2019 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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maverick
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Blue Lake (Sabrina Basin) 6/27

Post by maverick » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:35 pm

Posted on SNCC-TPP by Stephanie Patton:
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Glen Pass 6/29

Post by maverick » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:37 pm

Posted on SNCC-TPP by Mike Emerson:
Traveled over Glen Pass on Saturday. Lots of Snow on north side. Recommend micro spikes and Ice Axe. Can get by with poles though. Very slick by mid-morning. Exercise extreme caution in afternoon due slushy snow. South side snow approach is not as slippery ... trail to top not defined due snow and must scramble up a steep rocky gully to get to top. Must travel over much snow on approach to south face of Glen Pass.
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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.

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Mono Pass/Trail Lakes/Pioneer Basin 6/30

Post by maverick » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:45 pm

Posted on ESHB by Kaitlin Finan:
Mono Pass, Trail Lakes, and the first lake in Pioneer Basin. Still A LOT of snow out there!
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Fish Creek 6/23-6/29

Post by jhfowler » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:14 am

I'll have a TR soon, but here are some notes about conditions from a trip along Fish Creek.

6/23 Twin Lakes over Mammoth Pass to Crater Creek. Tons of water, but nothing dangerous. Snow line on Mammoth Pass was 8500 feet. We crossed it without spikes. Mosquitoes a 1.

6/24 Crater Creek to Iva Bell Hot Springs. No snow, Fish Creek absolutely roaring. Lots of water on trail. We saw only two other hikers. Mosqutoes 2-3 or so in the evening.

6/25 Iva Bell Hot Springs to Marsh Lake Trail at Fish Creek. We could not find a way to cross Fish Creek as a group. The Second Crossing ford was too deep and too strong, so we went cross country on the south side of the river for about three miles. I crossed on an extremely sketchy pair of logs and when my group (quite reasonably) did not cross with me, I had to find another way to cross back. At the best possible ford, I grabbed onto an overhanging tree at the deepest part of the river and nearly did not have enough strength to hold on. I almost died. It was brutal. I'll write more about it in an upcoming TR, but please, please, please do not try to cross Fish Creek right now. From there we went upstream another mile to where the Marsh Lake Trail crosses Fish Creek, and it was a lake there -- probably 200 yards across, and more than ten feet deep in the middle. Not crossable. We changed our plan there (originally we want to head up to the PCT/JMT) and instead decided to head up to Marsh Lake the next day. Mosquitoes 1-2.

6/26 Fish Creek to Marsh Lake, then day hike to Beetlebug Lake. Snow line was about 9200 feet. Long Canyon trail stream crossing was too wide on fast on the slick rock, but we found a very safe pair of logs about 1/4 mile upstream. Snow was well sun-cupped above 9400 feet, spikes not necessary, and Beetlebug Lake is about 5% open now on the edges. Mosquitoes 0-1.

6/27 Marsh Lake to Fox Meadow. We crossed the Long Canyon creek at the same spot as the day before and then did cross country until the place where the trail crosses again halfway to Scoop Lake. On the way down, we could not cross Sharktooth Creek (again, too deep and powerful) so we went cross country down the meadows and cliffs above Iva Bell Hot Springs, where we got back on trail and were able to cross Sharktooth Creek via a man-made log crossing. Mosquitoes 1.

6/28 Fox Meadow to Red Cones. Nice campsite at Red Cones, surrounded by mounds of snow (snow line 8500 feet on north facing slope of southern Red Cone). Mosquitoes 0-1.

6/29 Red Cones back to Horseshoe Lake. We got off track in the snow over Mammoth Pass and headed above the cliff band instead of below, but we were able to use the extra climbing to glissade about 100 feet down to the level of the pass on the other side of the band. Snow line 9000 feet. Mosquitoes 0-1.

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Views From Near Mt. Darwin 7/2

Post by maverick » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:26 pm

Posted on SNCC-TPP by Todd Vogel:
Evolution Valley from just south of Mt. Darwin, July 2.
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Peeler Lake, Kerrick Meadows 6/30-7/1

Post by looks easy from here » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:03 pm

Both Robinson Creek crossings past Barney Lake passable at midday.
90%+ snow coverage by 9300'
Current use trail over the snow pretty much just follows the outlet stream gully from Peeler Lake. Straight forward and quick. Trekking poles and microspikes were helpful, but not mandatory (closer to mandatory going down in the morning when the snow was frozen).
Peeler Lake froze over completely overnight.
Streams in Kerrick Meadow easy to hop or wade, depending on your preference.
Miserable 12"+ suncups all across Kerrick Meadow and beyond into Thompson Canyon.

