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Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013
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Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/21/2013 23:20:58 MST Print View

Sorry David, No stealing just a different option and a bit closer to the Bay Area. I hope you guys have a great trip! Its all about choices.


David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/21/2013 23:40:05 MST Print View

Have a great trip. I'll look forward to your pictures and report.

Richard Niemi
(rickniemi) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains
Re: Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/27/2013 11:09:03 MST Print View

How was your trip and do you have any photos to post?

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/27/2013 13:15:47 MST Print View

Rick and I started about 3:30 or 4 and hiked in following the PCT. Hiked across the first meadow and the tracks from there went every which way. We got a little high and found ourselves on some steep stuff and had to drop down a little. As we were just below the saddle we saw headlamps up ahead. Finally made it to the saddle and headed along the ridge. By that time it was dark but the moon was out and we could see pretty well. Hiking up the ridge we spotted the headlamps heading up toward Castle Peak as we turned to the left to descend into Round Valley. We got partway into the meadow when we took a GPS reading and headed toward the PCT to the west. We couldn't see the Peter Grubb Hut from the meadow but headed right for it and there we were. It was 8:00 by then and thinking that there would be no one in the hut we went in started a fire and ate some dinner. As we were unloading our stuff to put into the hut I realized I had lost my food bag, microspikes, bag full of partially filled propane canisters and my gatoraide bottle. I had used the microspikes earlier but needed to change to show shoes as we got close to the saddle and didn't tie the stuff on my PULK very well after taking the snow shoes off. As it turned out the headlamps we saw ahead of us turned out to be Jacob and David. They had passed us going to the saddle and we had passed them when they went up toward Castle Peak. Long about 10:00 we saw some headlamps outside the hut thinking it was Jacob and David but the headlamps kept coming so were going oh oh this must be the group that reserved the hut. Turns out they found 1 microspike, the gatoraide bottle and the bag full of canisters that I had lost.
They turned out to be a church group and boyscout troop and as the weather had turned out windy and snowing they said we could stay in the hut with them. As they were taking out some food to eat I noticed some mortar tubes and some other fireworks on the table. I asked when they were going to blow these off and they said in a little while. Going outside they set up the mortars and were lighting off the fireworks. They had some larger bottle rockets that they were shooting at each other and about 5000 fire crackers that they tied in a tree and lit off. Part of the role of firecrackers fell off the tree and went out so one of the pyros from the group relit the roll and was swinging it around his head with the firecrackers going off all around him as they fell off the role. Quite the sight. As it turned out Jacob and David had gone into the meadow to set up and watched the fireworks from there. They didn't know that we were at the hut and we didn't know they were in the meadow. From inside the hut we could hear the wind howling.
Woke the next morning and put on the shoes and started a counter clockwise circuit of the meadow. As I got about 3/4 of the way around I looked the left and saw some show that had been disturbed and headed for that. Found nothing there and followed some tracks out a little further and stopped just short of where I would have been able to see David's Trailstar. Went back to the hut, ate some breakfast and headed back out that way again, went a little farther and found Jacob and David. Turns out they found my food bag and the other microspike. They had been in the meadow where I saw the disturbed snow and had set up there thinking that we would be able to see them. Turns out the windblown snow was too much for them so they packed up about 3:00 and headed for the trees which is where I found them somewhere around 9:30.
They got up grabbed their food and went back to the hut to warm up and eat some breakfast. Hung out in the hut most of the day talking with the other group. Real nice bunch of guys. Some day hikers showed up and it was an all around nice day. Everyone left and the next group showed up. Eric also showed up around this time and Dave L a little while later. We went out to where Jacob and David set up and made camp there and went back and fixed dinner and chit chatted a little more. By late afternoon the wind had kicked up and was blowing in some pretty strong gusts. After dinner Rick and I headed out to the tent and crawled in listening to the wind roar through he trees. That was around 9:00. We heard the other guys show up and listened as they described Davids stuff blown all against the trees. David went to the hut and Jacob, Eric, Dave L and me and Rick stayed. I maybe got a little sleep listening to wind blowing in the trees and shaking the tent. It wasn't snowing but blowing the loose snow sideways and piling up on the windward side of the tent. Woke about 11:00 and thought Holy Cow this is going to be a long night. Looked at the clock a couple more times and about 1:30 decided to bail as the snow was all in the tent and it was starting to collapse. We didn't have bivys and the bags were starting to get wet. Got up and checked on Eric who had a tarp but had built up a show wall on the windward side and had a bivy and was doing alright. Talked to Jacob and he decided to bail also. Dave L was pretty secure in his tent and it was handling the wind alright as was Jacob's shelter. Packed up our sleeping stuff and headed for the hut where we dried out things a little bit and went to sleep listening to the wind howl in the trees. Dave L came in early the next morning and after that Eric. Had some hot chocolate then went back out, picked up the rest of our stuff and headed back for the hut. It must have been around 10 degrees with the wind gusting at near 40mph. Packed up and headed out around noon with the wind never letting up. It was really roaring over the saddle and you had to brace yourself every once in a while when a big gust would come. Heading down off the saddle the wind wasn't so bad in the trees and it was a beautiful sunny day. Hit the parking lot around 3:00 and headed to the In and Out in Auburn.

