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South Fork of the San Joaquin sierra junipers

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Postby SSSdave » Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:05 pm

After looking at weather information this morning I opted to delay the start of my trip till the forecast storm coming in passes. Current Tahoe forecast is for tomorrow to be increasingly cloudy and breezy as a rather potent low in the Gulf of Alaska pushes into the Northwest and then slides down over the Sierra. At least areas from Tahoe north are likely to see at least some minor precipitation with snow levels starting at 8,000 feet and lowering to 6500 feet into Tuesday. Satellite shows Monday through early Wednesday likely to be mostly cloudy during the period and the jet stream forecast shows it will be rather windy with gusts to 35mph at lake level and 60mph over the passes. Serious photography in wind suks.

I've been in these kind of late May to early June storms in the past and they sometimes do drop a few inches of snow that leaves a bit of snow on the landscape a few days. Although I have winter gear to backcountry ski and camp, its a whole other set of warmer heavier stuff including a 4-season tent that does not include also carrying my view camera gear. So will watch the satellite and forecasts stuff the next couple days. Guessing maybe Wednesday morning will be a better start for my adventure. Nice to not be working in order to massage dates around bad weather. ...David



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Postby SSSdave » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:13 pm

Tioga Pass webcam has been showing a decent dusting of new snow all over the pass area:

http://meteora.ucsd.edu/cap/tioga/tioga_current.jpg

In the Central Sierra some places like Blue Canyon picked up a third of an inch of cold rain while Tahoe remote sites and webcame showed just blustery cold wind with some minor showers. Did notice a 90 mph gust recorded at Mount Rose this morning. A dusting of snow on the Crystal Range might be nice. Satellite shows system is rapidly speeding east so I will be driving up and likely starting my little backpack tomorrow morning though it may still be windy. However winds are forecast to be light on Thursday morning and the air clarity ought to be quite clear. Since the front has cleaned out all the dirty air from the last few weeks that had been stagnant in the Central Valley, the next few days will offer a period of excellent late and early light for photography. ...David
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Postby hikerduane » Wed Jun 06, 2007 5:47 am

Headed to work and the eastern side above Carson City and as far as I can see both directions have snow in the Sierra. Windy, cold. Tahoe area in the 20's they said. Burrrr! Chain restrictions (R1) is all I think on 88. I've got a trip planned with a group in the Bowman Lake area lakes, should be warmer by Friday, Saturday. Good call Dave.
Piece of cake.
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Postby madeintahoe » Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:56 am

David....thought I would post a report...you may have left already. It started snowing here last night at about 10:00.

Most of it is melted off this morning already and it was just a sugar coating of snow what we got at our house..the temp says 33 degrees :eek: :eek: .
I can see Echo Peak and a filtered view of Tallac..looks like a very thin dusting of snow. We have a mix of sun and clouds & there is light breeze

have fun..and you too Duane
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Postby hikerduane » Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:11 am

mit, last count 2 guys, 6 wimmen :unibrow: .
Piece of cake.
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Postby will_jrob » Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:41 pm

After reading glowing reports of Northwest Yosemite, I hiked the Kibbie Ridge trail under gray skies on Tuesday. Woke up Wed. at Boundary Lake to an inch or so of fresh snow. Folks coming up the trail said it had snowed at the trailhead ~5,500ft. Couldn't get a sunny shot of this juniper.
http://flickr.com/photos/treeliner/534800818/in/photostream/
The reports were partially correct, the scenery is great,
http://flickr.com/photos/treeliner/534890717/in/photostream/
but during kayaking season the trail is not deserted. I meet 5 kayakers on the way in, plus a pack train that had dropped another kayaking party at Cherry Creek/Lord Meadows. On the way out, on a Wed., passed another 16! kayakers on their way to run the creek , now that it has optimal flows.Oh, and 1 backpacker, who was accompanying a kayaker. The kayakers were going overnight, so they were hauling their boat and gear for the 10+ miles. The weather was chilly and windy, not what I would prefer while sitting in a cold stream.
Last edited by will_jrob on Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby SSSdave » Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:52 pm

Sunday morning June 10 now. I hiked out by early afternoon Saturday. Wednesday drove up. Snow showers on US50 above Twin Bridges though just dusting the ground. Picked up a permit for 4 nights at the SLT TNF Supervisor's office. Some nice large landscape prints on walls in that modern building. Tahoe did have some sun out while Crystal Range was enveloped in storm clouds. Temperature down at the Fallen Leaf Lake road junction was 38F degrees at midday so occasional blustery squalls of swirling flakes were moving down canyon right onto Tahoe shores. Further up the canyon at the trailhead temp was 34F so shady leafy areas were accumulating a bit. Just one car at the large paved trailhead lot. Last time there was 1984 when it was a jeep road where one could drive further up its stony route.

I used my REI Mercury internal pack I'd bought in spring 2004 for snow camping. I haven't used it much since because of its smaller capacity than my old external Lowe. But worked on some modifications this last week to improve piggybacking of my 22 pound Black Diamond L40 Stone daypack. The Stone contains all my large format camera gear. Never seem to be able to resist bringing up more food than I need on shorter trips. So stopped at the SLT Ralph's market at the Y junction, bought a loaf of Cinnabon brand cinnamon bread and Country Crock "Honey Spead" sweet whipped margerine, and squeezed that into my Ursack. Yum!

