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2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

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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2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:33 pm

This is not a place to post trip reports, but a place for members to
post current conditions experienced in the backcountry on recent trips.
Posting photo's of these difficult sections encountered is encouraged.
This will give other members considering visiting, or traveling, through
the same location a heads up on difficult sections, so they can plan/prepare
accordingly.
This is a quick reference for members, with up to date information saving
time from having to look through numerous trip reports to gather pertinent
information for an upcoming trip.
Just paste the form below, and fill out the info.


In the "Subject" section post the area you visited, include the date.



Route taken:



Difficult section encountered:



Special equipment needed/used:



Possible alternative routes:


SAMPLE:

Subject: Rae Lakes-Lake Reflection-Sphinx Lakes 7/12/12 to 7/18/12

Route: Roads End-Upper Paradise Valley-Rae Lakes-Glen Pass-Junction Meadow-Lake
Reflection-Longley Pass-Cinder Col-Sphinx Col-Sphinx Lakes-Roads End

Difficult section encountered on this trip:
- Lost of snow on northern side of Glen Pass icy in the morning hours.
- Bubbs Creek crossing very difficult, found the best crossing point 400 yards west
of the usual low water crossing section.
- Big cornice encountered on Longley Pass, which was bypass by climbing rocky
section north of the pass (class 3).

Special equipment needed/used:
- Ice Axe
- Crampons
- Trekking Poles

Possible alternative routes:
- When crossing Bubb's, I notice a section about 100 yards further west that looked
much easier.
- Should have bypassed the cornice on the southern side, route looked barely class 2.
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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Kibbie Ridge - Boundary Lake 5/4-5/5

Postby norcalhiker » Sun May 05, 2013 10:41 pm

Hiked Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake this weekend (May 4-5). Patchy snow started about a mile before Styx Pass. Lots of water on the trail. Easy patches continued between pass and lake. It was patchy but mostly melted out. It's probably too much work for me to travel any higher right now.

No special equipment needed.

Road to Shingle Springs is open.
Last edited by norcalhiker on Mon May 06, 2013 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Kearsarge Pass 5/3/13

Postby BrianF » Mon May 06, 2013 8:22 am

5/3/13 - Trail almost completely clear of snow to the pass and down the other side, just a few patchy sections, no more than 50 ft with good boot tracks. Gilbert and Flower lakes (10,500') clear of ice and plenty of snow free campsites. Lower Matlock lake clear, Upper Matlock Lake some open water, Bench lake mostly frozen but water is available in a place or two, melting fast, access to Matlock lakes was postholing through alot of snow from Flower lake. Kearsarge lakes: some frozen still some melting out and there is enough bare ground to find campsites out of snow. Rae lakes area looks to have significant snow still, lakes mostly frozen, melting out around the edges.
Mt Gould- some snow patches , easily climbable without stepping in snow.
No special equipment
Onion Valley road open as is the campground.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Yosemite 11th-15th May

Postby dapperdave » Wed May 15, 2013 9:29 pm

Route Taken:
Yosemite Falls Trail to North Dome, Indian Ridge, Snow Creek, Tenaya Lake, Clouds Rest, South to JMT, Echo Valley, Washburn Lake, LYV, Happy Isles.

Difficult Sections:

A few snow patches in Upper Snow Creek.

Tenaya Lake outlet crossing(at the stepping-stones) was crotch-deep. All other crossings were bridges or dry foot.

From about the middle of the Switchbacks up to Sunrise lakes to the top of Clouds Rest still holds quite a lot of snow and waterlogged trail, but the snow was soft enough in the AM to kick steps with trail runners, in the afternoon it was very soft and post holey.

Past the top of Clouds rest was snow-free.

Small section of JMT (bypassing Vernal Falls steps) is closed due to rock fall.

Special Equipment:

None

We also saw a crew headed up Merced Valley clearing Deadfall from the trail.

