Killer Sunset at The Sisters near Carson Pass
Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail   Need a Map? Lost Al near Lost Keys Lake
Emigrant Wilderness under Tropical Thunderstorm, September.
Round Top Lake
Whitebarks and Grizzly Peak in Emigrant Wilderness under Tropical Clouds during September 2013
 
Lost Keys Lake
 

Tahoe to Whitney
Backpacking Calendar

2015

Important Dates for High Sierra Backpackers

Resupply, Seasonal Transitions and Concerns, Permit Dates, Weather, Water, and Mosquitoes

   
Resupply Permits Weather trail guide index trail maps index trail miles index Download FONT


2015 High Sierra
Backpacking Calendar

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

The Calendary of Record

This calendar is designed for the four-season backpacker. This calendar anticipates important dates in the Sierra Nevada, from the beginning of Winter expectaions of fierce storms, deep snowpacks, through the Spring Thaw to fine Summer conditions.

We look for the dates and the conditions that determine the density of our Winter Gear, and when it can be thinned to the gear of Spring, to when we can finally pull out the Summer Gear. This point has been getting earlier for decades. Winter has radically shortened.

This changes the dates when our trails and resupply spots open up, and when we can begin our long treks down the Sierra Crestline. It affects when we plan, pack, and send our resupply packages.

These changes up the odds for PCT hikers to finish in one long season, but also up the odds for backpackers to get "caught-out" by unexpected storms.

Thus these calendars will track the difference between "classic" Sierra seasonal conditions and the current conditions on the ground over as many years as I can watch the fun.

We will warn of the power of of Winter, while taking note of both its failures and surpises, and notes how this affects the openings and closing dates of the resupply spots.

2014 Calendar    2016 Calendar

If you have any interesting information or dates of note that should be on the calendar, let me know, and if they are pertinent to backpackers I will post them up.

Hiker1@TahoetoWhitney.com

Last Year

January 2015
North Desolation Wilderness

Dicks and Fontanellis Lakes in the North Desolation Wilderness.
View North across Dicks and Fontanillis Lakes. Phipps Peak and Pass are the prominent peak in the middle-Right background. Note Middle Velma Lake nestled in below Phipps Peak. Our route from Meeks Bay on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe crossed Phipps Peak to join the Pacific Crest Trail in the Desolation Wilderness just a bit North of Middle Velma Lake.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

January 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

FULL WINTER CONDITIONS
The Fall Gear has been stowed or complimented by the heavy Gear of Winter.
Weather

Reserved permits for June 2015 now available from Yosemite NP and Desolation Wilderness.
All Permits

Yosemite Permits         Desolation Wilderness

30

31

1
Permits
Permits for JUNE 18 2015 available from Yosemite TODAY.
New Year's Day
Yosemite Permits

Desolation Wilderness

Hoover Wilderness

2
Backpackers

 

Full Winter Gear and precautions
REQUIRED

3

4

 

 

 

5 6 7 8 9 10

11

 

 

 

12 13

14
SNOW CAMPERS

 

Track snow, storms, and temps to determine character of Winter.

15 16 17

18

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

M L King Day

20 21 22 23 24

25

 

 

 

26 27 28 29 30 31

NOTE
2015’s weather is forming up for an early start for both the Spring and Summer Hiking Seasons. This can change. 2014 was one of the earliest openings of the high trails I remember. The year before was one of the latest. Extremes have become the new normal.


At this point I put the chances of any Southern Storms blowing up to relieve our drought at less than 1 in 3. The Northern Storm Gate has been blocked most of 2013 and 2014, and the heat blocking it has not brought tropical moisture to replace the lost Northern Storms. Time will tell, but my money is on continuing cold and dry conditions bringing an early opening of High Sierra Trails.

NOTE
JANUARY 2015 ASSESMENT
January set the record for all of human recorded history in California by having virtually no rain. None.

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

Permits
Yosemite National Park and Desolation Wilderness accept reservations six months in advance for Summer backpacking dates.

June 2015 reservations are available in January, July in February, and so on.

Yosemite Permits

Desolation Wilderness

Hoover Wilderness

The cold and snows of January provide both excellent backpacking experiences and establish the terms, a baseline for this year’s transition into Spring Conditions.

Deep snows, regular storm activity, and cold temps indicate a long Winter into Spring transition. Not this year, so far.

Light snows and irregular storms may indicate a quick and early transition into Spring conditions.

Tahoe to Whitney

Top of Page

February 2015
Summit City Canyon
January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Summit City Canyon from Mount Reba.
The full length of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route through Summit City Canyon in the Mokelumne Wilderness. Note The Sisters in the upper Right hand corner, and Horse Canyon in the upper-middle of the image. At the middle-bottom we can see the North Mokelumne river passing through its narrow gorge just above where it runs past Camp Irene, where we began this climb up the NW flank of Mount Reba. That is the narrow section where the catastrophic Spring Thaw of 1997 pushed up a massive log jam, causing massive destruction in the surging pool of timber behind it, and which swept away all in its path when it broke.

Labeled Image

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

February 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

PRECAUTIONS AND OPPERTUNITY
Backpackers are observing patterns and trajectory of Winter storms and temps to find Hiking Windows into the
Winter Wonderland.

UPDATE
Well, not this year. With virtually no rain in the first half of the month an little prediced for the end.

27 28 29 30 31

1

 

 

 

2 3 4 5

Winter Gear

Be geared for sub-freezing and sub-zero temps with wind chill

High Sierra Reporting Stations

6 7

8

 

 

 

9 10 11 12

13

 

 

 

14

 

 

Valentine's Day

15

CCC
Backcountry Trail Crew
Applications due

 

 

16

 

 

Presidents' Day

17 18 19 20 21

22

 

 

 

23 24 25 26 27 28

NOTES: Short days and long cold nights are the bookends within which we plan our trips.


High Sierra hiking trips can be followed up with exciting trips into the moderate Winter Climate of Death Valley.

