High Sierra Trip Reports
These Reports are excellent for reviewing the recent evolution of the reported trails, mostly the unmaintained elements of the TYT, and is a good source of a range of different folks' experiences through these difficult unmaintained segments of trail.
After gathering information, planning, and then hiking your specific trip your should add your observations and experiences to the record.
#11 August 2015, TYT, Rock Lake Bad Trail,-- KC
#10 July 2015, TYT, Upper Clarks Fork,-- Alex
#9 July 2015, TYT, Total Report,-- Andy
#8 May 2015, TYT, Total Report,-- Johnny
#7 June 2014, TYT, Summit City Creek Report, Peter
#6 June 2014, TYT, Summit City Creek Report, Scott
#5 August 1 2013, TYT, Summit City Creek, Hobbitbook
#4 June-July 2013, TYT (below) , "Hard Parts" trail conditions, Eric
#3 Late July 2013, East Sierra beween Mammoth and Bishop (below), LlamaLady
#2 June and July, Desolation Wilderness and Dinkey Lakes (below), David Maxim
#1 June 25 to July 2 2013, Emigrant and North Yosemite Backcountry, Alex
Note: Only members of Tahoe to Whitney Backpacker's Forum can view each other's profiles and post articles and comments across the Forum, much of which information ends up here, or linked to the guide.
All who want to share or obtain information can join up to post up or email me with or for information without signing up, as did Eric.
We'll get your observations and insights out to backpackers, and find good answers to your questions.
All are Welcome!
You Are Tahoe to Whitney.
Trip Report 5
Posted August 10 2013
Trip Report 4
Posted July 25 2013
Summer High Sierra Trail and Route Conditions
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
Untrailed TYT Sections across Souther Mokelumne and Carson Iceberg Wilderness
This was my third summer hiking the original Tahoe-to-Yosemite trail, all parts as originally proposed in Tomas Winnett's guide book.
Summer 2011 - had to turn around at the upper Summit City Creek crossing. It was a death wish, too much water going over the boulders. A heavy snow year. Resupplied at Echo Lake.
Summer 2012 - Completed thru-hike, Meeks Bay to Tuolumne Meadows, 11 days, resupplied at Echo Lake and Kennedy Meadows. All water crossing were dry.
Summer 2013 - Completed thru-hike, Meeks Bay to Tuolumne Meadows, 9 days, resupplied at Echo Lake and Kennedy Meadows. All water crossing were dry except one which could of been dry with hiking poles.
My interest is a GPS map of the trail. I have a GPS record of the trail, with a track point every 10 meters (32.8 feet) I also recorded a GPS waypoint at most trail intersections, highpoints, creek crossing, etc.
Clark Fork Meadow - St. Mary's Pass
2011 - did not do
2012 - followed a different route, found about 5 rock ducks, ended too far to the left and had a very difficult traverse to the right just below the broken granite (?) outcropping, then up and to the left to the pass.
2013 - followed a very well ducked route about half way up, then lost the route. Ended too far to the left again. And again, a very difficult traverse to the right, then up and to the left to the pass.
In 2012 and 2013, found a very small "arch" in the decomposing granite at the end of the traverse to the right.
No ducks in Clark Fork Meadow, but non really needed if (a big if) you can find the starting point for the ducked path up the side creek. I walk the meadow on the right side (going up the meadow), at the boundary between the meadow and the rocky sides, and found the start of the ducked path up to the pass.
Summit City Creek, upper half (a well constructed if you can find it, but very much unmaintained trail) No change in maintenance status from 2011 to 2013. Still unmaintained, with downed trees, etc.
In general, this is a very difficult trail for both navigation and physical effort. Can be mentally very challenging as you attempt to find your way. Even with my 2012 GPS data, parts of the trail are still hard to find.
