2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

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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Wandering Daisy
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Desolation Wilderness 7/12-7/16

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:37 pm

Route Taken: (7/12 - 7/16) Desolation Wilderness: Echo Lake, Aloha Lake, day trip to Mosquito Pass, PCT north, trail to Half Moon Lake, day hike loop x-country up to intersect PCT, climb Dick's Peak, run ridge to Mt Tallac, down to Gilmore Lake back to Half Moon Lake, x-country directly to Suzie Lake, PCT back to Aloha Lake, side trip to Jabu Lake, Tamarck Lake, Ralston Lake, and back out.

Difficult sections: solid snow from Haypress Meadows onward, steep drifts in trees, very icy early AM, otherwise solid and easy to walk over, PCT south side of Dick's Pass has one huge drift exactly on the trail. Big cornice/drifts on norh slopes above Heather Lake, Susie Lake and north sides of the penninsulas on Aloha Lake. Haypress Meaodow is a swamp. Steep snow on north side of Dick's Peak- so you have to climb a short class 2+ section where the "trail" goes around on the north side.

Special equipment: trekking poles, crampons or yak tracks if you want to go over the snow before the sun hits it. Waterproof boots if you care about dry feet (I do not), large dry campsites hard to come by - ideal conditions for a bivy sack or other small footprint tent. Snow can be difficult if you do not have shoes with aggressive treads. Tennis shoes do not work.

Alternate routes: regular trail to Half Moon Lake is a mess- swampy and lots of steep drifts - you can cut down to the lake from the PCT (before the snow drifts on the PCT) or easy cross country on the northeast side of Susie Lake (stay high on benches).
Last edited by maverick on Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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HikeSierraNevada
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Agnew Meadow to Yosemite Valley 7/4-7/9

Post by HikeSierraNevada » Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:02 pm

July 4-9, 2011
Route: Mammoth to Yosemite Valley via PCT High Trail to 1,000 Island Lake, then JMT to Island Pass, Donohue Pass, Lyell Canyon, Tuolumne Meadows, Cathedral Pass, Long Meadow, Half Dome.

Difficult sections: Route finding difficult for many hikers for miles on snow near/over Island Pass and Cathedral Pass. "Trail" disappears after each storm. Snow was well consolidated in mornings. Some postholing in afternoons, not bad for us. Water crossings a mix of snow bridges, logs, rock hopping and a few wade-thrus. Some of these snow bridges will be collapsing soon. Be careful.

Special equipment: GPS strongly recommended in combination with map and compass. Used MSR Ascent snowshoes over Donohue Pass, per Ranger's insistence - not necessary but they worked well and then we geocached them in Tuolumne Meadows. Also used Microspikes on mild slopes and frozen snow for traction - not necessary either but they reduce slipping. Rocky Gore Tex socks worked great once the boots got soaked. Very nice to put on dry socks under these while your boots dry out. These socks dry very quickly - nice lite luxury item, but expensive.

Awesome trip for my wife and I. Met interesting people including PCT and JMT thru-hikers. Will post pix and slideshow soon.
Last edited by maverick on Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITION Photos - Mammoth to Yo Valley

Post by HikeSierraNevada » Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:32 pm

Some Pix from conditions report posted above.
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Last edited by HikeSierraNevada on Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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wiseblood
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Tamarack - El Cap 7/13-7/15

Post by wiseblood » Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:20 pm

Tamarack Flat Campground -> El Capitan ... 7/13-7/15

No snow until a quarter-mile from Ribbon Meadow, then patchy, but with easy-to-follow footprints. Ribbon Meadow is boggy, with plenty of mosquitoes. Trail a little hard to follow at Ribbon Meadow, since it's underwater for a bit. Ribbon Creek about 6 inches high. No other snow or stream crossings the rest of the way to El Capitan.

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by Ikan Mas » Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:54 pm

July 15-16

Route taken:
Penner Lake from Carr/Feely Lake Trailhead
No snow in the parking area, but plenty along Feely Lake and beyond in the trees. Many people headed to Penner.
Trail to Round Lake was difficult to find in the snow.

Difficult section encountered:
None. Lots of snow in the shady areas. Exposed areas are clear. Lakes are ice free.

Special equipment needed/used:
None.

Possible alternative routes:
Suggest going somewhere else or go during mid-week. People are hitting the Grouse Ridge area very hard as it is accessible. Parking lot was full by Friday noon. There were 30 campers at Penner Lake and all but me each had to light an unnecessary campfire. --Too Many! :mad:

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South Lake to Bishop Pass 7/11-7/14

Post by Flux » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:26 pm

South Lake Trailhead to Bishop Pass 7/11-7/14:

Snow was mostly clear on the trail up to above Spearhead Lake. Above there it was alot of snow and very wet sections of trail. Bishop Pass pretty much covered.

Lakes all clear to Spearhead, above that they were 50-50 with no visible fish activity. Dusy Basin was very patchy and the trail looked 50-50 as well. Lower lakes were open in Dusy:

Some pics from Agassiz:
Dusy
Image

Big Pine Creek
Image

View to the South
Image

Northish overlooking the Bishop Pass Drainage and on to Humphreys at top right

Image

Have much higher res pics that give more detail PM me if interested

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by cgundersen » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:18 am

Hi Flux,
Thanks for the shots; they match well with the excellent TR Silverfox posted a couple days ago. Dusy's cleared out a lot since I went through with my wife; I've gotta get some photos from her to help chart the melt.
cg

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R Dog in Tahoe
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by R Dog in Tahoe » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:45 pm

Hi HikeSierraNevada,

Thanks for the update on the trail conditions. I'm taking the same route July 24 to July 30. I'm curious about the total time you spent hiking in snow vs. dirt trail. Also, what was Lyell Canyon like? Is the river flooding the trail?

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by rams » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:16 pm

We day-hiked from Onion Valley to Golden Trout Lake (7/16/11).
The trail to Golden Trout Lake was snow-free beyond the stream crossing above the waterfall but became difficult to follow with water hiding portions of it around the area where it supposedly leaves the hillside to join the creek. Additionally, the creek in this area was still covered in snow. We had never hiked here before and weren't sure about the course of the creek under the snow. Not wanting to risk falling through, we climbed the talus on the hillside above the creek for about 100 yards before spotting the trail emerging out of the snow below us. We got back to the trail below the open meadow where the trail forks to the unnamed lakes north of Golden Trout Lake. At this point, the trail kept alternating between snow-covered and melted-out, though the meadow itself was snow-free. There were lots of fallen trees as well. Unfortunately I didn't get photos where the patches of snow were huge (ie, where we first lost the trail shortly after the top of the waterfall). Here are the smaller patches of snow covering the trail, though:
golden trout trail1.jpg
golden trout trail2.jpg
After the fork, it looked like it'd be easy to get up to the bench holding the unnamed lakes (ie, no snow-travel required until the bench), so long as you hadn't already lost the trail when hiking near the creek.
golden trout trail3.jpg
We lost the trail in snow again and ended up finding a use trail up the hiker's left side of the creek spilling down from Golden Trout Lake (official trail is on the other side) until we reached an unnamed lake. From here you could scout Mt. Gould if you wanted to climb it from this side.
golden trout trail4.jpg
Golden Trout Lake itself is not completely thawed but is on its way.
golden trout trail5.jpg
If you've never hiked this trail, I'd say be ready to do some talus hopping since chances are you'll lose the trail in a few spots. On the plus side, we didn't posthole once throughout the day (we were out from 9 am to 6 pm) despite all the snow. There were lots of suncups, however.
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Jack Main Canyon 7/16-7/19

Post by sparky » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:17 pm

July 16-19

Jack main canyon VIA beehive....trail underwater in spots in east end of canyon, shin deep. Past trail junction to wampama falls, again trail underwater, knee deep. I was out voted as you can't see the trail emerge from the water. There is a possible bypass that requires off trail navigation through forest and class 2 rock. We turned around halfway through bypass because of time constraints but enjoyed the lake we were skirting on the bypass.

The river crossing at the far east end of jack main to head toward wampama was chest deep. We abandon the route and turned back due to depth. Watched the river rise dramatically during day 2. Patchy snow on jack main trail between wilma lake and trail junction to wampama. Very fresh very large mountain lion tracks in snow.

Original route was the dam at hetch hetchy through jack main canyon to tilden lake looping down through tiltill valley, to the dam. Turned into an out and back with a little variation for spice on the way back. Ranger P Roe's description and warnings of the conditions were spot on, he knows his stuff......but it was still AMAZING!
Last edited by sparky on Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:20 am, edited 2 times in total.

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