New snow: 14 inches (1 inch of water, yippee!)
Total settled snow depth: 13 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 47°F (April 3)
Low temperature: 13°F (April 8)
Skiing/Snowshoeing Conditions and Weather: Just when we were all getting excited about summer sports, Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and blankets the high mountains with some much-needed snow. It is a beautiful scene to behold. One we’ve been waiting for all season here in Tuolumne Meadows. Of course, most of this snow fell on bare ground, so our travel summary remains relatively the same: snowshoes are the equipment of choice to access the trails around Tuolumne Meadows. Ice axes and crampons are advised for high mountain travel. Especially with this new snow, trails are not obvious in places and navigational skills are a must. Come prepared for any type of weather.
The road corridor will be temporarily “skiable” again, but by the time most of you read this, it will probably be melted out. East of Tioga Pass may be too icy/snowy to bike until it gets plowed.
The best ski opportunities exist north of Tioga Pass around Bennettville and Saddlebag Lake, though travelers should anticipate having to carry skis for stretches in these places as well.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the avalanche advisory for this area of the Sierra Nevada go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. The avalanche danger in the Tuolumne Meadows area and along on the Tioga Road including Lee Vining Canyon is low.
However, if one is travelling above 10,000 feet, where there are skiing opportunities, hazard levels are dynamic with this newly fallen snow (1.5+ feet plus). Wind and or sun may increase hazard on the old firm snow surfaces.
Wildlife: It was a pine siskin and dark-eyed junco invasion this week. Large vocal flocks were everywhere. Red-winged blackbirds were moving in along the river corridors of Lyell Canyon and Tuolumne Meadows. A pair of mallards was also spotted in both locations. Coyotes were actively hunting rodents prior to this storm. Hopefully, the Belding’s ground squirrels that have surfaced aren’t too groggy and are watching each other’s backs!
Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open! There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. There is power but no public phone service in Tuolumne this winter. We can be contacted via email at Robert_Pilewski@nps.gov, but we may be delayed in responding if we are on patrol. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut. (R. Pilewski)