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Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

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Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby Thebrenner » Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:40 pm

I'd like to do a 3 night trip starting from Bear Creek diversion to lake Italy, Thursday sept 25 thru Sunday 28th. I know the timing is right on the weather cusp and the weather seems to be cooling down, so I'm on the fence. So my question is this..... Given that the weather is on the cusp would you do this trip? I know there was another thread about going to lower elevation this time of year but that was with kids. I'm solo and experienced and safety is important to me! My other idea was going to the Kern Plateau out of Kennedy meadows.....but then I thought if it was too cold up at lake Italy I could always drop back down to bear creek and explore. I hope this thread is not too redundant. Thx so much!



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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby oldranger » Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:08 pm

If I were in California and had the ability to make a last minute go/no go decision and the national weather service gave me a three day buffer of good weather past my exit day I would go for it. Also their temperature spot forecasts are usually within 5 degrees for about 3 days beyond the date of the forecast. Any less of a buffer and I would not choose such a remote destination and TH. (But of course I'm an old fart and pretty conservative) Another thing to remember is that to the best of my memory snow has never fallen and stayed in the Sierra before October 15. So if snow were to fall in late September or early October and you are in the backcountry wait a couple and walk out after the snow melts. Be sure an take a good book as the nights are longer than the days.

Mike
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby The hermit » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:37 am

I wish I could be out there this weekend. I'm waiting until next weekend to leave from north lake and go north on the shr. Weather Should be nice for a few more weeks. My new plb adds peace of mind
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby seanr » Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:36 am

Yeah, based on what weather.gov is currently forecasting, I'd go, but bring whatever it takes to keep me warm if temps never rise above 30s and 40s. I'm sure you'll be doing daily checks of the forecast between now and then to see if storms become a factor. This guy will mention it if a notable storm becomes likely: http://mammothweather.com/howards-forecast/
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby kpeter » Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:39 am

Just watch the weather very carefully, carry cold weather gear, and turn around at the first sign of bad weather.

Charlie Hench's infamous trip to Italy Pass was Sept 17-22.
http://www.intrepid-optimist.com/content/lost-mountains

He would have been fine, though, had he stayed put at Lake Italy until after the storm abated, waited for the snow to melt, and then reversed course, just as Oldranger suggests. But he foolishly decided to try to make it over Italy Pass after the storm had started.
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby paul » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:44 pm

The Oldranger hits it right on. 3 days is the longest I would trust the forecast , and even then I would have my eyes wide open all the time and be ready to bail if something comes in. Getting up to Lake Italy from Bear creek there is only one tricky bit where the trail up the Hilgard Branch is heading southeast, then turns and goes due east through goes through a narrow spot in the canyon. Anywhere higher than right where the trail is pretty near impassable (below it you are in the creek). No problem at all in good visibility, but in a snowstorm you could get in serious trouble there. So if in doubt below that, don't go all the way up; if in doubt above that, stay put until the storm peters out.

For me I wouldn't like that trailhead in the fall because if there was a storm you could get stuck on the east side of Kaiser Pass for a while.
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:29 pm

I don't have too much to add except that I do not expect a late Sept storm to be wet and cold enough to close Kaiser Pass (temporarily) so I think the "escape" once you reach the car is OK. As other have said, checking the weather right up until you go is key. If the report predicts anything remotely dicey as of the evening before your take off, I'd call the trip off. This is all 'west-facing' trip that won't put you on the other side of a high pass from descent to lower and warmer temps. You just have to make sure you don't wait too long to bail out if the conditions start to change.

As of NWS forecast (1315 PDT Sunday) the furthest they forecast is next Sat (9-27) when they forecast a big drop off in temps to a high of 41 at 11k elevation with gusty winds. If the updated forecast as of the day before your takeoff says wet as well as cold, I'd call the trip off.

Like many folks I have tended to do my trips to high and remote places only as late as the weekend after Labor Day weekend, after which I would aim for less remote places, so as to minimize the chances of getting stuck far in the backcountry during a change in weather. I have experienced some exceptionally cold snaps during September, although not with a huge amount of snow (coldest trip I experienced at this time of the year was in Little Lakes Valley (9/20-21/1986) when the highest afternoon temp was well below freezing).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby rlown » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:39 pm

As of NWS forecast (1315 PDT Sunday) the furthest they forecast is next Sat (9-27) when they forecast a big drop off in temps to a high of 41 at 11k elevation with gusty winds. If the updated forecast as of the day before your takeoff says wet as well as cold, I'd call the trip off.


