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May Trips?

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May Trips?

Postby nkoski » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:32 pm

I'm looking to go on a trip up to hungry packer lake in about 2 weeks. Does anybody know what the snow level is like up there? And if the lake will be unfrozen by then?



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Re: May Trips?

Postby balzaccom » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:22 pm

I haven't looked up the elveation of that lake, but my guess is that snow levels will be between 7500 and 8000 feet there. Last year we hiked to Bear Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness the last weekend in June. Bear Lake was clear, with snow around the edges, and fine to camp. It's at 8000 feet. Granite Lake is at 8500, and it was completely snowed under and iced over.

And this year has significantly more snow than last year.
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Re: May Trips?

Postby rlown » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:26 pm

nkoski wrote:I'm looking to go on a trip up to hungry packer lake in about 2 weeks. Does anybody know what the snow level is like up there? And if the lake will be unfrozen by then?


If this is Hungry Packer Lk out of Sabrina, that's at about 11,000' In two weeks, yes, it'll still be frozen, and there'll be lot's of snow.
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Re: May Trips?

Postby richlong8 » Sat May 01, 2010 7:01 am

Here's a link for real-time snow sensors that show the snow depth up there.
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/queryF?BSH


This sensor is on the trail to Bishop Pass, @11,200, which is probably similar conditions to Hungry Packer. The snow depth as of May 1 is 79 inches. I hope that helps. I think going in 2 weeks would be a snow shoes or skiing trip. I don't know about the lake being frozen, I would imagine its likely.
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Re: May Trips?

Postby copeg » Sat May 01, 2010 7:51 am

Given the sensor data its likely there will be solid snow cover around above the trailhead, and the lakes higher up frozen. Be prepared to a) traverse over snow (snowshoes or skies may be necessary) and find your route because the trail will most likely disappear as soon as you reach the snow line b) camp and sleep on snow (below freezing temps at night - water bottles frozen in the morning suck) d) melt snow for water (I say this with a grain of salt because if its warm enough you can usually find some water dripping somewhere - but I wouldn't count on it).
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Re: May Trips?

Postby balzaccom » Sat May 01, 2010 5:01 pm

From our Blog:

Is June the new May?

It's been a great year for weather in California. For the first time in four years we have actually exceeded our annual rainfall/snowfall, and as a result it's looking as if the drought may be over---or at least ameliorated this year.

This is cause for a Grand Celebration. In the Cadillac Desert, water is the ultimate luxury.

On the other hand, if you've been holding your breath, waiting to get up into the Sierra to go for a nice backpacking trip...you'd better bring your longjohns, and maybe your crampons. There's a ton of snow up there. 150% of normal. In feet, that means that at about 8,000, there's about six feet of snow.

Last year, at the end of May, we went for a lovely trip up to Bear Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness. That's about 8,000 feet, and while we saw snow on the ground, it was easy enough to find a dry spot to pitch the tent. And I can't remember hiking through any snow patches on that trail. It was wet, and at times muddy, but no snow.

(Granite Lake, tucked into the north side of a mountain at 8,500 feet, was completely snowed in and iced over.)

But this year, I think we're going to have re-adjust our calendars. It could very well be that in 2010, June is the new May, and July is the new June. And for the higher elevations, we might not be able to really get in there until late August or September.

Which is a lovely time of year...but we want to go NOW!
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Re: May Trips?

Postby richlong8 » Sat May 01, 2010 7:53 pm

It could be that this is a good year to go into the Golden Trout Wilderness, and other southern areas, if you want to go in early. I went in last weekend to Domelands, and the South Fork of the Kern was running very hard and fast. The cfs flow was 3x the peak flow at the peak of snowmelt last year, so that gives me a good reference for what we will face this year. I hope to post a few pictures soon. The fishing was very tough, but the few we caught were all good sized browns. I have a trip for Ranger Lakes in SEKI planned for Memorial day weekend, but the question is, will the road to Big Meadow be open that early this year? .....not just whether the trail will be covered with snow
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Re: May Trips?

Postby gary c. » Sat May 01, 2010 8:23 pm

I've been thinking about the GTW for an early trip and watching the snow levels. Kind of surprised at what the levels are at just a short distance apart. I know that exposure has everythig to do with it, but it 's a good example of how a little planning can make a big difference.

Casa Vieja Meadows, elev 8,300, 42" of snow
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/queryF?csv

Tunnel Guard Station, elev 8,900ft, 5.83" of snow
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/queryF?tun
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Re: May Trips?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 02, 2010 3:20 pm

OK, I admit I am one of those engineering types. The statement that there is 150% snow up there, is a bit inaccurate. I just looked at CDEC data. The northern Sierra now is about at 140% "normal", but the rest of the Sierra is 120% (middle) and 110% (south) of normal. The May snow survey is not yet complete. Yes, good snow year but not 150% at this time.

I do quite a bit of travel in the Sierra in late May and June. As long as the snow is consolidated, I do not find that walking on top is that difficult. I take an extra ensolite in case I have to sleep on snow and an ice axe for steeper slopes. June snow is actually quite user-friendly -- usually hard enough to walk on yet you can still kick steps. Streams are another issue, but many nice trips are possible without crossing streams. One place that is really more feasible in a high snow year in June are the White Mountains. I have done several trips from the east side and find the country fascinating. It is tough off-trail travel (LOTS of elevation gain and loss) but really pristine.
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Re: May Trips?

Postby giantbrookie » Sun May 02, 2010 9:38 pm

I would agree that Hungry Packer will likely be frozen until sometime in June. Even in an average year, mid May would be too early there. I have just begun studying the snow pack water content as per the "May 1" measurements (DWR website, comparing current to historical snow course measurements). What I've seen is that this is much bigger snowpack as of the end of April than 2007, 2008, 2009, but a bit less than 2005 and 2006. I am going back over my records to figure out more specifically what this means in terms of when things will thaw out. This won't be 1995 (Mammoth Mtn ski resort open all year), but this was a heavier than average winter. There are not too many High Sierra lakes that will be thawed in May; there will be some, but it is a short list.
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: May Trips?

Postby treadwell » Sun May 02, 2010 11:04 pm

Did the Sabrina Basin the second week of June 2009. Hungry Packer froze overnight and partially thawed during the day. The lower elevation basin lakes were ice free. I doubt you'd find any open water at that altitude in May.

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http://treadwell.smugmug.com/gallery/86 ... 9940_38v6P
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Re: May Trips?

Postby windknot » Mon May 03, 2010 10:47 am

Rich, the woman in the SEKI permit office told me this morning that they are pretty much as in the dark as we are regarding snow conditions and road openings. She gave me the number for the Forest Service (559-338-2251) to inquire about when the Big Meadows Road might open and said that CalTrans may also have information.

CDEC snow water content for Rowell Meadow looks to be about the same as 2008, a bit higher than 2009, much higher than 2007 (this was a year for very early thawing lakes in the southern Sierra), but significantly lower than 2005 and 2006. I think the bigger issue in terms of access will be the road opening. It would be neat if SEKI had a page showing historical opening and closing dates of park roads similar to Yosemite's page displaying when Tioga Pass Road has opened each year.
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