May 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm #1289810
I'm looking for first-hand (or second-hand (or third-hand)) reports on the trails in the Bishop area. I've been following the CDEC snow courses pretty religiously for the past few weeks, and I'm hoping to get up that way in about a week or two, given this record snow year. The next week is supposed to have another string of 90+ degree days in Bishop—about 10 degrees higher than average—which should melt out a bit more, I'd hope.
Has anyone been up Bishop or Piute pass yet this year? Inyo rangers had very limited info—their last report was snow free up to Piute lake. Almost all the snow courses are showing 0 or close to 0. SEKI rangers had no reports. Also, are we talking sun cups, or mush? I have experience in the area, and some snow experience, but I don't intend to take an axe, or do all snow travel, and I've never been up that way this early in the year. But then again, this year is special.
I'd love to do North Lake-South Lake, but I have no idea if that will be possible, so I'll plan on out-and-backs. If I do make it down into Piute Canyon, are there any Piute Creek crossings that are too swift to cross this time of year? Can I assume that the shallow Evolution crossing will be passable?
Nighttime temps this time of year? Lows in the 20s?
And I've checked HighSierraTopix—no reports yet.
Edit: And with the high likelihood I'll need a solid Plan B, any suggestions? Any ideas to satiate my need for views? Something in Yosemite? Emigrant? I'm coming from Oregon, so anything between I-5 and 395 is fair game.May 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm #1877327
Bump!May 14, 2012 at 9:32 am #1877489
No specific info for this year, but a few years back I was planning to hike out for resupply over either Bishop or Piute Pass early in a bigger snow year. I was told that Bishop holds more snow (east facing and steeper?) than Piute does. We went down (and back) over Piute and it was much more gentle (though snowy for a while coming down). Also, being up in the High Sierra with a fair amount of consolidated snow is great!May 14, 2012 at 10:39 am #1877516
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I haven't been over those trails since last August, but they were fine then. This year, since there was less snow, it should be fine at least one month earlier. There is an automated weather station less than a mile southwest of Bishop Pass, so the snow results can be read from there.
Last August there was one rather severe stream crossing west of Piute Pass. The water depth was to my crotch, and it was very cold and the current was a problem. The only safe way through is to use trekking poles for balance and keep your boots on. By comparison, the shallow Evolution crossing was only half bad. Around Muir Pass, I was on snow for maybe four miles.
I had started from North Lake, and it took me slightly under four days to reach South Lake. Others that I met were obviously going the other direction, and they were all planned for five or six days.
–B.G.–May 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm #1877557
Thanks guys. This is the kind of info I was looking for.
Bob, do you know where that Piute crossing was? Is there a way around it?May 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm #1877572
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
In the Humphreys Basin a few miles west of Piute Pass, there is one stream that flows from Lower Desolation Lake to Lower Golden Trout Lake. There are additional tributaries as well. The main trail crosses this stream. At the time, it appeared as there were no options. Later, as I studied the map, it appeared that there was an alternative trail segment that crossed about three smaller tributaries instead of one large stream. Horses stay on the main trail and do the deeper stream crossings. Humans may take the alternative trail with the shallower stream crossings. This year, due to the lower snow, it might be completely different.
When I first started west over Piute Pass, my idea was to take off boots for the stream crossings. That got poor results. By the time I got to French Canyon, I kept my boots on for the stream crossings, and that sped things up considerably, especially when there are about five branches of one stream within 150 yards. It helps to have fast-draining boots.
If you get off-route and head north, you will end up around Mount Morgan.
–B.G.–May 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm #1877573
Beautiful, thank you.
Fortunately, that area has so many trail options, that even if I can't get past somewhere, I can always head up another way.
The snow courses are just about all at 0. I assume this means still significant patches, but we'll see. I'll report back what I find.
Any idea on temps, Bob? Low 20's min?May 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm #1877579
I can't think that it would be that cold (low 20s); seems like it would have to be warmer than that. But I'm not really sure.
Agreed on the stream crossings. Just be really careful; I recall one in the area that we hiked at least a mile upstream trying to find a place to cross, and managed to find something fairly doable, though not ideal. Take those snowmelt streams seriously!
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