2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

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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dougieb
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Northern Yosemite and Hoover July 3-7

Post by dougieb » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:30 pm

Traveled from Twin Lakes to Snow Lake, Rock Island Lake, Crazy Mule Gulch, Slide Canyon, Doe Lake, Tallulah Lake, back up Slide Canyon, and over Mule Pass, back down to Twin Lakes. Half of the trip was off trail. Had no issues with travel on or off trail - didn't need to cross snow and all creek crossings were easy. Mosquitoes were annoying but mostly bearable during the day - the only issues were at night when you pretty much had to eat dinner before sundown and get in the tent quickly afterward. Only issue to speak of was some very slick ice on the trail coming down from Mule Pass - won't be an issue after the morning. Also a snow bridge near the top of Mule Pass that is easy to get around.








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caddis
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Re: 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by caddis » Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:52 am

commonloon wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:37 pm
I did a 4 night trip/route including the Sierra High Route from Road's End to Palisades Lakes, then JMT up to Black Giant Pass then back via the Middle Fork Kings trail thru Granite Basin and back to Road's End. Snow was mostly gone, never wanted ice axe or microspikes/crampons. Lots of bushwhacking on the Middle Fork trail; a trail crew has repaired the trail where there was a big rockfall last year. No water between Simpson meadow and Dougherty Meadows whatsoever. Mosquitos were epically bad in many of the meadows and surrounding areas: Marion Lake, Dougherty Meadows, Granite Basin, etc. You could hear them. I broke camp the last day at 6am because they were swarming above my face while I tried to sleep in, in my bivy. Oh, Middle Fork seemed crossable near Simpson Meadow.

I may put together a TR when I have more time. Get out there!
Any issues with the water crossings? And how bad was the bushwhacking? Simply annoying or bad enough to drastically slow you down (or hunt for the trail)?
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commonloon
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SEKI: SHR/JMT/Middle Fork 7-3-2020 thru 7-6-2020

Post by commonloon » Wed Jul 08, 2020 10:11 am

caddis wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:52 am
Any issues with the water crossings? And how bad was the bushwhacking? Simply annoying or bad enough to drastically slow you down (or hunt for the trail)?
No issues with water crossings, for example, I crossed Palisades Creek at the trail. In the past with higher flow, I've had to go upstream and find a safer crossing. The bushwhacking on the Middle Fork trail did slow me down significantly; however, it was mostly annoying, I never lost the trail. I had shorts on, and I didn't end up with blooded legs or anything.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I saw a small rattlesnake on trail who was trying to get warmed up (not when I was bushwhacking, rather on a rocky open section). So, keep on eye out for them on that trail.

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dubik99
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Shepherd Pass>Milly’s Foot>Longley>East Lake 6/28-7/3

Post by dubik99 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:24 am

Subject: Shepherd Pass, Milly's Foot Pass, Longley Pass, Cinder Col, Sphinx Pass, Farquhar ridge, unnamed pass from Brewer to North Guard drainage 6/28-7/03, 2020

Route: Shepherd Pass-Lake South America-Milly's Foot Pas -Lake Reflection-Longley Pass-Cinder Col-Sphinx Col-Sphinx Lakes-Farquhar ridge, North Guard East drainage, Brewer canyon, East Lake, Vidette Meadow, Kearsarge Pass, Onion Valley

Difficult section encountered on this trip:
- Milly's Foot Pass is not something you want to do East to West. Secor's terse description is for West to East crossing. West is the difficult side. Following Secor's description would've required dropping into a steep narrow gully with no visibility into how it ends. We found a Class 3-4 descent route South of where we came up and Secor's "slot".
- Big cornice encountered on Longley Pass, which was bypassed by climbing rocky section north of the pass (class 3), but that turned out to be not necessary as the standard trail behind the rocky outcropping was free of snow.
- steep snow fields going up to the ridge separating North Guard and Brewer East side drainages. Could have been bypassed with altitude loss

Observations:
- no issues with snow anywhere else
- no issues with water crossing. The only place where we had to ford was Bubbs Creek

Special equipment needed/used:
- Ice Axe
- Trekking Poles

Possible alternative routes:
- Milly's Foot Pass can be bypassed by going on trail via Harrison Pass.
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Last edited by maverick on Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: SEKI: SHR/JMT/Middle Fork 7-3-2020 thru 7-6-2020

