The coldest winter I even saw was a spring in the Eastern Sierra

Where: At our summer job at Rock Creek Lakes Resort in the snowy Eastern Sierra.

Thanks to some sort of glitch in the Matrix, when you look up East Fork Campground, which is just down the road from the resort, the resort phone number is listed rather than the correct one. We’re used to answering the phone with “Rock Creek Lakes Resort, this is Rayn, may I help you?” and getting a bewildered “Um, is this the campground?” This week, we really had a couple funny interactions when we got phone calls from some folks who might lack some attention to detail, and who were actually looking for the East Fork Campground in Ohio. (Were they not curious about dialing an area code they’ve never heard of?) My boss fielded one that got really comical before she figured out what was going on, in which she was explaining to a very incredulous man that no, it wasn’t open yet, due to the 3 feet of snow still on the ground. “Snow?!!”, he snorted, “What do you mean snow?!” This is the time of year that you can safely assume a lack of the white stuff in certain parts of the county, but the high Sierra is still a white blanket. Yes, Virginia, there really is such thing as the Pineapple Express, and it was a constant force in this area of California from the beginning of January til just about 2 weeks ago, and it’s going to be a long time until it all melts out. There is approximately one bazillion metric tons of snow here.

We started work last Wednesday, and had quite the culture shock coming up to the cold. Daytime highs were running about mid-40s, and in the 20s at night. The snow around the property is definitely better than in the height of the storms, when about 20 feet was on the ground, but it’s still way more than I ever saw from even the biggest blizzards in Ohio. The owner’s friend came up with a front loader last week and cleared most of the parking lot, and the road to the rental cabins. There is a ring of 15 foot high snow mounds around the cleared areas, and it makes getting around a little interesting. There’s a maze of shoveled paths to get around the outside areas, and every day is an adventure, when you test out the snow to see what’s melted. We’ll be shuffling along atop a couple feet of snow, and suddenly fall knee deep in a weak area.

JJ demos the enormous pile of snow that slid onto the sidewalk behind the resort.  This falls into the category of something we’re not going to work on right now:

Snow mazes:

This is where we usually park the RV.  It’s going to be a while until we can get in:

The recreation options are pretty much limited to winter activities for now, much to consternation of folks who are ready for some summer fun. The lake is still frozen, with just a few hundred feet of open shoreline, and you have to park a ways away and walk the unplowed road to get to those areas. The pack station (for trail rides) above us is still all shuttered, and the one lane road that leads to the main trailheads for the canyon is under about 6 feet of snow. It’s not plowed, so it’s going to be a long time before it melts out enough for cars to get through.

This wall of snow is the turn off to the boat launch area:

Not much open shoreline:

Not that you can take the trailhead anyway, but I hope you don’t need the potty right next to it:

The road to the trailheads:

All this snow is also complicating the opening process for the resort. Several of the trailers used for employee housing were damaged beyond repair, and new ones are on order. Many of the rental cabins had enormous snowpiles on their porches that prevented us from getting in until we shoveled, which was about an hour long process for two people. The resort roof had to shoveled off before we could remove the braces from inside the building. A friend came out with a jackhammer to clear one particularly stubborn icy area to make a walkway. Nothing is easy right now.

Such a contradiction between this view….

…and what we were tackling at ground level:

Another one in the category of a project for later:

The last couple days have really changed, and this area is seeing unseasonably high temperatures. I was able to lay out and tan yesterday on a high and dry flat rock, and I got really hot! With this sudden increase, the ground is just saturated with snowmelt, and everywhere you walk is a sea of mud. And with how much snow is still sitting around, it’s going to be a long time before anything can dry out. The real danger in the next month is for the communities downstream….there’s going to be a lot of flooding in California until the majority of the snowpack is gone.

This weekend will be a partial opening, with just the store and a few cabins open. The other employees will arrive in the first week of June, and then we’ll get the cafe going. I’m guessing that the beginning of July will be the real start of summer, when everything is finally open, and the snow will be gone from the upper campgrounds and the trails.


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