Sierra Rec Magazine – Alpine County Ca. – May 18, 2020 – The first full weekend of the Sierra Scenic Passes being open usually draws a crowd. However with the current stay at home orders, Weather changing with high gusty winds and potential snow, plus Stanislaus National Forest prohibiting vehicle traffic on forest service roads and parking at trailheads, i wondered what it would be like on one of the regions most scenic of travel routes this early in the season.
We could not make it out until Sunday mid morning so the wind and storms already were starting to stir things up. We found the South fork of the Carson River was littered with cars parked along the road, fewer campers than expected and traffic moderate for the lower section of our drive out of Markleville.
However once we hit the last gate along HWY 4 before climbing to the Silver Creek Campground, most traffic dispersed and I would say lower than normal weekend traffic was seen. As for the views it was spectacular and wet for our adventure which took us as far as Pacific Creek just below Mosquito Lakes.
First stop was at Raymond Creek / Silver Creek Falls which was roaring in it typical early season fashion. A little know summer fact, Late summer returns to this waterfall will greet visitors with opportunity for a cold soak in a well formed tub right in the middle of the falls.
Silver Creek Campground is not open yet, but we stopped for a few more looks around at Silver creek and Noble creek which run on both sides of the Camping area before merging into one creek just below Raymond creek crossing.
The rain started in right after our stop here and we stopped at the Noble Creek trail area to admire the snow fields still hanging on up at Silver Peak then we headed up to Kinney reservior.
Kinney Reservoir was our real first experience of snow, Yes there were patches on the side of the road as early as the the really tight corners headed up Ebbetts pass, however the until Kinney Reservoir no real roadside snow. From Kinney up to the top there is still a bit of snow, the PCT parking area is still snowed in and the PCT is covered of course. However as you crest over the top the road down to Highland Lakes is clear of snow, at least as far as we could see, we did not venture down to the river there.
Our next stop was near the bottom at Hermit Valley to take a look around at the Mokelumne River. It was raining pretty good by now and the roads were getting slick, so our final stop was Pacific Creek a mile up the road. It does look like there is more snow up by Mosquito Lakes and Cape Horn from the the highway looking west.
Heading back in we took small detour over to Wolf Creek and the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. Was pleasantly surprised the road is in great shape this year and access to Wold Creek and High Trail is open. Looked like possibly a few camping visitors back there, hard to tell, not sure it is technically open. We did see camping up at the highway and on another note Turtle Rock Park is open to camping now.