Outside with Charlie: Snow in the hills

By From page B3 | June 21, 2011


Summer is here. Considering what this winter and spring were like, summer is welcome.

The landscape is a bit different. Record snowfall is limiting the number of areas open for families to enjoy.

Want to float your boat? You can enjoy a day on the water at Lake Tahoe and Natoma, Jenkinson, Ice House, Folsom and Rollings lakes.

Loon Lake fans may have to wait a bit as the campground and boat ramp may not be open. Caples and Silver lakes on Highway 88 are still frozen with some signs of thawing.

You need cross country skis or snowshoes to access Woods Lake. Gerle Creek is in the same boat, so to speak. Wrights Lake? Not a chance till late June or July. There’s still about 8 feet of snow and the roads are snow bound.

Campgrounds at Woods and Silver lakes aren’t plowed and Caples Lake Resort is closed. Echo Lake is frozen and the road is covered with snow. Loon Lake is a snow camping experience.

Union Valley is not totally open but the Fashoda tent camping area is available. Sly Park’s campground is open, along with Beals Point, Camp Richardson, Fallen Leaf Lake campground, some spots near Nevada City and Auburn, and the KOA in Meyers.

Hiking requires planning. Trails leading to Bryan Meadow off  highways 50 and 88 will have snow on them at least until July. Carson Pass and the trails to Frog, Winnemucca, and Round Top lakes are only accessible with snowshoes or cross country skis.

There is a lot of snow up there and it’s likely Round Top will have snow on it all year. Mt. Tallac? Not for a while. Ralston Peak is covered with snow. Lake Aloha in the Desolation Wilderness — frozen and the trail is deep in snow.

5 Lakes in the Granite Chief Wilderness is frozen and covered with snow. Hiking into Meiss Meadow from Carson Pass or the Big Meadow trail head on Highway 89 is another snowshoe/cross country ski experience. The Big Meadow campground is closed but could open soon.

Summer in the mountains will be delayed. It has to get hot quickly for any big change, but change will come slowly but surely.

Check with the Forest Service or your private campground of choice to find out what areas are open.

There is still plenty to do at lower elevations. South-facing areas around 6,000 feet are clear or close to clear of snow. Higher, shaded areas and north-facing slopes are a different story.

Lake-level trails are open at Tahoe and Camp Richardson’s bike trail is OK. It’s a great family ride. The meadows around the lake and most of Hope Valley are very wet and in places, downright boggy.

While it can frustrating, remember that all the snow means plenty of water. There will be more than enough water in our lakes and rivers to enjoy all summer long.

Charlie Ferris

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