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Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

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.

Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby jokismo » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:38 am

Hi Cameron,

Haha i almost forgot about the hilarious portion of the trail where it is overgrown on both sides by shoulder high nettle for about 30 feet. Long pants definitely recommended as there is also thorny brush overgrown in many sections.

While this trip was pretty brutal, it was beautiful, humbling, and a great crash course in conditions in the Sierras. Made me look forward to exploring much more of the Sierras in the future and glad I now have found this forum as a resource.

Kenji



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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:17 am

Sure here are some photos / videos. Haven't gotten the images off camera but here is some stuff i took on my phone with comments added:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/7rfLakal3GUjHAVf2


Arigatōgozaimasu. :)
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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby cgundersen » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:46 pm

Some additional disclosure here: in addition to being a linguist, Mav is a professional chef and could probably harvest those nettles for a gourmet dish. I stick to the boletus edulis....
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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby orbitor » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:43 am

I believe jokismo covered the basics of current conditions pretty well. Nice to meet you on Saturday, jokismo/Kenji - and thank you for the info you provided at the time.

Here are some things I would add.

Trail + Snow: Pretty easy to follow from trailhead to just past the narrowest part of the canyon, at about the 2400m contour line on the topo (interestingly, the USGS uses meters for the maps covering the area...). In feet this is about 7900. After that, deadfall and brush increase significantly, making for slow going just before and just past the 3rd crossing. There's a lot of vegetation obscuring the route on the northern slopes of the canyon, and taking the wrong turn is not at all surprising, but with patience and careful navigation one can always get back on track. There are a couple of spots where the trail is obliterated by washouts and at least one massive rock slide. The section between 3rd crossing and Summit Meadow should not be done in the dark.

We camped at around 9900 ft, right where the red camp sign is on the topo. There are a few flat spots to set up tents, and someone established a "kitchen" area, complete with an illegal fire pit, in the leeward side of a boulder the size of a car. When going up, look for the boulder on the right side if deciding to stay here, it is easily visible from the trail. Continuing onward, there follow a series of switchbacks leading to another flat area around 10,400 ft. We encountered the first big snow field blocking the trail on the first of these switchbacks. As jokismo mentioned, the trail is under snow patches of various sizes, making it hard to follow. A lot of trees are also blown over, perhaps as a result of a massive avalanche earlier in the year. We left the trail around the 10,600 ft elevation and continued SW up the moraine into the bowl between Black Mountain and Diamond Peak, so I have no relevant trail information past this point. From higher up on the slopes of Black we could see the large cornice covering Baxter Pass, see attached photo.

Streams: Crossings 2 and 3 are of the main stream North Fork Oak Creek, while crossing 1 is of a large tributary coming from the north. All require fording, though crossing 1 could be avoided with the aid of a slippery tree trunk leaning across it. Crossing 2 is the most intense because the creek has collected all the runoff from upstream at this point. We went a couple hundred feet upstream from where trail meets water, picked a spot without big boulders, and plowed through. The current is very strong and the water is ice cold. Knee-deep in the middle, groin-deep if unlucky to step in a hole. See attached photo of HST member zorobabel. As jokismo said, the time of the day makes no difference in terms of level. Crossing 3 is just as swift and cold, though not as wide. We also went a bit upstream for this one. Stinging nettle can be found on both banks of crossings 2 and 3, making its acquaintance is rather unavoidable. Everyone crossed in water shoes, while I used sandals. Some kind of foot protection is essential, especially since the lower limbs quickly go numb. Poles are also a must for balance.

Other: Long pants and long shirts definitely recommended. I'll post the report for the Black Mountain climb (successful) separately.
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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby jokismo » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:08 am

We found a camp site at 10,700. There were a couple other flat places around where others seemed to have camped as well. There is a use trail on the north side of the creek that leads to the camp sites from a few hundred feet below. Not sure if it was connected to the trail because it was obscured by snow.

We climbed to the ridge a bit west of the pass, it was only about 30 feet of cornice here. From there you could walk the ridge down to the pass. The steep areas on the north slope were clear of snow. Would have taken more photos to show conditions if I had known it would be of use but I will post what I have here.
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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:01 pm

Mav is a professional chef and could probably harvest those nettles for a gourmet dish.


It can be cooked and drank (beer).

Wikipedia:

Food

The young leaves are edible and can be used as leaf vegetable, as with the purée shown in the above image.

U. dioica has a flavour similar to spinach mixed with cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce.[17] Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking removes the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without injury. After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed-setting stages, the leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract.[17] In its peak season, nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable.[18] The leaves are also dried and may then be used to make a herbal tea, as can also be done with the nettle's flowers.

Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta, pesto, and purée.[19] Nettle soup is a common use of the plant, particularly in Northern and Eastern Europe. In Nepal (सिस्नो in Nepali) and the Kumaon and Gargwal region of northern India, stinging nettle is known as sisnu, kandeli, and bicchū-būṭī (Hindi: बिच्छू-बूटी), respectively. It is also found in abundance in Kashmir, where it is called soi.

Nettles are sometimes used in cheesemaking, for example in the production of Cornish Yarg[20] and as a flavouring in varieties of Gouda.[21]

Nettles are used in Albania as part of the dough filling for the börek. Its name is byrek me hithra. The top baby leaves are selected and simmered, then mixed with other ingredients such as herbs and rice, before being used as a filling between dough layers.[22][23] Similarly, in Greece the tender leaves are often used, after simmering, as a filling for hortopita, which is similar to spanikopita, but with wild greens rather than spinach for filling.[24]

Competitive eating

In the UK, an annual World Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (24 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to 1986, when two neighbouring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles.[25][26]
Drink

Nettle leaves are steeped in a concentrated sugar solution to extract the flavour.[citation needed] The leaves are then removed and a source of citric acid (usually lemon juice) is added to help preserve the cordial and add a tart flavour.

Commercially produced cordials are generally quite concentrated and are usually diluted by one part cordial to ten parts water – thus a 0.5 l (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 US gal) bottle of cordial would be enough for 5.5 litres (1.2 imp gal; 1.5 US gal) diluted. The high concentration of sugar in nettle cordial gives it a long shelf life.

Also, many recipes for alcoholic nettle beer are used, which is a countryside favourite in the British Isles.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby RAMuldoon » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:28 pm

Thanks for the help everyone! Still undecided if we'll go for it.

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Re: Baxter Pass Trail Conditions

Postby Buford » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:23 am

Thanks for the reports on Baxter. I just got back from using Baxter as an entry/exit for a lollipop loop September 1-4th 2017.

In general the trail was very easy to follow in the immediate vicinity of the pass. Other areas less easy, but no issues. It's not like you can get lost and accidentally wander out of the canyon. I thought the nettles at the crossings were blown out of proportion, but then again I was warned. If I wasn't warned and got stung I would probably have a different opinion.

East side: The trail is easy enough to follow. If you lose it, just follow the path of least resistance and you can pick it up again easily enough. As mentioned the toughest point was just after 3rd crossing going up, and then an avalanche zone up higher. I found it easier to follow going down hill than up. The creek crossings were still knee high+ but not as bad as the image in the post above.

West Side: I didn't even try and follow the trail through Baxter Lakes on the way down. I did pick up the trail again for the descent to the JMT. It was easy to follow. On the way out, I had a harder time finding the trail from Dollar Lake. Just climb the talus field and start zig zagging until you find the trail bed in the talus slope.
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