers with just short grasses. Previous weekend shot a few early bleeding heart near Fern Spring. In the next few weeks will change rapidly.

Saturday along Grouse Creek about 5k, A6000 SEL30M35:

Image
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Re: Trip Advice: In Search of Wildflowers and Granite May 12

Postby AlmostThere » Mon May 05, 2014 5:13 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:We day hiked and fished at Paradise yesterday. There were a ton of backpackers up there. Also lots of bear poop.

Did you stay at Sentinel? And was it full? Thinking of heading up there the weekend of May 16-18, and I'm not sure what to expect (though I'm hoping the whole no services thing will keep most people away).


i didn't stay anywhere - we were day hiking. the 8 or so backpackers we saw came out of Paradise, doubt they got farther in flip flops.
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