Summit City Creek South
Eureka Valley Junction South over Saint Marys Pass
Summit City Creek
Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus River, upper section
Trip Report 3
Posted July 21, 2013
Early Summer High Sierra Backpacking Conditions
East Sierra beween Mammoth and Bishop
McGee Creek Trail to Little McGee Lake, Inyo National Forest, access near Lake Crowley along Highway 395 bounding the East Sierra flank.
Elevation change: from 7800 to 11,400
1> McGee Creek Trail
Rivers and Creeks
McGee Creek, no problems mentioned
"The weather was excellent, clear and warm."
"Mosquitoes were quite light where we camped. We used a camp at 9,200 on night one and three, near a running creek, and a camp in a meadow at 11,000 on night 2"
"While crossing a creek I was inundated in a cloud of tiny blue butterflies.
I also saw two pika in a rockslide area at 9,000. That is the lowest I have seen them to date. Last year I saw some in the rocks between Lake Virginia and Tully Hole, putting them around 9,700 there. That interests me because I have read statements from scientists that pika will die out as a species because they are highly sensitive to temperature, so they must live at elevations of 11,000 feet or more, and they will be forced up the mountaintops by global warming until they run out of habitat.
It appears to me that pika are more adaptable than the experts know."
No Trail Guide Material for this area online yet
mammoth lakes resources
Observe and Track the Weather
All High Sierra Weather Resources
Trip Report 2
Posted July 25, 2013
Early and Summer High Sierra Backpacking Conditions
Tahoe region in North Desolation Wildernessand Dinkey Lakes
by David Maxim
David sent me a note, not really a trail report, but his wide range of wild experiences are indicative of the range of weather you can experience.
You mentioned it has been a hiker's season for weather.
Yes. I agree.
June hike to Velma Lakes--windy as in GALE FORCE, for 2 days.
Then two weeks ago, back to Dinkey Lakes. Wonderful two days, then storm from came in from Mexico.
Rained on/off for 4 hours middle of the night. My crumby tent leaked and I had to bail water with my trusty sierra cup!
Editors Note: I use my medicine bottles!
Desolation Miles and Elevations
Nothing on Dinkey Lakes... Sorry!
Trip Report 1
Posted July 8 2013
Early Summer High Sierra Backpacking Conditions
June 25 to July 2
West Sierra Kennedy Meadows to Hetch Hetchy
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station (North, Hwy 108), South to the trailhead at O'Shawnessy Dam at the head of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.
1> Tahoe to Yosemite Trail from Kennedy Meadows to Bond Pass, 16.91 miles. This involves climbing to the crest from the flank and crossing the top of the High Emigrant Wilderness. Nice.
2> Pacific Crest Trail down Jack Main Canyon to Wilmer Lake trail junction, 8.22 miles. Enter Northwest corner of Yosemite National Park to explore length of Jack Main Canyon.
3> Wilmer Lake down Jack Main Canyon to Hetch Hetchy, 17.9 miles. Lower section of Jack Main Canyon where the canyon closes in and chaotic terrain above Hetch Hetchy pushes trail up to Moraine Ridge.
Rivers and Creeks
Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River: Heavy Flow, not advisable to ford. But this is below our hiking zone in the High Sierra.
Summit Creek: TYT running from Brown Bear Pass to Relief Reservoir. Running strong and knee deep. Fordable with great cautions and a tripoding stick, if this is within your capacities. Summit Creek must be forded to reach campsites on the other side of the creek as well as delightful scrambles stretching from above Saucer Meadow to Lunch Meadow.
Falls Creek from Top of Jack Main Canyon through Tilden Lake and Wilmer Lake fords. Knee deep and moderate flow. Fordable with reasonable cautions.
June 25 to July 2 2013
In SEVEN DAYS I observed a Mild Pacific Storm, an Eastern Tropical Thunder Storm from the Gulf of Mexico, a Heat Wave with heat advisories, and Western Heat Thunder Storms rising out of San Joaquin Valley.
