2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Questions and reports related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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copeg
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Dusy/Palisade Basin July 28-31

Post by copeg » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:58 am

Just got back from a trip into Palisade Basin. Less snow than I thought there would be, although there's still quite a bit up there. The highest lake in Palisade basin was still mostly iced over. All other lakes were thawed with a snowfield here and there along their shorelines. Rained every day, Saturday I was tent-bound for 5hrs waiting out the rain - so much so that streams were quite swollen Sunday and Long Lake rose enough to flood parts of the trail (sounds bad, but was easy to get around). Sunday forecast was for the same, and it was poring by 11:30 am

Mosquitos were pretty bad in lower Dusy and along the Bishop Pass trail - higher up in Dusy and in Palisade Basin they were surprisingly tolerable.

Could faintly smell smoke much of the time, although it wasn't visible by way of haze.

Route taken: Bishop Pass into and out of Dusy Basin, Knapsack Pass into out of Palisade Basin

Difficult section encountered: Bishop Pass is mostly snow free, a few easy patches to cross. Knapsack (Dusy side) had lots of snow up its gut, but can be bypassed by climbing to the left (as one ascends) amongst the shelves and boulder fields. Palisade side of Knapsack snow free if one veers to the left (northeast)

Special equipment needed/used: Brought ice axe and crampons, didn't use

Possible alternative routes: Thunderbolt col (Dusy side) still had a considerable amount of snow - Palisade side was relatively snow free.








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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by bmrlight » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:00 pm

Thanks mshields for the great trip report and photos!

I was in the Ritter region the week after you (July 24-29) with my family, including kids age 11 and 13. We did fine with the snow on trails (which was greatest on the JMT between Shadow Creek and Garnet Lake) but were glad to have hiking poles.

We also encountered a lot of snow at Lake Ediza, where we had to cross snow bridges to get to our camp on the west side of the lake. The log bridge on that end was also under water. Between melting snow bridges and larger water flow in the streams, a reasonable amount of caution is in order.

Mosquitoes were in abundance just about everywhere - we ran through a fully spray can of DEET on our 6 day trip!

David

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by apeman45 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:36 am

Just got back from a 4 day trip to Rae lakes via Kearsarge pass. Trail crews have done a great job clearing trees between Onion valley and Rae lakes. Glenn pass in good shape easily passable with hiking poles. Only small patches of snow on south side and 1 well trampled traverse directly on the north side of the pass and a few easily navigated patches down to Rae lakes. Got caught in that monsoon and was 500 feet below the south side of glenn pass when a good bit of lightning and hail pinned us down under our tent rainfly in the boulders on the switch backs. When the lightning moved on we made a run over the pass to set up camp at Rae lakes in the rain. Rained most of the day Saturday and Sunday and after way too much tent time we decided to hike all the way out Sunday. Ran into some southbound jmt ers at Rae who told us that they had 21 straight days of no rain until the storms came - my usual luck. They also said that all the stream crossings were reasonable with common sense but the snow was still substantial on muir pass (about 5 continuous miles) and that mather was still dangerous in their opinion with a steep 1000 foot accent in snow on the north side.

Fishing great in Charlotte and Rae lakes.

We camped 1 night at Charlotte lake and 2 at Rae lakes. Mosquitoes were pretty bad but not as bad as I expected but I have a high tolerance to bloodletting. I think they are close to peaking in Rae lakes area.

Also ran into lots of Rae lakes loop people that reported good conditions for the loop.

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by bikebones » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:31 am

Thanks for the report Apeman. I'm headed up Taboose Pass next Monday and will be spending a week around the Bench Lake area, north and south depending on what I find. Given the amount of snow on nearby Mather pass, it sounds as if my ice ax and crampons will be useful in spots. Appreciate your info!

