Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm | High Sierra Topix  

Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby quentinc » Mon May 16, 2011 3:00 pm

After contenting myself with semi-desert backpacking for the last several months, I felt like I finally went on a "real" backpack." On Friday, I headed up with a friend to hike along the PCT as far north of Kennedy Meadows as we could get in a 1-1/2 days without hitting major snow.

After telling my friend that the looming clouds on Friday afternoon meant nothing ("it only rains when the clouds hit the crest"), it proceeded to rain on us for over 2 hours in the late afternoon/early evening. We found a nice protected site just south of the Kern River (by the footbridge near Monache Meadows), so setting up wasn't too traumatic.

Saturday was sublime. My friend headed back to camp when we reached about 9,800 so I was free to do any type of crazy exploration I wanted. Because of a bum steer (no pun intended) that I got from the one person we saw during the three days, who crept up on me unnoticed as I prepared for a split break, and then shouted "hey" in a voice about 10 times louder than needed (he was just saying "hi," it turned out), I veered off from the PCT to the east. The trail was pretty much covered with snow, but I would have proceeded further to the west had it not been for this "tip." This led to a saddle at about 10,600, with the following view:

Image

Realizing where the actual PCT saddle really was, I tried traversing west, but ran out of time just before I reached it. On the way down, I was able to follow the PCT quite easily (contrary to
warnings), and it was quite beautiful.

Image

Image

So around 2:30 on Sunday morning, me and my friend peer out from our respective tents to see snow falling. It took me a while to believe what was happening (we were at 7,800 feet), but I assured him not to worry, it would all be melted in the morning. So this is what it looked like in the morning:

Image

Luckily, my friend (who has limited backpacking experience) took this all in stride.

Image

However, he didn't go for my suggestion that we head x-country toward the Crag Creek slot that the PCT threads. So instead, I let him try to follow the PCT with its inch covering of snow. After about a mile of heading in the wrong direction (it turned out to be a different trail the veered off from the PCT), I persuaded him we needed to revert to Plan A. Beck Meadows was quite a sight:

Image

And it was cold:

Image

However, by about noon, things started to clear, and the rest of the hike out was easy. By the time we reached the sunny sage brush of Kennedy Meadows, it was hard to believe we had been in the midst of a snow storm just hours before -- particularly when trekking through the very ample burned areas:

Image

The wild and scenic So. Fork of the Kern:

Image

Sage brush meadows:

Image

Barring further meteorological disaster, I'll be back next weekend (heading up from Sage Flat) to see how much further on the PCT I can get!



User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby maverick » Mon May 16, 2011 3:25 pm

Looks like a fun trip Q, thanks for posting it.
I like the icicle shot! How cold was it during the day time?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8049
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby gary c. » Mon May 16, 2011 7:42 pm

It looks like we were not too far from each other but I was much closer to my truck when the snow came. Thanks for posting your report and pictures.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
User avatar
gary c.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 999
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:56 pm
Location: Lancaster, CA
Experience: N/A

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby Cross Country » Mon May 16, 2011 9:25 pm

I've done LOTS of BP but you're definitely more hard core than I ever was. Good for you.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby slade » Tue May 17, 2011 6:08 am

Thanks for the report. Loved the pictures. I'm headed there May 28.

If you were at 10-6 south of Olancha (Peak or Pass), you definitely were off the PCT.

A friend took a small group from Sage Flat up to Olancha Pass last week before the storm. There was snow near and on the pass, such that one of his group didn't want to continue, so he returned them all to Sage. He thought it to be easily passable, though.

My crampons and ice axe are already packed, but will be surprised if the axe is needed. I figure if there is snow on the PCT, it will be pretty well stomped down between Kennedy Meadows and the Olancha Pass Trail junction. From there we may have to slog through some snow to and over the pass.

I look forward to hearing (and seeing?) how you do this coming weekend. Thanks again.
User avatar
slade
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:45 am
Location: Las Vegas NV
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby quentinc » Tue May 17, 2011 3:09 pm

Mav -- it didn't feel all that cold except for when the wind blew (which was all morning), but when we got back to Kennedy Meadows (elev. 6000) at about 6pm, my car thermometer said it was 35.

Slade -- Thanks for the beta on Olancha Pass. I'm not surprised -- we really didn't hit any significant snow at all until about 9,800. The PCT saddle I was aiming for (southwest of Olancha) is at 10,540. I think I was a bit higher than that when I headed up to a saddle just to the east. I was hiking in Gortex trail runners and gaiters, and had ski poles, all with no problem. I'll be sure to report if I head up there this coming weekend.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby sparky » Tue May 17, 2011 9:48 pm

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
User avatar
sparky
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 880
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:01 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Brief TR -- Southern Sierra Snow Storm

Postby rkelty » Tue May 24, 2011 5:49 pm

Thanks for the post(s)! Some of us are still getting this years thrills vicariously.
User avatar
rkelty
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 5:38 pm
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 7 guests