Dave
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NW Yosemite May 10-13

Postby tomba » Thu May 16, 2013 9:04 pm

Route: Hetch-Hetchy, Beehive, Laurel Lk, Kendrick Ck, Edyth Lk, valley NE from Edyth (square 36 on topo map), along top of ridge between Edith and Bearup Lk from 8880 to 8100 ft, cross Frog Ck, 1mi up Jack Main Cyn, slabs to Lk Vernon, and back to TH.

Difficult sections:

2 sections of trail to Laurel Lk are flooded - have to wade.

Frog Ck crossed twice, fast water above knees.

Kendrick Ck and Falls Ck - look impossible to cross, but didn't look carefully as we didn't plan to cross them.

A lot of snow (more than 1 meter thick in places) above 8400 ft on WNW side and on top of the above mentioned ridge.
IMG_1667-ridge-snow.jpg


View east from the ridge showing snow on nearby mountains. Bearup Lk is on the left. (Click on photos for larger versions)
IMG_1678-IMG_1683-bearup.jpeg


Part of switchbacks of trail from Moraine Ridge to Jack Main Cyn looks like this:
IMG_1732-jack-main-trail-flooded.jpeg


Special equipment used: trekking poles.
-- Found trash? Please pack it out. Thank you.
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Horseshoe Meadows 5/18/13

Postby KathyW » Mon May 20, 2013 3:10 pm

Date: May 18, 2013

Where: Horseshoe Meadows area - Golden Trout Wilderness

Route: Horseshoe Meadows to Mulkey Pass and then down to Diaz Creek on the PCT and up to Muah Mountain from there.

Conditions: No snow on the trail at all and very dry out. There was some water flowing through Horseshoe Meadows and Diaz Creek, but not a lot. I'd guess Diaz Creek will go dry at some point later this year.

Some pics if interested: http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... 035_f9TkdH
Last edited by KathyW on Tue May 21, 2013 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Postby BrianF » Tue May 21, 2013 7:37 am

Thanks Kathy, It looks like it is scary dry. I have been contemplating another early season trip up Cirque Pk up the south ridge and it looks pretty snow free already
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Baxter Pass Trail to Baxter Lakes/Mount Baxter 5/24-5/26/13

Postby KathyW » Mon May 27, 2013 9:45 pm

Route taken: Baxter Pass Trail to Baxter Lakes/Mount Baxter

Difficult section encountered: The Baxter Pass Trail has some sections where the trail is a bit difficult to follow and there are some down trees you have to go over or around, but it's a lot nicer than those highly maintained trails like the JMT. The cross country route from between the Largest Baxter Lake and the summit of Mount Baxter is a really loose slog - be careful if you decide to bag Baxter.

Creek Crossings - No problem.

Special equipment needed/used: None. Just a small patch or two of snow all the way to Baxter Pass, a little snow to cross at the pass, and then some good size snow fields between Baxter Pass and Baxter Lakes, but no special gear needed to cross them. I carried an axe and lightweight aluminum crampons just in case, but I never used them. The snow between Baxter Pass and Baxter Lakes was nice - consolidated and fairly smooth; so easier than the trail would have been. The terrain is also pretty gentle in that area.

Some photos (still need to label and remove redundant photos): http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... &k=7m7KP3T
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Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake 5/25-5/27

Postby larroyo33 » Tue May 28, 2013 9:40 pm

5/25/13-5/27/13-Onion Valley to Kearsarge Lakes, Bullfrog Lake, and Charlotte Lake via the Kearsage Pass Trail and the Bullfrog Lake Trail

The trail for the entire trip was 99.9% snow free. Just small patches here and there, but all were easy to walk through in hiking shoes. Gilbert Lake, Flower Lake, Heart Lake, Kearsarge Lakes, Bullfrog Lake, and Charlotte Lake were all completely melted. Big Pothole Lake was mostly frozen with just the edges melted.
Last edited by maverick on Fri May 31, 2013 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Vernon Lake Loop 5/22-5/26

