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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c9h13no3
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Re: 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by c9h13no3 » Sun Nov 29, 2020 2:46 pm

Yosemite is snow free (or patchy) up to ~8000 ft. South faces are pretty bare even higher.


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maverick
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LLV 11/22

Post by maverick » Mon Nov 30, 2020 11:12 am

Posted on SNCC- TPP by Tiare Kirkland:
The gate is closed at the Pack Station, adds an additional 1.3 miles each way. Hiked all the way back to Gem Lake (totaled about 10 miles) - trail is snowy the whole way and well tracked until the fork/signage for Morgan Pass or Gem Lakes. Chickenfoot lake didn't have any tracks but easy enough to get to if you know where to head (+ have GPS as backup). All lakes are frozen to some extent, Gem Lake was covered in snow.
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11/27-28 Onion Valley

Post by tomba » Wed Dec 02, 2020 8:13 pm

We day hiked from Onion Valley last Friday and Saturday. Most lakes above 3200m were frozen enough to be safe to walk on them or skate on them. Several parties were ice skating and there were ice skate marks. There wasn't much snow. Trails on north facing slopes were sometimes covered in few cm of snow but had good tracks. We visited Little Pothole Lake, Gilbert Lake, Flower Lake, Matlock Lake, Bench Lake, Slim Lake, the two lakes below Dragon Peak and Golden Trout Lake. The trails to Golden Trout Lake (and the lakes below Dragon Peak) were sometimes hard to follow. We lost them many times.
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High Sierra Trail

Post by commonloon » Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:34 pm

I "day hiked" (some running involved) the High Sierra Trail yesterday (Dec 7) from Crescent Meadows to Hamilton lake and back. There was little or no snow/ice on the trail. What little bits there was were in shaded areas. Water was also not a problem with creeks flowing and Hamilton lake was only barely-partially frozen. Temps were 30s to low 60s F in the sun. I had planned to go up to the Kaweah Gap but I strained my calf a little on the way out and was worried it might get worse. It did look like there would be a few inches of snow/neve/ice on the trail up to Precipice lake.
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Re: High Sierra Trail

Post by seanr » Mon Dec 07, 2020 4:52 pm

commonloon wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:34 pm
I "day hiked" (some running involved) the High Sierra Trail yesterday (Dec 7) from Crescent Meadows to Hamilton lake and back. There was little or no snow/ice on the trail. What little bits there was were in shaded areas. Water was also not a problem with creeks flowing and Hamilton lake was only barely-partially frozen. Temps were 30s to low 60s F in the sun. I had planned to go up to the Kaweah Gap but I strained my calf a little on the way out and was worried it might get worse. It did look like there would be a few inches of snow/neve/ice on the trail up to Precipice lake.
SEKI backcountry remains open for day and overnight use. I went up to Lion Lake and Triple Divide Peak the prior weekend to end November and estimated that the HST would be clear until nearing Precipice. Snow is powdery and limited to shady areas as well as north facing slopes above 8,000 feet. The north facing slopes are icy in places, but south facing routes were fine without spikes. Lows have been in the 20s near the lakes with short, but warm days in the sun. I was considering a December return to Kaweah Gap and Eagle Scout, but have felt satisfied with the original trip.

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Re: 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by Harlen » Mon Dec 07, 2020 9:50 pm

commonloon writes:
I "day hiked" (some running involved) the High Sierra Trail yesterday (Dec 7) from Crescent Meadows to Hamilton lake and back
Hey Paul, that's a great day hike! Isn't it about 14 miles to Hamilton Lakes? So you ran and then hobbled for 28 miles?! What's your secret?

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commonloon
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Re: 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by commonloon » Tue Dec 08, 2020 8:03 am

Harlen wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 9:50 pm
Hey Paul, that's a great day hike! Isn't it about 14 miles to Hamilton Lakes? So you ran and then hobbled for 28 miles?! What's your secret?
I had 30.5 when I finished. It was more like run-hobble-cuss repeat. Secret?

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Harlen
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Re: 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by Harlen » Tue Dec 08, 2020 2:50 pm

commonloon (and J Muir) wrote:
had 30.5 when I finished. It was more like run-hobble-cuss repeat. Secret?

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Still fantastic Paul, what a great idea for a day hike/run.

I also recently had a John Muir in my head as I cruised through amazing Merced high country. One of Muir's favorite adjectives- "GLORIOUS!" kept running through my mind. Cheers, Ian.

As for Conditions, the ground is remarkably snow-free from Happy Isles up Illilouette Creek till at least 7,800.' Higher into the Clark Range, and elsewhere in the Merced, conditions are a troublesome mix of ice on the ground, and snow depths up to knee-deep drifts. The north slopes are, of course, much deeper, but even in the flats and southern areas, breakable crust is common, and makes for hard going. One could actually manage all of the high country areas (to 11,200') I was in with boots alone. This includes Vogelsang Pass, and crossing the Clark Range. So little snow has fallen, and there are very few deep drift, but plan on a workout.

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