Jun 22, 2005 at 12:54 pm #1216300
We have a trip planned for the Ansel Adams Wilderness in July–I kow the snopack is high–wondered if anyone had been in the sierra backcountry yet? if so what are the conditions like now?
RonJun 22, 2005 at 2:17 pm #1338378
been down around 5-6000 ft. but not higher. From what I hear, the snow level is at around 7-7500 ft. Hwy 120 is opening this Friday for those of you interested. I have a trip in Gardiner Basin/60 Lakes Basin/ Rae Lakes in late July. I am keeping my fingers crossed. The rangers that I have spoken to have mentioned that stream crossings will be much more dangerous this summer and expect North facing slopes to be full of snow for the whole summer. Ice Axe will travel!!Jun 22, 2005 at 10:40 pm #1338384
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I was in Yosemite around five weeks ago. There was spotty snow started around 6500ft and was solid snow at around 7200ft. I have heard that the snow is now clear to around 800ft in some places, but haven’t seen this with my own eyes. My trip report from a month ago is at:
There have been a number of more recent trip reports on the SW section of forums.backpacker.com
–markJun 23, 2005 at 2:08 pm #1338408
That’s right Mark and I had the pleasure of meeting you and hiking out with you that weekend!! Boy was the weather beautiful. Pleasure meeting you.Jun 23, 2005 at 6:00 pm #1338414
Dean J MisczynskiSpectator
That’s a web site with daily snow depths at a bunch of locations in the Cal. mountains. It is run by the state’s water department. Go to Snow Sensor Info and then to Daily Snow Depth Reports.Jun 24, 2005 at 5:01 am #1338434
I crossed the John Muir Trail in early May just south of Forester Pass and probed 150cm/5ft of snow on the trail. Solar radiation has been immense in the past 5 weeks as well as the melting effects of rain. Still, it’s going to be a wet early to mid season in the high sierra. I hiked the JMT last summer July 5-18 and only had to take my boots off once. Had I gone a few weeks earlier it would have been a muck and creek fording fest. Were I to be in the high country in July this year, I would pick up a pair of those SealSkinz WPB socks that promise to seal on the calf so you can ford streams above sock height without getting your socks wet. I swear by my GTX socks, but they don’t guarantee to seal when the water goes above the height of the sock.
Good Luck—-AlJun 24, 2005 at 8:14 am #1338443
Thanks for your feedback—our trip is July 11 hoping to get into thousand Island lake out of Agnew meadows–May end up just going to Shadow lake about 8800′ if the snow proves to be deep past that point–any new info would be helpful—I have seen the site on the snow sensor depths–my guess is at this time of the year that is really going to be different for the various angles of sun exposure–so info from people who have been there and have seen it is the most valuable.
RonJun 24, 2005 at 12:10 pm #1338448
check with rangers but don’t totally take what they say for truth. two years ago i was in the 1000 island lake/garnett lake area and they said it was covered in snow and by the time i hit 1000 island lake there were patches of snow at best until 10,500 ft. and above. if you get to those lakes enjoy them, they are some of the sierras best.Jun 25, 2005 at 8:22 am #1338461
Thats my thinking as well–unless someone was up there they really don’t know–we are going anyways-have the permits–have the bear cannisters reserved-worse case–Shadow lake at 8800′–and we’ll do side hikes to other locations.
ThanksJun 28, 2005 at 2:25 am #1338515
My nephew and brother-in-law left Yosemite Valley(4000′) 6/21 en route to Whitney. They hit Toulumne Meadows (8500′) @ mile 23 and pulled out due to high snow levels (to the bottom of their packs). Their highest elevation was only about 9000′ @ Cathedral Pass. You will be starting 3 weeks later than them and be 15 miles SE. Your intended elevations are Shadow L.8737′, Ediza L. 9265′, Thousand Isl.L. 9830′, Garnet L.9678′. You could continue north up the JMT over 10170′ Island Pass (1 mile NW of Thousand Isl. L.) into the lovely Waugh and Gem Lake Basins, but they are similar elevations. If you only go as far as Shadow Lake, as you suggested, check with the Ranger Station to make sure camping is allowed there. Unlike the good ol’ 70’s when I made many trips over the Minaret Lake Loop, I think camping is prohibited at Ediza and Shadow to allow vegetation to recover from over use.
If it were my trip,I would weigh lightly the expense of permits and cannister reservations and weigh heavily the expense and sacrifices made by your party to make yourselves available for this trip. The Sierra is full of lower elevation adventures and even 10,000′ trail heads on the East Side, along Hwy 395, (such as the Little Lakes Valley trail head) are heavily melted out. Talk to your Ranger Station shortly before your hike. My nephew’s team is burning up valuable wilderness time trying to find a suitable trail, getting back to their cars etc. because they didn’t modify their plan in response to the unusual snow load this year. I’d hate to see that happen to you and your team.
