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October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

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October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby peninsula » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:56 am

It was one of those trips I would NEVER want to repeat, but the memories, the experience, and the photography made for an adventure of a lifetime.

http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/565602/snowbound-sequoia-national-park-oct-2009.html



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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby freestone » Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:58 pm

Thank you for your report and beautiful pictures. To see the snow fall like that without any wind, in such a remote location too me, is true adventure! The best part is, of course, you are ok.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby peninsula » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:39 pm

freestone wrote:Thank you for your report and beautiful pictures. To see the snow fall like that without any wind, in such a remote location too me, is true adventure! The best part is, of course, you are ok.


Thanks freestone. It was a surreal storm. Walking about the area early in the storm was beautiful! These giant snow flakes would hit the water and not melt, they formed shapes just like a story-book snowflake. With the absolute stillness in the air, it was a very peaceful experience. But then it kept snowing, relentlessly, and the wonder of it all became clouded with insecurity. I'm lucky to have had the experience, but I'm not aiming to ever repeat it! I do want to return to the area again in the fall, it is a beautiful time of year.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby yosemitechris » Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:12 pm

Great story and pix. I sent it on to interested parties. Thanks.

Yosemite Chris
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby peninsula » Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:26 pm

yosemitechris wrote:Great story and pix. I sent it on to interested parties. Thanks.

Yosemite Chris


You are welcome and thank you!
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby maverick » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:57 am

Cool trip report Peninsula, with some great weather for photography, thanks for taking
the time to post it.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby peninsula » Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:57 am

maverick wrote:Cool trip report Peninsula, with some great weather for photography, thanks for taking
the time to post it.

Thanks maverick,

I've always enjoyed your material, too!
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby lostcoyote » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:26 am

peninsula,

i can totally relate.

i was in the big arroyo when that storm hit.

i went in from crescent meadow and made it to kern hot springs. i was going to head north and visit the upper kern basin. a fella at the hot springs who came in from mineral king affirmed the 10 day forcast i did before i headed out. (the 10 day only gave me a 20% chance of rain/snow and i figured it would be a light winter storm like the one that came through a week beforehand)
...and so i decided to head back out.

hiking above moraine lake on the chagoopa plateau, i met two people (male and female) on their way to whitney who said the rangers told them it was a biggie, expecting 5 inches of rain at lower elevations... and so i was glad to have decided to turn back. unfortunately (or fotunately depending on perspective) i did not make it to kaweah gap before the storm hit... so i hunkered down in the big arroyo near the cabin site. those 2 people must have been at or near the hot springs when the storm hit. did you see them? wait, i finshed reading your report... i see that you did meet ted and jennifer. i'll assume they were the ones that came in from the westside.

tuesday was kewl, with light snowfall. at first, i thought there was a bear outside turning over rocks... but i discovered it was snow falling off the trees making a "plod" sound as they hit the ground. i was in heaven. i stayed indoors most of the day and read a book.

then all hell broke loose once the sun went down... as it started to pound rain and sleet ALL NIGHT LONG. i kept batting off the snow from the tent and it in turn, ended up constricting the ditches i made around the tent resulting in water getting under my tent and eventually seeping into the tent (piece of crap stephenson warmlite, even after seam sealing). also, batting the snow off the tent made condensation inside the tent splatter on me which aggravated my attempt to stay dry. i was busy all night mopping up water with my spare t-shirt and my sleeping bag was getting wet. once light began to show at dawn, my jacket was even showing signs of getting wet but i managed. i remember staying focused on keeping the bag on my insulite pads as good as i could to prevent from really getting soaked and into a hypothermic situation.... but at dawn, my legs which were really wet were beginning to shiver. peering outside, i saw that the clouds were getting thinner and so i knew it would break on wednsday - and it did. once the sun came out, i began to dry things out.

it must have rained somewhere between 7-9 inches and the big arroyo was a raging torrent. it flash flooded around 2AM cuz i hear it begin to roar all within a period of like 10 minutes.

here's a slideshow:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12579619@N ... 0497/show/

and a few videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTmSXa1ziNE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2BMDoiM_LU

once i got over kaweah gap, i was really tired from punching through 12"-16"of wet snow every other step. i camped in the snow just south of the gap at a tarn. that's when i saw a rescue chopper fly by. never saw it come back out. upon return home, my wife told me about the 3 lost hikers. the next morning, walking on the snow was much easier... but there were icy sections around precipice lake that slowed me back down as i had to kick my heels into the snow, breaking the hard surface in order to have some traction.

i would not want to experience a monsoon storm like this again.... but looking back, it was quite an experience. in retropect, i should have taken my other tent (northface nebula) which weighs 4 pounds more than the stephensons but it sure does a great job repelling rain, even when waterlogged underneath.

does anyone know what direction this storm came from? it really didn't seem like a cold arctic storm as it was rather warm with the rain & sleet at 9600 feet. when i first noted the storm clouds, they were coming up from the south. that then turned and they were coming in from the west. maybe like a "pineapple express" coming in from the hawaiian islands?
Last edited by lostcoyote on Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:33 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby peninsula » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:35 am

lostcoyote wrote:peninsula,

i can totally relate.

i was in the big arroyo when that storm hit.



Wow! Great pictures, Lostcoyote!

It sounds like you lived the exact same experience as I did only wetter! It will be an experience we can hope to never repeat, but it was a beauty. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby lostcoyote » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:59 am

ge whizz penn, if that storm had not hit, we may have crossed paths cuz i was going to be headed north through junction meadow. then in the upper kern basin, loop back by catching the pacific crest east of lake south america and come back down wallace creek to junction meadow.


okay, so after this one, i want a new tent!!!!!

something lightweight and warm like the stephensons, but really waterproof like my northface nebula which is an 8 pound tent.


anyone have any suggestions????


glad to hear that ted and jenn made it out as well as you. when i was snow camping, i thought that rescue chopper might have been slated for them.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby peninsula » Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:28 pm

I like the MSR tents, I use the Hubba when going solo. I was concerned it might not be warm enough, but it did fine and it is light weight. However, the tent fly will never be the same, it got permanently stretched out by the wet snow!

I got an email from Ted and Jenn. I'm not sure they will ever come back, as Jenn tells me she has a bad taste in her mouth for the experience, although that could change with time. They were camped at Junction Meadow when the storm hit and they got mostly rain just as you. I guess things got pretty wet.
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Re: October Snowstorm, Sequoia National Park

Postby lostcoyote » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:17 pm

anyway, whilst the storm was going on, i SPOTted out "OK" messages to my wife and friends.
there was a period where she did not receive a signal for about 33 hours - and based upon what a few other friends were telling her, she bagan to panic. she called the park rangers and they said to call back when she received the next SPOT signal from me. they had me in the que for a rescue after the 3 hikers.

i have mixed feelings about SPOT now. i bought it this year as an experiment and fun way to track me.... but i discovered that it is not reliable when there are trees (even with a 30% view of the sky) and especially during a storm. only 2/3 of my total messages went through (i did on the average 3 a day).... it was always able to get a GPS lock - the problem is on the transmit (uplink) side.

and so if it is a REAL emergency and you are hurt in a deep forest and can not get to clear open sky, of what use is SPOT when it doesn't have enough signal power to communicate with the globalstar network of satellites?
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