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Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

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Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby cdib » Sat May 07, 2016 2:50 pm

Hi all,

Looking for a bit of advice regarding a trip I was thinking of doing this June. I was planning on leaving around June 12 to do a loop through the Hoover Wilderness. Starting from Twin Lakes, spending the first night at Crown Lakes. Then, going over Mule and Burro pass to meet up with the PCT, spending the second night somewhere around there. Third day to Benson lake. Fourth day to Peeler Lake. Then back to Twin Lakes on Day 5.

My question is - is mid-June too ambitious for someone without a lot of experience with snow travel? The majority of the trip would be below 10K feet but since we actually have snow in the Sierra this year - I'm wondering if anyone has any idea what amount of snow to expect?

Thanks



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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby balzaccom » Sat May 07, 2016 6:33 pm

I haven't been up that way this year, but you are crossing at least three passes over 10,000 feet, and the snow level is around 7500-8,000 feet right now.

The toughest part will be the north side of Mule Pass as it drops down towards Crown Lake. That is quite steep, and will probably still have a good amount of snow on it.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat May 07, 2016 8:11 pm

I did a similar trip June 25-29 2008, a 100% snow pack year. Day 1- Twin Lakes TH - Rock Island Pass, Rock Island Lake; Day 2 Slide Canyon via steep slabs north of Bath Mountain, up Big Meadow Creek; Day 3 traverse south to Tullulah Lake, down Wilson Creek to intersect PCT, up Matterhorn Canyon, Day 4 over Burro Pass and Mule Pass to Robinson Lake, Day 5 back to TH. I think the PCT near Benson Lake requires a significant creek crossing. Slide Creek and Matterhorn Creek were not bad to cross. Snow at Rock Island Lake, Burro Pass, Mule Pass (lots). Otherwise not that much snow, but quite soggy - feet always wet.

I think June 12 is a bit early. Depends on the rate of melt from now until then. Do some research on crossings of Piute Creek near Benson Lake and Rancheria Creek. I think one of these is difficult early.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat May 07, 2016 8:15 pm

Also, I have extensive experience on snow- used to do a lot of mountaineering, including Mt Rainier, Shasta, Hood, and numerous snow climbs in the Rockies and Canadian Rockies. Not that you need to be a mountaineer, but you do need to be able to navigate over snow covered trails, be comfortable on relatively steep snow (I did not have any special gear - just trekking poles and I only wore light hikers with a good tread and high gaiters). The most technical part of the route is going down the rock slabs into Slide Creek. Also have to be good at off-trail travel and navigation. If you want to stay on trails and go via Benson Lake, you need to wait until mid-July.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby ERIC » Sun May 08, 2016 9:43 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I did a similar trip June 25-29 2008, a 100% snow pack year.


2007-08 was not a 100% year. It was below average.
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/bulletin120/b120may08.pdf
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 08, 2016 10:00 am

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

This is where I got the information. Perhaps I am reading the chart wrong.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby ERIC » Sun May 08, 2016 10:15 am

No, you're right. I was looking at the May numbers.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby cdib » Sun May 08, 2016 2:32 pm

Thanks for the help everybody. I guess I'll keep an eye on the melt and play it by ear. Might have to change plans to Emigrant.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby Tom_H » Mon May 09, 2016 10:17 am

I am not sure about the trail to Crown Lake, but the trail from Barney Lake to Peeler Lake involves switchbacks through dense manzanita on a very steep slope. In fact, I believe that trail was not built until the 1960s. The original trail climbed due west from Barney Lake to Little Lake (in a summit saddle) and then continued due west into the upper drainage of the South Fork of Buckeye Creek. That was one Gawd awful trail. It is much higher elevation, but not quite as steep as the drop eastward out of Peeler. (The trail is now abandoned and grown over by manzanita.) The manzanita in each area makes the post holing sheer hell when it is covered with spring snow, and if it is still under snow there is no way to tell where the trail is. Now, the snow may be gone by then, I don't know. If it's gone, you're fine. But if you go in there and there is snow, you need crampons, snowshoes with claws on front, ice axes, and mountaineering training/experience, particularly the ability to self arrest with the ice axe.