Cheers, AlJun 28, 2005 at 4:49 pm #1338534
Thanks for your comments Al, I know exactly what you mean–I am waiting for someone to give me a report–but the road to Agnew Meadows doesn’t open until tomorrow-the 29th-so most likley there have been very few people back there yet. I believe Shadow is open to camping now—
but perhaps I will r-evaluate and have a plan B ready–so far my plan B was to just go as far as Shadow–but we shall see.
RonJun 29, 2005 at 4:31 am #1338545
I got some good news for you from a colleague at work tonight. He and his wife just returned from a trip out of June Lake where his family has a house. They hiked up to Agnew Lake and continued up towards Agnew Pass en route to summit Carson Peak. They turned around when they encountered 15′ deep snow on the way up to Agnew Pass (northern aspect). The good news is that they found Gem Lake basin to be fairly well melted out with reasonable camping possible. Waugh Lake (slightly higher) still had a bit more melting to do. These basins are comparable elevation to Garnet, 1000 Isl., Shadow and Ediza and are only about 5 miles north of them. And you’ve still got 2-1/2 weeks to go (these observations are from 6/23). If you’re looking to do the entire Minaret loop without touching snow, I think that is doubtfull. Above Iceberg L. and especially over the top at Cecile L. there will still likely be copious amounts of the white stuff. But there’s miles of exquisite alpine hiking under the watchful, omnipresent gaze of the twin summits of Mts. Ritter and Banner between 1000 Isl.L. and Minaret L. without going that high. And at the end of your adventure you’ve got free geothermal showers and fresh cherry pie waiting for you at Red’s Meadow.
I consider this report to be very relevant and encouraging in reference to the general area you plan to visit.
AlJun 29, 2005 at 7:19 am #1338550
Thanks again Alan–great news–Thats the first good report I’ve heard for that area.
We will most likely attempt a day hike from shadow to iceburg–but fact of the matter is if we can’t get much higher than Shadow Garnet or TI thats okay–it will still be a good trip–I’m sure the streams and San J River will be interesting!
RonJul 9, 2005 at 2:47 am #1338801
Ron—My nephew & I made it to 10K’ in Death Valley Park, but avoided Whitney due to exposed, snow covered trail being a bit much for his level of experience. So we detoured to Ansel Adams. Mandatory $7/head charge 24/7 and bus only access 7AM -7:30PM on Minaret Pass Road this year. 7:30PM-7Am you can take your car in. I think It’s $20/ car max. They just opened the road this past week.
Agnew meadows was a skeeter fest. Wear netting and hike .1MPH faster than the lovable little devils can fly or dope up with DEET. There are 3 trails that head North out of this region. The JMT comes out of Red’s Meadow and goes to Shadow Lake. Running parallel and just East out of Agnew Meadow and running along the east side of the river is the River Trail. High up on the ridge east of the river is the High Trail/PCT.
We took the River trail and encountered little snow on the trail. We hiked past The Shadow Lake Trail turn off another mile and camped with moderate skeeter activity-massively less than lower down. The next day we continued up the River Trail to 1000 Isl. Lake. Snow patches increased in frequency as we ascended till they became the norm around the 1000 Isl.Lake outlet. Lots of bare rock camping sites exposed around lake. 90% snow on lake surface. South from 1000 Isl. Lake on JMT it was virtually 100% deep snow. It took us about 4 more hrs. using hiking boots, GTX socks, short scree gaitors and trekking poles to negotiate ascents, descents and exposed traverses above lakes to reach Garnet Lake. It was 80% snow covered not counting the 300 meters from the outlet to the first island that were snow free. We utilized one of the few exposed rocks not far from the shore to camp. Days were warm and sunny . Nights were 40 degrees minimum. Day 3 we hiked 35 degree snow covered slopes south up and over a ridge to Altha Lake (totally melted) and descended 3rd and 4th class gully and crossed river on logs to get back to River Trail.
Never made it up to Shadow Lake but met couple who said that camping there was very nice. If you’re adventurous and are similarly equipped as we were (or better) you will find lots of exploring to do. If you only want to hike on dry trails, your options will be more limited. However, I can think of worse places to hole-up than Shadow Lake.
There were no bugs at the upper lakes due to all the snow. By the time you arrive more melting will occur with resultant breeding ponds and the skeeter line will move up in elevation.
They just started repairs on Reds Meadow free geothermal showers last week. Hope they’re up & running when you come out.
Vaya con Dios, Amigo!—AlJul 9, 2005 at 10:55 pm #1338822
Thanks for the update—we are leaving the 11th–will post an update when we return on the 19th.
