Friday, June 22, 2012

Late June Update

Some news from Mt. Rainier NP changing plans in late June.

The Comet Falls trails from the Christine Falls trailhead is closed due to a deep washout about a mile above the trailhead. The NPS is reporting a 30-foot section of trail is washed out and snow and ice conditions below and above the washout make the trail hazardous.

The NPS is examing the trail for repairs or a temporary route and will announce when the trailhead is open again. Hikers can use the trailhead just east Longmire to the longer Van Trump Park trail along Rampart Ridge, but expect snow and ice in places on the trail as the upper parts are still under snow.

The NPS is reporting significant snow conditions in the backcountry and hikers should be prepared and experienced for such conditions, especially with the proper navigation tools and equipment in the event of snow and ice and during worsening weather conditions. This will likely extend into July with the higher than normal snowpack and later than normal snowmelt.

The White River Road and Sunrise road will open June 22nd, but the White River campground and facilities at Sunrise are not expected to open until June 29th.

The Ashford-Longmire-Paradise shuttle will start June 29th, not June 22nd originally announced. No reason given for the delay but plan accordingly. Parking at Paradise is often full on weekends past the late morning hours. The NPS has changed the rules for parking where the upper parking has a 2-hour limit and the lower parking (old visitor's center) has no limit.

There is still about 8 feet of snow at the elevation of Paradise. The snowmelt is following a normal curve but is 2-3 week later than normal. This means the snow will clear in early August unless there is a warmer than normal month of July. This will effect the wildflower season at the mid-upper elevations (above 5,000 feet) where the lower elevation areas should be only slightly later than normal for the season.

Otherwise, everything is good.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June Reports

The news, access, condtions and monthly reports for the Mt. Rainier photo guide are now available. I apologize for the delay after the Memorial Day holiday weekend but I took a short break from the work and then had to catch up on some housekeeping chores with the Website, all 440+ Web pages.

So it's done and now I can start fresh on the long overdue projects and tasks. Until then June is also the hardest month to forecast anything about or in the NP, because it's normally the first full month of snowmelt and still has spring to cool summer weather. As we note here in the Puget Sound, summer starts after the July 4th holiday, everything before is still spring.

Right now the snowpack is about 120% of normal and the snowmelt following a normal recession curve but still 1-2 weeks later than where the normal snowpack would be. This could easily mean the snowmelt won't be completely done in the mid-elevations areas (5-6,000 feet) until late July at the earliest, which in turns means the wildflowers will be equally later than normal.

As for the NP, some of the areas are still closed, namely the Mowich Lake entrance and road and the White River road and campground with the road to Sunrise. Both are scheduled to open the last week or so of June but while snow will be clearing in the Whiter River areas, you can expect sigificant snow at Sunrise well into July.

Anyway, that's it for now. Enjoy the NP.