Jim

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Anyone have current information on Horseshoe meadows to crab

Post by sealog » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:09 am

Hi,
My name is Don Seawater from San Luis Obispo. A small group of us will be backpacking from horseshoe meadows through Whitney portal.
Does anyone know the current conditions or have a guess on September 8-18th? I am only slightly worried about the 100 switchback area on the east side of whitney where the cables are. But I/we haven't been to the miter basin or on that trail, and with this years rain, I wonder!
Best to you, and thank you!
Don

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by apeman45 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:21 am

Hey Don

That's a great trip you have planned. I will be in Miter basin the week of September 4th -10th and not worried about snow conditions at that time at all - on the ground anyway. You should have great weather but anytime into mid September at that elevation be sure to get the latest forecast and be prepared for a snowstorm. I assume you are entering miter around Soldier lake and crossing crabtree pass and then making the long slog up the talus past discovery pinnacle to trail crest? An alternative is to not climb the hill and descend past the Crabtree lakes and rejoin trail at Crabtree meadows / Guitar lake etc. There is a use trail sometimes through miter basin but it is cross country and involves route finding. If you are not aware of this or comfortable off trail then consider staying on the trail through rock creek, over guyot pass and then into Crabtree meadows which is also a fun great hike. You won't save time by going the shorter distance through miter because off trail travel will be much slower.

The passes and Whitney trail will be in great shape barring any crazy weather - like a few days ago. They had to close the Whitney trail briefly on the east side a couple days ago due to a crazy / unusual monsoon storm that washed out parts of the trail and dropped some boulders on the portal road. It's all good now. For everything Whitney and the latest conditions check the message board at whitneyportalstore.com

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by sealog » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:04 am

Thanks a ton Apeman!
We will see you up in the Miter Basin, at skyblue lake probably!?
You described our route well. We will get onto long lake or so on friday for the night, then go over new army pass to soldier lake for saturday, or possibly will go on up a ways into the Miter on saturday and will stay there a couple days for fishing and acclimating.
My plan was then for us to go back down past soldier lake onto the trail that shows soldier lake to rock creek and camp there at rock creek on maybe tuesday night, then up to crabtree meadows and lakes, then up to guitar and to the top of whitney on friday, or down to outpost camp on friday night for return to lone pine on saturday. I can't think of anything else but this, it is like the opening of lobster season used to be for me. Buck fever sounds similar too.
Any advice on fishing in the miter? Or in general? I will be taking a fly rod, and also a spin set up with bubbles, spinners and flies.
Best to you!
Don

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by afisher99 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:33 pm

apeman45 wrote: We camped 1 night at Charlotte lake and 2 at Rae lakes. Mosquitoes were pretty bad but not as bad as I expected but I have a high tolerance to bloodletting. I think they are close to peaking in Rae lakes area.
Sorry about the rain! You said they are close to peaking in the Rae Lakes area... any thought as to when they'll be down? I'll be coming through the area on Aug 21-25. Thanks!

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by apeman45 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Hey Afisher. In a normal year late August would be good for mosquitoes dying off. We are about 3 weeks behind "normal" this year so I would expect late July conditions for mosquitoes for your trip. Select your campsite wisely and be prepared for the buggers in the usual likely swampy areas. Should be much better by then with the usual spike early morning and evening and not much of a problem during the day.

Sea log

I'm a spin fisherman myself. Fly and bubble works well in the lakes. Rock creek is ridiculously easy to catch small goldens with just about anything. 6 inchers max but beautiful and fun to catch. Whitney creek similar with slightly larger fish below the Crabtree meadows camping area. Guitar has decent sized golden hybrids that readily take spinners like panther martins. You may want to try Timberline on the way up to guitar.

As for the miter area you'll have to pm me as this falls into the sensitive information area over on the fishing blog. There is lots of great info over there.

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by sealog » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:28 pm

Great!
Thank you guys so much!
Just so I am able to help as well as be helped, if anyone wants information on lobster diving, or halibut spear fishing, I am your guy!
Best to you!
Don

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