CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Large tree down across and overhanging the PCT

By: Justin K.
July 18th, 2017

PCT users: due to a large tree down across and overhanging the PCT, we suggest using a short and parallel alternate route. PCTA staff, volunteers and Forest Service staff have begun a project to remove the tree, but were unable to finish the project in one day. At approximately Halfmile 1243.35 pink and orange flagging lead PCT users from the PCT to Forest Service road 23N65Y8. PCT users can then take a right on the road and travel downhill to approximately Halfmile 1244.60 and reconnect with the PCT at the Middle Fork Feather River trailhead. Southbound PCT users will take the opposite route. Both ends of the trail are flagged off and labeled. Equestrians are strongly encouraged to use this short alternate route.

Damaged bridge affects PCT/JMT and Rae Lakes Loop in significant way

By: Jack Haskel
May 26th, 2017

EDIT: We were previously told by SEKI staff that the Woods Creek bridge was damaged. That information is incorrect.

South Fork Kings River bridge in Upper Paradise Valley is damaged

The South Fork of the Kings River is a major water course. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park staff tell us that the bridge across it is damaged. This likely a major issue for travel in the area. Do not plan on crossing. PCT/JMT hikers should not plan to leave the trail via this trail.

Effect on Rae Lakes Loop hikers

It’d be incredibly early to hike in this area regardless due to all of the snow and flooding creeks. But if you’re planning on hiking the Rae Lakes Loop, you should reconsider your plans. SEKI park staff recently sent out this note:

“The foot bridge across the South Fork of the Kings River in Upper Paradise Valley was severely damaged over the winter and has fallen into the water. The bridge is not safe to cross and the remaining bridge structure is very unstable. There are no other developed crossings in the area and visitors who intended to use the bridge should adjust their plans.” – SEKI

 

Damaged bridge affects Rae Lakes Loop – Woods Creek/PCT-JMT Junction

By: Webdweeb
May 26th, 2017

[EDIT: for more information see: https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/trail-condition/damaged-bridges-effect-pctjmt-rae-lakes-loop-significant-way/]

I was advised by the SEKI visitor center that there are two damaged backcountry bridges in the Rae Lakes Loop area-the first crosses the South Fork of the King’s River in Upper Paradise Valley, and the second (most relevant to PCT and JMT hikers) crosses Woods Creek at the Woods Creek/JMT-PCT trail junction. The first closure is mentioned on the SEKI trail conditions web page, but the second is not yet posted-I assume they will update this status soon. There will apparently be efforts to helicopter in temporary bridges and/or repair materials for both crossings, but there was no timeline given for this work. The office stressed that both crossings were very hazardous to cross without the bridge and cautioned not to attempt a ford or a crossing on the remnants of the damaged bridges.

California section L conditions May 17th – May 22

By: Hank T. "A.D.D."
May 26th, 2017

As a section hiker I had completed 702 to 1157 last year 2016 and planned to restart again at 1157 in 2017. Due to the heavy winter I had purchased snow gear and practiced weekly in the 1157 to 1160 area (Boreal I-80exit to Peter Grub Hut). Settled on K-10’s being most effective for the snow conditions there. On May 17th the forecast showed 7 days of sunny weather even though it had snowed 3 to 4 inches in the area on the night of May 16th.
Start May 17th noon-mile 1157
Finish May 22 4:30pm-mile 1194.5
Plus 2 mile alternate
39.5 total

Short version:
1157 to 1184 snow 5-10ft deep.
No visible trail.
No tracks to follow.
K-10 crampons stayed on all day first 4 days.
Postholing starts early.
Steps needed to kicked for all steeper transverses in these approximate areas.
1165-1166
1167-1168
1176-1178
And one particularly scary one that I just refused to do and instead climbed thru manzanita a short distance up to the volcanic knob and down the other side,referencing the Gaia app, this was approximately between 1180-1181.
All camps on snow/ice/slush
No access to water.
Underestimated fuel needed for melting snow.

1184-1186 Passing east side of Jackson Meadow Reservoir.
Some exposed trail
First access to water.
Very narrow gorge between 1184.5 and 1185.5 no trail visiable, clogged w/fallen trees, rockfall, frequent surprise postholing.
Fell hard thru snow more than once in this area.

1188-1190
Constant intermittent exposed trail then kick steps for snow traverse. As the elevation dropped this was repeated over and over. Exhausting.

1190-1194.5 (Wild Plum Alternate)
Clear sailing but watch for many fallen trees

Sierra City:
Found wandering the streets by Susan of River Haven where I spent the night. I cannot begin to say enough positive things about Susan and her PCT hiker refuge of River Haven. If you’re lucky enough to get a chance to stay there ask for the room overlooking the river.

