Forestdale Creek

Group 4 - Trip One - Forestdale Creek - President's day weekend (Feb 18 + 19)

Our group successfully completed our first snow camping trip of the season this past weekend, a one night trip to Red Lake/ Forestdale Creek. There was much trepidation before the trip due to the forecast for an atmospheric river of moisture impacting California from last Friday through the weekend, but the trip went off without a hitch.

Most drove up on Friday with those departing midday making it in three plus hours and the evening travelers needing four to five hours depending on traffic. Road conditions were generally good despite rain and fog along the way. There were only a few snow flurries at 11 pm at Echo Summit on the way to South Lake Tahoe.

After a delicious Saturday breakfast at Ernie's, we were able to get to the trail head in about an hour, with some having to put chains on at Luther Pass on highway 89. The parking area at the Red Lake turnout was freshly plowed and in very good shape and we found smooth snow with no tracks on the trail having had six inches of fresh snow the night before. Our large group was able to rotate the trail breaking for the next three or so hours (including lunch) and we made it to our planned destination right near the wilderness boundary on the east side of Forestdale Creek. Despite the illegal snowmobile tracks near the bridge, we only briefly heard the whine of the two stroke in the engine in the far distance before we settled down to a quiet, but windy evening in camp.

The wind came up around six p.m. and continued all night long, but fortunately we were somewhat protected by the Elephant's back ridge. There were 10-15 mile an hour winds throughout the evening punctuated by 30 - 40 mph gusts that were mostly heard in the treetops. Our kitchen was expertly set up with tarps and walled off with only the corners being affected by the wind gusts. Later at night, those in tents heard quite a bit of noise, but the trench dwellers were mostly out of harms way. A couple inches of snow fell overnight and blew all around and into everyone's entryway or under their tarps if they were not guyed out tight and sealed.

Sunday morning found us in more snow flurries with an occasional glimpse of weak sunshine through the passing clouds. The winds finally began to die down during breakfast and were light throughout the mid-morning and early afternoon. After our customary shelter tour, we hiked out in about 2 hours. We left the parking lot around 2:30 pm with light snow having begun falling again. All in all it was an excellent trip and people learned a lot, especially about how to protect a trench from the wind. Twenty three in, twenty three out.

Rob Schuur
c/o Group Far Enough

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