Season is pretty done. don't risk it. the only caveat i'll raise here is if you know about winter camping and are carrying skis or snowshoes and expect something will hit, then, ok, maybe..
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby seanr » Sun Sep 21, 2014 3:43 pm

:wink: Yeah, things can change fast this time of year. Do you enjoy 20's, 30's, and 40's with gusty winds? On the plus side, major road issues are unlikely and calling the season over is a wager and personal preference more than a guarantee. Keep watching the weather and have a lower backup trip with good forecasts if possible.
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby richlong8 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:29 am

I got back last night from a weekend trip over Kearsage Pass down to the 10,400 level on the west side of the Sierra. Temperatures were cool, and quite breezy, and we had a thunderstorm with lightning and rain start about 8pm, but it really was not that big of a deal. I don't consider it too late to be in the HIgh Sierra, assuming you are well equipped, and have an exit plan. The Kern Plateau hiking season lasts even longer, depending on the trailhead you hike out of. Kennedy Meadows(6000'approx.) can still be downright hot this time of year. Blackrock trailhead starts you out at about 9000', and is another option. For that matter, I think accessing GTW from Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass, or Mulkey Pass are great viable options this time of year. I might see you this weekend as you are returning. I am thinking about hiking up Bear Creek myself this weekend, but only as far as the area where the diversion dam trail intersects the JMT, or somewhere thereabouts. Unfortunately, I will have to start hiking at the road, my Civic is too low to the ground to make it to the trailhead.
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby astrogerly » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:28 am

My advice would be to "just be prepared for anything"! We just got back from an overnight trip to Pear Lake. We were planning to go to Moose Lake, but we noticed cold downdrafts starting early afternoon on Saturday. Turns out camping at Pear was the best move as it started hailing around 6:30pm... and I don't mean little hail. It was up to golf ball size hail... and it put two holes in our Copper Spur tent! Post storm was stunning with the accumulation and rainbow(s)! That being said, we did Precipice Lake two years ago mid-October and it was splendid weather. Just be prepared, have backup plans and know when to call it.
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Re: Trip Advice too late in season for lake Italy?

Postby SSSdave » Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:23 pm

Forecast is now looking like snowflakes just a bit to the north. Good for a lead in week to fall leaf season.

NWS Reno:

...TIMING DIFFERENCES STILL
EXIST BETWEEN THE EC AND GFS REGARDING HOW FAST THE UPPER LOW
DEPARTS THE REGION WITH THE GFS MAINTAINING A FASTER DEPARTURE.
LITTLE CHANGE IN THE FORECAST BEYOND FRIDAY BUT STILL EXPECTING A
PERIOD OF SHOWERS TO PERSIST AS THE COOLER TEMPS ALOFT PROMOTE
INCREASED INSTABILITY. WHETHER THE BEST POTENTIAL FOR PRECIP EXISTS
FRIDAY OR SATURDAY WILL NEED TO BE FURTHER REFINED BUT SEEMS THE GFS
HAS TRENDED MORE TOWARDS THE EC WITH A SLOWER DEPARTURE. SOME
PRECIP COULD OCCUR IN THE FORM OF SNOWFALL FOR AREAS ABOVE
8000-9000 FEET WITH 700MB TEMPS COOLING AS MUCH AS -2C. BEYOND
SATURDAY, MOST MODELS EJECT THE LOW AND WE SHOULD BEGIN A GRADUAL
WARMING AND DRYING PATTERN INTO THE START OF NEXT WEEK. FUENTES

Mammoth:

.THURSDAY...BREEZY. PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS 69 TO 79.
.THURSDAY NIGHT...BREEZY. PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF
SHOWERS. LOWS 34 TO 44.
.FRIDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS. HIGHS
61 TO 71.
.FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
LOWS 27 TO 37.
.SATURDAY THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A SLIGHT
CHANCE OF SHOWERS. HIGHS 58 TO 68. LOWS 25 TO 35.
.MONDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS 63 TO 73.
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