People have been asking me about snow conditions in the Granite Chief, and I’m sorry to say I don’t have any information for you. I will be going in on a backpack trip Monday, July 3, and may have a chance to post briefly while I’m on that trip (there is some cell reception from the crest, though none in the rest of the wilderness), but if not, then at the end of the trip about July 11.
If you have information, or trip reports, please share them by replying to this post. If you had an approved comment in the past, your comment will go up immediately, if not, I have to approve it, but again, may be able to do that when I’m on the crest. If there is still a lot of snow up high, I’ll head down into the Five Lakes Creek basin, where the bears have never heard of cell phones.
I went backpacking this last week along two sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, in part because I figured there was still a lot of snow in the Granite Chief. But a week of very warm weather may have opened up some of the trails, and I’m anxious to get into the high country.
I’ve had two backpacks this year doing trail maintenance on the Pacific Crest Trail through the Granite Chief Wilderness. Since almost all my time was up on the PCT, I don’t have anything to report about the rest of the wildneress, but since I have two more backpack trips coming up, will have a report on much if not all of the trail system.
I brushed from Granite Chief trail on the north to Five Lakes Creek in the middle, and the trail is in good condition except for a short 0.1 mile part between Whiskey Creek Camp trail and Five Lakes trail that I didn’t get done, though it is not bad. I also did the Whiskey Creek Camp trail since it was getting a bit brushy. While in this area I spent some time exploring around Five Lakes Creek and Whiskey Creek, looking for the old trails that were there before the new PCT alignment was completed. In some places these old trails are easy to follow, but no always. I still think there is a trail on the south side of Five Lakes Creek to Big Spring Meadow, but so far I haven’t located it.
On the second trip I focused on the PCT north from the PCT/TRT trail junction near Twin Peaks. There are several sections here that are very brushy, and a few that are essentially closed in. I got all but one of these opened up again, to a point where they should be OK for about five years. But there is one very brushy section that I did not get to, and will be very bad by next year. It is about 0.2 miles. I did spot brushing on the remainder, and it is in decent shape but could use work. I think this year I accomplished what I have not in several years, keeping up with the rate of brush growth, though not gaining on it, which is why there are some badly brushed-in sections left. Next year perhaps I’ll get those last very brushy parts done, and be “caught up” at least for a couple of years.
PCT trail before brushing, overgrown with tobacco brush
PCT trail after brushing, cleared to five-year width
One of my purposes of my Picayune Valley and Shanks Cove trip earlier this year was to create GPS tracks for the Western States and Shanks Cove trails. In the area of the saddle between the Five Lakes Creek basin and Picayune Valley, the trail alignment shown on the National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps is incorrect. It turns out, now that Trimble Outdoors has added National Forest roads and trails as an available overlay in MyTopo Maps, that the Forest Service base maps are incorrect.
Dan Lutz, Assistant Recreation Officer for Trails and Wilderness for the Truckee Ranger District of Tahoe National Forest, sent this trail maintenance information on August 4:
Glad to hear you were out in the wilderness and noticed the hard work the crews have put in there so far. We have had a couple crews go in there – one was a fire crew we try to go in there together annually. They help us out logging out the trails as they work on some training exercises. We get alot of work completed with this 10-person crew for 4 days. They were in Big Springs area and working north-south and then also the Shanks Cove trail. Additionally, we had a volunteer group spiked at Diamond Crossing and they worked on the Hellhole trail for about 5-6 days. Lots of maintenance needed there. Then we had our regular trails crew on the northern portion of the PCT from Squaw to Five Lakes.