Outside with Charlie: Spring highs and lows

By From page A11 | May 18, 2012


With sunny and mostly mild spring temperatures, the spread of outdoor recreation opportunities just continues to grow.

While everything is in bloom here in the lower elevations, the higher reaches are still working towards budding out.

Along Highway 50, the American River is flowing fast as river kayakers are taking full advantage of the spring melt.

There isn’t an appreciable amount of snow along the road. At about 7,500 feet though, the woods become dotted with the white stuff. At Echo Summit (7,382 feet elevation) there’s plenty of water standing about, but that’s about it.

Dropping into Meyers and heading to Hope Valley on Highway 89, the forest is pretty clear of snow but a short walk into the woods at Grassy Lake revealed patches of snow.

At Luther Pass (7,740 feet elevation) there’s icy snow, and looking uphill it’s obvious that there’s bigger patches, especially in the shaded areas.

Looking out over Hope Valley towards Elephant Back, Round Top, and Carson Pass garners an absolutely beautiful panorama of the floor of Hope Valley, completely free of snow, to the snow speckled higher reaches above Carson Pass.

The spring wildflower explosion at Carson Pass is still just a bit of time away.

Caples Lake still has some ice on it and Silver Lake is free of ice and very full. The road to Kit Carson Lodge, as of last week, was still blocked by a gate. Hiking to Hidden Lake or anywhere up above Silver Lake is best left to later in the month.

The Crystal Basin is a good place to wander about right now. Bassi Falls is easily reachable, the lakes are ice free, and there are plenty of places to take short hikes. Check with the Forest Service to find out daily conditions.

If you do head into the higher elevations to wander around, stay off of roads covered with ice or icy snow, or mud. Hiking brings with it the same caution as snow changes everything.

We are very close to being able to get out into the high country. Anything under 7,500 feet is already waiting for you and your canoe, kayak, hiking boots, bicycle or picnic. Just remember the sunscreen and bug spray. Take lots of both items. You’ll need them.

Charlie Ferris

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