2014 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Questions and reports related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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2014 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by maverick » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:54 am

This is not a place to post trip reports, but a place for members to post a
quick update on conditions experienced in the back-country on recent trips.
Posting photo's of difficult sections encountered is encouraged.
This will allow other members considering visiting, or traveling, through
the same location a heads up on difficult sections, so they can plan/prepare
or re-route accordingly.
This is meant to be a quick reference for members, with up to date information,
saving time from having to look through numerous trip reports to gather pertinent
information for an upcoming trip.
Just paste the form below into you post, and fill out the info.
Please do not ask questions about a particular area or post anything but a report
in this thread.

In the "Subject" above (title of post) section please post the area you visited, include
the dates.

Route taken:

Difficult section encountered:

Special equipment needed/used:

Possible alternative routes:


Subject: Rae Lakes-Lake Reflection-Sphinx Lakes 7/12/12 to 7/18/12

Route: Roads End-Upper Paradise Valley-Rae Lakes-Glen Pass-Junction Meadow-Lake
Reflection-Longley Pass-Cinder Col-Sphinx Col-Sphinx Lakes-Roads End

Difficult section encountered on this trip:

- Lost of snow on northern side of Glen Pass icy in the morning hours.
- Bubbs Creek crossing very difficult, found the best crossing point 400 yards west
of the usual low water crossing section.
- Big cornice encountered on Longley Pass, which was bypass by climbing rocky
section north of the pass (class 3).

Special equipment needed/used:

- Ice Axe
- Crampons
- Trekking Poles

Possible alternative routes:
- When crossing Bubb's, I notice a section about 100 yards further west that looked
much easier.
- Should have bypassed the cornice on the southern side, route looked barely class 2.

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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Humphreys Basin 4/26 thru 5/1

Post by paul » Sun May 04, 2014 7:48 pm

Route: North Lake – Piute Pass – Wahoo Lakes – Lower Golden Trout Lake – Lower Desolation Lake - Tomahawk Lake – Pilot Knob Saddle – Square Lake – Mesa Lake – Desolation Lake - Four Gables – Piute Pass – North Lake

Difficult Sections: None in particular but this was mostly on skis. Trail is mostly bare to Piute Lake with some snow patches, some of which, just below Loch Leven especially, would be tricky in the morning when icy as they are in spots where a fall would be bad.

Special equipment needed/used: skis
Generally plenty of snow still out there at elevations above about 10,000 feet in Humphreys Basin – somewhat less on the east side of the pass. Loch Leven partially free of ice, Piute lake just softening up around the edges; all other lakes still fully frozen. Plenty of open running water to be found. Travel without skis or snowshoes very possible in the morning but snow gets pretty soft in the afternoon. UV is extreme on the snow bring lots of sunscreen and apply constantly.

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Lillian Lake Loop, Ansel Adams Wilderness 5/16--5/18

Post by jmyers » Mon May 19, 2014 6:36 pm

Route - Fernandez trailhead - flat lake - almost monument lake - back to Lillian lake - Shirley lake - Stanford lakes - Vandeburg Lake - back to trail head.

Conditions - Lots of snow patches starting at 8500 ft. Monument lake was still frozen over with the trail completely covered in snow, Shirley lake was about the same. Lillian lake had snow down to the water on the north and east facing slopes. Overall the trail section in the snow were hard to navigate, but with the help of previous footprints we were able to find our way.

Creeks were running well, but nothing to tricky to get through

No mosquitos yet up high, a couple (3 total for the weekend) at the trailhead.

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Emigrant Wilderness Conditions 5/16-5/20

Post by justm » Thu May 22, 2014 6:14 pm

Route: Went in on May 16, 2014 at Crabtree trailhead, returned on May 20 earlier than scheduled due to snow storm. My route was Crabtree trailhead to Hyatt lake, to Woods lake via cross country by Pingree lake. Woods lake to Deer lake and back to Crabtree trailhead.

Conditions: Stream crossing difficult at Louse Canyon after confluence of Woods creek.
South side of Woods lake completely covered with deep snow as is Woods creek trail.
South side of Deer lake completely covered with deep snow.
West fork of Cherry creek crossing on the way to Piute lake is waste deep , but not difficult.

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1000 Is Lake 5/23

Post by oldranger » Fri May 23, 2014 8:16 am

Just got phone call from PCT hiker on Island Pass--1000 Island lake still frozen!


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: 2014 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by markskor » Sat May 24, 2014 10:45 am

Dropped my regular hiking buddy Mike off yesterday (Friday) at Agnew
Meadows TH - road down opened 2:43 PM - lots of cars lined up waiting. Signage says
Reds Meadow CG the only campground open down there till June 13. Odd, Devil's PP sign also says
closed too (?)...roads are clear - still 95% snow at the very top - no snow bottom,
and mosquitos heavy (4 - 5) in marshy areas below.