Please please please…. mileages are best guesses only using a combination of PCT Halfmile, Gaia app and Guthook app. Somewhere around the 3 or 4th day it was a battle to stay hydrated which lead to some fuzzy math.

Long Version: Too much whining to retell in public.

April 1 Backpacker Alert–SPRING THREATS ON FULL DISPLAY

By: Alex Wierbinski, Tahoe to Whitney
April 4th, 2017

 

SPRING THREATS ON FULL DISPLAY

April 1, 2017
The most important topic of this date is the massive snowpack on the Sierra Crest and the extreme danger it poses to PCT hikers. The dangers of High Altitude Snow Travel will soon be supplemented by very dangerous fording conditions when this snowpack begins to thaw.

These conditions require skills, gear, and fitness to assure any level of safe travel as of this date. Undercutting and safety along the banks of creeks emerging from snow cover is currently increasing, as will the difficulty of travel conditions increase as the pack softens under the increasing heat of Spring.

Extremely difficult travel conditions will soon shift from hard snow that defies traction to wet snow offering no foundation. We will shortly transition from barely clinging to the mountain-side to sinking up to our waists with each step. As Spring progresses cold mornings will bring the former condition, warm afternoons the latter.

The same temp shift driving the changing character of the snow pack will soon drive even the highest elevation river fords to levels unsafe for fording, and make the major rivers raging torrents of destruction. These temp shifts change the character of the Sierra.

The snowpack itself will become sopping wet, saturating anything and anyone in contact with it. These are the times that hikers without sufficient insulation can find cold combining with exhaustion to degrade decision making as well as technical execution & style to create very dangerous situations.
I see wet, cold, and tired PCT hikers surrounded by a sea of deep, wet, cold, energy-sucking snow fields all divided-up by an endless series of raging torrents of typically tiny High Sierra creeks surging like rivers, each supercharged by Spring’s mighty flows.

The trails will be flowing like creeks, when we get down to them. And they will lead to the mighty rivers draining the Sierra, which will be downright scary, once this massive snow pack begins to melt in earnest.

Take Care and Bee Safe

for

Happy Trails,

Alex

More Information

All Backpacker Alerts

http://tahoetowhitney.org/forum/high-sierra-backpacking-topics/high-sierra-backpackers-news-health-science-environment-and-m-1

Latest (April 1) Snow Course Measurement

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/backpacker-news-april-may-2017#10

All Tahoe-Whitney Snow Tracking & Links: Backpacker Calendar

https://tahoetowhitney.com/2017-high-sierra–backpackers-calendar.html#4

Weather Page: Snow Links

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/fall-2011-backpacker-weather-trail-conditions-reports#8a

Weather Page: River Flows

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/fall-2011-backpacker-weather-trail-conditions-reports#4c2

PCT Hiker Snow Accident & Conditions Report

https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/124075-Fuller-Ridge-Mile-178-190

High Sierra Mountain Safety: Wrecks & Rescues

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/high-sierra-rescue-disaster-index#2

Donner summit trees down

By: Chris fox
November 10th, 2016

Took a hike 11/9/16 from I-80 Pct trailhead. Connector trail was fine. Tree down about 50 yds so of I-80 tunnel. Then on n side, about 6-7 crossing trail between tunnel and back of rest stop (can see pond at same time). Only went as far as DLRT to loop by summit lake (and that trails fine). Most trees looked 8″ to 24″ in diameter.

Dangerous conditions north of Sonora Pass

By: frank gilliland
June 21st, 2016

Dangerous Trail Conditions: I’m a triple crown trail hiker (trail name Starman) and have been long distance hiking for nearly 20 years. I have never seen conditions more dangerous than what I’m experiencing north of Sonora Pass, in particular north of Hwy 4. I’m at mile post 1059.2; Coordinates 38.6187, -119.8436 and can see a pole and ice axe part way down an ice chute. [Editors note: A PCT hiker was rescued from this chute on Sunday.] I don’t see anyone so they may have self evacuated. However, I want you to know this is a very dangerous section of trail at the moment. It’s so dangerous that I recommend no-one walks it. If you don’t have an ice axe or crampons, you’re going to hit the bottom fast.

There are three snow chutes in the area. I crossed the first two chutes, then chose not to continue across the third chute. I turned around, scrambled back, and am hiking back to Ebbetts Pass.

If you don’t have an ice axe or crampons, you can’t cross that chute. The melt is happening so fast, that the steps are melting out and turning icy.

[Editors note: Conditions change. We’ve heard from others who say this area isn’t that bad. Be careful and cautious. Turning around is always better than hurting yourself.]

Raymond Peak

Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton