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
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.