Let me suggest a nearby alternative. The trail south from Leavitt Meadows is lower elevation and stays at lower elevation for quite a few miles. The snow melts off a good five or six weeks before it does in the heart of Hoover. You can take the trail up Kirkwood Creek, down the North Fork of Buckeye a ways, then turn upstream onto the South Fork. You can also go in at Buckeye Creek Campground and veer onto the South Fork of Buckeye Creek to get into east Hoover. Usually in heavy snowpack years, most of the snow is gone by the beginning of July, except for patches high on southern exposures.

If you descend out of Peeler and there is snow, you can glissade (ski on nothing more than your boots), but you need to be skilled at it and really know how to self arrest with the ice axe. It's like downhill speed skiing (which is quite different than grand slalom.)

Good luck. Be safe. Have fun!
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 09, 2016 3:12 pm

Doing his suggested loop out of Leavitt Meadows adds a lot of extra miles, and cannot be as easily done in seven days. I am not sure this really solves anything.

From Barney Lake you take the same trail to either Crown Lake or Peeler Lake until the trail divides at 9200 feet half a mile northwest of Robinson Lake. It is only 0.7 miles from this junction to Peeler Lake. I have done it with snow, and as long as you cross the snow in the afternoon, you can kick steps. It is not that bad. The trail to Crown Lake is usually snow free earlier but very soggy. You could go over Rock Island Pass to drop into Kerrick Meadow. The trail is on the sunny side of the hill and does not get the snow buildup as does the short section below Peeler. There is no more snow on either of these trails than you would encounter on Burrow and Mule passes. Bottom line, is that any way you go, you will be on snow on the passes in early June. Wait until mid-July, and not the same problem. I personally would be more worried about river crossings. Definitely avoid peak flows and be willing to turn around and retreat if needed.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby maverick » Mon May 09, 2016 5:01 pm

Hi Cdib,

Welcome to HST!

Bottom line, is that any way you go, you will be on snow on the passes in early June. Wait until mid-July, and not the same problem. I personally would be more worried about river crossings. Definitely avoid peak flows and be willing to turn around and retreat if needed.

Don't forget the skeeterz, they will be out in force too in June and July.
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Re: Snow question, Hoover Wilderness, Mid-June

Postby Tom_H » Tue May 10, 2016 11:22 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Doing his (Tom's) suggested loop out of Leavitt Meadows adds a lot of extra miles, and cannot be as easily done in seven days. I am not sure this really solves anything.


I guess we have to disagree on this one my friend. I know you hate that trail due to the sand and the cattle droppings. It is true that it adds miles, however for someone without snow experience, covering more miles on ground that is both flat and dry can be a lot easier than shorter but steeper ascents on snow (assuming snow is still present-which may not be the case). If he has the capacity for doing a lot of miles on flat dry ground, I think it is a viable alternative. I agree that if the destination is the same, the condition of the remaining passes will not change.

1982 saw a very heavy snowpack. I had a Kennedy Meadows to Twin Lakes trip with participants planned. Sonora Pass was still closed and the backcountry reportedly still deep in snow at the end of May. My boss and I flew his Cessna over all of Emigrant and Hoover. Everything was still completely covered except the route from Leavitt up Kirkwood and down Buckeye, which was all snow free. We drove around on Hwy 4 and returned via a just opened Sonora Pass in mid-June. I know that doesn't get him to where he wants to go in the backcountry, but it's the general area. The route does change from a loop to point to point.

Entry at Buckeye is one of my least favorite places, but it does get one into the area with less snow in late spring. So doing a lollipop out of Buckeye might be considered if there is still snow.

Hopefully, though, the snow will be gone and he can execute his original route.
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