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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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Re: 2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Postby maverick » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:19 am

Hi GraceC89,

Welcome to HST! Thank you for posting this conditions report that will help your
fellow members! :thumbsup:
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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Re: 2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Postby kpeter » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:31 pm

Emigrant Wilderness May 21-June 2.
Crabtree TH to Deer Lake, with day hiking out of Deer Lake.

SNOW:

There was snow in deep shade and north slopes down to the 8400 level.

Hiking from Deer Lake to Buck Lakes there was some snow in the shade at 8600 feet that I used microspikes to cross early in the morning. It was no more than 20% coverage but in some strategic spots.

Hiking from Deer Lake North toward Salt Lick Meadow I encountered 80% snow coverage at 8800 feet, and huge pools of standing water obscuring the trail. It would have been possible to get through, but it wasn't worth the effort to me.

There was snow on the south (north facing) shore of Deer Lake, but it shrank from 70% coverage to 20% coverage of that shore in the three days I was there.

General conclusion: Snow levels serious enough to impede travel in Emigrant are at about 8800 feet and rapidly moving up.

STREAM CROSSINGS:

I waded Lily Creek, Piute Creek, West Fork Cherry Creek and the inlet to Deer Lake from Long Lake. Of these the only remarkable crossing was the West Fork Cherry Creek. It was thigh high and very cold and 50 feet across. It was not that deep for the full distance, and the water was not turbulent so I could see the bottom. When crossing in the afternoon I had no problems. Returning early in the morning my muscles cramped from the cold but I made it across.
IMGP2880-1.jpg
West Fork Cherry Creek Crossing


I also checked the stream crossing from the connecting stream between Upper and Lower Buck Lakes. It looked knee deep to me I did not try. Also the same at the outlet of Wood Lake.

In short, Emigrant is well past peak runoff now and crossings are much easier than they were two weeks ago.

TRAILS:

The main trail Crabtree--Camp--Piute--Gem--Deer was in generally good shape with just a few deadfall over it and a number of flooded sections that were not difficult to avoid.
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Little Lakes Valley - 6/1-6/2

Postby no2haven » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:24 am

Quick overnight up Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lake. Camped on top of the ridge between Gem and Treasure Lakes. Returned via Treasure Lakes and the use trail to Long Lake.

Trails were clear of snow until the Gem Lake/Morgan Pass split. Morgan Pass visually had snow banks on the switchbanks up, but probably nothing serious. The snow was quite patchy up to the pass level. Gem Lakes are completely thawed and had some small fish surfacing around noon...a guy in a pack raft floating around in the 2nd lake commented he was having good luck with bites.

The lowest Treasure lake still has some ice, but is thawing. The higher ones are mostly ice still. Probably ~75% snow coverage at the lakes and fairly solid coverage continuing above. The Hourglass has a large bare patch showing down the middle but I saw climbing tracks up the left side. The chute down to Long Lake is still mostly snow with some rock hopping. The snow is nicely consolidated over the top half of the chute and around Treasure Lakes making for easy walking. Lower down I was postholing to my knee and hip at ~10am.
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Treasure lakes/ Gem lakes 5/31-6/2

Postby Mradford » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:45 pm

Route taken: Regular treasure lakes trail



Difficult section encountered: The entire talus field you climb to get up to treasure lakes once you leave the morgan pass/gem lakes trail is still covered in snow. You can zig zag trying to stay on the rocks that are not covered, but eventually you have to walk on the snow. Also, 3 of the 4 treasure lakes are still mostly frozen.



Special equipment needed/used: Wish I had snow shoes, but NONE.



Possible alternative routes: You could try climbing the rocks on the side of the snowfield but I am not sure if they cliff out or not.
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Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins & Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Postby tomba » Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:27 am

Route: Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, visit Stanford Col, cross Crocker Col, visit Hopkins Pass, Hopkins Creek Basin, small lake west from Lower Hopkins Lake, cross over the ridge to both Grinnell Lakes and their basin, trail out through Mono Pass.