TR with photos to come in the next day or two.

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Re: 2019 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by SSSdave » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:21 pm

Per Todd Vogel's image, indeed from the ridge south of Darwin and south of peak 13377, however Evolution Valley is out of view of that frame right. Tall peak at center is Mt Goddard and peak more to right is Mt McGee. Frozen Lake in lower left frame is 11594 with Mt Spencer above. Below is what it looked like 6/27/2019 from above the Evolution Creek junction to the SF of the San Joaquin River. Mendel and Darwin are the two peaks in the background and 11786 is peak upper right. A downsized version of the 10800x4000 pixel full image. Far less snow just down canyon. Processing a lot of images now.

SL09088-09111-1x2hw.jpg

The below is a 1500x1800 pixel crop of a telephoto 5000x7300 pixel 2x2 stitched image from same location of part of the Evolution Creek cascade.

SL09073-09087-2x2v-cr.jpg
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Re: 2019 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by fpb56 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:46 pm

Wow, great pics

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Huntington Lake/Bear Creek/Bear Ridge/Rancheria/Dinkey Lakes 6/26-7/2

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:56 pm

Posted on SNCC-TPP by Elizabeth Wenk:
Attached is a long word document of trail conditions from the past 5 days around Huntington Lake, Bear Creek, Bear Ridge, Rancheria Trailhead to Crown Valley and Chuck Pass, and a big loop through Dinkey Lakes. The short message is that snow is melting fast at high elevations and remarkably slowly in some forested stretches between 8,500-9,300 feet - maybe because it has been a relatively cool June and forested areas also don't get much sun. Feel free to cut text and share - I just didn't want to spam the group with too many long messages.

June 28, 2019
Upper Billy Creek Campground → Kaiser Loop Trail toward Nellie Lake → Marys Meadow connector → Kaiser Loop Trail back to Upper Billy Creek Trailhead (~5 miles)
•2 trees blocking access to actual trailhead. I parked in the campground
•Lots of trees down along the first length of the Kaiser Loop Trail (lots!)
•Still a fair amount of snow along the first mile of the Marys Meadow connector, but now broken enough you could always see the trail between snowy stretches. And that was 5 days ago – I suspect now it will be individual snow mounds with lots of trail between.
•Log across the first crossing of Line Creek
•Waded the second crossing of Line Creek – about knee deep
•Along the next length of the Kaiser Loop Trail, only a lot of down trees for the final 0.3 mile to the Upper Billy Creek Trailhead
June 29, 2019
Bear Diversion Dam Trailhead → Bear Creek → JMT → followed JMT north → Bear Ridge
•A really good loop for right now with no (really, NO!) snow along Bear Creek or that stretch of the JMT. About 20 steps on snow along the top of the Bear Ridge Trail which is probably now gone.
•Twin Falls (and all the Bear Creek falls) looks splendid
•I talked to some JMT hikers who also reported that the stretch of the JMT from Mono Creek to the top of Bear Ridge is snow free.

