If you've been reading the news, you know that the snowpack in some parts of the Sierra is 5% of normal. That's a disaster.
It's so dry that we're seriously considering taking a few backpacking trips this spring that head up into the Sierra high country. Normally, we're not excited about sleeping on snow, spending ten hours of darkness in our tent, or slipping and sliding over ice and mush for much of the day.
But this year, those seems like high class problems. There is no snow in the Sierra, particularly if you head further south. We called four different ranger stations in the last twenty-four hours to discuss the conditions on the trails in their area. Here's what we learned:
Beasore Road out of Bass Lake in the Sierra National Forest is open and clear all way to Globe Rock. The side roads to the various trailheads in that region may also be clear, but nobody from the USFS has bothered to drive them yet. This road generally doesn't open up until late May or June. It's March. Snow levels are at about 8500 feet or so. They suggested that hikers might be more worried about mud than snow.
On the East side, many roads and trailheads are open in the Hoover Wilderness. Snow begins at about 8,000 to 8,500 feet, and doesn't really get to full coverage until about 9,000 feet. Kirman Lake, Buckeye Canyon, and most of those East side trailheads are at least open.
Emigrant Wilderness snows levels are lower, down to about 7,500 feet, so the roads and trailheads are not open. 108 is closed at the snow park 7 miles past Dodge Ridge. Crabtree Road is closed at Dodge Ridge.
Donner Pass snow level in the Tahoe NF is much lower, down to 6,500 feet or so. If you want to hike this area, you'll be hiking on snow.
Of course, all of this could change if we were blessed with a couple of massive snowstorms...that don't seem to be on the horizon.
Have never seen it this grim, and that's going back to '77-'78. Even if the precipitation amounts were a one-year anomaly they would be dire but this is drought year 4, which means permanent impacts on the alpine environments we treasure, as well as forest, meadow and river health.
Flabbergasted the road to Fernandez Pass trailhead is open before the first day of spring. How is that even possible?
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I was snow camping sorta of two weekends ago out of the Childs Meadow area along 36 here in N CA, east of the SW entrance to Lassen VNP, at Blue Lake. The lake was still 2/3 froze over, camped on dirt. The road thru Lassen VNP is only plowed a short ways. Duane
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
It's pretty grim up here in the Pacific NW, too. While moisture has been close to normal, most of it has been in the form of rain, up to 6-7000 feet (higher than most of our mountains except the volcanoes). It's the snowpack that is needed to provide a more gradual source of moisture during the dry season, and the snowpack just isn't there. That means the forests will be tinder-dry by mid-June if not sooner. The firefighting folks predict a long, hot summer.
Looking up at Mt. Hood from Portland, I see bare spots that normally don't show up until late June!
It's the same persistent "ridging" pattern that has kept a ridge of high pressure over the far West and left open the way for Arctic air to inundate the Midwest and East!
Edited by OregonMouse (03/19/1501:45 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
This is such depressing news in California. And I hear that Rainier has gotten a really small snowpack, too. Anyone have an idea about when Tioga Pass will open? Also, anyone know about the Minarets Rd/ Sierra Vista Scenic Byway (the road on the west side near Minaret Pool)? I have long wanted to explore the lower reaches of the San Joaquin through there in spring, but the road seems often to be closed until later.
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