As the first of the late-June weather arrives in Pinedale, the snow seems to be coming off the mountains faster and faster. High country peaks continue to shed their snowy coats and all trailheads allow access further and further into the mountains. The current snowline sits at the 10,000 – 10,200 foot mark. Temps in the mid-60s are possible, even above 10,500 ft. Point-release and wet slide avalanches are possible in steep, southern and eastern-facing terrain. We continue to monitor trail conditions as we see them.
As of yesterday, 6/24/2017, Green River Lakes road is now OPEN. According to our own sources and friends at the Forest Service, the Big Sandy road was never closed and is currently OPEN. Travel to Big Sandy Opening is unimpeded and the conditions are typical for this time of the year.
The Union Pass Road is snow free all the way to Dubois, but some areas, particularly past Mosquito Lake, may be quite muddy. You may encounter larger drifts in the trees past Mosquito Lake going down towards Dubois.
Travel to Slide Lake, Three Forks Park, and a mile or so out of the Porcupine Creek Trail is possible. Because of shaded aspects and higher elevation of the upper Green River Valley, travel toward the Vista Pass and Green River Pass area continues to be snow-covered. The Green River Lakes road is still quite muddy in places. Be prepared to drive carefully over wash-outs and muddy areas. The Forest Service has worked hard to repair the road below the campground.
The Doubletop Mountain Trail out of New Fork Lake trailhead is open to the top of Doubletop Mountain. Travel to the end of Palmer Canyon is possible, but hikers will encounter snow when attempting to climb out of the canyon itself. Because of the shaded aspect, expect to find large drifts in places on the upper canyon trail.
Elkhart Park parking area remains snow-free, but hikers and backpackers will hit snow a few hundred yards off the Pole Creek Trail. We estimate that the trail will be accessible to Photographers Point in the next couple of weeks. We’ve received reports of parties reaching Seneca lake (on snow) but have been turned around by the creek crossing coming out of Seneca Lake. Please be aware that this crossing is very dangerous during high water, and travel is not advised until the water level subsides. The Pine Creek Canyon Trail from Trail’s End campground is clear to Long Lake and Glimpse Lake. Trail crews have been working hard to clear deadfall from the trail in recent days.
Boulder Canyon trailhead has been melted out for quite some time, but be advised that the campground and trailhead are currently flooded. The campground will be closed for the foreseeable future, until Boulder Creek water levels drop. The trail to Lake Ethel and Blueberry Lake continues to be flooded as well, but with a little wading, both lakes can be reached.
Contrary to rumors, the road to Big Sandy Opening was never closed, and water DOES NOT impede travel to the trailhead. In fact, the road past the Lander Cutoff Junction has been graded and given a bit of a facelift, making travel a bit less bumpy. Sedgewick Meadows is snow-free, but Dutch Joe Creek water levels are up, making the traditional creek crossings quite swift; please use caution and common sense. Travel out of Big Sandy Opening is possible to Big Sandy Lake. Beyond, i.e Cirque of the Towers, travel on snow is possible and we have many reports of parties making it into the Cirque. As the snow melts, be aware that many of the climbing routes may be wet.
As the snowpack transitions from Spring to Summer, be aware that the snow itself will turn isothermic. This means the top layer will turn into a hard crust while, underneath, the water-content in the snow evaporates and leaves an unconsolidated mess. What this means for hikers is post-holing, or punching through the crust into the underlying layers. This makes efficient travel incredibly hard. Travel in the early morning or later in the night so that the snow has a chance to re-freeze again; this makes cross-country snow travel much more bearable.
I also think it’s important to touch on the Wind River High Route. If you plan on hiking this route before the end of July, be aware that the high passes have the high potential of being steep and icy (i.e. Indian Pass, Knapsack Col, Alpine Pass, Hay Pass, Bonneville Pass, Texas Pass), and that you may want to bring microspikes or crampons and an ice axe depending on your comfortability with snow travel. Many of the passes, especially Knapsack Col and Bonneville Pass, become quite steep once the top layers of snow melt. Also, high basins may be still filled with snow, making cross-country travel inefficient.
If you have any questions about conditions or want to chat about a trip you had coming up soon, feel free to give us a call at (307) 367-2440 or shoot us an email at [email protected]. We have boots on the ground and always have the most up-to-date conditions reports this side of the Divide.