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TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

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TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby KathyW » Sun May 11, 2014 6:51 pm

I packed the axe and crampons, but left the snowshoes in the truck when I headed up the Copper Creek Trail on Friday, May 9, 2014. The weather was beautiful when I started out and I made good time until I hit the snow patches at about 9,500'. The snow was easy at first, but it got harder and harder to deal with. The trail disappeared under the snow; so then it was straight up the hill - it was big drifts, dry patches, and areas with just a little slippery snow until just over 10,000' When I hit 10,300' where I needed to go east to Grouse Lake, it was complete coverage in an area with big boulders and trees; so I kept punching through to the void. About the same time I was struggling to stay on top of the snow, the wind picked up and started blowing hard. That was it for me. It was still early enough to hike back out to where I could sleep out of the wind in the back of my truck. Anyway, the snow is consolidated and you don't need snowshoes unless you end up someplace with a lot of boulders and trees that you can't avoid hiking through later in the day like I did. Getting back out early was nice because I got to enjoy the flowers along 245. A few photos:

http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... /i-LGBPWKG



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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby balzaccom » Sun May 11, 2014 9:05 pm

Ha! We had pretty much the same experience a bit lower in elevation, but further north. We went up the Disaster Creek Trail in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness...and had a couple of hours of lovely hiking, until we got to about 8,000 feet, and then it was just as you described---crunchy snow covering the trail, and getting softer by the second. The wind came up, the temperature never got north of 45, the clouds came over...and we looked at each other as we ate our lunch and decided to head back to our cabin to sleep.

I'm impressed that you got that far up Copper Creek and still made it back down. MY knees would have told me something else entirely,,.

And we also had a series bear tracks to follow for part of the hike through the snow. The bear really knew the trail, too!

We'll get photos up in the next day or two.
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby Shawn » Sun May 11, 2014 10:24 pm

Thanks for the report and photos Kathy (cool shot of the bear tracks). I had been contemplating going up the Lewis Creek trail next week, but it now seems too soon given what you've experienced.

Incidentally, Copper Creek was my second hike into the Sierra. I think it was early June, I ran into snow above Upper Tent Meadow and still recall the frustration marching through that stuff in the afternoon.

Amazing photos of those flowers.
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby Teresa Gergen » Mon May 12, 2014 7:11 am

Kathy, I have only a small bit of experience with Sierra snow. I know it's very different than what we have in CO, with a much higher water content, and that it consolidates much differently and earlier.

I'm hoping to head to the Sierra soon, to climb easier 13,000 ft peaks. I was there in late March and found excellent snow with temperatures not rising above freezing up high during the days. I was there in late April, just before the big storm, and found a mix of good snow and postholing. I can see on the NWS point forecasts that the high temps above 12,000 ft are up in the 50s now, and aren't always reaching freezing at night. I am slow and will definitely be out in it all afternoon. I would expect to be in snowy boulderfields and passing through sections of trees some of the time.

My question is, given your comment above about snowshoes -- in these conditions, if I carry the snowshoes, will they actually work to prevent at least deep postholing? In CO we reach a period of many weeks in spring and early summer where you'll sink through to the ground even with snowshoes on. I will be bringing crampons, axe, and microspikes, as I did in Mar and Apr, and am wondering if the snowshoes would potentially make the difference between needing to turn back or being able to reach summits, or if they'll just be useless weight, and this is just not a good time during your snow transition. And, at this point, will the snow continually get more consolidated, or will it get worse yet before it gets better?

I am thinking of heading in from Dana Meadows over Parker Pass, up McGee Creek toward Red Slate, up Pine Creek toward Pine Creek and Italy passes, in above Tyee Lakes, and/or into the Treasure Lakes areas, over several weeks, if the snow conditions are/stay reasonable.
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby oldranger » Mon May 12, 2014 7:34 am

Teresa

When exactly are you planning on starting in the sierra? Because of the low snow pack conditions on n. slopes at high elevations, 10500 and above, may be similar to what you experience in your area until early june. I opted out of a route that included a steep n. slope above 12,000 that I was planning on taking early on Memorial Day weekend. Southern exposures are likely to be mush in the afternoon where snow is still present.

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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby Teresa Gergen » Mon May 12, 2014 7:57 am

Thinking of arriving there by this weekend or next. Based on what I saw in Mar and Apr, I was thinking I could largely avoid snow on higher S and most W aspects if it wasn't in good condition, since there were already so many bare areas before. I am carefully planning routes that would avoid any slopes steeper than about 30 degrees, especially on N sides, although I'll be on ridges steeper than that, where I also expected to be find more rock than snow.

I am more concerned about hiking in and out in valley bottoms on the approach and return, especially more narrow ones, where I assume the snow will linger?
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby vhsvhs » Mon May 12, 2014 11:48 am

@KathyW - thanks for posting the report and photos!
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby maverick » Mon May 12, 2014 12:18 pm

Thanks KW for the TR and photo's. Conditions are about where reports put them to
be.

Hi Teresa,

Welcome to HST! TR's will be posted in the next several weeks which will allow
you to ascertain backcountry conditions. Instead of carrying snow shoes would recommend
climbing passes in the mid-morning when the snow is still harder but not icy. Temps
are going up this week that will have southern and western facing snowfields even
mushier by mid-day making snowshoes dead weight.
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: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby KathyW » Mon May 12, 2014 5:27 pm

Teresa: I believe snowshoe season is over in most of the Sierra. The snow is consolidated and it's pretty unusual to get stuck in an area like I did late in the day. A lot more snow will melt of in the next week or two; so you'll be even higher up when you're dealing with snow as time goes on. I'm not sure where you would use microspikes - I've never used those. You'll probably be fine with just the crampons for early in the morning when the snow is hard. You'll want the axe if you're going up/down any steep slopes.

Where are you headed? East side or West side? The area you are going to will make a difference.
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Re: TR: Copper Creek Trail - Kings Canyon

Postby Teresa Gergen » Mon May 12, 2014 5:40 pm

Thanks to all of you for your help. I am thinking of starting from Tioga Road at Dana Meadows. Everything else would be on the East side. If I get out there and get anything done, I'll report back.
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