Gifford Pinchot- PCT- snow levels??

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-Q-
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Gifford Pinchot- PCT- snow levels??

Post by -Q- » May 30th, 2019, 2:57 pm

Hi all,

Just got off the phone with the Mt Adams Ranger Station and want to try and confirm what I was told about snow levels on the PCT in the Giff...

I was told everything north of Indian Heaven until Mt Adams on the PCT is still snow covered (think Sawtooth Berry Fields, Mosquito Lake, Steamboat Lake etc).
Really??
Can anyone verify or deny this??

Pretty surprised to hear this update as that area hovers between 3500-4500 feet or so.
Snow levels on Mt Adams south side are at least 1000 feet higher than that as of Monday (even outside the burn).

Thanks!!

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: Gifford Pinchot- PCT- snow levels??

Post by acorn woodpecker » May 30th, 2019, 8:33 pm

Can't verify this via "boots on the ground" this season, but that news doesn't surprise me.

That stretch of the Gifford Pinchot holds snow later in the season than other areas of similar or higher elevation on the Oregon side. I always figured it gets more snow than the Oregon side with how it receives winter/spring snow storms and where it's situated within the width of the SW Washington Cascades. June is generally the earliest one can access that area in the 3500-4500ft range. There's usually a very narrow window one can get to Indian Heaven in late June/early July just as the snow melts but the mosquitos haven't hatched out.

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drm
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Re: Gifford Pinchot- PCT- snow levels??

Post by drm » May 31st, 2019, 6:42 am

I think that the rolling hilly terrain of the central GP holds snow better than slopes that drain. And it is well shaded so less affect from direct sun, at least until the sun gets near it's solstice high point. The PCT in IH doesn't usually melt out till early July. I think it will beat that by a couple of weeks this year. The section between IH and Mt Adams (from road 24 to 23) will probably be melting out very soon given the stable warm weather we are having now.

Somebody recently told me that pcta.org has some kind of deal with NASA where they get satellite snow reports for sections of the trail that nobody has actually visited on the ground. I need to go to their website and try and find that.

And consider yourself warned that mosquitoes are going to get bad very quickly once that snow melts. That rolling terrain is also ideal for little snowmelt puddles that are perfect for mosquitoes: they warm up very fast in the sun and no fish or birds to eat the larvae.

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-Q-
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Re: Gifford Pinchot- PCT- snow levels??

Post by -Q- » May 31st, 2019, 8:46 am

Thanks guys for the responses.

Guess I got a little excited when I saw the Surprise Lake Snotel showing no snow results as of 5/30, but I think that might be a mistake since there was still 13" on 5/29.

Agreed that this entire region holds snow longer than most.

Also agreed that the bugs will be bad again this year.
Last year I snuck in very early in the season and the bugs were absolutely awful... hiked 18 miles, never stopped for more than 20-30 seconds... not cool

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drm
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Re: Gifford Pinchot- PCT- snow levels??

Post by drm » May 31st, 2019, 12:43 pm

Yeah, blank doesn't mean no snow, it means no report - something broke. The Potato Hill snotel stopped reporting a few weeks ago. But the Surprise Lakes one is still reporting snow water eq. That's at 5" so probably 10" of snow. Will be gone by early next week. And that's probably representative of the section between roads 24 and 23. The PCT in IH is about a thousand feet higher in many places.

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