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Planning for June 2016

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:29 am
by OzSwaggie
Hello Sierraphiles,
I haven't been visiting HST much lately as we didn't visit California this year :tear: but it was interesting to follow some blogs and see how the season unfolded from my armchair here on the other side of the planet!
Luckily next year we have been able to get leave approved for three weeks off. Alas it's the last three weeks of June (10th through 30th). We have flights booked already, and are wondering what it's realistic to think we might be able to do at this time. We have never visited the Sierra so early before. We are not experienced in snow travel, or off trail travel, and enjoy low mileage days and alpine lakes and basin scenery. 35 - 50 mile sections are good for us). We don't mind seeing a few people. If snow wasn't a problem we might go in Kearsarge Pass, along the JMT and out Bishop Pass - something like that (after a shorter acclimating hike). But I doubt we could do this in June (?)

Of course I realize it is WAY too early to lock anything in, and we'll be eagerly watching the snowpack etc, but we do need to apply for some permit reservations in just a couple of months and we are scanning maps looking at everything from northern Yosemite and the Hoover Wilderness to the trails coming out of Cedar Grove area, and wondering which might be possible.
Can anyone offer any advice or suggestions? My partner is really keen to go a bit south into SEKI, and is also looking at North Pine Creek trail and Pioneer Basin and even the High Sierra Trail. (He really likes big spectacular mountain scenery!) I am less fussy, any Sierra is good Sierra!, but I'm worried that these kinds of altitudes might be very impractical in a typical (is there any such thing!) year in June. Very grateful for any help or information. (We will have a Plan A and a Plan B and maybe Plan C...)

BTW I really love the new Maps feature on this site. For some reason it never worked for me before but now it is really excellent, thank you!

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 6:47 am
by tim
The question is whether this winter will be "typical" of the last 3 drought years or "typical" of a big El Niño winter as many of the forecasts predict, which we won't know until at least Jan/Feb.
The last three years you would have had plenty of options in the second half of June. In 2011 (not El Niño but a very heavy snow year), there were several feet of snow at Tioga Pass on July 4.
The good news is that permits should be fairly easy to come by in June. By the time SEKI reservations open it should be very clear what is feasible. But as a starting point you could book a Hetch Hetchy permit when Yosemite reservations open. And perhaps a speculative Cottonwood Pass permit from Inyo, on the basis that further south may have the snow melting quicker. But look at trip reports from June 2011, when even that was very snowy, to see how restricted you could be.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 8:57 am
by markskor
Agree with above - it all depends on this winter's snowfall.

The last few years of having sub-par Sierra winters, June surprisingly was the primo time to visit the Sierra especially for fishing. Ice out came early, plenty of water, no mosquitoes, and best of all, no people. Luckily, was able to get out early to enjoy the spectacle...maybe a little cold at nights but with good gear, ice skills, and a little planning, passes were certainly do-able mid mornings. (There is that daily limited time window where snow was slightly softened - still consolidated and stable...but you had to get through the tough stuff before all turned to post hole hell later in the day.)

The best part of June, as mentioned above, was the lack of crowds. Walk-in permits anywhere 6 - 10,000 feet were always available, just for the asking. Only in the usual "low-lying" destinations (Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy, Merced River corridor, North rim) were the quotas mostly filled/ already reserved, but even at that, no problems with bagging a next day walk-up.

If you are one of those who travels in larger parties and/or have a definite time frame you must be in/out Sierra (work, wife?), then by all means reserve away - as early as possible always good, but, if you have a few extra days to acclimate before, just show up and expect the best. BTW, UL is never the answer during this early season - Plan/ have proven cold weather gear along, and it always helps to know what you are doing too during this uncertain shoulder season.

FYI, A good barometer for current Sierra conditions is to follow the latest PCT blogs in May.

Just to add, for some reason unknown, it always snows around Memorial Day - Sierra.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:45 pm
by Ikan Mas
Another thing to consider for next year is that 180 to Cedar Grove and Road's End are closed for the remainder of this year and it sounds like that it may not be open for a while in 2016. From the most recent Inciniweb:
Currently, the Eshom and Stony Creek areas south of Highway 180, west of the Generals Highway, are open for recreation, including hunting. The road leading into Hume Lake from Highway 180 and the Generals Highway (Tenmile road) may be reopened in 2-3 weeks. Gates need to be installed on secondary roads leading from the Tenmile road prior to this route to Hume Lake being reopened for winter activity.

The rest of the Hume Lake Ranger District will remain closed for the rest of this season. This includes Big Meadows, Millwood, Delilah, McKenzie Ridge, Converse Basin, and the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. There are still hot spots smoldering in the burned area, trees that may fall having been weakened by fire, and rolling debris loosened from burned vegetation.

Recreation area opening procedures in the springtime typically require weeks of preparation before an area can be open to visitors. “With that in mind, and the normal recreation season ending in mid-November, I have decided to keep these areas closed until next season,” stated District Ranger Teresa Benson. “With the fire suppression repair work ongoing on the District, even those areas that were not actually burned in the Rough fire are being affected by our activities.”

