2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES | High Sierra Topix  

2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Discussion 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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Desolation Wilderness 6/17

Postby Coops » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:57 pm

Not exactly the "High" Sierra, but I was up in Desolation Wilderness last weekend (6/17/11). Still loads of snow for June....pretty much 100% coverage above 8,000'. We walked across Lake Aloha comfortably, but I imagine it will thaw fast with the weather this week and that will no longer be feasible by the weekend of 6/25. Summited Pyramid Peak. Snow was stable on both the North and South side and the talus near the top of the south side is exposed and snow free (same for north ridge). Looked to be around 6-8 feet of snow depth on the PCT judging from the tree wells. Not shockingly, we saw no one once above 8,000'. The solitude and scenery were beautiful, but be prepared for 1.5 mile/hr pace or less.
Last edited by maverick on Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby windknot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:17 am

Thanks for the Desolation update! Which trailhead did you use to reach Aloha? Were any of the lakes at lower elevations either ice free or look to be thawed soon? I might head up to Desolation over the July 4 weekend but primarily want to find some open water for fishing.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Kibbie Ridge 6/21

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:01 am

Route taken: Kibbie Ridge to 7000 feet, Kibbie Lake.

Difficult section encountered: No bugs to speak of.


Kibbie Ridge: I started to hit large patches of snow at 6800 feet, a lot more higher. The worst part is that the trail is in excessively poor condition. Faint or missing in places, snow covered in others, or just plain obliterated in long stretches due to a burn and a harsh winter that blew a lot of the burned stuff down. This used to be a very nice well groomed trail: not any more. It will take a lot of work to clear all of the dead-fall, litter and trashy burned stuff off the whole route. If you do this, you had better be good at route-finding, a compass and map, and faint trail detection. Have your wading shoes handy.


Kibbie Lake: Beyond the Kibbie Lake and Ridge junction above Shingle Springs, expect lots of dead-falls and detours, in particular along the burned areas. Lots of flooded trail, one extensive section has a rough use-trail around it that requires some careful route-finding. Nothing dangerous or too difficult. One section was very nearly over-run by brush. The section of trail near the lake outlet is flooded, so you have to find other ways around the cliffs guarding the lake. I suggest going to the North End cross-country. More later in a TR.



Special equipment needed/used:
Wading shoes if you do not know about some of the bypass routes available.


Possible alternative routes:The whole trail is an alternative route. What a mess.
Road: It is a bit rough the last mile to SS. Cars got to Shingle Springs somehow.
Attachments
YoMerced2011June.jpg
Looking towards Merced Peak, Mt. Starr King and the high country beyond June 23. Still lots of snow.
Last edited by maverick on Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Doyle W. Donehoo
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Grouse Ridge Area 6/24/11

Postby Quercus » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:24 am

Route taken: Bowman Lake Road to Carr/Feely Lakes.



Difficult section encountered: Snow encountered on the dirt road leading to Carr Lake Campground. Able to drive about 1 mile then had to walk the rest. Patchy snow cover at 6100 foot elevation, but mostly solid snow cover above 6500 feet. Both Carr and, especially, Feely Lakes still had ice cover.



Special equipment needed/used: Waterproof boots/shoes, hiking poles ,and snowshoes or skis if travelling above about 6500 feet.



Possible alternative routes: n/a
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:23 pm

Quercus, I was up there yesterday and hiked up to that solid patch at 6300-6400. I would have gone further, but my 4-year-old son was reaching his limit. Here's a photo of that patch at 6400-ish.
FR_17_062411.jpg
Forest Road 17, approx 2 miles from Bowman Lake Road.


Edit: proper elevation
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
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Dinkey / Kaiser Wilderness 6/23

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:34 pm

Route taken: roads into Dinkey/Kaiser wilderness areas (Sierra NF)

Difficult section encountered: Not many miles up the FS route from Dinkey Creek Rd toward Willow Meadow TH (the usual TH for Dinkey Lakes basin) people in cars/Jeeps/etc are being turned back by 18-24" of snow in the road. The trees in the area are free of snow, but views north and east show complete coverage on the ground where there are treeless spaces. Snowline is prolly between 7-8,000 feet depending on which way slopes face. Tamarack Ridge road from the 168 north of Shaver is still gated.

A drive up Kaiser Pass reveals the same - Potter Pass trailhead is still under snow, and the sign bagged up. We turned around after realizing the upper trailheads were still going to be this way. Road has been cleared and Vermillion is open but I suspect the trails are still 60-90% coverage between 7-8,000 feet and 100% above that.