UPDATE
2015 Report
Bizarre weather pattern holds. Storm Gate from the NW is not even possible, as the jet stream across the N Pacific has "flipped" South. Rather than bringing weather down from Alaska, the jet stream is now blowing North out of the Central Pacific.

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar


Are Weather Conditions
Moderating?
Accelerating?
March can be Great for Snow Backpacking.

UPDATE
Not this year. No snow.

FEBRUARY 2015 ASSESMENT
NO SNOW

Piercing Cold this month or just “Normal Cold?

(Answer: Hot and Dry. Record low snowfall, snowpack, rain, with record high temperatures. )

Heavy Snow Storms or None at All?

(Answer: Virtually none at all. Dry Jan and one little storm in Februrary.)

UPDATE
Our Observations of how this series of Unusual Seasons works out determines our Range of Hiking Possibilities and the Gear Necessary to Explore them.

All signs indicate a very early opening of the Sierra Nevada this year.

Tahoe to Whitney

Top of Page

March 2015
The Tahoe to Yosemite Tral across Emigrant Wilderness

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Tower Peak beyon Grizzly Peak and Meadow.
View across the High Emigrant Meadow with Emigrant Meadow Lake of Emigrant Wilderness below, Grizzly Peak in the middle distance, and Tower Peak in the distance. Note the three ridges between Grizzly Peak and Tower Peak. Crossing the second ridge brings us through Bond Pass into the top of Yosemite's Jack Main Canyon, where we will rejoin the Pacific Crest Trail. Tower Peak sits at the head of Tilden Canyon, which is the last variant of the TYT from the PCT route on our way South across the North Yosemite Backcountry to Tuolumne Meadows.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

March 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

OBSERVE
The Winter and its Snowpack.
HEAVY? LIGHT?
Character and Sources of Storms?
Are Spring Conditions arriving with Spring?

Snowpack Status            Sierra Reporting Stations

UPDATE
Sever Drought Conditions Persist!

24

 

 

 

25 26 27

28

1

Summer Hiking
Plans

Permits

In agreement with the progress of Spring?

2 3 4 5 6 7

8

START
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME
Add one hour at 2 am.
GMT - 7 hours
(Ends Nov. 1)

Astronomical Information

Navigation Information

9 10 11 12 13 14
Tahoe to Whitney
&
PCT--JMT hikers

Order food, prep resupply packages, and repair gear.

Resupply

15

 

 

 

16


17

The Big Green One

 

Saint Pat's Day

18

UPDATE
Virtually No Rain,
hot temperatures,
little snow in the Sierra.

Carson Pass
measures 22 inches.

Tuolumne Meadows
.20 of an inch

19

 

UPDATE
The Drought
is
On
!

20

First Day of Spring

 

The Vernal Equinox

21

22

 

 

 

23 24

25

Carson Pass

21 inches of snow
42 degrees at 11am

Ebbetts Pass
13 inches of snow
43 degrees at 11am

26 27 28

29

 

 

 

30 31        

NOTES: Are heavy storms rolling in? From the North or South? Is a pattern forming?

UPDATE
Nope
. Things are shaping up to be the hottest, driest year on record, topping off a multi-year series of increasing heat and drought records.

This will translate into the earliest opening of the High Sierra for Summertime backpackers in history if these conditions persist.

The Week of March 16
The press just picked up the drought story after a NASA scientist writes California has "One year of water left."
It is about time...

Their lame coverage shows no indication that the press understands that our policies of irresponsible growth and greed have brought us to disaster. Nope, their concern is with just how to keep this feeding frenzy of greed going... until we run all the way out of water and the forests burn.

High Sierra Weather

 

THE QUESTION
Have temps risen enough to start shifting into lighter Spring Gear from our heavy Winter Gear?
Correct Layering is Vital.

 

MARCH 2015 ASSESMENT
Very little snow, Very high temperatures.

Extreme Drought Conditions

 

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

The nature of our Snow Backpacking trips are determined by the character of the snow.

Deep, soft, wet snow makes for rough going, as does fresh powder.

Cold hard well-packed snow can be faster than good trail.

Tahoe to Whitney

Top of Page

April 2015
Tropical Thunderstorm climbs the East Sierra

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Tower beyond Grizzly Peak, Emigrant Wilderness.
A beautiful and powerful cell of tropical weather out of the Sea of Cortez slams the steep East Sierra flank with heavy lightening and downpours. The storm sucked up red, yellow and golden colors of the sands it crossed from the intervening deserts between our high mountain position in the Emigrant Wilderness and warm tropical seas far to our South.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

April 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Spring Conditions?
It Depends.
Conditions on the ground, NOT a date on the calendar determines our gear and skills requirements.

Snowpack Status            Sierra Reporting Stations

Trans-Sierra Highway Information

Summer's Coming!
Resupply Information

31

 

 

 

 

1
JB declares Water Emergency
25% State-Wide cutback.
Carson Pass Hwy 88
11 inch Snow Depth
Tuolumne Meadows
1.3 inch Snow Depth
Deadman Creek Hwy 108
9 inch Snow Depth

2

3

M & P Early Season Yosemite backpacking trip, Glacier Peak Road.

4

5

Easter

STORMLETS

A set of Weak "Stormlets"
cross North Sierra

6

Snowpack

Carson Pass
8 inch Snow Depth

 

Tuolumne Meadows
.3 inch Snow Depth

7

Carson Pass
19 inch Snow Depth

 

Tuolumne Meadows
6.5 inch Snow Depth

8
KM to Open last weekend
of this month.

Carson Pass
15 inch Snow Depth

 

Tuolumne Meadows
5.6 inch Snow Depth

9 10 11

12

 

 

 

13

14
Backpacking Plans?

Are our hiking plans and conditions on the ground in agreement?

Earliest trail Opening in High Sierra History developing this year.

