Backpacking — Latest Sierra Nevada Snow (and Water) Report — June 11, 2015

Report ——– No Snow in California’s Sierra Nevada!

Ten more days until summer begins and the very unusual has happened.  The automated snow sensors in the Sierra Nevada are reporting no snow left in the mountains.

Source: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/swccond.pdf
Source: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/swccond.pdf

As some backpacking trip reports by experienced hikers are noting, river and stream flows in late May were more like those one might see in late Fall instead of at the “typical” May peak runoff period.  That is, not a lot of water to be found, especially below about 9,000 to 10,000 feet elevation.

Here is a great link to the HIgh Sierra Topix backpacking/hiking forum that provides good up to date information on trail conditions.  I have found the posts to be pretty accurate in the past.

Some reports mention some snow on high mountain trails, but most reports describe only patches in shady spots. Those patches will probably be gone within a few weeks.

Fortunately, there are also some reports that there is at least some flow in most creeks and rivers at this point.  Hopefully, the soil moisture “sponge” (groundwater in the talus and scree gravels) at the higher elevations can continue to drain water into them through the summer.

I was going to post the latest US Drought Monitor map of California, but it hasn’t changed much over the last month. Most of California is still enduring the highest level of “Exceptional Drought.”  That coverage is sure to increase gradually over the summer.  The link is US Drought Monitor Website if you are interested.

You will want to call the local ranger station for local water conditions before heading out for your trek.  You may need to carry a couple extra (full) water bottles.

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