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Jack and Barb
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Date: Wed, Jun 15th, 2011
Start: Kennedy Meadows
End: Independenence, CA
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 786.4
Daily Ascent: 0
Entry Visits: 4,507
Journal Visits: 387,862
Guestbook Views: 167,248
Guestbook Entrys: 482
Sierra Snow and River Report
For those of you seeking trail conditions, or attempting a Sierra transit in similar snow years,here is a summary of our experience thus far.
Kennedy Meadows (mile 702) to Jct Trail Pass (745) mostly clear of snow.
(June 9, 10).
Trail Pass onward heavy snow pack dependent on aspect and exposure. Deep snow in meadows and flats, deep snow on trails with North and East exposure.
Few camping spots available above 11,000 ft. Bear box at mi. 770 buried. Box at 774 clear. Few camp spots at either location. Most camping areas (marked CS - campsite on the map) are under snow. You can find small clear spots along the way in treed areas for a tent or two.
River crossings: (June 12, 13)
Rock Creek (760) - Find big tree spanning the raging torrent. Safest to crawl across.
Crabtree Creek (766) easy ford.
Wallace Creek (770) - Now why do they call these things creeks? Crossed in morning - find the spot with the line of boulders, all underwater - cross carefully, if it looks iffy, wait until morning. For us, it dropped a good foot from the previous evening.
Wright Creek (mile 771)- Cross at the trail. We linked up and crossed together. Water thigh deep and moving fast - gave us an adrenaline rush -
ExcitementO'meter hit a 9.
Tyndall Creek (775) Again, cross at the trail. There is a line of rocks, all underwater. Was easy crossing for us.
Bubbs Creek - easy crossing, wet feet.
Around mile 787 we had wet crossings of three creeks, all minor.
Our recommendations for current snow conditions:
1. Don't go alone.
2. Someone in your party should have a GPS with halfmile's data.
3. Stay together
4. Plan on 1 to 2 MPH over snow.
5. Start as early as possible, plan on 12 hour days.
6. In current conditions, allow minimum of six days to Kearsarge, add min 1 day to include Mt Whitney ascent.
7. Traction devices are very helpful. We have used our katoolas quite a bit.
8. Don't expect to see the trail. It is under feet of snow.
9. Postholing - You will be sinking at times in the snow. Some snow you can walk right over. Then you may walk over softer snow or a covered rock field and sink in an air pocket up to your waist. You may even have to dig out a leg as your foot may be lodged. Snow baskets on your trekking poles are very helpful. Lean on them as you walk, to transfer some of your weight to the basket. You may be able to walk over snow that others sink in. Stay clear of rocks and fallen trees. There are air pockets under the snow right next to them. Step on them as you pass by. Shin-high gaiters are of great benefit - recommend OR Verglas gaiters..
10. Afternoon snow in the trees, is to say it mildly, icky. You will be climbing up and down over drifts of slippery snow, some drifts up to 10 feet high. You will have to detour around steep faces on some drifts all the time trying to stay near the (hidden) PCT. Your feet will be wet all day.
You will climb more vertical than you expect because of these drifts - we call them "whoop-de-doos". This stuff will slow you down the most.
Forrester Pass Conditions (June 14) - If you are afraid of heights, this will be very challenging. We started our ascent of the pass at 10 am. It was a good start time as we had to climb a steep snowfield that covered the lower part of the trail. Snow consistency was firm but not icy slick. Ice axe mandatory for self arrest. Walk across the snow chute was easy. Well defined footpath established. Top of pass and last 20 feet of the trail covered with snow - had to climb up rocks (10 vertical feet) to top (easy). Backside (descent) straightforward with some postholing. We covered 12 miles in 9 hours.
Kearsarge pass (June 15) - wasn't too bad going west to east but lots of deep snow on the upper parts of the eastside. We will have to slog up this stuff tomorrow. It will not be fun. West side, lower 2 thirds of trail under snow. East side, upper 1 third under deep snow. Lower 2 thirds on eastside mostly clear with patchy snow and water runoff on trail .
We are in Independence now getting an eight day resupply for the next 87 miles. (mi 790 to 877, VVR). Then an easy two days to Mammoth.
Will report on conditions again.
Yes, we really are having fun and thoroughly enjoying the beauty around us.. It is just very, very difficult.
Jack And Barb Take On The PCT
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