[pct-l] 6/28: Current Sierra snow, creek, flower, and bug conditions

Ned Tibbits ned at mountaineducation.org
Thu Jun 30 12:35:56 CDT 2016

Mountain Education just pulled off-trail for perhaps the last time this season, completing our 5th trip between Cottonwood and Kearsarge Passes since late April, and here are the current PCT/JMT trail conditions for this area:


  a.. Unpredictable. 
  b.. Clear, hot days and nights (90-degree days to 50-degree nights) changing to thundershowers with lightning. If you see, because you’re constantly aware of what’s happening in the sky above you, clouds building at 8 or 9 in the morning, watch out and get over your exposed passes quickly! 
  c.. Winds increasing during the day due to thermal rising, typical of clear weather in the Sierra.


  a.. Summer is on, folks, so the snow fields are limited to the steep, north sides of the high passes starting at 12,000 feet with large patches below that. 
  b.. The first of the SoBo JMT hikers are finishing their trips over Whitney, so there are good boot-packed trails over these patches and fields, thus, you can take your microspikes, but if you have decent boots with deep lug soles, you needn’t bother (two cam-locked poles for balance will do; maybe a Whippet). Learn how to walk on snow without slipping to minimize falling (www.mountaineducation.org). 
  c.. Gaiters can be left at home, too, but if you find yourself wallowing or postholing, expect snow to get in your shoes. 
  d.. The snow is very “rotten” since it is melting quickly, so hit your pass crossings very early to avoid wallowing and postholing in the stuff! 
  e.. The snow chute across Forester’s south side is getting shorter by the day, but I just “tuned-up” the pathway across it made in early April, so it’s good and there’s no snow wall on top anymore. 
  f.. There’s no snow in this section on northern sides of things other than Forester. We did not go up Whitney, but many are without issues, even on the east side to Trail Crest. The Crabtree area is getting very busy with overnighters camping to do the summit climb. I would expect Guitar Lake to be very impacted already.
Creek Crossings:

  a.. All creeks are still flowing at their max, due to melting snow upstream, but this is starting to go down a bit from two weeks ago. 
  b.. Use creek crossing footwear to minimize cuts and punctures and two poles spread wide to stay balanced. Go slow. 
  c.. The creek temperatures are warming up as the sun cooks the rocks, so your feet will no longer go numb as you cross! 
  d.. Creeks that we waded were Whitney, Wallace, Wright, and Tyndall. There are numerous other creeks that have log crossings or rock-hops.

  a.. Bearable, above 12,000, nasty below it! Windy, exposed places may be free of the things. 
  b.. Take a headnet, mosquito-net jacket, or comparable and some form of repellent. 
  c.. Expect to inhale a few, as well!

They’re out in their glory, so take your cameras!

Have a great summer out in God’s Country and I hope this helps you with your planning!

Ned Tibbits, Director
Mountain Education, Inc.
ned at mountaineducation.org 

"To minimize wilderness accidents, injury, and illness in order to maximize wilderness enjoyment, safety, and personal growth, all through experiential education and risk awareness training."

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