Think I’ll opt for buying another container of Deet before we leave–
Maybe camping at Ediza lake would be the best bet–still high but maybe free of snow from the sounds of things.
Man–I hate mosquitoes!!!Jul 10, 2005 at 8:31 am #1338828
hey Ron, do write one when you get back. My wife and I are doing a cross country taverse around 1000 Island Garnett and Ediza and I will be curious as to what the snow levels are likeJul 10, 2005 at 8:54 am #1338829
I will do that Ken.
Should be able to give a pretty good picture(literally) of the conditions–looks like the snow is melting fast so I’m sure every week produces some big changes–and most likely adds to the mosquito population.
by the way have you or has anyone else hiked with mosquito netting? If so–is it worth doing or is it just as well to use the good ol DEET? thanksJul 10, 2005 at 12:53 pm #1338832
yeah i have and i have seen others with full suits on. i always feel like darth vader breathing through those things. they are good for keeping out mosquitos and little black flies that might fly into your mouth, eyes, and ears. i prefer not to wear one, but if they become too annoying, then on it goes. they only add a few ounces to your kit too.Jul 10, 2005 at 6:24 pm #1338837
Ron, I hiked to Valentine Lake on June 24 and found snow at 9400′. It was patchy, in the shadows and in tight canyons. Valentine is located 5 miles south of Mammoth. There was very few Mosquitos there, surprisingly, though I will expect them on my next trip. On the back side of Mammoth mountain around George and Marie Lakes there was patches of snow, but nothing to slow you down. I too am curious about the JMT from Mammoth to Toulemne Meadows as I have a trip planned for July 21 through 26. We will hike to the surrounding lakes on the way (to fish every body of water possible and to take in the views), Garnet,Thousand,Shadow,Waugh,Davis,Marie,….. I will try to post after I get back.
JeremyJul 10, 2005 at 7:37 pm #1338840
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
I have a trip planned down the Rafferty Creek area of Yosemite in August, and am trying to gauge the temp. and skeeters (nightime temps and do I need a net?). I’d appreciate any tips you get from your July trip. New to Yosemite and the lightweight effort, so not sure what to expect with the late snow.
TomJul 11, 2005 at 3:34 pm #1338853
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
I was in Yosemite over July 4th.
Spent one night at May Lk (9300′), the next on the Valley rim (7000′). There was plenty of snow at the higher elevations still. We camped in an open, bare spot, but there were 12′ banks of snow adjacent to it. May Lk was still half iced over.
Trails were almost entirely clear of snow until above 9000’+ (the final 300-400′ to May Lk were on a steep, South-facing slope, so I don’t exactly where the snow started).
I don’t think snow will be a problem come August, except maybe in the highest passes, on the North-facing side.
Saw few mosquitos at the higher elevations. Many more lower down. Seemed very hit and miss, though.
I’d worry more about the bugs. You don’t want to face a bad swarm of Sierra mosquitos unprepared and they’re harder to predict than the temperatures. IMHO.
Bill LawJul 11, 2005 at 5:54 pm #1338857
You should be ok in August. There won’t be too much snow at that time.Jul 15, 2005 at 9:02 am #1339082
Went out of Agnew Meadows on the 12th of July with thousand Island as our destination–going by way of Shadow–JMT to Thousand.
Went up as far as Garnet lake–but the mosquitoes chased us out–4 bottles of DEET in 3 days–only time you could avoid them was in tent or hiking.
Now for the icesnow update–there were people doing the JMT from Tuolome–all passable–seems like the snow is greater in the northern areas from reports I’ve heard—
going over the JMT from Shadow lake to Garnet–lots of snow on the northern slopes–but high temps are melting it fast–it was 90 this week at 10,000′
we crossed snow fields at 1 pm and never postholed–a bit slushy but no big deal–the trail was pretty much obliterated by the snow—south slopes are almost 100% free of snow.
anyone going up in that area-keep in mind that the mosquitoes are a major obstacle–and I would seriously recommend taking extra DEET–and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw in mosquito netting–we wish we did.–even with DEET I must have 20-30 bites.
My daughter and her friend couldn’t deal with it any more so we came out earlier than anticipated.
Waterfalls are great–and where there are streams–well they are like rivers–but all passable. Probably never see the area with that much water for some time.
Also want to thank Al Shaver for his input before out trip–I wish I heeded his advice about the mosquito netting.
RonJul 15, 2005 at 11:47 am #1339089
thanks for the update Ron.Jul 15, 2005 at 12:16 pm #1339092
@kdesignLocale: Mythical State of Jefferson
It’s the “Sierra”,not “Sierras”,gringos. “Sierra” is plural in itself.
we now return you to the trip report thread.
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