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Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

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Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby maytag » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:36 pm

Hi,
I am thinking of heading to the Mineral King area but heard and read in some TR's that the marmots can be bad news for the vehicles parked at the trail head...Anyone have any recent experience with this?
Thank you -



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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:45 pm

It's been an ongoing thing for years - yes, they still do it. Chicken wire can be bent and gotten through - friends let a marmot OUT of a chicken wire fence around a car. A big tarp you drive on and secure around the car with rope seems the most straightforward and effective option. Some people leave the hood open - not sure about that one.
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby maytag » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:30 pm

Thanks...appreciate the reply. I figured this was the case but just wanted to double check. Has anyone ever tried moth balls hanging in various places under the car? I know that they can ward off skunk, raccoon and opossum. Just a wild thought.
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby Shawn » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:37 pm

They're generally worse during spring and then they taper off as the summer unfolds. If it's a concern the MK ranger is always very helpful. You could give a call to determine the current conditions.
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby Buford » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:13 am

Just got back from Mineral King. Rangers said no marmot damage in a month. It is only an early season thing, timing is partially related to snowpack. It is late enough in the year now that car protection is probably not needed.

Only one car at the sawtooth pass trail head was tarped. Your mileage may vary.
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:44 am

I'm going in late August and I'll be tarping it. Yeah, it's an early season thing, but marmots have been known to ignore the calendar before.

Just like there are people who get lazy with the bear canister because "a bear never touched it" and wham!
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby Shawn » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:10 am

Well AT reminds me of this marmot experience in Mineral King. Pardon the old (repeat) story).

I parked early in the morning next to the trail head for Sawtooth Peak. There were many cars in the lot, most not tarped/fenced, so I "deduced" my car would be okay given the car population.

Later that day I was returning to the trail head, where the trail descends via switch backs for a half mile or more. From that vantage point, I could see directly down to the parking lot - and to my dismay my car was the only one remaining in the lot.

As I got a bit closer, I could see movement around my car......so I started hustling down the remainder of the trail. Sure enough, it was those pesky marmots scampering around. I tried using my key FOB to honk the horn as I got closer, but to no avail - the car was still out of range.

When I got to the car, several marmots hurried off. I was concerned they did damage, so the first thing I did was start the car, thankfully it started fine. I was ready to get on the road, but just before I put the car in gear I had a gut feeling I should check under the hood. When I opened it, a big fat red marmot jumped out of the engine compartment. :eek: It was then I noticed he had consumed much of the insulation from under the hood. The car made funny sounds all the way down the road.
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby RooPhillip » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:29 pm

I'm a 20+ year visitor to Mineral King who has parked at the Sawtooth and Mosquito Trailheads countless times. I guess I'm very very lucky because I've never bothered to take any marmot precautions, and have never suffered any damage. It's dumb to keep taking my chances, but I probably will anyway. :)

As for the methods discussed already, I think the tarp would be the most effective. I have seen plenty of marmots perched atop engine compartments on cars with hoods left open. I think the reasoning is they prefer a hiding place, but that's not true. And they'll get past the wire "fences" pretty easily.

I always wonder if my AAA Plus will get me a tow out of there if I ever need one? :) AAA Plus gets you a 100 mile tow; there don't seem to be any restrictions I can find that exclude windy mountain roads. And I'd get an extra day or two in MK waiting for the guy to show up!

I think if you really want true peace of mind, use the tarp and bring an extra radiator hose ,just in case. :)
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby JayOtheMountains » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:43 pm

These little guys, as cute as they seem:
Image

will reek havoc on a vehicle. I've been visiting the area for over 20 years and have seen some of the damages first hand. I was up there last spring and having seen the various methods in action I decided to over engineer a solution. It entailed driving into a tarp and securing it to my vehicle; then surrounding my vehicle with chicken wire and based on my experience in Canada I secured the bottom with large gauge nails (though tent stakes would work well too) spaced about 3 feet apart. I had no problems. The vehicle next to me was chewed on when I got back to the trailhead and the owner was quite irate. He liked my ingenuity, though I don't think he'd be back.

Image

There is ample parking down by the ranger station, though it adds a little to your hike. Next time I go back I am going to forgo the tarp. I think as long as you secure the bottom of the fence to the ground there is not going to be an issue. Also, strap it atop your car so they don't knock it down.
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby maverick » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:58 pm

Hi JayOftheMountains,

Welcome to HST! Thanks for the informative post and pictures. :)
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
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby Shawn » Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:30 pm

Yes, welcome JOM - nice pictures.

Since this thread bubbled up, here's an update from Sunday, August 17, 2014.

I made a quick day hike to Franklin Lakes. No Marmots were observed at the trailhead in the morning or upon my return in the afternoon. This would be typical for late summer of course, but a few cars did take precautions anyway. Only saw one little guy along the trail (albeit he was a fat one).
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MK Trailhead Parking Lot
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Re: Marmots at Mineral King Trailhead? What is the update?

Postby richapple » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:31 pm

Hmmm... I see no mention of fabric softener dryer sheets (smell horrible) but just this year we've been giving it a shot. Drive onto four of them and also put them tied to rocks on top of each tire. But then we haven't been at Mineral King.

Are dryer sheets a known "dumb thing" that doesn't work at all? We'll be parked at Franklin Pass TH (or Timber Gap TH) more than a week coming right up, and I'd not considered the car-fence stuff.

And I'm not sure I understand in this thread the mention of parking down at the ranger station. Do marmots loath authority? Or is that lot fenced or something?

Thanks for info/opinions...

Rich
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