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Snowmobiles in the backcountry(ish)

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Snowmobiles in the backcountry(ish)

Postby SteveB » Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:31 pm

Thinking about taking a snowmobile up to Monitor Pass for a couple days. Anyone ever been on 88 with a snowmobile? Just curious how the rangers feel about that, and how you manage around the gates...



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Postby hikerduane » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:08 pm

Where I live, we have no problem as long as we stay out of wilderness areas (Bucks Lake Wilderness). Other places like the Lakes Basin are ok too. Great spot by the way, only an hour from Reno if you haven't been there. The Forest Circus and Sheriffs office only do the roads. If you have any contact with the FS, it will be at the trailhead. If you live in Nevada, be sure to have your DL with you to prove you are a nonresident. Otherwise they will want to see your green sticker. Enjoy. Stay off private property if it is posted of course. When we have been thru there to see the hill climbs at Kirkwood, we could see alot of tracks around Caples area where the businesses are.
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Postby EricJLee » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:10 pm

I don't believe snow mobiles are actually allowed in the backcountry, saw 3 guys take their's up toward Kearsarge Pass once, very sad. Anyways, if you're on 88, there shouldn't be a problem, heck you do less damage than a normal car. Probably get some great scenery, and don't the Tioga rangers snowmobile in this time of year?
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Snowmobiles in b/c

Postby gdurkee » Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:28 pm

I don't know much about what's allowed on 88 (though I was just over it two days ago -- lot's of snow!) But they're definitely not allowed up Kearsarge Pass (Wilderness). Nor do the Tuolumne rangers routinely use them to go in and out of Tuolumne. They usually ski. They've got snowmobiles for emergencies. The owners of Tioga Pass Resort on the east side of Tioga do routinely use them to take guests and gear in and out, but that's not wilderness and they stick to the road (though that wasn't your question, I'm responding to some of the other comments...).

Anyway, the main message is they're not allowed at all in designated Wilderness. I've seen a bunch of trailers parked at pull outs along 88, so there must be a fair amount of use there. I suspect you've got to have one of those USFS snow use permits for parking, though (they've got an official name, but I've forgotten).

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Postby ERIC » Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:34 pm

EricJLee wrote:I don't believe snow mobiles are actually allowed in the backcountry, saw 3 guys take their's up toward Kearsarge Pass once, very sad. Anyways, if you're on 88, there shouldn't be a problem, heck you do less damage than a normal car. Probably get some great scenery, and don't the Tioga rangers snowmobile in this time of year?
Eric


Pretty sure you're aloud to go wherever you want on National Forest land, but I'm not so sure abou National Park land.

ERIC
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mo' sno' mo'

Postby gdurkee » Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:43 pm

Eric et al:

Not impossible I'm wrong (there might be exceptions), but the whole idea behind Wilderness (capital "W") is no motorized vehicles, so even if it's USFS, they're not allowed. Kearsarge is Wilderness about 1/2 mile above Onion Valley. They're not allowed on any park areas in Sequoia-Kings, Yosemite or the Postpile, including roads (though at SEKI you can use them in the inholding of Wilsonia -- not sure about Mineral King -- I think not. Skibum??)

george

Eric, just noticed the cool IP id gizmo. Pretty fun!
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Postby JM21760 » Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:11 pm

Hey Steve, I am thinking you mean California Highway 89. 89 crosses Monitor Pass, 88 is Carson Pass. As far as accessing 89 to Monitor Pass from Highway 4, to the South of Markleeville, you will probably have a tough time. The junction of 4 and 89, is next to the Carson River, usually way too low for a decent snow pack. This is where the gates are locked. It is not wilderness, as this is a state highway. The closest wilderness is Carson Iceberg, up around Ebbetts Pass. I don't think CalTrans would mind if you took your snowmobile up the road, but I don't think there will be any snow for a few miles. To access 89 to Monitor from 395 is not a viable option either. This road head is lower than the Markleeville area, and in the rain shadow. Maybe a trip out of Red Lake, on the east side of Carson Pass would be a good alternate. You can access the Forestdale, and Blue Lakes area.
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Postby JM21760 » Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:12 pm

I believe MK is OK for snowmobiles. But, let's see what Skibum says.
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Postby SteveB » Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:01 am

Yeah, I always forget that the run over Monitor is 89, and not 88. Anywho, I've been by the 89 turn-off there a few times last winter/spring and there were always trucks with snowmobile trailers there! That's a popular area for snowmobilers, I guess! Never really paid attention to how they get around the two lower gates, but I suspect the upper gate isn't a problem in a good year!

Last year when they had Hwy 4 plowed up to Silver Creek Campground, there was a good 4 ft on the rest of the road, so they definately get good snowpack up there for snowmobiling! :) I've GOTTA get myself a snowmobile! :p

I've just gotten to thinking lately that a snowmobile would save a LOT of time over snowshoe'ing up Monitor & Ebbets in winter! I'm heading up to Heenan (hopefully) this weekend for an overnighter, so I'll have a good eyeball on the snow level on the west side of Monitor. With any luck I'll be able to arrange a cheap snowmobile rental for MLK weekend!
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Re: mo' sno' mo'

Postby ERIC » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:45 am

gdurkee wrote:Eric et al:

Not impossible I'm wrong (there might be exceptions), but the whole idea behind Wilderness (capital "W") is no motorized vehicles, so even if it's USFS, they're not allowed. Kearsarge is Wilderness about 1/2 mile above Onion Valley. They're not allowed on any park areas in Sequoia-Kings, Yosemite or the Postpile, including roads (though at SEKI you can use them in the inholding of Wilsonia -- not sure about Mineral King -- I think not. Skibum??)

george

Eric, just noticed the cool IP id gizmo. Pretty fun!


Well, I could be wrong too! #-o But the reason I think they might be ok on NF land (at least in some areas) is because we go between Huntington Lake and Florence Lake every year. Sometimes we even take the snow cat up and x-country ski down. FS even has snowmobile "road signs" and crossing signs all throughout that area. I'm not sure what the restrictions are for going off of those trails, but there sure are a lot of them up there. I do know that's the only way Edison Co was able to get up to check the dams back in the days before everything was automated. Maybe that's why it's ok? :dontknow
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sno mo

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:38 pm

Yes, the critical difference is Wilderness designation. You can have them on most USFS road and even some off-road areas just, I think, not in Wilderness areas. Just found this link that may help:
http://www.cnsa.net/riding_areas.htm

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Postby hikerduane » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:07 pm

With insurance on snowmobiles, I doubt you will be able to rent a sled and go out on your own. Sounds like you have never been out too. There is alot to riding and getting your sled unstuck. All you can do is go to Stateline and go around the field or up to the Little Truckee Summit and go on a tour as far as I know.
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