Once again the California drought, exacerbated by the climate change, is messing up our snow supply. Not only did we have only a couple of real storms, but the snow also fell as rain. People here were watching, longingly, at the feet of beautiful snow that inundated the North-East.
Somehow I managed to get in touch with one of the Sierra Club leaders. In particular a leader who primarily leads winter trips. I’ve asked him about some trip requirements what looked quite technical. After that he asked me if I want to come on this trip. The weather reports promised nasty cold rain, which is actually much worse than snow, but I didn’t want to say no. We were also not camping, but staying in Ludlow Hut, which could somewhat mitigate the bad weather. In the end there were only three people in the group, mostly due to the incoming rain.
Friday, February 5, 2015
Starting the regular driving. The leader graciously agreed to drive his Subaru in the rainy weather, which would behave much better than my Prius. Not only that, he also let us stay at his parents’ cabin in Truckee area (and thus he probably knows the area much better making for efficient drive). We stopped at Dairy Queen for some supper. I never knew they sell sandwiches. The name Dairy Queen generally brings up images of ice-cream or milk shakes.
By the time we reached Tahoe the heavy rain turned into wet snow. Highway 80 was slowly moving. The CHP blocked the parallel streets to all traffic except the local access. Our leader had to tell them that he lived locally. We were wondering why CHP did that. One idea was that Google maps was probably rerouting people around the main blocked area. However, there was still danger in driving on new snow without chains and CHP was trying to enforce this.
The leader’s family had a simple mountain hut – an A-frame but with all the amenities. Lovely place to stay during Summer or Winter. Just have to mind increasingly smart neighborhood bears.
Saturday, February 6, 2015
The morning weather looked fine. At least nothing was coming down. After a simple breakfast and release signage we headed to the trailhead – McKinney-Rubicon trail, which is apparently world famous. By the time we found a place to park it was actually sunny! Lovely. That would have been a very nice weather.
We parked a bit away from the main trail head. It was, however, occupied by the smelly 4-wheelers. The main trail was more like a road. It was expected – a similar forest road was leading to other huts. I gather it was also needed for the 4-wheelers. They probably could hammer through the forest, but that would eventually create a road anyway. Yesterday’s snow added a lot of water all over. We have to almost do a couple of river crossings. The weather slowly turned by the time we reached the hut. It was actually snowed very well.
I was happy to settle in the hut and watch the snow falling. It had everything needed, except solar lights. However, the other members wanted to hike up some local mountain (Lost Corner Mountain) and I had to go with them. I didn’t want to look weak even though the weather looked more and more nasty.
We reached the peak fine – hiking up a snowy mountain on snow shoes isn’t that hard. But there was nothing to see except very thick fog. Oh well. By the time we reached the hut everything was wet. At least there was a decent stove with some ability to dry things out.
We spent the rest of the day in the hut burning one of the stoves and drying the equipment. Wet snow was falling periodically with more or less rain. Somehow Sierra Club has this tradition that a trip leader would actually bring and cook the dinner for the group. Very nice. I’m a bit lazy with my trips. But probably the difficulty comes from negotiating what people want to eat. If everyone was no picky with food it would have been a lot easier, but that generally isn’t the case.
Sunday, February 7, 2015
Morning was semi-clear – cloudy, but nothing was falling down. Again the team wanted to do a dayhike.The view was better this time, but it was clear that a change in weather was coming. By the time we reached the Hut it was snowing again.
The slog back to the car was nasty. It really started coming down mostly rain. I suppose dry cold snow would have been fine, but that wasn’t the case. I was drenched, completely. Even my socks were wet. Somehow I managed to keep the insides of my pack dry. Thankfully the leader wasn’t particularly picky about getting his Subaru wet. I brought some change of clothes, but not that much. Also, changing outside under rain would make new closes also wet.
It was sad that the weather wasn’t really wintery. But other than that it was a nice trip. And I also located one more of the Sierra Club Huts. It could be useful for future visits. Ans I med a cool Sierra Club snow trip leader. Perhaps we can do more trips in the future.