Or will a vast storm blow in?
Tahoe to Whitney Plan

15
Hot Day

16 Interesting...
Hot Day

Snow with no Storm

The South end of a rotating high pressure zone to our North is
pulling humid air Westward-Offshore Flow!
This has brought light snow from the EAST to
the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

17 TRANS-SIERRA HIGHWAYS
Hot Day

Ebbetts Pass Opened

Sonora Pass Opened

18
Hot Day

19
Snotel Station Reports
Pre-Storm Snow Depth

Carson Pass 2 inches
Road Open

Ebbetts Pass 0 inches
Road Open

Sonora Pass 2 inches
Road Open

20 WEATHER UPDATE
First Storm Activity since
April 5 approaches North California Coastline.

Weak Low far to Northwest will/may drag 2 weak fronts across
the North Sierra.

RAIN or SNOW?

SNOWTEL
Tuolumne Meadows .8 inch

21

22

ADZPCTKO.org

TWO EVENTS
April 22-24
April 24-26

Annual PCT kickoff event.

23

 

 

 

 

24

2014
KM Opening

Small Storm passes
over North Sierra.

Lucky the storm passed at night, or it would have rained across the Sierra Crest.

25
Snotel Station Reports Post Storm Snow Depth

Carson Pass 3 inches

Ebbetts Pass 11 inches

Sonora Pass 10 inches

Tuolumne Meadows 6.1

26

 

 

 

27 28

29 (UPDATE April 8)

Bloom & Weather announce:

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station,
Highway 108,

OPENS

30

Super Hot Day

   

Conditions Vs. Plans
Is there a huge snowpack?
(This Year: Almost NO SNOWPACK)
Have you Late Spring or Early Summer Hiking Plans?
Current conditions will tell you if your early season hiking plans are possible.

APRIL 8 STATUS
8% of Average Snowpack

High Sierra Backpacker Weather

NOTES:

Critical Water Shortage deepens with an almost complete lack of Winter precipitation across the lowlands nor snow across the Sierra Nevada.

Early season set of tiny "stormlets" April 6-8 bring no real relief, and do not establish a new trend of wetter weather. High building in after storms.

Though conditions beckon backpackers out, any precipitation falling on the Sierra Crest will still fall as snow. Great caution must be exercised by early season backpackers.

It is TIME
Consult with Resupply Location Information to assure resupply buckets are mailed in a timely fashion.
Some will go early, some will be mailed later...

APRIL 2015 ASSESMENT
Earliest Trans-Sierra Highway Openings on Record?

High Sierra Backpacker Resupply

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

RESUPPLY TIPS
Always use plastic buckets to ship your resupply:
Any container a mouse can chew through or water can penetrate is at risk.

Think about what you'd like, as well as what you need in your resupply bucket.
A bottle of wine or whiskey is a nice thing on a cold Sierra night at the resupply.

Tahoe to Whitney

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May 2015
Forsyth Peak

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Forsyth Peak on Northwest corner of Yosemite National Park.
A glimpse at Forsyth Peak in the very Northwest corner of Yosemite National Park under the soft but fierce pastel clouds of a thunderstorm dying as sunset approaches.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

May 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Last Spring Snow Trips?
Once the Spring Thaw gets going the rivers and creeks will rage, making fording very dangerous.

Not likely this year. There is little to no snow on the Sierra Crest to surge through the watersheds.

Anticipate very early openings of the resupply facilities along the Sierra Crest. Mid to late May.

Watch the weather, of course, but this looks like a record early opening of the Sierra. Again.

28

 

Scouting Trips Page
When will the PCT-TYT, High Altitude Sierra Trails open in 2015?

 

29

30 A Super Hot Day
WHAT’S UP??

Heavy Spring Snow pushes Summer back,

No Snow brings Summer Conditions early.

High Sierra Weather
THIS YEAR:
Earliest Spring-Summer transition in
RECORDED HISTORY.

1

Snotel Station Reports Snow Depth

Carson Pass 0 inches

Ebbetts Pass 0 inches

Sonora Pass 0 inches

Tuolumne Meadows 0 inches

2

3

 

 

 

4

Spring Gear

 

Lighter than Winter, Heavier than Summer Gear. Maybe Now?

5

6
SPRING INSTABILITY BEGINS
The weather makes a turn for the worse after an incredible warm and dry period.

No powerful storms, but constant clouds, rain and light snow falling for the next (21) days to the 27th...

7
WEATHER ALERT !!


Weak Low Pressure Zone
moving West across Sierra, and South.

1.08 inches of precipitation forecast for next 7 days.

Rain and Snow mix likely.

Could wash what little snow on the Sierra off it.

8

National Weather Service
Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts:
RAIN FORECASTS

 

High Sierra Weather

9
Snotel Station Reports Snow Depth
MESOWEST stations

Carson Pass 0 inches

Ebbetts Pass 5 inches

Sonora Pass 7 inches

Tuolumne Meadows .3 inches

10

Unsettled Weather
in
Sierra Nevada

 

Mother's Day

11
Snotel Station Reports Snow Depth
MESOWEST stations

Carson Pass 0 inches

Ebbetts Pass 0 inches

Sonora Pass 0 inches

Tuolumne Meadows .80 inches

12

Tahoe to Whitney
issues

EL NINO
BACKPACKER ALERT

13
WEATHER ALERT !!
Disorganized Low Pressure Zones

Two inches of precipation anticipated in NW Sierra thru Saturday evening.

Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts:
RAIN FORECASTS

14
Permits

Make Sure we have our long distance Summer permit plans worked out.

Desolation, Hoover, and Yosemite all begin accepting reservations 6 months in advance.

That would be in January...

15

Vermilion Valley Resort

Reported first JMT hiker
on
May 14

Anticipated Opening
Date

Early!

(Open)

16
Sierra Cloudy, raining, sleet, snow.

17

Sierra continues to be wrapped in deep clouds spitting light rain and snow.

T-Storms too!

Temps barely at freezing overnight.

 

18

Add to or learn from the

When will the
PCT-TYT,
High Altitude,
Sierra Trails,
open in 2015?

page on the Trails Forum.