June 30, 2019
Rancheria Trailhead → Crown Valley → north along trail that passes near Volcanic Cone → Chuck Pass → Lucys Camp junction → Duck Lake junction → Duck Lake → Chain Lakes → Duck Pass junction to Little Rancheria Creek → Rancheria Trailhead
•Had to wade Little Rancheria Creek, but not difficult
•Small amounts of snow between the Rancheria Trailhead and Crown Valley, but no trail finding issues and only small stretches with any snow at all.
•Continuing north, started to reach considerable snow about where I crossed the ridge marked “8864” on the 7.5” topos. From here to Chuck Pass quite a bit of snow – between blazes and melted patches I was able to follow the trail, but walking on snow much of the time. There were certainly bare batches – mainly on less forested trail stretches – but lots of snow cover. Snow mostly good to walk on – not sun-cupped and hard enough you rarely post-holed, but tiring as you walked up and over endless drifts.
•The upper stretch on the west side of Chuck Pass was snow free – where there was less dense forest cover – but lower down lots of snow cover. Snow all the way to the Lucys Camp junction wherever there were dense trees and mostly bare where open sections.
•Continued almost complete snow cover on the climb to the Duck Pass junction. Just enough bare that you saw bits of the trail, but I did lose the trail several times and resorted to electronic navigation to stay on track
•First half of the climb to Duck Lake mostly snow and the second half about half snow. The lake itself is melted out and there is dry camping at the lake
•Traverse to Chain Lakes mostly snow and lost the trail several times.
•First half of the climb to Chain Lakes is almost entirely snow, but hard enough I never (or rarely) post-holed. Once you approach the first lake, and tree cover lessens, almost no snow. Lowest lake with lots of open campsites. Continued almost no snow on the climb to the second lake. At the second lake, good dry camping on the ridge west of the lake, but most sheltered campsites and trail along the shore snowier. Lake completely open. About 1/3 snow cover on the climb to the highest lake. Lots of snow cover around the highest lake, but also completely melted out.
•From the Duck Lake junction back to the Crown Valley Trail mostly snow cover – lots of “snow tunnels” over the trail, so have to be careful how you walk, but other than where there are holes, not much post-holing.

July 1-2, 2019
Backpacking trip into Dinkey Lakes that visited Nelson Lake, Cliff Lake, Dogtooth Peak, Rock Lake, Little Lake, Island Lake, Second Dinkey Lake, First Dinkey Lake, Mystery Lake, Swede Lake, South Lake, and Helms Meadow.
•Forded Nelson Creek 300 feet upstream of the crossing – about knee deep.
•Very little snow until Cliff Lake. Patches of snow around Cliff Lake, but lots of open camping. Lake almost completely snow free.
•Reach snow on the Nelson Lake Trail once you ford Nelson Creek. Quite a bit of snow from here on up. Lake is snow-free, but lots of snow in the surrounding forests, especially on the south side. There are snow-free campsites, but lots of wet ground.
•North of Cliff Lake, snow patchy up to the pass west of Dogtooth Peak, but easy to follow the trail.
•On the north side of the pass, nearly continuous snow cover to Rock Lake. Rock Lake still with considerable ice/snow cover. East side all snowy, but some open campsites on the north side.
•First part of the trail to Little Lake all snowy, but lower down all open. Lots of dry open camping at Little Lake – and spectacular waterfall off Dogtooth Peak.
•Continued lots of snow cover to Second Dinkey Lake. Second Dinkey Lake mostly snow free – small patches of ice still – and a mix of snow and bare patches where the lakeside campsites are.
•Trail to Island Lake snowy lower down and about 50% snow along the upper stretch. Lake is ice-free and lakeside campsites a mix of snow and open. Certainly places you could camp.
•Continuing to First Dinkey Lake, first stretch still mostly snowy and then about 50% snow. First Dinkey open with just snow patches in forested areas – these will melt fast.
•Down toward the Dinkey Lakes Trailhead, on and off snow all the way to the trailhead. Can always follow the trail, but lots and lots of drifts to climb over. Suspect these will be mostly gone in another week, with just some of the deepest drifts still present.
•Climb toward Mystery Lake almost all snow – couldn’t follow the trail.
•Mystery Lake snow free with plenty of dry camping along the shore (although still snow as well)
•Could follow the trail onto Swede and South Lake with no problem – although on-and-off snow the entire way, as always, with deeper snow in the forested areas, while the higher elevation ridges and meadow areas were open. Both Swede and South Lake are snow free with snow patches on their shores, but also plenty of open campsites.
•Going from First Dinkey Lake toward Helms Meadow, very little snow. A few patches that will all be gone in a week. A nice stretch to walk right now – Helms Meadow with flowers emerging and the walk along Courtright Reservoir full of annuals.

Hope these help!

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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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Cottonwood Lakes 7/1

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:02 pm


Posted on SNCC-TPP by Jon Heaton:
Cottonwood Lakes on 7-1 - #1&2 ice free, #3 50%, #4 & #5 ~40% ice free. Mostly clear hiking, some snow w/suncups along the shores of the lakes. Cold at night, puddles melted during the day had ice in the morning. Everything melting fast.
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Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

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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