Chris S. and I are in the process of getting ready for the Bob Open which is in about 2 months. So, some training trips in sloppy spring conditions are in order. This weekend, we did the Lake Vernon loop out of Cherry Lake dam. Overall, it was a great experience and perfect training, with typical early spring conditions as we criss-crossed the snow line. Conditions varied from dry trail walking, to flooded trail, to rotten snow, with even a little bit of nice firm snow early Sunday morning. There was patchy snow above about 5500' and mostly continuous snow coverage on north-facing aspects above 6000'. South facing stuff was mostly melted out around 6500'.
One section near Beehive was particularly challenging, and roughly every 50 yards I would posthole up to my crotch with my foot getting dunked in the meltwater underneath. The snow here could best be described as the consistency of a Slurpee. We both had to chuckle when we did one creek crossing wearing our snowshoes because there was a 3' snowbank on each side and we were tired of taking them on and off constantly.
Overall, we only made it 17 miles instead of the planned 22 on Saturday due to the poor conditions. Sunday morning we crossed Rancheria Mountain before the snow softened, and we were able to make really good time, doing the remaining 30 miles back to the car via Hetch Hetchy reservoir in about 14 hours. Total elevation gain was somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-9k for the 47 miles.
It was the first trip for both of us trying out neoprene socks (NRS Hydroskins) and they worked perfectly. My feet were pretty much continuously wet but never cold, not even during the thigh-deep stream crossings. The gauge for Falls Creek this weekend read a water temp of 39F, so the water was pretty frosty.
Without further ado, here are some photos:
Trail to Beehive below Frog Creek
Frog Creek crossing
We camped out on the bare granite above Lake Vernon.
We didn't even have to get our feet wet to cross the Vernon bridge, which sometimes has high enough flow that Falls Creek spills over the sides.
Falls Creek was going pretty good.
We followed the tracks of the Snow Survey team until the Moraine Ridge turnoff, but they disappeared after that. Had some trouble following the trail around Rancheria Mtn and was glad to have the GPS. At least the snow was hard since we did this part first thing in the morning.
Tiltill was flooded but only about ankle deep.
Then it was a nice dry cruise back to the car. We didn't see any human footprints until we got past Wapama. There were plenty of coyote, fox, bobcat and bear prints tho. The coyote had just as many problems post-holing as we did.
This trip definitely ticked the "high mileage" and "Spring conditions" check-boxes. Living in California has left me with embarassingly little experience in bad weather, so I'd like to get at least one trip in between now and May with some precipitation and conditions around freezing. Overall though, we didn't have any major problems this weekend and our systems worked very well. A fun and challenging trip!