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Pacific Northwest Conditions in June
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Matt Breuer
(mebreuer) - F

Locale: Northeast
Pacific Northwest Conditions in June on 04/23/2012 16:42:39 MDT Print View

I'm starting to plan a 3 week hike on the PCT (in Washington/Oregon) in June, but I'm unsure of what weather conditions to expect. Is there going to be significant snow on the trail? How far down does the snow extend into Oregon?

Also, if anyone has recommendations for ~200-250 mile stretches of trail in Washington or Oregon (ease of resupplies is my primary concern), I'd love to hear them.

Jamie Estep
(jestep) - F

Locale: ATX
Where to on 04/23/2012 16:50:32 MDT Print View

Do you know where you'd like to go, or does it matter? I don't live up there anymore, but I would expect snow at elevation or in avalanche prone areas. By mid to late June, trails open up quite a bit, but depending on the conditions there could still be large snowfields.

Edited by jestep on 04/23/2012 16:51:11 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Pacific Northwest Conditions in June on 04/23/2012 16:59:40 MDT Print View

Snow level probably 4000 or 5000 feet then in Northern Oregon. A lot of places it will be very difficult to find the trail and there will be places where the trail traverses a steep slope, the trail is totally snow covered, so you have to walk across a steep slope which is difficult if icy. And then there's post holeing if it's soft.

Maybe South of the Three Sisters and into Northern California would be better (but I'm not familiar with that).

If you go late June and we have early melt it might not be too bad. And it depends how comfortable you are with snow.

There will probably be some trip reports at portlandhikers.org which you might want to check out as you get closer.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Pacific Northwest Conditions in June on 04/23/2012 17:24:57 MDT Print View

Do you have the training and gear for traveling on steep snow?

In addition to Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters, the other section that may give you problems that early is the Crater Lake/Mt. Thielsen area (the latter being the highest point on the PCT in Oregon). Here is a way to keep track of snow depth:

Oregon snotel sites: http://www.or.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/maps/oregon_sitemap.html

Note, though, that most of the snotels are at lower elevation than the PCT, and there are none in the high elevation wilderness areas. Also, if you check the comparison graph, it uses SWE (snow water equivalent), so expect the snow depth (in late spring, when it becomes soggy) to be about double that.

If you can postpone your trip a couple of weeks, you will have a much better chance! The average meltout for the highest sections is generally mid-July.

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/23/2012 17:26:47 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Pacific Northwest Conditions in June on 04/23/2012 17:55:38 MDT Print View

I like this snow depth modeler:

http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/html/map.html

They call it experimental, and (as I understand it) it models snow depth, rather than simply recording data points.

Pretty intuitive and visual.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Pacific Northwest Conditions in June on 04/23/2012 18:55:44 MDT Print View

I use the nohrsc site

It's a model so it's only approximate

Sometimes it will say 12 inches when it's only 6 inches or the snow will linger a few weeks longer or shorter, but it gives an idea

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
PCT in PNW in June on 04/23/2012 19:24:13 MDT Print View

I use both the NOHRSC site and the snotels. There are also webcams for Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood and for Crater Lake Lodge which can be useful.

As Jerry mentioned, tracking trip reports on www.portlandhikers.org (for Oregon) and nwhikers.net (for Washington) is also a good guide to current snow and trail conditions. There appears to have been a lot of wind damage (i.e. a lot of trees down) on a number of trails last winter, which won't get addressed until well after the snow has completely melted, if at all.

For what it's worth, we're having a warmer and drier April than we did last year. However, last year was a horrendous year with all-time record snowpack and an extremely cold, wet spring, so higher elevations were pretty much inaccessible until August. Snowpack this year is well above average, but at least it is starting to melt sooner!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/23/2012 19:28:32 MDT.

Matt Breuer
(mebreuer) - F

Locale: Northeast
Thanks on 04/24/2012 09:19:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for all of those resources - looks like Northern California might be a better place to go that time of year.