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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Snowtrout
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Nelson Lake-Dinkey Wilderness 7/1-7/3

Post by Snowtrout » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:14 pm

July 1-3
Cliff trailhead to Nelson Creek entering lake: some snow patches and wet but easy. Creek is thigh deep and swift at crossing.

Nelson Creek to Cliff/Nelson junction: mostly dry, little snow.

Junction to upper Nelson Creek crossing: a few large trees down 1/4 mile in and two creek crossings that are calf/knee deep and slow. Very little snow but trail is very wet in spots. Nelson Creek is knee deep but easy to cross.

Nelson Creek crossing to Nelson lake: trail is a small creek and snow patches are very prevalent. Closer you get to lake, the more snow you encounter.

At lake: south side nearly all snow covered except by edge of lake. Crossing at outlet, knee deep, north side of lake has a few dry areas and three campsites are useable but mostly the ground is wet or a snow patch.

Upper Nelson lake is ice free. Snow is melting fast and bugs are coming in. All of the water flowing and snow on the ground made the mornings wet and cold: 26-27 degrees at 5-6 am.








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Wandering Daisy
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Emigrant Wilderness July 1-5

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:02 pm

July 1. Crabtree TH to Piute Lake. Had to park at Gianelli-Crabtree junction and walk 0.7 miles to TH. Dry until descending to Piute Meadows, where the trail is covered in about 30% snow, difficult to follow. Patchy snow to Piute Lake. All creek crossings easy.

July 2. Piute Lake to Bear Lake. Decided not to cross Cherry Creek. Too deep. Returned and then took the side-trail to Bear Lake (above Camp Lake). A few patches of snow, but trail is very wet in places.

July 3. Returned to TH, drove to Kennedy Meadows, hiked to Kennedy Lake inlet area. Dry, no snow. I was there a week ago and it is amazing how much the meadow below Kennedy Lake has dried out. It now is still wet, but only a few inches so if you have waterproof shoes and gaiters you can easily walk anywhere. The trail continuing to the pass (Big Sam Road) is dry to the upper bench, where there is about 40% snow cover in the trees, increasing upwards. Kennedy Creek is now crossable. Many of the small side-streams are almost dry. Froze at night.

July 4. Cows brought into Kennedy Lake area. Not many now, but more being brought in each day. Horse packers now using the trail. Not too crowded yet. Early wildflower beginning to fade. Still very beautiful, but if you do not like horses and cows, this is not for you!

July 5 - walked out. Seemed to be a lot more people going in.

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Little lakes valley 7/3-7/6

Post by oddtiger » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:20 am

I took my kids to Gem lakes and Chickenfoot lake from July 3rd to July 6th. Patches of snow to 100% snow after Chickenfoot lake. Everything melts rapidly and most snow should be gone by the weekend or early next week. Bugs are out.

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mbhiking
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Heather and Pear Lake via Hump trail, 7/5-7/6

Post by mbhiking » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:16 am

7/5-7/6 Hiked to Heather and Pear Lake via the Hump trail in Sequioa National Park. Snow free until close to the lakes; snow pack there is between 50-75%. No special equipment needed. Trekking poles help for crossing the snow patches but aren’t necessary. One iffy creek crossing at the outlet of Heather lake. From the footprints looks like most people crossed using the snow bridge (myself included) with no other obvious path besides fording the creek (crotch deep on my friend, 5’4)
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ttucker9
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Re: 2019 Backcountry Conditions Reports - Kaiser Wilderness

Post by ttucker9 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:41 pm

Thought I'd post an update on Kaiser Wilderness since the FS said it was inaccessible on July 1. Did a day hike yesterday (July 6) over Potter Pass, then up to George Lake. Pass completely clear of snow, trail easy to follow with only a few 10-20 foot sections of snow. Once over the pass, more snow was present but still not difficult to follow the trail. Numerous backpackers at Upper Twin lake as well as George Lake. Water in lake outlets is flowing very heavy. Mosquitoes definitely present at Lower Twin Lake but didn't see many higher than that.

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Sawmill Pass / Woods Lake Basin 7/4 - 7/7

Post by papercup » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:31 am

Went up Sawmill Pass and into Woods Lake Basin and up Colosseum Mountain from 7/4 to 7/7. The trail to Sawmill Pass is entirely snow-free until around Mule Lake; there are then areas of patchy snow that are easily crossed. Around 11,000 feet the snow cover becomes more significant and getting over the pass requires either crossing snowfields (spikes or crampons helpful but not required) or bypassing the snow via some class two scrambling up dry rocks and chutes.

Woods Lake Basin is significantly snowier; almost entirely covered with snow, deep sun cups included. It is a slog, especially later in the day. Some south-facing slopes are melted, and there are dry places to camp if you look around. Lakes vary; some are nearly entirely frozen while others are nearly entirely melted.

Colosseum Mountain is entirely snow-free. Other surrounding mountains are not; Cedric Wright still has significant snow on the ridgeline. Views from Colosseum into the backcountry reveal more snow; in particular the approach to Pinchot Pass still looks almost entirely white.

