Ask Zimo: Fourth of July still good target date for high-country hikes

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comMay 23, 2013 

Q: A few years ago, some friends and I went backpacking in the White Clouds. I have wanted to go back ever since, but haven't had the time.

What is the best time of year to do that? Last time we hiked to Walker Lake and then hiked backcountry and camped at Cove Lake.

THOMAS SMITH, email

A: My choice for hiking in the White Clouds is mid-July through September.

Although the snowpack in many high-elevation places across Idaho was low this winter, and some areas may have earlier access for hiking, like in June, it's unlikely in the White Clouds.

I called Ed Cannady, the backcountry recreation manager for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, for an update.

"We did have a bit of a low snow pack this winter, but there's still a lot of snow up high," Cannady said.

A cool spring slowed the snowmelt in the White Clouds. There was also a skiff of snow in the high country earlier this month.

Although it's impossible to forecast, Cannady believes passes in the White Clouds will be free of snow no earlier than Fourth of July and maybe later.

"Of course, if it warms up a lot and stays warm it could be earlier, but that's not where I would put my money right now," said Cannady.

You might be able to hike or mountain bike in low-elevation areas of the White Clouds (7,000 feet) in June depending on the exposure of the slopes and trails to sun.

I checked some Sno-Tel sites across Central Idaho last week and yikes! There was still 12 to 40 inches of snow remaining at 7,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation.

We always seem to jump the gun the first time when we have 90-degree temperatures in Boise.

One thing I learned about going into the high country in June is that you may not have crowds, but you sure have the mosquitoes buzzing all over the place.

Early season and wet conditions equal skeeters.

You can never go wrong hiking in the White Clouds in late July, August and September, no matter what the snowpack is like.

When you get into September, pack the 20-degree sleeping bag for extra warmth on those crispy fall nights.

Good hiking.

RATTLESNAKE/DOG CLASS

Q: Do you happen to know how I go about signing up for a rattlesnake abatement class for my dog?

I'm not having much luck finding one.

KYM HILLS, email

A: The traditional rattlesnake-proofing clinic held in Boise by the Snake River Versatile Gun Dog is usually around the first or second weekend in August at Veterans Park.

However, we got word another club is conducting one earlier.

The Idaho Chukar Foundation is planning one from 8 a.m. to noon June 15 at the Julia Davis Park No. 2 Shelter in Boise.

It's a benefit for the foundation and the Idaho Humane Society.

Cost is $50 per dog. A second dog owned by the same family may be added for $40, and any additional dogs are $30.

For online registration go to http://bit.ly/10v1rHv.

You can also call 608-0833 or email idahochukarfoundation@hotmail.com.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

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