I was supposed to join him - 10 days out to Garnet, 1000 Island, and hopefully up to Lost Lake fishing... that was the plan anyway but, alas a root canal/crown keeps me stuck in Mammoth till May 30.

Wednesday we drove up Rock Creek to Mosquito Flats...100 % snow coverage at Mosquito Flats TH (10,300). Fishing spotty at Rock Creek Lake (~9500) which is 100% open......some snow shoreline (crap snow too) - impossible to walk over - on N-facing shores.

When doing another warm-up hike Thursday up to Mammoth Lakes' old gold mines - BTW - no snow S facing ridges (~9600) but...heavy snow and hail fell on us - Thursday. We met an early PCT hiker coming through, camping... (first one seen). As he was heading out soon, and wanted some beta on 1000 Island Lake - (if still frozen? ) and... as you get cell phone reception at Island Pass, OldRanger got a call from him noon yesterday saying 1000 Island Lake still 99% covered over.

After dropping off Mike, I went on and fished Sotcher Lake... stocked with hungry 14 inchers and nobody else there.

The season begins...
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Lamarck Col trail area 5/21-5/25

Post by mort » Tue May 27, 2014 12:55 pm

May 21 and 22 snow flurries led to a snowy trail from North Lake to Lamarck Lakes. Patchy snow on the trail to upper Lamarck. Solid snow above Upper Lamarck. Some nasty steep patches of snow from Upper Lamarck to Lamarck Col. May 24 & 25 much of the last week's snow had melted off, leaving crusty-icy snow above about 11,000 ft. Patchy below. Generally north facing slopes were 100% snow, south facing patchy. 2 people went in over Lamarck Col the 24th and 2 more on the 25th. On Sunday at least 4 other people came out over Lamarck Col, and about as many out over Piute Pass (to North Lake). North Lake and Grass Lake are thawed with a few small patches of snow. Lower and Upper Lamarck lakes are frozen, the shallow Wonder lakes are thawed, but the deeper and higher ones are frozen. The lakes in Darwin Basin are frozen.

I had boot chains, microspikes might have been good. Crampons and ice axe for 2 or 3 places would have been safer.
But it was over 100 degrees in Bishop on Memorial day. The snow is melting fast!


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Big Pine North Fork 5/24 - 25

Post by schmalz » Tue May 27, 2014 2:08 pm

Most of the trails were snow free all the way up to 7th lake. There were some patches of snow around 4th lake that you could either posthole through or walk around.

The glacier trail was had about 2-3 feet of wet soft snow that was hellish to climb. We quickly aborted an attempt to get up to Sam Mack meadow. Other people were heading up to the glacier though.

All lakes were fully melted except for 5th, 6th, and 7th, which all had some melted out parts on the edge and a frozen interior.
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Mt. Silliman, South Slope 05/24/14 - 05/26/14

Post by EpicSteve » Wed May 28, 2014 2:34 am

Route taken:
Lodgepole - Twin Lakes Trail - Use trail on east side of Silliman Creek - XC to Silliman Lake (just above the lake to the north, actually) - South Slope of Silliman Peak via the gulley at the west edge of the south slope (immediately above a small unnamed lake)

Difficult section encountered:
The granite slabs above Silliman Meadow. Unless you enjoy steep rock, don't be lured by the seemingly easy ascent up the slabs. Much safer in the gulley along the right side (I ascended the slabs and descended the gulley). The steepness of the gulley occasionally forces you into the narrow band of forest between the gulley and the slabs, involving short sections of bushwacking. Small price to pay for a much larger safety margin, in my opinion. When the slabs' gradient eases to trivial, traverse to the left (north). Lots of snowmelt streams to cross, but nothing difficult at the moment. The rest is pretty standard XC.

Special equipment needed/used:
Despite NPS' report of "extensive snow above 10,000' throughout the backcountry," this route is almost entirely snow-free. Should've lightened my load by leaving the microspikes, ice axe, snow shovel and tent snow stakes at home. Trekking poles very useful in steep gulleys, especially on the descent, which would've been a bit nerve-wracking otherwise.

Possible alternative routes:
Supposedly there's another class 2 route from Silliman Pass, by traversing to the NE Ridge (see Secor's book). It's not visible from the summit.

BTW, I saw only one mosquito in 3 days.
“I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.”

- Walter Bonatti

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Agnew-Shadow Lake 5/25

Post by ryanerb » Wed May 28, 2014 9:11 am

Date of Hike: May 25th, 2014
Route: Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake (and intel from Ediza) (Day Hike)

No snow on trail in valley or at Shadow Lake. Snow patches just past Shadow Lake on way to Ediza. Pictures from other hikers show Ediza is still partially frozen over and snow patches around lake. Mosquitoes were nearly nothing at Shadow or on trail. Mosquitoes were biting good at Agnew Shuttle Stop.

Recommended Tips:
Check hashtags on instagram for pictures of specific areas by other hikers. For example #edizalake

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