Incredible Conditions at Sequoia National Park: June 2005

Published: October 21st 2006
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2005 was a record season for snow in the Sierra Nevada. Not only did the snow exceed averages by 150%, it fell mostly in the spring after a relatively dry winter. This created exceptional conditions for early season backpacking above 3000 meters, and fortunately Jeff, Brian and I chose the perfect weekend to go!

Now here we were in mid-June 2006 going to the same place. I expected it to be patches of snow and clear skies. What greeted us though was dense snow drifts that turned into 4 feet of snow at the lakes. It was spectacular, as the snow evaporates and melts, the clouds formed and winds swept it all away. It was sunny, warm and dry during the day- yet freezing and moist just after sunset with crystal clear skies. We only had one night, and to be honest it was a bit of a drive from the Bay Area. However, staying in Fresno friday night and a 6 am Saturday start made the trip feel much longer than one day. In fact we ended up hiking over 13 miles, gaining over 4000 vertical feet and getting to a top elevation of 11,400 feet! Truly nowhere else
Yours Truly by the Monarch RiverYours Truly by the Monarch RiverYours Truly by the Monarch River

Sawtooth Peak is right above my hat!
in the Western Sierra's offers such high-altitude rewards with such short distances.

This trip was so dynamic and colorful. After relishing over the novelty of the scenery with Jeff while Brian got over his altitude sickness, we figured out why this place was so special. It seemed at this point in time, this month and this year, everything was accentuated....

It wasn't just a blue sky, it was a deep hue of blue the likes of which we had rarely seen. The sun wasn't merely bright, it warmed like a fire and burned like a laser. The snow wasn't just snow, but snow contorted into a thousand differen't patterns from the rapid melting and evaporating. The trees weren't just regular trees, they were over 500 year old foxtail pine trees with contorted shapes and branches as if a Japanese monk trained them with his shears. The clouds weren't any clouds, they were quickly moving, multi-colored and ever changing their shapes. The mountain peaks didn't just surround the lake, they soared like skyscapers above the turqoise ice inside the lakes.

It's too bad we could only stay one night, another day may have found us a way to get to the top. Still, i'm content in knowing that = Sequoia National Park will always be there as long as one is willing to brave the elements...

Additional photos below
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Penitentes are spikes of snow or ice, and some can be 4 meters high. They are common on high-altitude glaciers or ice where the air is dry, and the sun's rays can turn ice directly into water vapor without melting it first. This process of going from solid to vapor is known as sublimation. An initially smooth snow surface first develops depressions as some regions randomly sublimate faster than others. The curved surfaces then concentrate sunlight and speed up sublimation in the depressions, leaving the higher points behind as forests of towering spikes.

26th October 2006

Deja vu...
Over a year later and your pics are still amazing! That foxtail pine with the penitentes and sunset is awesome. Such an epic trip.

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