19
Ebbetts and Sonora Passes
Closing for weak
Snow Storm

Carson Pass 0 inches

Ebbetts Pass 0 inches

Sonora Pass 0 inches

20
Bloom reported PCT hikers hiking down closed Hwy 108 for resupply on the 19th.

21

Peter at
Lake of the Sky Outfitters in
South Lake Tahoe

Reports arrival of first three of this year's PCT hikers.

22
Days of muggy clouds, rain and very light snow continue.

7 day precip forecast calling for up to an inch of rain in Sierra over next week.

Quantitative Precipitation
Forecast

23

Texas Pounded by
weeks of
Record Thunder Storms, Tornadoes, and massive floods.

Central and North Central Texas is basically underwater.

24

 

 

 

25

Memorial Day

Echo Lake Chalet
and
Lake Alpine Lodge

OPEN
Depending on Weather

26

Nighttime Temperatures
Staying above Freezing:

The inflection point for the traditional "Thaw" has arrived.

27

First Clear Day
over Sierra Nevada since May 6.

28

29


30

Sno-Park Permits


End of permit restrictions for use of Sno-Park parking lots.

 

31            

NOTES:
The High Sierra resupply spots are all opening up this month or early the next, a good sign that we should have our trip plans and logistics down and done by now.
We have planned-out every overnight campsite we will sleep at and every individual calorie we will consume by now, meaning that we are about ready to finalize our buckets, seal them up, and determine the exact timing of their shipment to best match our anticipated arrival date.

Earliest Opening of Roads and Trails in History?

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

May 2015 Tracking the Drought page
May 2015 Tracking the Sierra Conditions page.

May gives us a good indication of the unfolding trajectory of Spring.

MAY 2015 ASSESMENT
Extreme Drought Conditions unmitigated by Winter.

Thin snows on the Sierra Crest and light Storm Activity indicates an early opening of the High Trails across Mountain Passes.

High Sierra Backpacker Weather

May marks the center-point of openings of our High Sierra Resupply facilities

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station opened last month.

The Tuolumne Meadows Post Office, Reds Meadow Pack Station, VVR, and Muir will all open next month

Tahoe to Whitney

Top of Page

June 2015
Magical pond on the South end of Seavy Pass

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Seavy Pass in North Yosemite Backcountry.Seavy Pass is the high point in a wide bowl filled with beautiful ponds atop the ridge separating Bensen Lake from Kerrick Canyon along the combined TYT-PCT routes through the North Yosemite Backcountry. Above we are passing around the Southernmost pond before beginning the great descent to Bensen Lake.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

June 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

31

1

VVR Opens

 

Depending on Weather

High Sierra Weather

2 3 4

5

KENNEDY MEADOWS
PACK STATION

ADULT HORSEPACKER
CAMP

BEGINS

6

TS BLANCA

Moving N to tip of Baja California.

7

 

 

 

8
TS BLANCA

Storm breaking up on landfall at N end of Sea of Cortez.

Great amount of tropical mositure dissappated across Southwest

9

BLANCA REMNANTS

Push North, and spun West into Sierra.

10

T-storms and Rain from
TS BLANCA
Raining on the Sierra Crest

1.1 inches of rain predicted over Sierra next 7 days.

11

RAIN FORCAST REVISED:
.5 inches of rain predicted over Sierra next 7 days.

High Sierra Weather
Rain Forecast

12
KENNEDY MEADOWS
PACK STATION

ADULT HORSEPACKER
CAMP

ENDS

RAIN REVISE TO 0

13

14 Father's Day
Reds Meadow
Accepts resupply packages

KENNEDY MEADOWS
PACK STATION

KIDS HORSEPACKER
CAMP

I
BEGINS

15

16 HEAT WAVE BUILDING

High Temps along
Sierra Crest

Snow retreating to highest South Sierra Peaks & Crestline.

None on the North Sierra
for WEEKS.

The LAST BITS of the
Sierra Snowpack

17

18 Ramadan Begins

KENNEDY MEADOWS
PACK STATION

KIDS HORSEPACKER
CAMP
I
ENDS

19

KENNEDY MEADOWS
PACK STATION

KIDS HORSEPACKER
CAMP

II
BEGINS

Tuolumne Meadows Post Office reports busiest times ever.

20

Clear and Warm

21
Summer
Solstice

North Sierra SNOW FREE
South Sierra rapidly losing thin pack along crestline.

Snowpack, June 21, 2015

First Day
of
Summer

22

23

Muir Ranch

 

Begins offering resupply package pickup

24
Big High Pressure building in across whole North-Central, Northeast, Central, and Northeast Pacific Ocean.

This looks like the end of the Spring Instability and advent of full-blown Summer HEAT.

ENSO inputs seem to be going IR batshit...

25

KENNEDY MEADOWS
PACK STATION

KIDS HORSEPACKER
CAMP
II
ENDS

26

Heat Wave Building in,
Thunderstorm Mechanism is operating, enhanced by trough bringing moisture-rich air North.

Valley temps up to 103 this next week. These temps can drive fierce T-Storms.

27

 

 

 

 

28

 

 

 

29 30        

NOTES: The Snowpack on the Sierra, storm activity, and temps during June are going to allow us to get a bead on when the Sierra Trails across the High Passes will start opening up, as well as the trails approaching them.

High Sierra Backpacker Weather

When the snows melt millions of mosquitoes rise from the saturated soils. It starts low down the mountain early in Spring and rises up the mountainside as Spring progresses. Be ready for the rising clouds of mosquitoes.

High Sierra MOSQUITOES

MARCH 2015 OBSERVATION REGARDING SPRING-EARLY SUMMER:
Everybody will open early, unless prohibited by use agreements. The issue driving behavior in June is going to be fires, not snowpack. This year is shaping up to have the hottest Wintertime temperatures pushing earliest opening of the Sierra trails and resorts with the least amount of snow and rain recored since the Western settlement of California.

