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Current Yosemite Area Conditions

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Current Yosemite Area Conditions

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:15 am

I just came back from a short trip to Ostrander Lake and a general tour of Yosemite.
I would have to say that particularly in the mid-elevations, the snowpack is very deep even with the current rate of melt. I began to hit snow at 8000 feet, and at west-facing Ostrander Lake, the snow coverage was 60% with 3 to 4 foot drifts. Above 8600 feet, the coverage everywhere was 90% to 100% with drifts over 4 foot deep and more. As usual, in the most exposed areas there can be snowless areas, but generally most of the exposed areas above 8600 feet are pretty well covered. I staked out the edge of a drift, and in a day it receeded 6 to 7 inches.
The real hassle of the Ostrander hike was the over 70 deadfalls on the trail, some a pain to get past. I have never seen that many on a hike.
I drove all over the Park Sunday, and there was plenty of snow along the Tioga Road and the Glacier Point Road in the higher places, and even in some lower places. At Tamerack CG, for example, there was a small patch of snow, and that is under 7000 feet (probably gone by now). At Tenaya Lake, the forest was patchy with some good sized drifts and very wet, flooded in places. The water is so high at Tenaya Lake, that the beach is gone, flooded.
The Yosemite falls, cascades, and streams were at their max, and really something to see. (HWY 140 is still closed.)
People were going over to 10 Lakes Basin, but they were going over a lot of snow to get there.
The snow is well consolidated and easy to travel over: I only post-holed once. That will change soon. I saw a few snow mosquitoes, but that will pick up soon.
I would have to say it will be another 3 weeks at least before the high country trails dry out, just in time for the peak of mosquito month, and the streams will a challenge for some time to come. When you stop seeing so much snow in this picture (and when that patch of snow in the dome is gone), conditions will be drier:
http://www.yosemite.org/vryos/sentinelcam.htm

Hard to believe a few years ago I was hiking in a dry Pioneer Basin at this very same time of year.
Doyle W. Donehoo
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Postby copeg » Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:34 am

Thanks for the report Doyle. I'm thinking of heading up this weekend and I was wondering how the snowmelt was coming along up there.
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Postby SSSdave » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:21 am

Thanks Doyle, very useful report.. Your report is about like I expected it. By the first week of July most of the 8k to 9k snow ought to have significantly melted back leaving large amounts of timberline and above terrain that most backpackers target still with quite a bit of snow. Advised someone a few days ago on our B/H/C forum and will link to this thread. No doubt many people on the 4th holidaywill cluelessly drive up to the Sierra and expect to backpack into their favorite areas only to be way surprised. David
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:44 am

SSSdave wrote: By the first week of July most of the 8k to 9k snow ought to have significantly melted back leaving large amounts of timberline and above terrain that most backpackers target still with quite a bit of snow.


In other areas there are other problems. It has been my experience that the very open exposed areas above (and below) timberline will often dry out before some of the higher elevation shaded wooded areas, due to the shade perhaps combined with north slopes big and small. For example, one of my early season hikes is into the Emigrant Wilderness from the Kibbie Lake trail. Often early season wooded Kibbie Ridge will be hammered with snow, while beyond into the Emigrant Wilderness it is vastly dry. There are a good number of areas that are "guarded" by these snow-wood bands with dry wilderness beyond. Then again, as you say, there will be certain very high passes and high places with lingering snow while all below is dry.
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Postby Take-a-Hike » Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:17 pm

Hi Doyle:
About a year ago I asked you about conditions going to Mott Lake from Edison Lake. My wife and I were doing our 1st bpack weekend around the 4th. Your comments were that it was very heavy snow year, but it should be gone to Mott, just beware of high water in the creeks. You were right on, but there was still snow in those north facing wooded areas on the trail from the JMT up to Mott.
Now this year we're headed up the Copper Creek trail to Grouse, Kidd, and further to Glacier Lakes, and even State, if time permits, but not probable. All X Ctry, past Grouse. I checked their web site and it's not been updated since 5/25, but it said snow above Lower Tent, and Granite Basin snow covered. I realize a lot can change in the past month, therefore, would you expect that trail to be clear by now considering, if I read maps right, it's all south facing? Also, should the basin areas around all those lakes be mostly clear by now? I'm carrying Ropers book and another log looking for the passes to the various lakes just in case I can't site read when we get there, and I'd expect that there probably will be snow left in those higher areas, but we'll try to divert.
One other thing: On the map in an area just due north of the Kidd lakes, theres a group of 3 or 4 small to mid size lakes that show no names nor even a W/L listing. They're the head waters for the North Fork Kidd creek/river I believe. In everything I've read I"ve never seen anyone write about those bodies of water. Are they that non-descript that they're not worth exploring or is there nothing there worth even a look-see? the only mention I've ever seen of that area is in your chronicles of your mis-adventures going down the Muro Blanco. In one sentence you mentioned the cirque that holds the Kidd Lakes looking down on the Muro. I'm wondering if it's worth our time to go exploring....
My problem is, however, I read all the accounts, look at all the photos around, sit here in 95* weather and totally forget that this is/can be still winter in the high country. YIKES!!
Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Perry and Jan
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Jun 24, 2006 8:21 pm

You do not mention when you pland to go exactly, but I stand by what I said just above. I just came back from Tahoe and yesterday I tried to get to Mt. Tallack (however spelled), and sure enough I started hitting snow (and very flooded trails) at about 7000 feet and at 8100 feet I hit a wall of snow in the basin that guards access to the SW slopes of the mountain. Time available made turn back (a wedding to go to), but I probably could have gotten up the basin headwall.
I noticed that in the exposed southern slopes to over 10K feet everywhere it was pretty clear, but the north slopes and shaded areas can have deep snow all the way down to ~7500 feet. The streams are, as expected, very high. Carson pass area still had lots of snow, and you could still ski at Kirkwood. It IS melting very fast.
There will still be snow in northern slopes and shaded areas for a good two weeks more is my guess. Water will be high for a long time.
The water level at tahoe is at max, and the highest I have ever seen it. It was all perfect.
As for kid Lakes, on my list for some time. From Grouse Lake to Kid Lakes, packers have made a use trail I hear. The Kid Lakes basin bowl and headwall will be snow covered for two or more weeks is my guess, but travel over the snow should be OK in the mornings. I am betting there are plenty of snow sections above Lower Tent Meadow, but I have managed to get up it early season with a map can compass. I imagine Granite basin is at least patchy snow covered, but being exposed, it is probably drying out fast.
I still think it will be at leat two weeks for things to be reasonably dried out. Some areas are already in good condition, but as expected, it all depends on exposure.
Doyle W. Donehoo
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