Contemplating the small possibility the stormy trough might persist longer than NWS forecasts, I opted to wear my bulky trusty 37 ounce North Face Hydroseal winter parka though could have gotten by with a leaner 3 layer system also down in my pack. Also had chosen my 3-season North Face Slickrock tent instead of my usual summer OR Basic Bivy. Thinking the squalls would be decreasing in the afternoon, and not wanting to get clammy, I gambled not putting on my rain pants, thus exposing my Levis. Fine if the snowing remained light but that turned out to be a poor decision I won't make in the future. Also I could have wore my 12 ounce Marmot rain shell atop my parka in order to keep the outside fabric drier.

Image

A couple miles up the trail, where the trail rounds a rocky rib, the first of three strong snow squalls during my hike in occurred. Thinking about getting the jeans wet, I hid behind a too small sierra juniper for half an hour. Now my rainpants and the rain shell were right at the top of my main pack. Undoing the straps to get them out was a 5-minute task and I would have to take my boots off too to get the rainpants on. A hassle likely to get some of my gear wet since though in a lull, light snow was still falling. Instead I decided to push up the trail hoping to find a more protected grove of dense trees to deal with the gear. Unfortunately I was on a steepish 1000 foot section of the trail, mostly open brush and exposed. Pushing carrying 75 pounds up a steep trail is unpleasant. I stopped at this midway spot for 15 minutes when a second briefer squall hit:

Image

One can see snow now coating all the brush. Was a few inches deep in shady places under trees. However ground temps from weeks of late spring were high enough that snow quickly melted in sunny areas that included most of the trail itself. I should have put the rainpants and rain shell on at that spot. Second poor decision. A modest lull occurred so I pushed more up the trail and by time I reached the top of the steeps, I had tired myself out far more than my usual leisurely pace would have done. Hoping the lull would last, I pushed on to my 4.5 mile destination hoping to reach the area before another squall hit.

An hour later as my weary pace had slowed, the third windy squall hit right near the destination. At one point I had to cross a 20 foot wide stream as much as three feet deep atop a wet 18 inch wide barkless log. Fresh graupel was sticking to the log as I hastily went across with considerable fear of slipping in. That squall had me pinned down for another half hour beneath a quite inadequate tree. Snow piled up atop my pack rain cover. Finally about 6pm, a sizeable blue zone of sky appeared that signalled the end of storminess. In the remote far from trail spot in a gnarly juniper grove I'd expected to camp at, I found a bumpy with small stones spot to set up my tent. Almost every other usual flat spots one might have tented on were water puddles or inch deep piles of snow. Although my blue jeans just picked up some minor dampness, the story could have been much more unpleasant if the storm had not let up. Lessons learned.

The rest of the story? Well Thursday morning under a partly sunny dawn sky, the thermometer inside my tent was a wintery 22F degrees and likely at least a couple degrees lower outside. But plans are plans, and I hoped for some "early light" photos. Well was glad to have my parka. The zone has considerable glaciated metamorphic and granitic bedrock and shattered rock. A white frozen glaze covered all the vegetation and rocks. Walking about the rocky areas was especially precarious. By mid morning the June sun took controll quickly melting back the snow. By Saturday morning when I hiked out, one could hardly tell a dusting of snow had been in the area just a couple days before. Over the three days, I exposed 28 sheets of Provia that I ought to get back from development this Thursday. Sierra junipers? Oh yeah some exceptional specimens and also a few high potential lake reflections. ...David
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Postby madeintahoe » Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:57 pm

David..Thank you for your report! I was wondering what the weather was doing up there for you. Sounds like all was not to bad...Where did you camp at? Kathy and I hiked Dicks Peak on Saturday...I thought maybe we would see you..But I think because we went up the Middle Tallac Trail to Gilmore lake we must have missed you..we were not on the regular Glen Alpine Trail....Yeah did not look at all like it had snowed there a few days earlier.
I will look forward to your pictures :)
That is one heavy Pack you were hauling!
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Postby SSSdave » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:06 pm

After I download raw images off my SD memory cards from my Coolpix, I run:

dir /o:n /s > dir_list.txt

from the trip directory in order to capture the original time and dates of images before I might modify anyin Photoshop that would of course change the modification date/time. Thus from pic times, noticed I passed the Gilmore/Aloha trail junction just beyond the creek crossing about 10:15am or so Saturady. At the time there was a crowd of young hikers planning to hike Tallac waiting for others. Down below the brushy switchbacks, I stopped for about half an hour in a douglas fir grove with a dark shady boulder. Do recall a couple gals passing with a white dog (whippet?) with pink harness maybe about 11:30? Miss puppy was curious about my coming out of the woods from the nearby stream.
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Postby madeintahoe » Sat Jun 16, 2007 9:21 am

Hi David.....it would have been nice to meet you up there....Kathy and I only saw two people the whole day..two guys at Gilmore Lake....we did not see anyone with dogs that day. We got back to the TH at 7:00
My friend called me that evening to tell me there as a rescue on Tallac around 4:00...I guess someone had called and said they were lost either on Tallac or between tallac and gilmore...she did not have the full story on just what happened. :eek:
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