Apr 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm #1257918
I am planning a trip into the John Muir Wilderness. I am hoping to go around the Silver Lakes Divide. I am planning on starting at Reds Meadow, head to Fish Creek, then to Lost Keys Lakes and Iva Bell Hot Sprigs, to Peter Pande Lake, Cascade Valley and then back to fish creek and then head out. I think the elevation maxes out somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000ft.
What I am tryin to figure out is if going in mind June would be to early in regards to snow and mosquitoes?
Any thoughts, ideas or two cents would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks!Apr 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm #1599851
A buddy and I did the first week in July a few years back when the Sierra had ALL that snow….ended up breaking my left leg (fracture and a hole about an inch and a half all the way down to bone) from post holeing (spelling?). There were sun cups and virtually NO tracks ZERO to follow. We started from Tuolumne and exited Reds Meadow and got a lift to the Mammoth Lakes ER room. Saw two PCT hikers there with busted bodies from falls or other trauma…it was rough that year and most all the PCT ers opted to go around the Sierra and re-do that as a section hike in better conditions. In three days we saw TWO people who came up from some side trail…not a soul on the JMT/PCT- the rangers thought we were nuts.
I know that trail like the back of my hand and was able to find the routes BUT post holed into a covered granite rock and fractured my left leg—had to hike out 13 more miles to Reds—-OUCH! All in all I got some amazing pictures of ice bergs in Thousand Island Lakes, snow drifts up to ten feet high and beautiful sunsets but the leg thing sucked. So many water crossings and kicking steps into the ice/snow to get up and out of the lake basins that it was really hard going and stressful.
In my opinion, that is pretty early for that section of the SIerra and it may be gnarly. Of course, it depends entirely on the snow pack/fall—so watch the reports closely.
Mosquito: "Human, it's what's for diner!"
Human: "This sucks!"
couchApr 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm #1599857
that sounds like a crazy trip! Happy to hear you made it out alive haha. The reason I picked this trial is because a book I have "Sierra South: Backcountry trips in California's Sierra Nevada" by Kathy Morey and Mike White said that it is a good trip for early season. How would I go about knowing what the snow pack up there is like when it gets closer to the time to go?Apr 19, 2010 at 9:47 pm #1599861
The California Department of Water Resources regularly measures the snow depth in a number of strategic places, and I believe most of that data is online. The raw data isn't going to be that much good to you, but if you see percentage numbers compared to a normal year, that can give you a good idea of what you'll be into. For example, if I see that an area is at 120% of normal snowpack, then I will delay my summer trip there by 2-3 weeks.
This year, for one particular area, I delayed my trip by one week compared to normal. For another area, about two weeks.
–B.G.–Apr 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm #1599863
Check the PCT bloggers sites (their info is usually right on and very up-to-date), call the rangers/permit offices to ask. They are usually fairly accurate and get a lot of their info from the PCT crew. Red's Meadow staffers have been there for years and they could also give you their opinions of your intended route and risks.
couchApr 19, 2010 at 9:54 pm #1599868
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
It's too early to know. Snowpack is a little above average this year for that part of the Sierra, so how hot spring is now is the largest influence over whether it will be cleared out.
You can watch this as you get closer.
I read recently that they're going to put in more data collection sensors, beginning with the American River headwaters, so the remote data will be better in the future.
RickApr 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm #1599869
Thanks guys for the tips. I am trying to figure out if I should get my trial permit or not. How far out do you think you can determine if a trip will be doable? like 2-3 weeks before?Apr 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm #1599872
Trail permits are cheap and memories are PRICELESS! Worth the investment to have a 'bird in hand.'
couchApr 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm #1599877
The local ranger station ought to be able to give you a partially good idea one month before. Then by two weeks before, they should know for sure.
It depends on the station. Some have some really good backwoods rangers, and they will be scouting out conditions and reporting them back. They have to see which trails will need lots of trail maintenance, etc.
The trick is in getting the right information from the right people. A phone call to the station should get you started with this.
–B.G.–Apr 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm #1599879
Point taken!Apr 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm #1599894
I took a look at that link you gave me about the snow depth reports…looks legit! Any idea of which location would be the best best to keep an eye on for where I am going?
I saw devils postpil, its close to where I am going, but much lower in elevation than alot of my trip. can you apply the % from a location to the general surrounding area regardless of elevation?
DanApr 19, 2010 at 11:59 pm #1599910
Most of the snow depth survey locations are intentionally flat, so they give unbiased data.
Following a big snow year, you are always going to have deeper summer snow on the north and northeast slopes.
The JMT is mostly just a bit west of the Sierra crest, so if the snow survey locations to the west of the crest all show similar percentage of normal depths, you can assume that is good enough data for the JMT.
–B.G.–Apr 20, 2010 at 8:15 pm #1600258
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
PCT hikers tend to aim to leave Kennedy Meadows around June 15 or so each year. Even then, it's a little on the early side, but it's doable. You will be walking on a lot of snow and some creeks might be high.
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