JUNE 2015
A very warm unsettled month of May has brought continued unsettled Weather conditions into June. The overnight temps have been above freezing since late May, and the tropical remnants of Blanca appear to be scouring the remaining snow off the South Sierra quite quickly on June 10.
I expect a regular groove to be cut by hikers through what snow remains in the South Sierra mountain Passes along the JMT by the start of June.

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar


Permits
Only remnants of reserved permits are available out of Yosemite, Mount Whitney Zone, and Desolation Wilderness.
Through-hiker permits into or across these areas are still available.

Permits

June 24 Report
ENSO activity seems to be tormenting the central-East US with tropical moisture appearing as tornadoes and T-storms. The "gunsight" that points this energy our way is not seasonally adjusted to point at the Sierra, but it looks like the "clip" is full.

This means that as Fall cooling beings these tropical flows could be pointed our way, if ocean heating trends continue.

Or not. We could just as easily maintain drought conditions. I put the chances at tropical El Nino Fall rains at 50-50 from today's perspective.

JUNE 2015 ASSESMENT
Tropical Thunderstorms, Rain and Snowstorms from supercharged El Nino torment lightly-geared PCT Hikers.

 

The real danger of June is found between the swollen banks of rivers and even normally small placid creeks, surging with the power of the Spring Thaw. (Not this year)

During heavy Spring Thaws one can hear the grinding of unseen great granite boulders as supercharged river flows easily roll them downstream. (Not this year)

Carefully assess all river crossings, have contingency plans for being knocked down and losing your pack, and turn around if the dangers are too great. (All Years)

Tahoe to Whitney

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July 2015
Volunteer and Double Peaks

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Volunteer and Double Peaks, Yosemite National Park.
Descending towards Bensen Lake we observe the massive climb following our descent when we continue South from Bensen. This is one of the hardest sections of the whole Tahoe to Whitney hike.

North Yosemite Backcountry
Trail Guide
           Map           Miles and Elevations
July 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Backpackers
Shift to Summer Gear well under way. Be ready for last bursts of Spring Weather.
Ignore the Calendar.
Gear up for the Conditions on the Ground, not a Date on the Calendar.

High Sierra Backpacker Weather

ON THE TRAIL
This year July is seeing a tremendous amount of Tropical Storm Activity across the Sierra Crest. These conditions are bringing severe Lightening, Downpours, heavy Hail, and even a great burst of heavy snow.

July 2015
Current chances of experiencing
SEVERE WEATHER are INCREASED.

30

Vast Tropical Flows

Pushing North into Valley and across Sierra from massive tropical activity in the E-Central Pacific:

NWS 1 KM SAT

FIVE DAY PRECIP: 1.9 in TROPICAL RAIN, T-STORMS

1

Tuolumne Meadows
Post Office

OPEN
Depending on Weather

(OPENED MID JUNE !!)

High Sierra Weather

2

OFFSHORE BREEZE OF
TROPICAL MOISTURE!

South and Southwestern
Winds

3

4
All Parks, Forests, Wilderness, Campgrounds and Trails are
BUSY


Independence Day

Permits

5

 

 

 

6 7

8

Serious Tropical Flows
drawn North by local low pressure zone moving East across Sierra bringing days of fierce Thunderstorms, Lightening, and Torrential Rains.

9

Tropical Storms

Reno Floods.

10

Storms Abating

11

Clear Weather

George & Sue
Married

CONGRATULATIONS!

Ceremony at Burst Rock in Emigrant Wilderness, followed by a backpacking honeymoon into the Emigrant Backcountry.

And Tahoe afterwards...

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Clear Weather

 

 

13

14 MOSQUITOES

Mosquitoes rise when the snows melt.

Mosquitoes are typically THICK.

This year: Skeeterts are thin. Early for thin...

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16

Remnants of Baja Ca Hurricaine drawn North into LA, South Deserts, and bringing more tropical storms to Sierra Nevada.

LA Floods

Hwy 10 Closed by Flash Flood

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Ramadan Ends

18

Scattered Tropical Remnants bringing irregular T-storms, rain, and hail.

It has been a "Tropical Summer," so far. This trend began in mid-May.

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20

21

Humidity Declines

22
National Weather Service

7 Day Precip Forecast

Five Day Precip Forecast:
.5 total in North Sierra.

Seven Days:
.5 total

23
NWS Forecast:
Clearing Trend

Five Day Precip Total to 0.


Sixth-Seventh Days: .16

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NWS Forecast:
Clearing and Heating Trend.

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26

 

 

 

27

Heat Wave, Dry.

Tropical humidity and rain predicted from Thursday.

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29
7 Day Rain

7 day precip total put at 1.7 in. along Sierra Crest

These predictions are highly variable, and change as the week progresses.

Torrential in Florida...

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Rocky Fire Fact Sheet (June 29)

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Rough Fire

 

Standard JULY NOTES:
I’ve seen years when the snowpack sticks through the Summer, and years where the snowpack clears by mid-June. The past four decades the average annual snowpack has radically declined and the date the snow clears has gotten earlier and earlier.

Independent of the long term trends our trip planning and gear selection are guided by careful observations of the character of each season’s weather. This year is no different.

This Year:
Freak Tropical Weather blowing North bringing unsettled weather into the Sierra since late May, and certainly persisiting through now, mid-July. The El Nino conditions in the East-Central Pacific are already epic by July 22, which is very early in the timing of a typical El Nino "season."

This indicates a high probability of our already tropically-unsettled weather being supercharged by a heavy El Nino building into Fall. We will see. This tropical weather has served to suppress what would have been a disastrous fire season, and has served to put the drought on "suspended animation," somewhat retarding its progress.

Last two times I saw El Ninos like this (over last 40+ years) California suffered epic Fall flooding. Epic.

