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Reds Meadow Blowdown

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Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby intrek38 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:46 am

Just had this sent to me and was unaware of it. I'd figure I spread the word for anyone else headed to this area over the summer. A lot of reading and the link at the end gives more details.
I'm planning on hiking off trail down from Duck Lake to Fish Creek and surrounding lakes, but may have to reduce some mileage depending on the damage. I have a few alternate routes to choose from but crossing fish creek shouldn't be a problem anymore. Still trying to find a general map of the affected area's.
This is probably gonna impact a lot of the JMT/PCT hikers but then again, isn't that why we do it.
Spread the word..

AN UPDATE ON REDS MEADOW WIND STORM DAMAGE

U.S. Forest Service Release Date: Feb 9, 2012 Bishop, CA

Contact(s): Nancy Upham

Last November 30 a ferocious wind toppled thousands of trees in the Middle Fork San Joaquin River watershed of the Inyo National Forest. The tangle of downed trees looks like a giant’s game of pick-up sticks. The forest damage occurs in patches, from Island Pass all the way down to Fish Creek, and throughout the Reds Meadow valley.

In Reds Meadow valley hundreds of trees are down in campgrounds, picnic areas, trailheads, and access trails. Extensive clean-up work is needed to remove downed trees and to repair the roads, trails, utility lines, restroom buildings, picnic tables, and food storage lockers damaged by fallen trees. “This is uncharted territory to deal with damage of this magnitude,” observed Deanna Dulen, Superintendent at Devils Postpile National Monument.

What caused all of this damage? Did the jet stream touch down? No one knows with certainty, but scientists and researchers are very interested in the study of this wind storm.

Perhaps more importantly, many who live here and visit this area are interested in enjoying camping, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding in Reds Meadow and Devils Postpile, just as they have every summer for many years. The question on everyone’s mind seems to be how will this damage affect recreational opportunities for the coming summer season?

“Our goal is to open as many of the Reds Meadow valley recreation sites and trails to the public as soon as is feasible and safe,” stated Jon Regelbrugge, Mammoth District Ranger. Inyo National Forest and Devils Postpile National Monument staffs have been working on an inventory of damages, and a strategic plan to complete clean-up and repair work. The strategic plan will identify steps to complete work as quickly as possible, in a manner that will have the least impact on public use this summer.

By taking advantage of the lack of snow, some clean-up work was accomplished in December and January. The Inyo National Forest, Devils Postpile National Monument and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area partnered in this effort. The downed trees have been removed from Reds Meadow Road, Reds Meadow Campground, Rainbow Falls trailhead, and the Ranger Station area and Postpile trail.

The remainder of clean-up and repairs will commence as soon as snow melts and the area can be accessed for work. Recreation sites and trails in the southern portion of Reds Meadow valley will most likely open to the public first, because this is where the snow usually melts the earliest. Campgrounds and overnight facilities expected to be open first include Reds Meadow Campground and Reds Meadow Resort. The trails to open first are expected to include Rainbow Falls, Devils Postpile and Fish Creek trails. The earliest day use sites expected to open would be Sotcher and Starkweather Lakes, and the Ranger Station and picnic areas at Devils Postpile. We expect that the public will be able to use these areas while work is being conducted to open other recreation sites.

Two important variables in regards to the clean-up efforts and damage repair are the weather and funding for the work that needs to be done. The timing of winter storms and snowmelt will dictate when clean-up work can be completed. The extent of the storms and the timing of the snowmelt can’t be predicted, which means that an exact date for opening Reds Meadow valley is not known. Both the Forest Service and the Park Service have applied for special funding for clean-up efforts, and are waiting to hear if those funds will be awarded. The Inyo National Forest and Devils Postpile National Monument will continue to share updated information about summer recreation in Reds Meadow valley as clean-up work continues. For updates regarding the damage and clean-up efforts please go to the Inyo National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.



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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby gdurkee » Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:23 am

I keep hearing assorted reports of that blow down. It was from the November (?) wind storm. We got hammered here (east of Modesto at 4,000) but it didn't sound as if it went much farther south on the west slope. Does anyone know the rough north/south extent on the east side?

George
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby markskor » Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:56 am

“The forest damage occurs in patches, from Island Pass all the way down to Fish Creek, and throughout the Reds Meadow valley.”

Notorious wind-shear area… Not so much concerned with the usual Reds Meadow motor haunts, as plenty of underpaid locals will invariably clear the roads and campsites down there soon enough. Too much rides on the tourist dollar/ short summer season – plenty of incentives to get these open ASAP. Those high-dollar Winnebago’s have to go play somewhere…Should be firewood aplenty too. (IMHO, that lower area needed some thinning out anyway.)

