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This weekend, Vogelsand High Sierra Camp
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Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
This weekend, Vogelsand High Sierra Camp on 06/11/2009 21:38:10 MDT Print View

Rafferty Creek TH. Elevation gain ~1300' Camp at ~10,100'. Trail Conditions: 95% snow coverage above 9400' (or about the last 3.5 miles of the trail)

Here's the weather forecast:

Saturday: Scattered snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. West southwest wind between 7 and 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Saturday Night: A 40 percent chance of snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. West southwest wind between 11 and 14 mph becoming calm. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph.

Sunday: A 30 percent chance of snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39.

Here's my gear list

I'm thinking of tossing in my MB thermawrap vest at 5.5 oz for extra warmth.

I camped in essentially the same conditions last weekend on Mt Shasta, (at 8000') minus the 40% chance of snow. I think at this time of year, I don't need snowshoes so long as I start early before it gets mushy. It's possible I'll hit the part of the trail where the snow cover starts in earnest and call it off. My compass skills are decent but basic, so if it looks unnavigable, I'll back out.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Vogelsang gear list on 06/11/2009 23:15:25 MDT Print View

A fellow I met in Tuolomne over Memorial Day weekend had been up to Fletcher Lake the day before. He told me that the last few miles there was a lot of snow and slow going. Start early in the morning he recommended, that way you can walk on top of the snow rather than postholing. This was three weeks ago, so there must be a lot less snow now, but his advice probably still holds.

You won't need all that water - there will be water everywhere: the Tuolomne river, Rafferty Creek, Fletcher lake.

As you are expecting wet, cold and windy weather make sure you have a nice, dry, warm set of insulating clothing in your pack. Once you make camp - get out of your wet stuff. Maybe thicker baselayers are in order, a couple of pairs of wool socks, nice warm hat and a warmer sleeping bag.

If you run into bad weather, make camp and hunker down rather then hike through it. Keep you Bic lighter in your pocket where it stays warm and will work when you want to light your stove. Bring some hot coco and some soup - it'll taste great and warm you up after a cold day.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Vogelsang gear list on 06/12/2009 08:13:39 MDT Print View

Leaving early is my plan as well. Unfortunately, with the length of the drive, leaving early for me will probably be hitting the trailhead at 10:30am, maybe 10 if I'm lucky. If I can cruise those first 3 miles and hit the snow at noon-ish, it won't be terrible yet.

I was at Shasta last weekend, and by the time I set up camp, it was 1pm. It was slow and mushy going up to Helen Lake - not deep enough to post hole, just like walking in sand.

I wasn't sure about how much water to be carrying. I knew Rafferty Creek would be running, but it starts (stops?) about a mile from Fletcher Lake, and Helen Lake (10300') last weekend was snow covered and frozen. I was going to ask the ranger when I picked up my permit if the lake was frozen, and I wanted to have capacity to dry camp if it wasn't.

It's nice to hear an actual trip report. I talked to a ranger yesterday, but knowing that people have actually been going helps my confidence. I've snowcamped 3 times now, so that part doesn't worry me. I am more concerned about losing my way, though the trail follows a creek until it gets to a pass, (should be obvious) after which I should just be able to aim for Fletcher Peak (weather permitting). Knowing there might be a bit of a boot track would be nice. I won't be the only one out there either, as permits are gone for Saturday.

7 miles is also a safe retreat distance for me, if I get to camp and find out my pack liner has leaked, or my shoes got soaked. I've turned around after reaching camp in the past when something just didn't feel right.

I was trying to figure out base layering. What I wouldn't give for a pair of thermawrap or cocoon pants about now. I think I'm fine with the bag (again shasta last weekend the condensation inside my tent was a bit frosty, and I was fine in that set-up, except for forgetting the extra blue CCF and having cold legs at night). But I think I'll add the vest, and bring midweight smartwool instead of silk.
And an extra pair of socks. And gloves. I can survive everything but cold/wet hands and feet. I hate that.

Thanks for the advice.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Weather on 06/12/2009 13:09:43 MDT Print View

If it were me, I wouldn't go this weekend.
The weather report looks miserable.

The Vogelsang area is very scenic, why not leave it for another time when you can really enjoy?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Weather on 06/12/2009 16:43:09 MDT Print View

I wish I could wait, but I have a limited number of weekends left in California and only one of them doesn't have another trip or commitment. And for that weekend all the Vogelsang permits are spoken for.

I'm going to keep an eye on the weather. If it gets worse, I'll probably end up somewhere else.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Vogelsang HSC on 06/12/2009 18:35:05 MDT Print View

Emigrant Lake is looking like a better option James!! We should be at the TH at 10:00 ish tonight.... I have a silver/gray ford f-150. We are waiting for a buddy coming in from Sacramento on Saturday morning- we will be hitting the trail hopefully around 9:00 ish......


Edited by Creachen on 06/12/2009 18:37:24 MDT.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Vogelsang on 06/15/2009 13:15:32 MDT Print View

Did you end up going to Vogelsang this weekend? How were conditions?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Vogelsang on 06/15/2009 13:32:53 MDT Print View

I didn't make it all the way to Vogelsang. It was a long weekend. Long story as short as possible. I stopped at Olmstead Pt and saw that my right front tire was completely bald - steel belt showing thru bald. Put on the spare and continued to parking area. 4 miles into my hike, found that I'd dropped my eyeglass case (containing prescription glasses) along the way. Spent the next 4 hours traipsing back and forth along the trail looking for them. I thought they must have fallen out when I took out my rain jacket. It turned out I'd dropped them by the car (no idea how) and somebody left them on top of a bear box. At that point it was too late (6pm) to go back and camp, so I drove home. If Tuolumne Campground has been open, would've car-camped there, but no such luck. My fault for not keeping an eye on the tires.

Conditions were variable. I didn't hit the snow line, but the ranger told me it was 9500', patchy to Tuolumne Pass and 95% snow coverage after that point. Lakes were still frozen. It rained/sleeted/hailed (depending on elevation) about every 45 minutes. In between, partly sunny skies to give false hope of better weather. The hike I got in was beautiful, and I'm glad I went, but even minus the glasses incident, I would've likely bailed when it sleeted from 4-5pm, not wanting to take the chance of spending the next 12hrs confined to my tent. The precip was really bad between 7-8pm while driving. Heavy precip and low visibility. Can't imagine what it was like a 10000'.

Only saw 5 other hikers. A father and his 10(?) year old daughter(!?!?!?!) complete with duck-print pink mackinaw and galoshes, and 3 guys in their 20s.

I have a 3 night trip to Sunrise HSC at the beginning of August that at least won't be snowbound.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Thanks for the update on 06/15/2009 14:43:27 MDT Print View

Hopefully the weather will improve soon.