By: Stone Dancer
August 27th, 2013
Yosemite National Park’s website reports trail closures to the northeast of the very large Rim Fire near Groveland. The trail closure is bounded by the PCT, but the PCT itself is not closed at this time.
However, smoke from this fire is moving north along the crest, all the way past Reno and Donner Summit. Air quality coniditions have been “Unhealthy” for several days, but are quite variable as the wind patterns shift around every day.
See www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm for more information and a map of the trail closure.
When snow is present, the north and south sides of Sonora Pass can be quite dangerous. Hikers are faced with steep, exposed snow slopes. The potential for falling and serious injury should not be ignored.
Wing It and I were forced to turn around from our hike shortly after leaving Tuolumne Meadows.We experienced significant high water in the 15 Miles North of Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne River overflowed the ends of the bridge at 947.4 and the one shortly after. Our real problems were in Virginia Canyon (956.7). The first crossing, McCabe Creek, was the most dangerous and difficult ford we had encountered to date. However, the next creek was worse. We could not make it across Return Creek. We made 3 attempts, 2 in the evening (5ish) and 1 the next morning (8ish). We scouted 1/2 mile upstream and found no safer crossings.
There was evidence (footprints in the snow), that some or all of the 4 hikers ahead of us turned back as well.
Our decision to leave and flip ahead are based on 2 primary factors. The Return Creek crossing is not known as a particularly difficult ford, whereas the Piute River ford and Kerrick Canyon fords just ahead are. All indications are that water levels are not going to be going down significantly soon, and that the peak of the melt has not even happened yet.
However you proceed, best of luck and safe hiking.
Don’t Panic and Wing It
After leaving Mammoth Lakes on the 12th of June we arrived in Bridgeport on the 18th. In addition to Wing It and Don’t Panic’s conditions report, we would like to add the following trail information.
Crampons and/or microspikes are useful on the snow in the mornings, although one member of our group made it without. For us, the biggest challenge in this section was the stream crossings. It should be noted that the majority of major tributaries have burst their banks.
Return Creek – build up of logs providing natural bridge (approximately 1 mile downstream of crossing.) (June 15)
Spiller Creek – fast flowing but not deep. A fair bit of care was taken in crossing. (June 15)
Matterhorn Canyon Creek – river ford at belly button height. We crossed at a slow flowing section down stream of the trail. (June 15)
Wilson Creek – snow bridges, no river fords necessary. (June 16)
Smedberg Creek – snowbridge. (June 16)
Piute Creek – lots of water, but lots of logs to aid in crossing. We managed to cross with one short waist deep section. (June 16)
Kerrick Canyon Creek – log crossing at trail. (June 16)
Stubblefield Canyon Creek – multiple creek crossings necessary. Log and snow bridge used. Lots of water. (June 16)
Falls Creek – hiked up eastern side of creek to avoid crossing as flow was substantial. (June 17)