Trails out of Wishon toward Crown Valley are going to be the same story - snow within 1-2 miles of the trailheads climbing up. I saw this area from the helicopter, lower areas are full of wildflowers and grass now going brown, high areas still under snow.


Special equipment needed/used: probably crampons and poles will do the trick. I may do an exploratory overnight soon, p'raps out to Kaiser.

Possible alternative routes: none; Courtright Rd is still closed due to snow on the higher parts of the route.
Last edited by maverick on Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Horestail Falls

Postby Coops » Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:32 pm

For Desolation: We went in via Horsetail Falls and out via Ralston. The only lakes that were looking to be completely thawed that we hiked by were Grass Lake and Susie. Lake of the Woods was getting there too. A few weeks makes a huge difference up there, so Aloha, Heather, Pyramid, Half Moon etc. may be well on their way
Last edited by maverick on Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Middle Paradise Valley 6/18

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:09 pm

I did an over night trip to Middle Paradise Valley. The trail is flooded in many areas and muddy / boggy in others. Lots of small downed trees and branches on the trail. Some locations it's an amazing site to see the flood marks where the water was around 6 feet higher probably during that last heat wave since the ground has not dried from it. Massive drift wood piles block the trail in one location.

We had packed in a couple sodas and Red Bulls and put them into the river a couple hours before dinner and when we went to get them the water had risen 6 inches and one Red Bull was swept away. :angry:

The water fluctuations are extreme as one trail location that was under at least 2 to 3 feet of water was dry when we hiked back out.
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Re: Horestail Falls

Postby windknot » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:09 pm

Coops wrote:For Desolation: We went in via Horsetail Falls and out via Ralston. The only lakes that were looking to be completely thawed that we hiked by were Grass Lake and Susie. Lake of the Woods was getting there too. A few weeks makes a huge difference up there, so Aloha, Heather, Pyramid, Half Moon etc. may be well on their way


Thanks! This is incredibly helpful information; I'm thinking about heading to Lower Velma Lake, and after calibrating relative elevation levels and exposure directions, it's looking like there's at least a reasonable chance that I'll find some open water there.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Ikan Mas » Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:45 pm

Thanks for the update on the road to Car and Feely Lakes. One of my favorite weekend hike spots.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby hikerchick395 » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:47 am

Not realy far into the backcountry, but leading to...

The big log bridge crossing below the beaver pond at McGee Creek has been broken in half with the middle of it in the creek. There is a rope up and rocks placed in the break, but the water was too fast yesterday for me, by myself, to consider. The horse crossing had a channel in it that looked deep with fast moving water.
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Re: Kibbie Ridge 6/21

Postby eileensd » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:39 am

DoyleWDonehoo wrote:Route taken: Kibbie Ridge to 7000 feet, Kibbie Lake.

Kibbie Ridge: I started to hit large patches of snow at 6800 feet, a lot more higher. The worst part is that the trail is in excessively poor condition. Faint or missing in places, snow covered in others, or just plain obliterated in long stretches due to a burn and a harsh winter that blew a lot of the burned stuff down. This used to be a very nice well groomed trail: not any more. It will take a lot of work to clear all of the dead-fall, litter and trashy burned stuff off the whole route. If you do this, you had better be good at route-finding, a compass and map, and faint trail detection. Have your wading shoes handy.

Possible alternative routes:The whole trail is an alternative route. What a mess.
Road: It is a bit rough the last mile to SS. Cars got to Shingle Springs somehow.


Thanks for posting your TR! We're heading up Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake later this week and intend to loop back down through Cherry Creek Canyon. We've taken this route 6 times, under various conditions, so I think our expectations are pretty realistic. Nonetheless, we still have a couple of questions as a follow-up to your TR.

Along the trail, I imagine we'll encounter a bunch of downed wood/trees and such, as so few folks have been up this year, but your description of the trail is pretty dismal. Just wondering, when was the last time you were on the Kibbie Ridge trail? The fire was a few years ago now, and we're wondering if you're comparing the trail to sometime since the fire or to its pre-fire days. I discovered this area post-fire and have found the trail always becomes pretty faint/disappears from time to time. I'm sure the trail has never been as well groomed as it was before the fire, but route finding hasn't warranted map and compass to stay on track; therefore, your TR has us wondering... I imagine snow could change the scenery a bit too :-k . Second question - how far up the Kibbie Ridge trail did you go? Any other details you'd like to add to your TR would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance! ~Eileen
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