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Time to give the Sierra a rest?

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Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby oldranger » Thu May 14, 2015 1:29 pm

Having turned down a daughter's request for an August backpack due to the dry conditions and actually changing my plans for july for the same reason and seeing recent requests for suggestions for trips in August I began thinking (Always a dangerous concept!). Maybe this is a year we all give the Sierra a rest! I know that allmost all of the west is relatively dry this year. But the Cascades in Washington and the northern Rockies have a considerably higher proportion of normal snowpack than the Sierra. I know for most these are out of reach for Weekend trips. But maybe this is the year that the trip to the N. Cascades, the Sawtooths, the Beartooths, or the Winds you have been postponing for years should move to the top of your list for your long trip of the year.

Just thinking. I might even do my TR on my July trip to the Sawtooths before the end of summer … not!


Mike
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu May 14, 2015 8:53 pm

Dry or wet, good weather or bad, any time is a good time to hike the Sierra!
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby longri » Fri May 15, 2015 8:02 am

oldranger wrote:But the Cascades in Washington and the northern Rockies have a considerably higher proportion of normal snowpack than the Sierra.

That's not saying much, given that the Sierra is at ~5% of normal.
The Cascades in Washington are also well below normal due to the drought.

Maybe this is a good time to visit Antarctica?
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby SSSdave » Fri May 15, 2015 8:30 am

I've been in that same minimal backpacking mode the last 3 summers because generally a dry Sierra has mediocre aesthetics. However quite understand how that has little influence on many who visit for other reasons. For the same reason even after good winters, I don't backpack much in early or late season because I find overly snowy landscapes or dry landscapes generally mediocre. A reason have taken late May trips up to Humboldt and Del Norte County redwood and coast parks each year and a couple years ago drove out to Arizona to Petrified NP. Was supposed to spend 2 weeks out in the Utah Colorado Plateau areas this month but we aborted because they had two long very dry periods this winter also. Do have a 9-day wilderness permit reserved for 3 of us going in over Duck Pass into the Fish Creek areas over the July 4th period. A zone I'd normally do late July but moved it up. And am considering doing the long road trip up to Ranier and Mt. St. Helens about the end of July when their famous wildflower slopes peak because as you noted their winter has been more normal.

Washington Cascades were dry in February but have been only slightly below normal in recent 2 months. Also shows how some western areas have been wet while others very dry.

http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/anomima ... 0dPpct.gif

Following shows how Emigrant W, Mokelumne W, Hoover W, and Tuolumne River basin areas of Yosemite are likely to be better choices at least this early summer.

4/14 > 5/13 Sierra precipitation

http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/anomima ... al30dP.gif

Shows this last month areas from San Joaquin River basin south have continued to be dry. Merced River basin slightly dry. But basins between Yuba and Tuolumne rivers have received a lot. Tuolumne County and northern Mono County areas were pounded in the storm a week ago to the extent that it ought to have an impact into summer. I was personally up in the 3k to 5k elevations and saw that first hand. However due to lack of snow cover, ground temperatures are warm so much of the snow that fell about sunny higher elevation exposures will quickly melt then just runoff over the next few weeks. But it will sustain runoff from less exposed areas and forests.

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Spring_2015 ... 015-6.html
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby limpingcrab » Fri May 15, 2015 3:15 pm

You mean give them a rest because we have a larger impact during dry years?

Or give them a rest because now would be a good time to see other places?

Either way, no thanks, love it too much to go anywhere else!




Snowy, rainy, dry, beetle trees, burned, bushes, flowers, granite, grass, it's all just another unique face of nature so I have no preference. I will enjoy the Sierra this year as much as any other.
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby oldranger » Fri May 15, 2015 3:50 pm

limpingcrab.

