You’ll need to revise your plans if you were thinking of using the historic Pear Lake Winter Hut high in the Sierra Mountains this winter for some backcountry skiing.
“Due to ongoing impacts from the KNP Complex Wildfire and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pear Lake Winter Hut will remain closed for the 2022/2023 season,” explained Sequoia Parks Conservancy, the official 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Take heart, however, if you love skiing in the mountains of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
“Only the hut itself is closed. With the proper wilderness permits, visitors can still go out and experience the Pear Lake basin this winter,” Sequoia Parks Conservancy told TravelAwaits in a statement. “Visitors will have to snow camp as an alternative.”
The Pear Lake Winter Hut
The historic Pear Lake Winter Hut, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1939 and 1941, is a Sequoia National Park ranger station in the summer. Reaching the hut in the winter takes a fair amount of effort.
The trek begins at Wolverton, where the elevation is 7,200 feet. Reaching the hut then requires gaining another 9,200 feet of elevation over six miles.
“The trip to the hut is for experienced backcountry skiers or snowshoers under potentially dangerous winter conditions,” Sequoia Parks Conservancy explained.
While the hut is a welcome respite, it is rustic. So, although it does have 10 bunks with mattresses, a wood pellet heating stove with fuel, a composting toilet, and Coleman cookstoves, skiers will need to bring their own sleeping bag rated for freezing temperatures, propane fuel and matches, water purification equipment, food, clothes, and personal gear.
The KNP Complex Wildfire
On September 9, 2021, lightning strikes from a thunderstorm ignited what were soon named the Cabin, Colony, and Paradise Fires. Although the 1.25-acre Cabin Fire was quickly contained, the Colony and Paradise fires quickly spread, then merged into one large fire on September 17, 2021, referred to as the KNP Complex, according to the National Park Service.
After significant precipitation occurred across the Sierra Nevada, the KNP Complex was declared 100 percent contained on December 16, 2021. Altogether, the fire burned 88,307 acres.
It’s estimated that somewhere between 1,300 and 2,300 giant sequoias with widths greater than 4 feet were either killed outright or were injured so severely that they will likely die in the next several years, the National Park Service explained.
Sequoia Parks Conservancy has started a fundraising campaign “to rebuild trails, protect sequoia groves and meadows, safeguard cultural and historic features, reestablish access to Crystal Cave, restore wildlife habitat, and more.”
You can learn about donating to help with the recovery effort here.
Know So You Can Still Go
Although the Pear Lake Winter Hut will be closed, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be open for the 2022/2023 winter season. What’s more, visitors will still be able to snowshoe, ski, and cross-country ski.
You can learn more about visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon in the winter here.
Finally, keep in mind that wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips away from designated campgrounds. You can learn more about those permits here.
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