Richard Niemi
(rickniemi) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains
Re: Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/27/2013 13:42:04 MST Print View

Great trip report!

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/27/2013 14:00:54 MST Print View

Sounds like it turned into a little bit of an adventure. Sorry I missed it....sort of ;)

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Sierra Snowshoe :: Feb 2013 on 02/27/2013 14:39:30 MST Print View

Nice write up, Marc.

It was quite the little adventure. I think the wind that second night was more like sustained 40mph with 60+mph gusts. It was reportedly 80+mph over some ridgelines in the area.

The first night David and I were camped in an exposed where we'd hope'd Marc and Rick would be able to find us (and their food). It was very calm up until around 11pm, when it started to get a little gusty. By 3am it was more like whiteout and blowing hard. Both of us had been up at least once to reset stakes that pulled out. The windblown snow was becoming hard to keep off and things seemed to be intensifying. My thought was, pack up our stuff, get it into my shelter, then break David's down and move to a more protected area, which is what we did. Came back for the rest, and we both moved into his Trailstar for the night. Got a few hours of sleep as the sun was coming up. Next thing I remember was Marc's smiling face disturbing my beauty sleep :)

I forgot to mention, I lost a contact lens in the late night camp breakdown, which was bad because earlier that day I realized I'd somehow lost my backup eyewear... yup- went the rest of the trip on one eye.

The second night was probably a little worse weather than the first, at least we were in a better spot though. As Marc mentioned, when all of us (except David) returned to camp that evening, his stuff had been dispersed by the wind. We gathered it up. I ended up using his shelter as a bivvy that night. The winds were nasty but I was tired (having already gone through one night of this), and konked out. I awoke thanks to Marc again, this time yelling at me from somewhere. I said eff it and just went with them. Left the Khufu out there to weather the storm. It did fine. I got some sleep.

Eric and Dave L. also did fine, sans sleep.

A few photos...

Thin Wispy-Gray Omen of Trouble to Come

A Late Dinner

New Campsite post Chaotic Night


Eric's Hammock Tarp

Checking out the Grubb Hut

Lunch Break

Happy to be out of the Wind

Melting Snow the Easy Way

Heavy Bench

Message in the Floor

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Sierra Snowshoe on 02/27/2013 14:50:36 MST Print View

Sounds like some nasty wind to contend with. Glad you guys all were able to ride it out without any serious mishaps.

I love the clarity of the images you posted Jacob. I assume you're still shooting with your NEX? What lens(es) did you end up using on this trip if you don't mind my asking?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Peter Grubb Hut on 02/27/2013 15:02:36 MST Print View

I hope that you guys liked the relatively smooth concrete floor in the main room of the hut. The original floor had disintegrated by the late 1980's, so we took a work party in there one October to replace the floor. Carrying bags of Portland cement up over Castle Pass to the hut was no fun since we had only one wheelbarrow. Fortunately, we were able to break up some of the remaining chunks of old floor material to use as aggregate in the new mix, and we even had one guy along who was a retired mason with tools. We carried in some sand, and the rest of it came out of the streambed in the meadow.

We've been there on some winters when we had to dig down to find the top of the stovepipe.


Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Peter Grubb Hut on 02/27/2013 15:22:12 MST Print View

Bob, that must have been quite an undertaking. I can't really imagine hauling bags of cement up over that pass by wheelbarrow. The hut was nice, we appreciated it. One member of the Sierra Club was there posting a job opening for a Civil/Structural Engineer to redesign the roof to better support the loft.

Nico, thanks. Yes, still shooting with my 5N. The only lens I used on this trip was my recently acquired Voigtlander 21/1.8. All of those shots were taken while squinting one eye in order to manually focus with the other. Not the easiest thing in the world to do I learned.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Peter Grubb Hut on 02/27/2013 15:31:39 MST Print View

"that must have been quite an undertaking."

There was one other work party task that was even worse, but we accomplished it. You know the two-story outhouse? Well, it had been used for too many years, and there was a huge accumulation that had to be cleaned out. Yep.

One of our crew worked in the field of hazardous material cleanup, so she had a complete Hazmat suit with boots, gloves, and respirator. She wielded the shovel, and it was all shoveled out into the wheelbarrow (many loads). That was moved into the woods where it was buried in slit trenches about eight inches deep. What a job! Then we had to rinse out the wheelbarrow with water from the stream.

Think of us on the next time you utilize the outhouse.

Yes, the main roof has been a problem for as long as I can remember.


Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Peter Grubb Hut - Post Trip Report on 02/27/2013 16:32:03 MST Print View

Round Valley / Peter Grubb Hut
Date(s): Feb. 23-24
Distance: 5.75 mi (Round-Trip)
Elevation: 7,800' @ Round Valley
Trail Description: From I-80 there is 800' of elevation gain over the first two miles to Castle Pass, then a descent of 250' to the cabin in Round Valley at 7,800' (see USGS Norden 7-1/2' topo map).