The second reason. I suspect that after midjuly except for storm events only major streams and lakes will have water. So you are likely to have to carry more water than usual. Most of the really nice places in Washington and Idaho that I have been paying attention to are 50 to 70% normal, not good but way better than 5% in the Sierra. The Sierra is wonderful and most of my 55 years of backpacking have been in the Sierra but I have sampled the north cascades, the Sawtooths, and the Beartooths and spent a fair amount of time in the Eaglecap wilderness and they really are the equal (if different) in scenic quality without quite as reliable good weather, and in places better fishing for bigger fish than most of the Sierra. To love the Sierra so much that you neglect other wonderful areas seems rather limiting to me. My only regret is that I was over 50 before I learned that lesson.

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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby maverick » Fri May 15, 2015 4:00 pm

oldranger wrote:

To love the Sierra so much that you neglect other wonderful areas seems rather limiting to me.


Consider me limited then Mike, even with these drought conditions their is plenty she has to offer to those who make the effort to seek out those hidden nuggets. Once the Sierra, always the Sierra Mike. ;)
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri May 15, 2015 7:40 pm

My first trip in the Sierra (outside of rock climbing in Yosemite Valley) was in my early 50's, AFTER experiencing many other ranges: Cascades, Wallowas, Sawtooths, Beartooths, Selkirks (BC), Canadian Rockies, Tetons, Wind Rivers, Wasatch, Zion, Grand Canyon. I love the Sierra, but am always looking for new and different places to explore. I also am almost done with climbing the high point in every California county, and walking the "coast trail" in pieces. Spent some time in the Ruby Mountains of NV and White Mountains. The amount of variety in Californian alone is amazing. I have yet to do Alaska or Colorado, but I hope to soon. So, I guess I agree with Old Ranger. I never felt any of the other trips took away from the Sierra, instead it adds many comparisons. Much of my wanderings in other places is also simply the result of having lived and worked in many places. If someone were to drop a million dollars in my lap, then I would head out to the entire world!

John Muir and Ansel Adams, two great "lovers" of the Sierra, also explored other areas.

Since the drought has impacted the Sierra, now is the perfect year to go elsewhere. I came over Donner Pass today and there is new snow on the ground. This next week also looks good for some high elevation snow. I sure hope we can get a bit more.

By the way, most of the mountains of Wyoming are at about 70-80% average total snowpack, but the melt started earlier than "normal".
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby Eiprahs » Sun May 17, 2015 10:59 pm

Here's a link to May 1 snowpack across the USA.

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/sup ... ow1505.gif

Some mountains receive significant summer rain--the San Juans of Colorado and New Mexico come to mind. So I'm planning multiple destinations and will keep an eye on fires and weather in the weeks before departure.

I hope you all have great trips.
Dave
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby longri » Mon May 18, 2015 8:51 am

oldranger wrote:Most of the really nice places in Washington and Idaho that I have been paying attention to are 50 to 70% normal, not good but way better than 5% in the Sierra

True, if you're selective.

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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby Cross Country » Tue May 19, 2015 8:32 am

Although I backpacked several other places in westen US I always came back to the sierra because it has a very high winter to summer precipitation. The water is were you want it (not on the head). The other places I went I always got raind on. In over 500 days I probably had more than a brief afternoon shower less than 10 days. Maybe I was just lucky, but I doubt it.
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Re: Time to give the Sierra a rest?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue May 19, 2015 2:27 pm

Those afternoon Rocky Mountain storms make the Rockies much more lush all summer long and the flowers bloom longer. I agree, Sierra are for the weather-reluctant! In the Sierra I can just plan about anything for each day's travel. In the Rockies, I have to be very strategic and get up before dawn, walk hard in the morning, hit passes before afternoon storms and be snug in my tent by the time the sky lets loose. That said, I have had two of my most wet-cold epics in the Sierra - caught in horrible storm on Colby Pass and an intense downpour in Gardiner Basin. And this was precisely because I was not expecting this in the Sierra! I grew up in the Pacific NW and simply thought rain was the norm in the mountains. I am glad I ended up in the Sierra, the gentle wilderness, in my old age.
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