The only thing I did not experience was cold. Given enough time on the trail I presume I would have experienced cold conditions as well.
Wet backpack hitching up Highway 108 to Kennedy Meadows on June 24. I never use a packcover. Why? Because my backpack is waterproof.
Emigrant Wilderness & North Yosemite Backcountry
Observe and Track the Weather
All High Sierra Weather Resources
Evolving Weather Conditions, Fording, Mosquitoes, and Heat
The Winter of 2012-2013 has been yet another "non event." Snowpack was thin coming into Spring, Temps high, all presaging an early opening for reasonably safe early season travel across the high mountain passes with reasonably safe fording conditions predicted for early in the season.
That is exactly what happened.
All signs this year have pointed towards an early opening of the High Sierra Trails and Fords, and the conditions on the ground I experienced in late June of 2013 confirmed the seasonal trends have again opened the trails historically early for the Summer hiking season.
Trip Weather Evolution
During this brief trip along the Sierra Nevada I experienced a very wide range of weather conditions in a very short period of time.
This is typical of Sierra Nevada Weather.
My trip started under a weak Pacific storm blowing me up to the Sierra Crest. My departure date of June 24 2013 coincided with landfall of a weak but well-defined baby storm traveling West-Southwest out of the North Pacific.
Arriving at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station early in the evening of the 24th, I encountered one hiker who experienced thin snowfall during the evening at Sonora Pass, elevation 9600 feet, and a few who were rained upon.
The cool rain this storm brought was an aid to my hike the next day up to the Sierra Crest.
This baby storm brought light rain and moderate breezes on July 24 and 25, fully dissapating by the 26th. This storm was more typical of a late May than a late June storm, and was also unusual in that it brought warm rain and high humidity out of the North Pacific. The temps and moisture of storms blowing out of the North Pacific during this time of year are typically much lower.
This indicates unusually high North Pacific Ocean temps... the currents in the ocean are acting as strangely as the air currents, meaning the change in the directions of seasonal prevailing winds has been mirrored by changes in ocean currents, and this has knocked all seasonal weather patterns out of kilter.
Strange patterns are now "normal," and normal seasons are now rare.
I feel lucky to have experienced this storm, as late Spring/early Summer Pacific storms are becoming rare in the Sierra Nevada. This weather eased the temps for the hike up the West flank of the Sierra from Kennedy Meadows to the Crest line. Nice. I needed that edge.
At the top of the Sierras I encountered a great ominious red and yellow tropical thunderstorm that had traveled Northwest across the Mohave Desert from the Gulf of Mexico. Besides identifying themselves by the direction from which they travel (the Southeast), these rare storms coming from the Southeast across the great desert take on the red and yellow colors of the dust and sand they suck up along the way.
Eastern Sierra Thunderstorm of June 26 2013
Looking East across Grizzly Meadow tropical thunderstorm framing Grizzly Peak.
This great push of tropical moisture traveled so far only to break itself upon the East Sierra flank as the sinking Sun robbed it of energy. This storm went down in a fit of glory, dying in a burst of thunder, lightening, and tropical downpours as the rising darkness robbed it of power.
The next day saw temps rising to form a real high elevation heatwave, with temps between 87 and 92 degrees at high elevation. This heat was also powering a great evaporation in the San J Valley. Heat evaporation that begins in the San J Valley at temps above 100 degrees begins condensing into great violent thunderstorms as this superheated moist air cools as it travels up the Western Sierra flank, producing rain, lots of afternoon rains.
Riding Out Tuolumne Meadows Thunderstorm , July 3 2013
These conditions remind me of the conditions that brought on floods in Tuolumne Meadows, in, I think it was 2004. Days of continious afternoon T Storms wiped out Tuolumne Meadows with an amazing mid-Summer flood. This was real bad for backpackers, as all the mice who lived in T Meadows were forced onto the high ground at the post office and store, where they chewed through all the backpacker's resupplies which had been sent in cardboard boxes, and ate the contents.