 

DANGERS
Monitor weather for afternoon Thunderstorms

Beware of dangerous fording conditions

Mosquito conditions are typically going Hog Wild during this time of year.
Not during 2015!
Mosquito Populations are still being depressed by the drought conditions, despite the Spring and Summer tropical rains.

 

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

July brings the peak of the Summer Thunderstorm Season in the High Sierra. These are local weather, caused by heat waves in the San Joaquin Valley swept up the West Sierra Flank.

Hot wet air on a fast ride up the West Sierra flank to high elevations squeezes out what can be substantial daily rain and lightening activity lasting between 2 pm and sunset.

Don’t cross open ground under one of these storms. They are deadly. Lightening and Fording are the leading causes of High Sierra backpacker deaths.

2015 Update
This year's constant series of thunderstorms are tropically born, not local. These thunderstorms are the product of distant moisture-rich tropical air being driven North by air currents generated by the intense tropical thunderstorm activity that generated them in the first place. These moisture rich airs are then sucked across the Sierra by an abberent series of stubborn unstable low pressure zones over California and the West Coast of the U.S.

Tahoe to Whitney

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August 2015
View down Tuolumne River from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Looking down Tuolumne River from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp.
View down the Tuolumne River while hiking across the footbridge just South of Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp at morning sunlight lighting up the canyon.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations

August 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Prime Time Backpacking
Mosquitoes diminishing to irrelevance.
Hot Temps moderate into cool backpacking.
Lowering Sun brings increasing contrasts to terrain.
Hiker Traffic Decreasing.

MONTH OF FIRE

Rough Fire Continues

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Rocky Fire incident update

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15

Mosquitoes


Mosquitoes die as terrain dries.
August 15 is the drop-dead date during “normal” Years

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17

Cold Evenings


August evenings are getting colder and colder.
Begin adding layers as Fall conditions emerge.

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24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31        

Rocky Fire

Jerusalem Fire

 

 

 

 

Typical Year : Wet years extends the mosquitoes’ reign past the 15th, Dry years shorten it.
Wet basins and lakes that hold water on vast sheets of solid granite below their green-grass coverings feed the mosquitoes later into the season than terrain that drains.

Thus we will find “holdout zones” where local mosquito populations remain high long after the surrounding terrain has dried out. My advice when you encounter one of these zones: RUN!

THIS YEAR: Drought. Weird tropical weather through July. August to typical conditions, but under extreme drought context. Thus August began running up into one of the worse fire seasons ever. September's weather will decide. Massive El Nino Conditions are boiling the Central Pacific. Somebody is going to get flooded.


Stay Alert
Though August is wonderful, it also potentially puts us into range of early-season storms and temp plunges.
It’s getting time to start supplementing our Summer gear with bits of our thicker Fall Gear.

 

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

The diminishing heat of Summer days are intermixing with the deepening chill of cold nights warning of approaching Fall conditions.

The Summer “high season” is now over, and trail traffic diminishes. The PCT hikers are long gone, and the JMT hikers are down to a trickle by the end of August.

The normal unpredictability of Sierra temp changes and storms are increasing, and so too should our gear selection start thickening up with bits of extra Fall insulation, to match the rising potential of cold conditions as the seasons change.

2015

The threats are fire and tropical weather.

The enduring trend of shortening Winters and the subsequent diminishment of Rain and Snowpack during the last 25 years has evolved into a completely different weather pattern. The storms out of the Northwest, in fact the whole North Pacific Weather Pattern has been disrupted. I would say it has been shattered.

The various unhinged elements of our old pattern have not re-established a new pattern, but two things are clear. First, our traditional pattern of Winter storms out of the Northwest has been shattered. It will likely re-occur every 3 to 7 years on a diminishing cycle, but it is done as the dominant feature of Winter weather on the whole Northwest Coast of the US.
Second, the temperatures and humidity have risen to levels un-natural for the North Lattitudes.

The establishment of this new weather pattern is now re-ordering the type and distribution of plant and animal life rapidly, through fire.

New plants, animals, and trees will replace those burned.

For backpackers this means that the rising threats into this year's September are massive fires and unexpected tropical downpours.

Tahoe to Whitney

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September 2015
Stunning colors of sunset in the John Muir Wilderness
Looking Northeast from near Island Pass at Blacktop Peak and its massive massif.

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Sunset across lake in Island Pass.
Massif under Blacktop Peak from unnamed lake in Island Pass. Donohue Pass and Peak are to the Left out of the image.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

September 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

EL NINO BOILING THE CENTRAL NORTH PACIFIC

FIRES BURNING ACROSS CALIFORNIA.

For backpackers these conditions require awareness of potential Fire and Tropical Downpours.

Fire and Smoke Information

El Nino Report

Huge Fires Burning: Rough Fire Continues

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2 3 4

5

 

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7

Echo Chalet Closes

 

Labor Day

 

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9

Butte Fire

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12

Valley Fire

13

Muir Ranch


Resupply Service stops accepting resupply buckets
Call Muir for Exact Date

 

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15

Tuolumne Meadows


Store, Café, Post Office
Approaching closing date.

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22

23

First day of Fall


Cooler Temps!
Shorter Days!
Note Weather Changes.
Thicker Gear for Fall

GEAR

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27

Galactic
Boo-Day

 

Happy Boo Day!

 

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30

Muir Ranch


Last day to pickup resupply buckets.

Call Muir for Exact Date

 

The Season is Tapering Down
Labor Day marks the beginning of the end of the Summer Backpacking Season in the High Sierra.

Resupply Facilities begin closing up for the Season.

Danger
The potential for low temps is increased. Early season storm possibilities rise significantly.
Carefully begin monitoring weather conditions while
considering Fall additions to Insulation and Gear.

 

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

Typical Year: The chances of early season cold and even an unexpected snow storm require we gear-up for the expected and the unexpected.

Each month is getting colder, bringing rising potential for some serious unexpected early snow as each day passes. Though hiking the Fall conditons of August, September and October offer some of the most spectacular views and beautiful experiences the High Sierra Nevada Mountain Range offers, we're also under expanding threat and increasing potential for a wide range of Winter weather conditions. We've got to keep an eye on the sky, as always. But especially during Fall.