Post by caddis » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:54 am

commonloon wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 10:11 am

No issues with water crossings, for example, I crossed Palisades Creek at the trail. In the past with higher flow, I've had to go upstream and find a safer crossing. The bushwhacking on the Middle Fork trail did slow me down significantly; however, it was mostly annoying, I never lost the trail. I had shorts on, and I didn't end up with blooded legs or anything.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I saw a small rattlesnake on trail who was trying to get warmed up (not when I was bushwhacking, rather on a rocky open section). So, keep on eye out for them on that trail.
Thanks. That's the info I was looking for.
Last question: Ive been over the Monarch Divide twice and had annoying bears around camp. Any issue here?
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commonloon
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Re: SEKI: SHR/JMT/Middle Fork 7-3-2020 thru 7-6-2020

Post by commonloon » Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:13 am

caddis wrote:
Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:54 am
Thanks. That's the info I was looking for.
Last question: Ive been over the Monarch Divide twice and had annoying bears around camp. Any issue here?
While I've seen 3 different bears in 1 trip out there before, no I didn't see one, just skat.

ps: saw some golden stone husks on the rocks of the middle fork ;-)

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MichaelRPetrick
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Maxson>Portal>Finger>Reinstein>Valor 7/2-7/8

Post by MichaelRPetrick » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:57 pm

Dates: July 2 through July 8

Location: Maxson TH to Portal, to Finger Col, Finger Peak, then to Reinstein Pass, over Valor, back to Portal via Blackcap Basin Lakes, out Maxson.

Water: Seasonal creeks getting lower or dry in some spots.

Snow: Finger Peak doable with one easy snowfield crossing close towards the notch West of Blue Canyon Pass and most immediately East of Finger's ridge. This snowfield is shallow enough that you don't need snow gear if it's daytime and warm.

Crossing from Reinstein to Valor took dropping some few hundred feet in order to avoid slightly larger snowfields.

Mozzies: Mostly 1-2, occasionally 3 in Goddard Creek and lush spots near Maxson Meadow.

Lakes: Quite nice for swimming. : )
Last edited by maverick on Thu Jul 09, 2020 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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notis
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Bishop Pass > Lake 10565 > SHR > Bishop Pass || 7/2 - 7/5

Post by notis » Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:57 pm

Route taken: Bishop Pass - People's Trail/JMT SOBO - Adventurer Pass - Lake 10565 - Adventurer Pass - People's Trail JMT SOBO - Cirque, Potluck, Thunderbolt Passes - Bishop Pass

Difficult section encountered: Potluck E to W we took a wrong turn re: use trail and ended up on some Class 3 towards the top--although this didn't have anything to do with conditions. Thunderbolt's W side has some snow towards the top which is too melted out to be of use--instead it's a danger. Had to either (a) walk on snowfield among giant talus where a fall through into 7'+ gaps was possible around ~5pm (soft snow), or (b) traverse an angled snowfield (again soft at 5pm) between an outcropping and a giant boulder. Chose option B as the lesser of two evils, hated it. Recommend Knapsack until the snow is melted. (Personally, I think Thunderbolt is better with more snow, and Knapsack better when no snow).

Special equipment needed/used: Axe on Thunderbolt's W wide.

Possible alternative routes: Knapsack Pass instead of Thunderbolt Pass.

Notes: Snow on W side of Cirque and Potluck Pass is avoidable and shouldn't really interfere with route too much. We got a decent look at Observation Pass from Lake 10565, which confirmed satellite imagery--it looks passable without an axe/able to avoid snow. Got a look at Knapsack's E side, which was snow free.

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eric.m
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New Army/Old Army Pass 7/11/2020

Post by eric.m » Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:28 am

Route: Up New Army Pass to Mt. Langley and down Old Army Pass.

New Army was completely clear of any snow on trail. Old Army had one short (perhaps 15-20 ft.) snowy section that we crossed coming down at about 11:30 am. My hiking friend crossed it using deep steps into the softish snow and trekking poles. Neither of us used the microspikes we brought. I might have stopped to use them were it not for the lightweight ice axe I brought along and used to self belay as protection from the sketchy runnout.

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Re: New Army/Old Army Pass 7/11/2020

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:43 am

eric.m wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:28 am
Route: Up New Army Pass to Mt. Langley and down Old Army Pass.

New Army was completely clear of any snow on trail. Old Army had one short (perhaps 15-20 ft.) snowy section that we crossed coming down at about 11:30 am. My hiking friend crossed it using deep steps into the softish snow and trekking poles. Neither of us used the microspikes we brought. I might have stopped to use them were it not for the lightweight ice axe I brought along and used to self belay as protection from the sketchy runnout.
Thanks for the update, and welcome :)
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