Well, I talked to the Rangers at the Evanston Ranger Station, and word on the street is that it's been pretty wet; the snow up above around 11,000 has not really melted much. This is... not what I was hoping for. Although my trip is still 2½ weeks away, if I don't have 2½ weeks of warm weather, I'm not going to be crossing any high passes without an ice ax and crampons (neither of which I have, and neither of which I want.) So I'm probably going to need a Plan B that I can plug in as an alternate just in case I need to invoke it due to trail and snow and weather conditions. I'll be crossing too many high passes and see too many frozen lakes otherwise, which isn't really what I had in mind. Again; I'm pretty ticked off with how my schedule kind of forced this trip to be this early this year. Oh, well. It is what it is, and so Plan B--in case I need it--here's a first stab at it.
MONDAY: Still go to Bear River camp. If Bald Mountain is all snowy, then I'll just hike around the area instead. Heck, maybe I'll even spend the night inward a bit; go up to Ibantek Lake or something. Either way, this isn't meant to be a tough day; it's more a show up and start getting acclimated day. If there remains too much snow on Bald, then I'll have to pass up climbing it, though. Not happy about that, but it is what it is, right?
TUESDAY: I can take Alex to Naturalist. I didn't really see as much of it as I'd like, and he's never seen it at all, of course. If I hike in on Tuesday and set up camp up near Faxon Lake--after coming in from wherever I set up camp on Monday night, that's probably a big enough jaunt for this day. I don't know how much time I'll have to explore afterwards, but I don't want to overdo it. I'll probably still be adjusting.
WEDNESDAY: Explore Naturalist Basin, especially up on the bench. Explore the entire bench, in fact; from the southeastern edge beyond Shaler Lake all the way to the far edge beyond Blue Lake. Maybe I can find a good way to get up on the ridge that separates Naturalist from Middle, based on snow conditions. Spend another night in Naturalist.
THURSDAY: Hmm... options here. The south side of the main ridge will probably have less snow than the north side, but the north side has more stuff that I want to see. I'll have to have checked in with the rangers before doing this already, and see what kinds of availability there is with regards to passes. I'd like to get over Rocky Sea pass into the Rock Creek basin and basically do Peter Potterfield's trip (the trip that I had in mind for last year, but which I cut short without doing all of it, sadly.) But crossing the pass might be difficult. So, let's make crossing Rocky Sea Pass a Plan C rather than a Plan B. Rather, Plan B has me hiking back out to the car and driving to Christmas Meadows. But I'm a little unsure of the timing. I don't want to have to hike all the way back to the Highline Trailhead, drive to Christmas Meadows and then hike all the way to West Basin, Middle Basin or Amethyst Basin if that means way too much hoofing it in terms of mileage. I might need to find a place to camp on the way.
FRIDAY: West and Middle Basins.
SATURDAY: More of Middle Basin. Camp up near Ryder, or one of the smaller BR lakes nearby.
SUNDAY: Hike out and drive to West Fork Blacks Fork TH. Hike up towards Deadhorse Lake.
MONDAY: Can't take too long, but explore the Dead Horse area and then head back to the car.
As you can see, this is a much less aggressive trip. In fact, in some ways, I wonder if it's not a better idea for us even if we don't have snow issues specifically because of that. Hmm..