This Year: High temperatures and a boiling El Nino make snow seem like an unlikely memory and impossible future. Cauldrons of hot water from the West Coast of Mexico down to the South of Peru and reaching West across the Central Pacific have created a center of fierce tropical storm production in the Central-East Pacific generating lines of hurricanes it is pushing East-Northeast across the Central Pacific.

A persistant trough over California has been sucking vast unconsolidated chunks of this tropical moisture North in the early days of September. Here's what I see:

El Nino storms will miss California if the weird tropical high that has been setting up over the North Pacific during the drought Winters reestablishes itself and persists. This High will transport El Nino moisture around California and the High Sierra. This High is forming up as strongly in mid-September as are El Nino conditions. That makes sense, as it's the same un-natural heat in water and sky driving both.

We may see a historic flow of tropical moisture into California and the High Sierra If the Winter High Pressure Zone does not set up over the North Pacific, and North Pacific Surface heating and Arctic "weakness" (Another warm Winter Arctic) perpetuates the breakdown of the North Pacific Jet Stream.
Warming Arctic Winters are feeding the growing pattern of Winter storms coming out of the tropics from the West and Southwest. In the case of a warm Arctic Winter without building a Winter High over the North Pacific could transport potentially historically unparalleled storm activity moving vast amounts of tropical moisture across California and the High Sierra.

In other words, we could get slammed or shut down.

In either case these conditions are unique in the span of human history. Enjoy the ride.

September brings the full palet of Fall beauty and cold conditions to the High Sierra.

From the golden grasses around diminished lakes to the great sweeps of bright yellow aspens cutting through the uniform evergreen canopy, beauty is bursting forth even as life slows into its Winter sleep.

The weight of the bear-proof can be left behind, but the pack gets heavier as the necessity of thicker gear demands we carry greater weight.

Well, not yet. But we are now watching carefully for the signs of Fall and the approach of Winter.

2015

BACKPACKER ALERT

The threats are fire and tropical weather.

The enduring trend of shortening Winters and the subsequent significant diminishment of Rain and Snowpack during the last 25 years has evolved into a completely different weather pattern. The storms out of the Northwest, in fact the whole North Pacific Weather Pattern has been disrupted. I would say it has been shattered.

The various unhinged elements of our old pattern have not re-established a new pattern (they are still changing!), but two facts are crystal clear. First, our traditional pattern of Winter storms out of the Northwest has been shattered. It will likely re-occur every 3 to 7 years on a diminishing cycle. Winters dominated by storms out of the Northwest is done as the dominant feature driving Winter weather on the whole Northwest Coast of the US.

(I see two factors driving the Degradation of the North Pacific Winter Weather Pattern:

Factor
A> The significant warming of the Arctic Circle during Winter has diminshed the polar region's ability to draw West Pacific storms up to the perimeter of its once powerful spinning vortex of brutal cold, to "power them up," and toss them across the West Coast of the US.

Factor B> The warmth of the North Pacific ocean surface and atmosphere during Winter in N Lattitudes has deflected the path of the typical North Pacific Winter Jet Stream across the Northeast Pacific, leaving the West Coast of the US dry.
The combined effects of the warming Arctic Circle and North Pacific Jet Stream changes are also responsible for the great "slides" South of Cold Arctic air masses over the Mid-West and East Coast over the last few Winters, causing those "polar vortexes."

Typical Winter storm patterns are not being drawn up to the Arctic Circle, they are not being fired up by the spinning vortex of the North Polar Region during Winter, nor are the resulting super-charged storms riding the Jet Stream down to California. That's the pattern that's over, the old pattern that drove fertility in California and the High Sierra.)

Second, the temperatures and humidity have risen to levels un-natural for the North Lattitudes. We appear to be moving towards a tropical "Wet and Dry"-season type of pattern at 38 N. We'll see. We've loosened the forces of chaos, now we will see what happens, and where they end up.

The establishment of new basic meterological conditions in the North Pacific and Arctic Ocean assures that this new weather pattern has just now begun to re-order the type and distribution of plant and animal life rapidly under its changed footprint, forcing all to adjust to the new reality. Here in California that will be through fire for the trees, and lack of water for the animals and humans.

New plants, animals, and trees more suited to the hotter, drier climate will replace those burned, until they too are supplanted.

For backpackers this means that the rising threats into this year's September are massive fires and unexpected tropical downpours.

Tahoe to Whitney

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October 2015
Black Giant rises in pinks of setting sun beyond Muir Pass with Wanda Lake in the foreground

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Muir Pass and Black Giant beyond Wanda Lake.
The Black Giant backdrops Muir Pass from our campsite on a rise above Lake Wanda.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

October 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Danger
Every couple of years late season backpackers are surprised by an Early-Season Snowstorm.

Two feet of unexpected snow strands backpackers.
ARE WE READY for the UNEXPECTED?

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1

Reds Meadow
Stops
accepting Resupply Packages


Tuolumne Meadows
Facilities closed for sure!


2

Deploy Fall Gear

GEAR

 

With the elements of Winter gear to survive unexpected events

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Kennedy Meadows Pack Station


Highway 108,
Closes Today 2015


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VVR Closes

 

Depending on Weather

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2015
FALL TEMP DROP

Freezing Overnight Temperatures in North-central and Northwestern United States.

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2015
BACKPACKER ALERT

2015
First Winter Storm Warning, First Storm

 

Halloween

NOTES: Cold conditions are a reality, even without unexpected snow and storms. Nighttime temps are cold and can PLUNGE.

I describe the factors controlling the outcome of the great planatary forces at play: An El Nino beyond all historical conceptions. A Great North Pacific High that is acting as persistant this season as the last four, and finally, an Arctic Circle that is not the spinning disc of fierce cold that traditionally pulls the jet stream up to it.

