[pct-l] 2018 NoBo PCT/JMT Drought year snow/creeks

ned at mountaineducation.org ned at mountaineducation.org
Wed Feb 14 17:33:16 CST 2018

For those of you who don't "do" Facebook, 


I have been trying to show this year's Class of 2018 what the Sierra will
look like in May and June after its third drought winter in a row by posting
thirty or more pictures of the area from Chicken Spring Lake (Cottonwood
Pass) on the PCT north over Forester Pass and exiting out over Kearsarge


Take away?  


1. The thaw usually starts about the same time (late May)
2. Creek volume and rate usually increase within a few days thereafter
3. Mild winter = dangerous creek flows may last 3-4 weeks
4. Normal winter = dangerous creek flows may last 5-6 weeks
5. Heavy winter = dangerous creek flows may last 6-8 weeks
6. Postholing is exhausting (a bitch, really!)
7. Snowlines rise over time, rate depending on weather


Now, whether we continue along in this La Nina pattern, causing drought
conditions in California and Oregon and heavy snows in the North Cascades,
or not, the Class of 2018 needs to know what to prepare for, since many are
led to believe that "Drought = No snow."


Even on the dangerous creek crossing side of things, after the thaw starts
in the Sierra (predictable time), no matter how little snow there remains,
the creeks will run high and fast for a period of time. Every year, people
die in Sierra creeks and waterfalls, but few long-distance hikers do. Last
year two did and this year we want to prevent that from happening again.


For anyone entering the Sierra this year from mid-April to July, we will be
offering a special 1-day, steep snow/creek-crossing clinic held at Chicken
Spring Lake, Cottonwood Pass and taught every weekday so everyone will know
how to identify risk ahead and know what to do about it.


Of course, we've seen many a year go by where the winter has started out
terribly, then came roaring back to life in March and April. We've seen the
opposite, too, where winters have started out great and died out later. So,
who knows what this winter will be, but we can be certain that 

*	there will be some snow in the high country in May/June (prime PCT
thru-hiking months)
*	the snowpack will be shallow 
*	snowlines will be high
*	the thaw will start on time
*	creeks will run dangerously full and fast for a period of time
*	there's always the chance for April, May, June snowstorms
*	creeks will recede, then start drying up as the summer goes on
*	the chance for forest and wildland fires will increase and
*	water availability will be a problem (like it was during the drought
years, 2012-15)


If you want to see pictures or read more, go to

https://www.facebook.com/ned.tibbits or


(I know that wasn't fair 'cause I led you to facebook, anyway! Sorry, but
that's where the info is.)



Ned Tibbits, Director

Mountain Education, Inc.

ned at mountaineducation.org <mailto:ned at mountaineducation.org>  


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