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[Yosemite]

Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this weekend

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this weekend

Postby Bighead » Tue May 10, 2016 3:20 pm

I'm looking for any trip/condition reports if anyone on here happens to be in the area of sunrise lakes or clouds rest this weekend. I'll be doing a big loop that includes that area and I'm hoping to get some information about the conditions to help make some educated decisions regarding equipment, thanks.

Just to clarify I'll be starting my trip May 20th so any information prior would be great!
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby AlmostThere » Tue May 10, 2016 4:29 pm

THe plowing crews coming from both sides of the pass met at Tenaya Lake on the 6th. They are still working on clearing Tioga Road. This weekend, you can anticipate several feet of snow lingering above 9000 feet, full coverage around 8000 feet, and lots of slush and mud below 8000.

There may be some inches of change between now and the 20th depending. NOAA is saying high 30s night temps for the next week or so. I have been estimating my gear needs based on the melt at Badger, which has shown snow receding gradually over the past two weeks - the warmer temps will supercharge the melt and make streams dangerous.

Here is an up to date map of the snowpack depth, centered on Happy Isles.

http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/ ... uc=0%20url
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby Bighead » Tue May 10, 2016 5:04 pm

Thanks, I actually use NOAA quite a bit for work. I had already been looking at that page but I know from previous experience that the "melt" conditions will change rapidly and I've been at this long enough to know that actual eyeballs and boots on the trail will always give the best information during this rapidly changing time.

Right now I plan on carrying snowshoes but would prefer to leave them in the car if they aren't needed. I carried them last year on a week long hike based on the best weather and snowpack info I could find and never used them. It's always better to have something and not need it but I also hate carrying extra weight for no reason, especially with kids.
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby Phil » Tue May 10, 2016 6:02 pm

I think you're going to end up carrying those snowshoes as dead weight for most or all the trip and be sad. You said you all had microspikes through, so that's maybe what I would bring. Have it all in the car because it can't hurt. You have a fair amount of smooth flats, but a lot of them are lower elevation. I don't know if you guys have hiked YNP before, but most of the trails are steep and irregular with rocks, water bars, rough steps, downed trees...If there's not much cover, you're going to be miserable in snowshoes and absolutely destroy them in the process.

I use that cam up at Badger, too. It should be at about 7500 feet I think, and the top of the lift should be a fairly good read on 8000. The snow pack is receding fast, and even with the nighttime freezing, if it stays as warm as it was today, this week is going to be hard on the coverage. But, that means that it's going to be soup, so gaiters might not be too bad either. If you also refer to the High Sierra cam and know what you're looking at and what elevations your route corresponds to in it, if you look past Cloud's Rest and see Tenaya Peak and Echo Peaks in the background, that's about 10k for reference. In the valley to the right of HD is your route up from Happy Isles along the Merced, and it looks pretty good.

Bring warm bags, layers/hats/gloves, and keep your fuel cartridges warm, poles wouldn't be a bad idea...............and DEET!!! You have 10 days. Oh Boy!
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby Bighead » Tue May 10, 2016 6:26 pm

Phil thanks, we do have micros pikes and I figured we will need those at a minimum for clouds rest. My bigger concern is if we try and take the eastern trail from echo valley northeast that turns back into the trail directly north of the sunrise HSC. I'm not looking at a map but I think the sunrise lakes are just over 9,000. I'm still trying to decide if this is the route we will take so I'm hoping someone may be up in that area over the next week.
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby Phil » Tue May 10, 2016 7:52 pm

If you move the model forward (the farthest out I can go is 05-14) on AT's NOAA link, and you use the station at Tenaya Lake as your starting point, the hills above it have a lot of cover (that's where you're going-ish), and you can see the high country above Sunrise HSC (9300 ft) and the east aspect of CR (9900 ft) as a separate series of little blocks just below and to the SW of that area. So between today and 4 days from now, it gets a lot smaller. If that trend continues, you'll be in snow, but it's going fast, if you trust in the modeling. If you look at the model for a bit and correlate it with your trail map, it'll make sense if it doesn't already.

Via Echo Creek and Sunrise Lakes, you almost certainly add to your winter travel, just because it's more, higher and longer. Unless somebody reports on it, who knows how deep though? Check it again right before you leave, throw the gear in the car, see what the rangers say, go. You should be able to get a very basic idea from below of what to expect before you commit to the Echo Creek trail, and can always backtrack and go lower if you have to and don't like how it looks. There is a short pass over to Sunrise at the top that's about 9200 ft, so keep that in mind and use it to sort of pre-gauge what the conditions are there and beyond as soon as you have a visual. If you do commit and get up higher but have to call it, and need/want to stop for whatever reason, Echo Creek's overall topography almost all along the Cathedral Fork is forgiving enough for some camping if it comes to that , but there are also some good existing sites by the 2nd footbridge that I know of. That's actually a really pretty little valley anyhow, so it's not a bad place to bivouac if you have to.
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby AlmostThere » Tue May 10, 2016 8:10 pm

I usually go by the month of the year, deciding whether to leave snowshoes at home. I'll take microspikes in May and after, if there is still snow, and waterproof gaiters. Extra socks.

The way spring snow is, snowshoes aren't worth it. Walk in it and you'll see. It's usually a concern on passes, in spring -- and I try to hit passes first thing in the morning. One, because the snow will have hardened again, and be easier to walk in. Two, because afternoon thunderstorms become a thing, long about June-ish, and not being high and exposed is a good idea.

Spring afternoons in snow is an exercise in cold, wet feet. Does not matter if the shoes are Goretex, really. I bring kayak socks -- waterproof Neoprene -- and put them on over the wool socks.
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby Bighead » Tue May 10, 2016 8:52 pm

Almost there thanks for the additional information, that definitely helps. Particularly the possible camping along Echo Creek.
Backpacking during transitional weather is always a little more difficult. We ran into the same thing in the Grand Canyon back in late February. On our way in we had to wear microspikes and deal with treacherous ice for about a mile. 4 days later on our way back out there was absolutely no ice anywhere.

On a sidenote I have some handmade traditional snow shoes that actually work really well in slushy snow. I got them from a gentleman in the big lakes area who made them for dealing with lake slush. I've used them in areas where modern snow shoes provided no help and they only weigh about a pound more than modern snow shoes. I was able to traverse some really bad terrain in Yellowstone while my buddy was post holing his way across the same terrain.
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Re: Anyone hiking Clouds Rest or Sunrise Lakes area this wee

Postby Phil » Wed May 11, 2016 5:15 am

From your itinerary, you should be hitting the area of concern on the 24th, so right before you leave, run that NOAA model again for that date. If things hold, it should be a bit better still.

A couple other things I should mention are a pair of creek crossings along the Echo Creek trail and then another a couple 100 feet before you pick up the JMT. They might be a pain, and they're the main drainages for a lot of higher areas, but they shouldn't be all too bad. One of those is Long Meadow Creek, and you'll first cross it going up, then cross it again after you've descended to the JMT from that short pass at the top of the Echo Creek trail. It's not wide (maybe 10-12 feet, although the cut is deeper than you would think it should be for what it is). We've crossed it a couple times in mid June and it's been going surprisingly fast and fairly deep, enough to knock you down. We boulder hopped it, although it's forested in that area, so you might be able to find a downed tree upstream to make it easier. Just so you know.

Also, Long Meadow itself, if not covered in snow, is going to be a wet wreck for a little under the next mile from that junction to just below the HSC, but then everything is going to be draining and that way. With everything else, I would bring some fire starters, too. You guys are going to spend a lot of evenings needing to warm up and dry out.
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