Mid-Pacific Weather Factors are all out of kilter. How they come to a balance between their competing and cooperating forces will determing exactly where the power of El Nino will put the water.

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

 

  The Tweener
October is the last month we can almost rely on great backpacking weather.
We can bank on serious early-season storms every few years. Don’t get stuck out without the gear necessary to survive, keep traveling, and enjoy it.

October in the High Sierra is stunningly beautiful, but potentially very dangerous.

Every few years a strong unexpected Winter Storm comes in early and dumps a couple of unexpected feet of snow on the High Sierra.

Leaving detailed trip plans with an outside monitor is required. Packing Winter Gear elements, knowing how to survive and travel in the snow, and having contingency plans is REQUIRED.

Tahoe to Whitney

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November 2015
Looking back at the two Pallisades Lakes below, with the Pallisades Mountains
rising to their Right as we climb through shattered rock to Mather Pass

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Pallisades Lakes and Mountains from Mather Pass.
Turning around to take a last look at the Pallisade Lakes below, the Pallisades Range surrounding them on the Right, and us hiking through the shattered rock leading South to Mather Pass.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

November 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Deploy Winter Gear
Our “base” layers are brought to Winter Standards.
Our insulation layers are thickened to Winter Standards as well.
Winter Shell, boots, socks, and camp gear comes into play. I love my down snow-camp booties!

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1
Sno-Park Permits

Required for use of Sno-Park parking lots through May 30.

End
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME
Subtract one hour at 2 am
GMT - 8 hours

(Started March. 8)

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Veterans Day

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Next front carrying tropical moisture from West of Hawaii arrives on West Coast.

Moisture transport along 1000 mile front. NO Arctic Storm behind the front, only big N Pacific High.

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Full Winter Gear

All Fall Gear elements replaced by Winter Gear.

GEAR

 

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Thanksgiving Day

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NOTES: Highways 120 and 4 will close for the season with the first heavy snowfall.

A series of front lines "tied" to Central Pacific low pressure zones have been "dragged" across the West Coast by the lows.

The North end of the front lines are tied to the Low, while the line of the front runs Southeast to be anchored in West-Central Pacific tropical activity. Vast amounts of tropical mositure are transported along the front line between the low to the North and the High to the South.

So far these front lines transporting tropical mositure have been squarely pointed at Seattle in the Northwest corner of the US.

Date Vs. Conditions on the Ground
The calendar says Winter Conditions, but what are the conditions on the ground?
Late season clarity can quickly shift to blizzard conditions.
Hope for the best, pack gear for the worse.

High Sierra Winter Weather

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

With or without snow on the Sierra, November brings very cold temps, and clear skies can turn dark and unleash heavy snow very quickly.

Summertime backpackers are tracking the trajectory of Winter conditions to guess-timate the date snows will clear from the high trails during Spring.

Wintertime backpackers are carefully tracking conditions to determine the best times to access the Winter Wonderland, if and when Winter comes in 2014.

Tahoe to Whitney

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December 2015
Iconic sawtooth ridgeline on Mount Whitney
South of the final gentle climb to the Mount Whitney plateau

January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

Iconic sawtooth ridge feature on Mount Whitney.
Hiking past the iconic sawtooth ridge on our last steps to the great almost-flat plateau that is the crest of Mount Whitney.

Trail Guide           Map           Miles and Elevations: Not yet online

December 2015

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Full Winter Gear

Time to pull out the full Winter Gear. A thick base layer with thick insulation and shell layers necessary.

Yosemite-Hoover-Desolation
&
John Muir Trail Hikers:

Time to Order Next Year's Permits!

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Observe


Storm, Temp and Weather Patterns to properly time upcoming Winter Trips.

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10 CHANGE POINT
Intense Tropical Thunderstorm activity forms North of Indonisia.
This is the typical precursor to California-targeted tropical flows.
El Nino flows have been transported to our North by high-pressure. So Far.

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First Day of Winter


Cold & Dark Equinox

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Christmas

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Backpackers

 

Time again to begin observing Winter transitioning into Spring.

The Winter Backpacker

Very short days and long cold nights makes Winter hiking trips very different than Summer.

I’m hopeful the trails will be buried under yards of snow by December 2015…
If so, our goals, our speed, and our expectations have fully shifted into Winter Mode.
Our changing inner perspective ideally matches external environmental changes.
May your perspective always complement your environment, and visa-versa.

 

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

NOTES: December Tenth.
Intense tropical flows have so far been diverted around us by the same persistant ridge, the high pressure zone that's been gradually building, strengthening, and persisting over Winter in the Northwest and West Pac over the last fifteen years. Yup, that one. I am betting that each time this ridge breaks down from here on out we will have a good chance of North and Central California getting seriously hosed. The ridge persisting will continue the deluge that everyone from Portland Oregon, and points North, has been getting pounded with, so far this year.

The distribution of El Nino tropical mositure has been controlled by the balance of factors I discussed in the December Backpacker Alert.

Season's Greetings: Alex and all the members of Tahoe to Whitney hope you had a killer backpacking year, that you’ve seen amazing things and met incredible folks on the long trails between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney. Woo Hooo!

Now's the Time! November & December is the time to reserve permits in Desolation Wilderness or Yosemite National Park for next June. Half of each ‘s Wilderness Permits for these heavily used areas are available six months before the start date of the backpacking trip.

I am hoping my frostbite/heart is recovered enough to resume my annual Christmas-New Year Snow Camping Triangle at the end of 2015.

From Meyers to Round Lake to Showers Lake to Round Top Lake and back to Meyers is my traditional December 25 Christmas present to myself.

The terrain, the joy of navigation and route finding the snow-covered beauty of the High Sierra during Winter is a special experience well worth the efforts and hazards.

Happy Trails!

Tahoe to Whitney

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January         Februrary         March         April         May         June         July         August         September         October         November         December

2014 Calendar          2016 Calendar

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Alex Wierbinski

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Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to backpacking the Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

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