Snow surveyors skied into the Trinity Alps Wilderness last week, finding they had to dig to get into the cabin they use for their basecamp.
It was an auspicious start. Indeed, they found the April 1 snowpack in the high country of Trinity County to be at almost 160 percent of average.
“We had to dig down to the front porch of Foster’s Cabin, and the windows are almost completely snowed in,” said Josh Smith of the Watershed Research and Training Center, who coordinates the surveys in the wilderness area.
He added that snow “bridges” are still covering the majority of stream crossings, and the brush is covered with snow as well.
It’s the most snow his crew has seen since they started doing the wilderness surveys in 2012. That was only six years ago, but looking at historic data Smith reports that the snow water content at Shimmy Lake of 75 inches has only been higher 11 times since 1946. Results were similar at the Red Rock Mountain and Bear Basin sites.
Smith described interesting conditions with the continued snow storms, with large patches of bare ground at 3,000 to 4,000 feet, “but everything is absolutely plastered in snow up high,” he said.
Surveys outside the wilderness in Trinity County were done by U.S. Forest Service staff.
The measurements in Trinity County showed the following results:
The Deadfall Lakes at 7,200 feet in northeast Trinity County had 117 inches of snow. Water content was not available.
The Red Rock Mountain snow course at 6,700 feet in the Trinity Alps Wilderness had 159 inches of snow with 65 inches of water content. This was 154 percent of the April 1 average.
At Bear Basin in the Trinity Alps Wilderness at 6,500 feet, there were 108 inches of snow with water content of 55.5 inches. This was 150 percent of the April 1 average.
Shimmy Lake at 6,400 feet in the Trinity Alps Wilderness had 171 inches of snow with water content of 75 inches. This was 152 percent of average.
At the Big Flat snow course at 5,100 feet in northern Trinity County, surveyors measured 61 inches of snow with 25.5 inches of water content. This was 214 percent of average.
Overall, the snow for the Trinity River Basin was at 159 percent of average. For comparison, last year at this time it was at 23 percent of average. Statewide, the April 1 snowpack was a whopping 175 percent of average.