Mono Pass had some unavoidable snow stretches. Easy to cross. The lake on top of the pass has thawed by the time we hiked out.

Upper portions of the three basins had significant areas covered by snow. Uppermost lake of each basin was mostly frozen, but other lakes were ice-free.

N side of Stanford Col looked fine to cross (some snow, of course), although a long talus slog.

NE side of Crocker Col had some snow. The snow was actually easier to climb than surrounding lose talus. We used trekking poles.

Hopkins Pass had cornice and steep snow on north side. I don't know whether it was passable.

McGee Pass has some snow areas to cross, but looks OK.

Looking at Third Recess and Fourth Recess - they had plenty of snow coverage.

All creek crossings were fine.

Mosquitoes were bad in Hopkins Lakes basin (everywhere except Hopkins Pass), and OK in Pioneer Basin and near Grinnell Lakes and Mono Pass. Bad in the valley below Grinnell Lakes.

Click on photos for larger versions.
Ask me for any more info or photos.

Fourth Recess (left) and Third Recess (middle right).
IMG_2151-recesses.jpg


Crocker Col, NE side.
IMG_2201-crocker-col.jpeg


Approach to Crocker Col, NE side. Highest lake in Pioneer Basin in background.
IMG_2209-crocker-col-approach.jpeg


McGee Pass (middle).
IMG_2242-mcgee-pass.jpeg


Hopkins Pass, N side - somewehere here.
IMG_2256-hopkins-pass.jpeg


Upper Hopkins Lake and Grinnell Col (right).
IMG_2258-upper-hopkins-lake-and-grinell-col.jpeg


Red and White Mtn. (top), Grinnell Lakes (upper Little G.Lk. barely visible under ice), Pace Col.
IMG_2308-grinell.jpeg
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6/17/13-6/20/13 Agnew Meadows Loop to Ediza and TI Lake

Postby larroyo33 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:29 pm

Route taken:

Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake via the Shadow Creek Trail; Side Trip to Nydiver Lakes; Ediza Lake to Thousand Island Lake via JMT; Thousand Island Lake to Agnew Meadows via PCT/High Trail.

The trail for the main loop was mostly snow free. Some small patches of snow coming down the JMT on the northern side of the pass down to Garnet Lake and the pass down to Thousand Island Lake. All patches either had good boots marks worn into them or a clear path around by rock hoping.

Difficult section encountered:

1. The bridge across Ediza lake's inlet to the legal camping sites is broken, so you must ford the inlet. The easiest place to cross was near where the inlet meets the lake. The water is pretty calm there and about only a foot deep at its deepest section. I used Crocs and a hiking pole to cross. Here is a picture of the broken bridge and where I crossed the inlet on my way out.

Image
Ediza Lake Conditions 1

Image
Ediza Lake Conditions 2

2. There was a large snow field with big sun cups (about 12 inches on average, but in some places as big as 24 inches) at the top of the hill to Nydiver lakes and on the slope going down to the lakes. I crossed it early in the morning when the snow was hard and had no problems. Best route to cross was by climbing the hill, then crossing the snow field from south to north, and then hiking down to the lakes (the snow field was more patchy on the northern part of the hill). Here are some pictures.

Image
Nydiver Lakes Conditions 1

Image
Nydiver Lakes Conditions 2

Special equipment needed/used:

Hiking poles

(Trip Report to come)
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Re: 2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Postby Silverfox » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:44 pm

Heading up to same area June 28th with students from my High School Backpacking class, appreciate the info., curious about mosquitos?

Thanks, Silverfox
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Re: 2013 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Postby larroyo33 » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:57 am

They were pretty bad. Under Maverick's rating system, it was a 3-4 if near the water or snow. The mosquitoes were better at dawn/dusk and when the wind was blowing hard, but if it was the middle of the day and hiking near the water, I basically could not stop for even 5 seconds without getting swarmed.
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