Spoke to a hiker who was exiting from the PCT; he told me that stream crossing makes getting from the JMT/PCT into Woods Lake Basin very difficult, but obviously he did it successfully. Didn't go down myself to check it out.

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Hell for Sure Pass 7/5

Post by maverick » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:33 pm

Posted on SNCC-TPP by Bruno Aboussouan:
Almost 2 miles of suncups on the approach from John Muir Wilderness. The pass itself was almost snow free.
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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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South Fork Kings Crossing (Rae lakes Loop)

Post by maverick » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:43 pm

Posted on SNCC-TPP by John Ladd:
According to a hiker on the Rae Lakes Loop FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/496524253873881/, there is a sketchy but possible log crossing over South Fork Kings -- 0.5 miles north (upstream) of the washed out bridge at Paradise Valley. This crossing is well down-watershed of our notorious JMT South Fork Kings crossing. It's not on the JMT itself, but on the entry/exit lateral that leads from the Woods Creek suspension bridge (aka Golden Gate Bridge of the Sierras) to Roads End in Kings Canyon. I assume it looked better to him that the previously-reported log that is south/downstream of the washout. Location he provided on Google Maps. https://goo.gl/maps/7NryxB2ufvs11rck9
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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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Maxon Meadows Loop: NF Kings - Devil's Punchbowl - Hell for Sure - Rae Lake 7/4-7/7

Post by nhrpolitic13 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:35 pm

Maxon Meadows Loop: North Fork Kings - Devil's Punchbowl - Hell for Sure - Rae Lake

We went out Thursday, 7/4 and returned Sunday, 7/7. We appear to have done the loop in reverse of and one day behind Bruno Aboussouan (posted above) -- in fact fairly certain he passed us headed down trail to NF as we were headed to punchbowl.

Trail from Maxon TH to Post Corral had numerous downed trees, but as of 7/7 we encountered a trail crew just at the wilderness boundary who were starting an 8-day trip on the loop to clear trail. Trail from the burnt-corral creek crossing to post-corral creek was extremely wet and muddy. Post corral creek was easily fordable, knee-high on Thursday 7/4, and noticeably lower on Sunday. Peak flow has passed.

Heading to the BlackCap/Punchbowl junction at the gauging station on N.F. Kings, Flemming was high flow, but broad. Crossing was possible on a solid but somewhat elevated log over the initial (Deeper) portion of the main creek, and was easy on two parallel logs across a shallower section of the creek (which could otherwise simply have been walked through).

Trail from the NF Junction to Punchbowl was passable and generally clear; with some patchy snow in approach to the final climb to punchbowl. I would anticipate the snow is gone by Friday. Campsites at Punchbowl and Little Bigshot were generally very wet; we identified a nice (dry) campsite on a ledge along the NE side of the lake. Remaining areas will dry out over the next week.

Cross country from Punchbowl to Disappointment was feasible; Disappointment was largely free on 7/6, and likely clear as of this writing. Most campsites wet and flowing water -- probably dry over the next two weeks. Approach to Hell for Sure Lake was largely snowy with large tarns, with 100% coverage over trail between Disappointment and HFS. Easy approach in treeline through the valley, and then up the open granite ramps to the left of the lakes hore. HFS Lake 100% frozen on 7/6 along with surrounding environs except granite slabs and benches. Lake undoubtedly open by end of week, area will probably be wet for another few weeks.

Heading towards Flemming/Rae from Disappointment/HFS, there was significant partial snow cover on the decent from Disappointment, but melting quickly. LOTS of water. Meadow was snow free but very wet. East side of ridge ascending towards Dale/Flemming was snow free, west side was 90% coverage, but solid enough to pick our way down carefully without significant post-holing. Flemming crossing was calf-deep. Rae lake approximately 70% snow covered on S/SW sides, open to N/NE, but *very* wet. Located a dry camping spot after significant searching. Enough water that it will probably be quite wet for another two weeks.

On decent from Flemming, intermittent to significant snow on trail down to about 9,400' elevation. Was solid and easily followed footprints and/or identified open trail ahead.
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Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, 7/5-7/6

Post by windknot » Tue Jul 09, 2019 12:08 am

Dinkey TH at Willow Meadow was still not accessible, so we hiked from Cliff Lake TH to Cliff/Bullfrog, then over Rock Pass to Rock, Second Dinkey, and Island. Nelson Creek crossing is about thigh deep where the trail intersects, but thanks to the tip from the hiker that Mav reposted earlier last week we went about 100 yards upstream to find a shallower crossing about knee deep. No snow until the north side of Rock Pass, then intermittent snow between Rock Lake and Island Lake. Rock was about 15% frozen, Second Dinkey was ice-free, and Island was about 75% frozen. Cliff and Bullfrog are ice-free. Several parties were camped at Cliff but we had Bullfrog to ourselves. Only saw one other group of backpackers, at Island Lake. Nice to get some solitude on a holiday weekend.
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