Thursday, July 7, 2011

Can We Go Backpacking Now?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Will we ever get to go backpacking?

Here it is, the second week in July and the high country is still colored white. Snowpack and water runoff remain at remarkably high levels.

To find out what that means for the upcoming season, I called the U.S. Forest Service's Stanley Ranger Station. They said the “official” line was that “the snow level is between 8,000 and 8,500 feet. Access is limited into the Wilderness Area. Rivers are high and there is a lot of downed timber to deal with.”

That wasn't much to go on, so I looked at the latest trail report from the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Then I called Redfish Lake Lodge and spoke to some of the guys out on the marina dock. They are a great resource because they are the ones who take hikers across the lake to the trailhead and, more importantly, pick hikers up afterward and listen to the reports on what conditions hikers experience. The news from the dock guys was not encouraging.

Apparently, the trail is open up the Redfish Canyon for a few miles, but there are still patches of snow, and a huge snow field still covers the hill leading up to Alpine Lake. And, most surprising of all, the bridge over to the Elephant's Perch area is still underwater.

The warm weather we are experiencing will help, but it still seems that backpacking season will take forever to get here. Keep an eye on snow and river levels and the Sawtooth webcam. Hopefully, it won't be too much longer before we are out in the high country.

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