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of hunters who have traditionally hunted within the closed area for abiding by the closure as firefighters continue to secure the perimeter and conduct suppression repair,” stated Benson. Individuals who currently hold a permit for entry or who have permission to access their property will be allowed to do so. However, they will only be given access to their property; these permits do not give access to recreate in the closed areas.
My last trip of the season was supposed to be Rae Lakes during the week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 3. Needless to say, and for good reason, SEKI cancelled our permit. I'm just wondering how long it will take to get back to the trailheads in that area.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 3:55 pm
by OzSwaggie
Thank you Tim, Markskor and Ikan,

Yes Tim we were over there in late June early July 2011 (our third trip to the Sierra) - and we were told that was about 200% of average snow year and it melted late too. We couldn't do any of our planned overnight/multiday hikes (except we went up past Shadow Lake from Agnew Meadows and camped a night) but had fun doing day hikes from the East side (we rented a car). We took the gondola up to the top of Mammoth Mountain and walked around in snow! - in July! It was great to see ice around the lake edges and discover how hard it is walking on icy snow mounds in trail runners (ouch), and we were pre-mosquitoes, too! It was fabulous to see the runoff, the white water rivers and the volume of water coming over the falls - we refer to that year's trip now as "Big Melt"! So we do have some idea of what it can be like, and I imagine it is usually like that in say April. I would not have wanted to be fording creeks in June or July that year!

Markskor from what you are saying and describing, mid-late June even in a very low snow year like this year (2015), (and I read how you got some late snowstorms in May) can involve snow and ice (the reference to "ice-skills" made me pause!) on passes, and very cold nights. Don't worry we are not ultralighters even in August. I have read the very good thread on here "snow travel for the inexperienced". I think, anywhere that you need to carry an ice-axe and crampons to be safe is not somewhere we want to be going. Snowshoes, maybe. If there is a good trail worn through the snow by other hikers, and it's a pretty well-used trail (say ,PCT), maybe. I saw a Youtube of a guy who did the Rae Lakes loop including Glen pass in June 2014, (another exceptionally low snow year and melted early) and it looked definitely do-able. Saw another one from same time 2009 (average snow year) and it was a wintery snowscape and looked scary as hell to me, just an enormous great white slope! Isn't the Sierra amazing!? So yes, good point to follow the reports of early PCT hikers.

It sounds like more than likely we might be confined to lower elevations with the "crowds", and that's OK. We never really find the trails that crowded, once we get more than two miles from a trailhead. We seem to be able to always find a peaceful, private dry-camp. Being relative beginners, from overseas, we feel a bit more secure being on well-travelled trails.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:47 pm
by kpeter
That is so hard to say. If we have another winter like last one, you could go almost anywhere, as if it were late July or early August. I was above 11k in the first week of June and never had to walk on snow nor ford a sizable stream.

If the El Nino leads to a big snowpack, and May/June is warm, then you will be unable to cross many streams. Plan trips which have no stream crossings, but which may benefit from the sights and sounds of being around the running water.

If the El Nino leads to a big snowpack, and May/June is cool, then you will be better off at lower elevations. My choice has been NW Yosemite and Emigrant for mountain lakes and granite slabs below 8000 feet.

When going in June, I prefer to camp right at snowline to avoid mosquitoes. The hatch usually begins one to two weeks after snowmelt and reaches its peak 3-6 weeks after melt. I've been able to get there before the hatch by going as high as possible as early as possible.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:04 am
by sparky
If I was in your position I would just outline 5 or 6 different trips based on weather scenarios. You won't know what June will be like until May. There are options in high snow years with late melts. Basically you could just plan several trips that don't involve a pass, so you can still come and enjoy the scenery.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:23 pm
by Chris B

If you haven't done it before the Clarke Range loop in Yosemite is a nice hike with plenty of varied terrain with lakes and fishing options. If 2016 turns out to be a big snow year June will be an issue. I would recommend you do it as a 5 or 6 day trip and consider adding Half Dome and or Clouds rest day hikes from the Little Yosemite valley campground. My first attempt was in early July 2011 and Red Peak Pass was Crampon and Ice axe territory so I aborted, I went back and did it at the end of June in 2012 and it was fine.

There are a few trailhead options, Happy Isles is one option but hard to get permits so Glacier Point or Mono Meadows may be more available options. Your best bet is to get the Glacier Point Bus to Mono Meadows or Glacier Point then you can hike out to the Valley down the John Muir or Mist Trails. This is a bit of a knee jarring descent but sure beats the climb up the Glacier Point after a 6 days hiking.

I have always gone anticlockwise because I like to get the elevation done with fresh legs then take it easy for a couple of days before hitting Half Dome on the way back.

You can expect it to be busy on the Happy Isle to Little Yosemite valley section but everywhere else you will be virtually on your own.

This is one trip report but search Clark Range Loop and you will find more. ... #bp=0/img1

Hope you have a good trip


Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:24 pm
by Cross Country
If there is an El Nino year plan your trip as low as possible. If not you might be miserable on your entire trip. Go someplate out of Hetch Hechy and cross creeks only at log jams.

Re: Planning for June 2016

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:27 pm
by Cross Country
If there is ANY chanch of changing your trip to August, September, or October it would probably be VERY adviseable.