Mt. Dickerman

Mt. Dickerman is one of my favorite November hikes. Often I've had the first snow of the season. It gets deeper the higher you go. The summit can be down right alpine while the trailhead is snow free. Last year we had so much new snow that even 5 of us on snowshoes could not make much headway with a mile to go. This year we had huge floods the week before which scoured out the small amount of early season snow. With just a few days of new snow I expected there would be snow but less than last year. The snow level was at 2500' the year before but we found about 6 inches in the 1900' parking lot. This year it was exactly the same forecast and about 3" in the lot.

Suzanne, Bob, and Kolleen were along this year. We were ready to hit the trail just before 9:00 am. There were two other cars in the lot and one group headed out as we arrived. The snow was light at first and slowly deepened. We made good time on the many switchbacks. We caught up with two hikers a lttle before the two mile mark. They had no snowshoes. We stopped for a break at the big rock on the long leftward traverse. Soon after we put on our snowshoes. This was at about 3800' The snow was now at least a foot deep.

As we came out of the forest the snow instantly deepened. It was so unconsolidated that each step compressed the snow almost down to the dirt. We still had the prints from the hiker till ahead of us. The creek crossing was a good sized drop down and climb back up. The winter route was not an option with the deep unconsolidated snow. We made the sharp left turn and the going got much tougher. Now it was really deep.

We did not stay low on the summer trail though it was no longer obvious. Our uphill traverse did gain elevation at a good clip. The footprints soon ended. We had met the lone hiker earlier. He made it a long way with no snowshoes and no help. He was done for the day and chose not to follow in our deep trench. I did not acurately guess our position but Suzanne did. By now Sadie the dog was really getting snowballs stuck in her fur. We figured how to get back on route but there was no way we would make the summit in waist deep snow.

The ridge was not far above us as we made it to 4800', just 900' from the summit. Our steeper short cut brought us to only about 100' below where we turned around last year. I thought with the floods a week earlier taking away all the snow that there would not be enough new snow to keep us from reaching the summit. Unfortunately there was. I have reached the summit in a number of Novembers in lots of snow. The last two years have had the deepest unconsolidated snow I have ever seen. Still it was a fun day in the mountains.

The trees were flocked with fresh and heavy snow. It snowed a little but not too much. We had a little rain but only near the bottom. Carrying snowshoes was the right decision but even they did not let us make much headway high up. We passed a couple near the bottom who asked if there was much snow? They did not seem to comprehend the thought of a waist deep trench. This makes my third straight attempt on Dickerman that ended short of the summit. I may have to come back in the summer to see what the summit looks like again.