Peter Grubb Hut

Great company in the hut

Castle Peak from Round Valley

The Donner Summit SnoPark was packed when I arrived around noon on Saturday, luckily I got one of the three empty spaces remaining. I put on my pack and carried my snowshoes and poles to the trailhead. The trail was quite packed and I didn’t need my snowshoes at all so I stopped and lashed them to the back of my pack. I think the last time my pack was this full and had so much lashed to the outside of it was well over 10 years ago before I started down the "Lightweight" road to backpacking. The trail continued through Castle Valley until I came to a junction near the south end of the meadow and needed to make a decision. Follow the more established route northwest or cross the valley to the northeast. I wrote down the instructions from the guidebook earlier on my map, and it said to follow the blue tree blazes so I crossed the valley. Not long after, I started post holing every few steps and finally had to stop to put on my snowshoes. I followed the tracks of a cross country skier for most of the way to the end of Castle Valley and verified I was still on the proper trail every now and then by spotting a blue trail blaze. Eventually, the tracks became less noticeable and then started going off in different directions. I could see the ridge above and where the Castle Pass should be so I continued on and eventually could see people reaching Castle Pass from the other route and could hear their voices as they crossed along the ridge above. Not seeing a better route to the ridge, I decided to hike mostly straight up for about 200'. The slope wasn't too bad but it was tiring cutting new trail. Eventually I made the ridge and continued along toward Castle Peak watching now for the yellow triangle blazes my guidebook said marked the trail to Peter Grubb. Not finding any I decided to stop for a bit and eat a little food and re-check the map. Not long after I sat down for my break I spotted one blaze and then another. I finally made my way down to Round Valley, making my own way as there was no real trail to follow and found the hut hiding beneath a blanket of snow. It would easily be missed in poor weather or if you didn't have a map and knew where to look.

I arrived at the hut around 3PM where I found Marc in the hut splitting wood. He directed me to where they had already set up camp for the night, about 400yards north of the hut. I promptly started setting up my shelter. I'd be sleeping under a MYOG Hammock Tarp (8.5'x11') with a OR Highland Bivy. This would be a trip of many firsts for me. The first night winter camping, first night with the bivy, and only my third night with the tarp. I used a continuous ridgeline between two trees and used my new REI Snow Stakes (x4) at each of the tarps corners. I pitched the tarp sides as low to the ground as I could to reduce any wind coming up and under them. Once my tarp was pitched, I shoveled snow around the sides and at the end facing Round Valley to reduce the likelihood of wind and blown snow coming from those directions. This would prove to be a great idea as the wind that night was quite ferocious. After I got my camp situated I joined the others in the Hut where we had decided to have dinner and stay for conversation.

At around 8:30 we all decided that we would "try" out our shelters and see how well they would weather the constant gusts of wind that had been increasing steadily through the evening. Upon reaching our camp, Jacob, David, and I discovered that David's MLD Trailstar had not fared so well in the wind. The center pole had fallen down and three of the stakes had pulled out of the ground. A sleeping bag and NeoAir had blown away, but they were found without too long of a search.

I shimmied into my bivy and quickly found that if I closed the head portion a lot of condensation would be trapped inside so I partially folded back the hood so that I could breathe to the open air. For about the next 4 hours I got about 5 minutes of sleep at a time. Constantly waking to the sound of the wind and peeking out of my balaclava to see the tarp billow with each gust hoping that my stakes and homemade tieouts would hold. Occasionally the spindrift would circle its way around my tarp and come in through the more "open" end and land on my partially exposed face. Quite the way to keep waking up through the night! I finally figured out that I could put my wool buff under the balaclava and cover my nose and mouth to reduce the jarring cold of the spindrift. At 2AM Marc came around with his flashlight yelling at me to see if I was ok. He noticed I had the bivy and said something to the effect of "Oh, you've got a bivy, you're alright." He said that he, Rick and Jacob were going to spend the right of the night in the hut. It was about that time that I noticed that I had about an inch of snow around my shoulders and a fair bit sticking to one side of my balaclava. I decided that for the next 4 hours I could handle the condensation of being fully inside the bivy. I only woke a few more times until sunrise, the best sleep I had all night, but did notice that my condensation was freezing to the inside of the bivy. Good thing I was only out for one night. I was all packed up by the time that Jacob and Rick had made their way back to pack their stuff and I made my way to the Hut for warmth and breakfast.

The hike out was much easier than my hike in. Largely due to taking the western route rather than the PCT route that I had followed the previous day. Also, having more eyes to find the "proper" trail helped in getting us back to the ridge safely. The wind was still quite powerful and I doubt you could have had a conversation with someone 3ft away while on the ridge. I covered as much of my face as possible until we reached the end of the ridge and dropped into Crystal Valley finally out of the wind.

Edited by cobberman on 02/27/2013 20:26:35 MST.