Major concern though will be with trails (River Trail, Golden Staircase, JMT, etc) leading out of Reds and up to higher elevations. BTW, 1000 Island Lake access from the South could be a royal pain this year.

The PCTers should let us all know…in about a month’s time.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:43 am

I heard about this in February when I was in Bishop and watching the local news on TV. A pretty big story for such a small area. They certainly talked about it a lot.

This sounds like a mico-burst storm, similar to the one that happened on Rock Creek in Montana a while back. A very short, intense storm, and like Markskor said, with a lot of wind-shear. The one on Rock Creek blew down thousands of trees, crushing a few cars, closing the road for weeks, but fortunately no one was hurt. Having been there and seeing the aftermath, even a few years later, is very impressive and humbling stuff, kind of like the area due east from Mt. Saint Helens.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby gary c. » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:40 pm

When I was getting ready to reserve my permit last week for the Duck Lake Trail I ran into this problem. There is quite a few links on the Inyo Forest site. I ended up calling the main office in Lone Pine and they forwarded me to the Mammoth office. The woman that I spoke to was trying to be very helpful and I would suggest anyone interested calling there for the most up to date information. She said she had ariel photograghs that she pulled up to look at. She also had notes that said the areas between Purple Lake and Fish Creek had severe trail problems along with some other areas. When I tried asking questions about trail conditions for late July she handed me off to a man that delt with the trail crews. He really was not able to give me much to go on. Naturally he said the snow melt would have an impact on when the crews would have access and funding is going to be another proplem. He said that the most popular and accessable trails would be the first worked starting from Reds Meadow. When I said that I assumed that included everything all the way to the Donahue Pass he said yes but that the Duck Lake Trail is also very popular and would be high on the maitenance list. He told me that I should just call back and try to follow the progression as things unfold. He also suggested that I go ahead and get my permit since we will be taking the high trail heading for Silver Pass.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:01 pm

I wish I was going to the annual project of clearing trees around Red's Meadow led by Bill Carter out of Bishop. I hear there are 10 foot high straw piles of trees so sounds like some fun cutting.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby Rosabella » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:06 am

Oh boy! I was on the JMT in 2006 after one of these "blowdowns"... the area that seemed most affected (that I noticed) was where the trail turns at Palisade Creek to Dear Meadow en route to the Palisade Lakes. What a mess! Maybe they had already cleaned up the rest of the areas, but it seemed I was climbing over or going around fallen trees every few hundred feet. When I went back in 2009 there was little evidence of what had occured, other than a few trees that they had to "open" that had fallen across the trail and were too big to move.

Well, as Mark said, I'll look forward to hearing reports from the PCT'ers to see what I've got to look forward to this year ;) .
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:21 am

I went through Palisade Creek in July of 2009 and I had to climb over a number of downed trees but it's a burn zone which means trees come down every year.

In two weeks I am going to an annual project with the PCTA that clears trees in the Manter Burn area South of Rock House Basin in Domeland Wilderness. Even with all our efforts every year over 100 trees fall onto the trail annually.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby quentinc » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:37 pm

Rogue, my hat is off to you. Can I put in a special request for the Mt. Gleason area (in the San Gabriels, southeast of Palmdale) to be next? The blowdowns there kick my butt every time I go. :-({|=
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:20 pm

Is that on the PCT? If it is you can give reports to the PCTA to have them cleared. It's best to get in contact with the sections chiefs and give detailed reports of where and how big the trees are. If it's other trails you should get in contact with who ever clears them and get some details on why they aren't cleared.

We do what we can but there just isn't enough people to get it all done. I go to allot of projects and I don't see new people very often. It's a small group of us trying to keep the first 700 miles clear.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby hikerchick395 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:18 am

What I know is of three areas (of course there are probabaly more.) Reds Meadow...clean up started last fall. Near the Mammoth Pack Station...which is the closest to the Duck Pass trailhead. And Yosemite, from south of Dana Meadows past the Mono Pass trailhead. First hand observation, in Yosemite...obviously a north wind. Trees were cleared from Highway 120 during a road closure after November 17 and the road reopened in December.
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Re: Reds Meadow Blowdown

Postby quentinc » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:52 am

Rogue, yes it is. I'm sure it's a huge job for the PTCA. I was amazed they were able to clear all the trees on the Sawmill Mountain stretch (a bit north of Mt. Gleason).
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