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed May 29, 2013 2:50 pm

We did the Vernon Lake Loop May 22 to May 26, and there is really nothing to report, which is unusual. Conditions are more like early July with a few mosquitoes in places (2--3), there is water in the streams but far past spring runoff conditions, and I only saw one small patch of snow in a shaded protected area next to the meadow above TilTill Valley. The major streams were going at a good rate, but not at peak flow at all. A very very early spring that is more like July than May.
Last edited by maverick on Fri May 31, 2013 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wolverton-Hamilton Lakes-Little Five Lakes 5/24-5/28

Postby bheiser1 » Fri May 31, 2013 7:09 am

5/24-28, Wolverton->Hamilton Lakes->Kaweah Gap->Little Five Lakes->Black Rock Pass->Bearpaw->Wolverton (est 56 mi). Still lots of water in most sections with just a few small creeks dried up. There was patchy snow through Kaweah Gap, but it was mostly solid in late morning, and had tracks to show the route. The snow cleared after passing thru the gap.

There were a couple easy wet crossings in the valley between there and the ascent to Little Five Lakes. Most of the lakes were clear except the small one at about 10,800 where the trail heads up to Black Rock Pass (that one was mostly frozen except for the edges). The trail between the last two lakes was hidden by snow in places, as was much of the trail up the pass.

Going up the pass was intimidating but doable (I am not a climber) with micro spikes and holding trekking poles low. I wouldn't have done it without these. Part of it involved scrambling over rocky areas to avoid the snow that felt too steep to be safe. I started up at 8am and the snow was solid but softening fast in the sun. Using a GPS to locate the trail and the actual pass helped. Once over the crest the trail reappeared and was snow free for the rest of the way down.

I think I might have seen one mosquito during this 4-night trip. Days were in the mid 50s (sometimes warmer in the sun) and nights ranged from 29-35.

Human contact was very sparse for much of the trip except around Bearpaw and Hamilton Lakes (only one person each day on two of the days).

Watch out for the deer at Hamilton Lakes, they are there in large numbers and like to chew on salty pack belts.

Let me know of any questions on anything I missed here !
Last edited by maverick on Fri May 31, 2013 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Southern Yosemite 5/22-5/24

Postby GraceC89 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:05 am

Over Memorial Day weekend, I backpacked a route starting at Mono Meadows (off Glacier Point Road). I followed Illouette Creek, went over Merced Pass, passed Johnson / Crescent / Grouse Lake, turned north toward Empire Meadows, crossed Glacier Point Road at the McGurk Meadows trailhead, continued north, and then picked up the Panorama Trail east to Glacier Point (where I got a ride from a nice family back down Glacier Point Road to my car at Mono Meadows).

Conditions were great. Zero snow below 8,000, patchy snow between 8,000 and 9,000, and fairly continuous snow over 9,000 (although I was only over 9,000 for a very brief time around Merced Pass, so my read on those conditions is probably not the best). Snow was very well consolidated and I had no problems with postholing even when crossing Merced Pass at the end of the day. The trail on the north side of Merced Pass, even where there was no snow, was faint at times, but it's easy to figure out where to go (read: up the hill!).

The trail was very wet from snow melt along Johnson / Crescent / Grouse Lake through Empire Meadow; my waterproof shoes served me well. Illouette Creek was a mid-thigh ford for me (I'm 5'7") but not especially fast moving or scary.

FWIW, I loved Southern Yosemite. This was the furthest south I've ever ventured in the park, and I only saw 7 people my entire trip (excluding, of course, my bit on the Panorama Trail / Glacier Point, which were predictably overrun). Views aren't the best because most of my trail traveled through thickly forested areas, but the terrain was gentle compared to the rest of the Sierra, and the lower elevation made for a great early season trip.

Special gear needed - none, although my waterproof shoes were a life saver in the boggy, early season conditions.
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