There were a LOT of sad backpackers in TM that year. I was cool, for I always send my resupplies in plastic buckets to avoid such outcomes. It's rare, but it really sucks to have the mice or varmnints eat your resupply... Back to the present year...
During six days along the Sierra Crest and Western flank we experienced a classic low pressure storm off the Pacific Ocean, a tropical storm blown up the East flank of the Sierra from the Gulf of Mexico, a heat wave and the afternoon thunderstorms associated with high heat in the San J Valley.
We experienced quite a wide range of temps and conditions during a very brief period of time. That, my hiking friends, is the nature of the Sierra Nevada.
Given a bit more time I would bet that a cold snap would happen, completing this range of experiences spanning from one extreme to the other. We experienced everything but cold temps during this brief hike, though the first couple of days of wet conditions were mildly cool.
Ha ha, it had been over 15 years since I slept in a wet sleeping bag! The good news is that I awoke dry, for my body heat kept my clothing dry even in the wet bag. That's the power of good synthetic backpacking clothes and sleeping bag: Keeping you warm and dry even in totally wet conditions...again, Wow!
I started backpacking with wool, (and a wood backpack frame- yeah, I'm OLD) which works as well as synthetics, excepting that it's heavy and smells when wet. I was as fresh as a rain blooming daisy...hahahaha..
Deal with the Mosquitoes
Extreme mosquito protection required at higher elevations. Mosquito conditions are not quite at the mad density of early Spring conditions, but have only diminished from that status by a few notches.
At lower elevations the drying has progressed to the point where the mosquitoes are significantly diminished, but still pervasive. High elevation meadows and forested valleys are still wet and still full of mosquitoes.
I am not kidding: FULL OF MOSQUITOES.
Mosquitoes will diminish as the dry conditions push up the mountain. On "normal" years the mosquitoes "drop dead" date, the date after which there are few mosquitoes, is August 15.
If the year is wetter the "drop dead" date moves later into the season, if it is a drier year this date is earlier.
In any case the mosquitoes are at their worse when the snows first melt, and the mosquitoes move up the mountain with the thaw.
As Spring progresses into Summer lower elevations tend to dry out first, and this drying proceeds up the mountain with the unfolding of the Summer season. This process is specific to each year's transition from Winter to Spring to Summer.
Independent of the drying trends there are locations such as lakes and meadows that sit upon great buried granite slabs, covered with years of erosion and plant growth. These slabs trap water and maintain wet conditions and huge populations of mosquitoes long after surrounding areas that drain properly long ago dried out.
We will hit zones of mosquitoes in these poor drainage areas all Summer long.
I looked at Summit Creek and Falls Creek in Jack Main Canyon. Both were easy knee deep fords. No problem
I spoke with and queried more than 20 backpackers, and all reported that all Sierra streams and rivers from Mount Whitney to the top of Jack Main Canyon, where I met a rather large stream of PCT hikers, were easy knee-deep fords.
These reports were given on June 29 and 30 in Jack Main Canyon in the North Yosemite Backcountry.
A couple of hikers reported that Evolution Creek at the ford below Evolution Meadow was a bit deep and worrying but that had been ten days earlier, and they expect it too would have moderated by the beginning of July.
One PCT hiker mentioned some disquiet at the Kerrick Canyon ford of Rancheria Creek.
Streams and Rivers are running briskly, but fording points that spread the river bed wide there were no problems reported by PCT hikers.
The vast majority of PCT hikers I polled on June 29 and 30 in Jack Main Canyon and on July 2 in Tuolumne Meadows reported no problems with any fords they had encountered.
Fording conditions will improve until backpacker worry shifts to the potential lack of water in August from the potiential over abundance of water in June.
Historically it is more typical for June to have dangerous fords running heavily than the moderate fords we have seen during the June of 2013.
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