Unseasonably warm weather leaves Bridger-Teton roads and trails wet and unpassable
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
February 16, 2014
With unseasonably warm weather across the Bridger-Teton National Forest, officials are urging recreationists to be cautious and not travel soggy, slushy roadways as it is damaging to the roads and could leave motorists stranded and unable to get out.
"We have trail groomers stuck on trails, snowmobiles stuck on snow all across the Forest," said Jackson District Ranger Dale Deiter. "It is critical that people use good judgement and are cautious when making decisions about how to access the Forest after the rain and the above freezing temperatures.
With ongoing winter storm warnings, avalanche warnings, and the warm temperature changes, visitors to the Bridger-Teton need to understand the capabilities of their vehicles and that road conditions change as the weather changes. "Just because a roadway was frozen solid when you traversed it in the morning doesn't mean you will be able to get out by that route by midday," said Deiter. "Many of the roads, like Fall Creek, Cache Creek and Granite Creek are dirt roads and the larger your vehicle, or the larger your tires, can mean you will do more damage to the soggy roadway or that you will throw more mud and get stuck in ruts," he said.
Visitors to the Bridger-Teton should also be aware of additional hazards such as ice dams, washed out roads and trails, and flash flooding. "When choosing to come to the Forest whether for walking your dog or an all day adventure, you need to be responsible for yourself and make sure you check weather conditions, and the local avalanche rating for the area," Deiter said. "We have a large slide today up Granite Creek which has left 15-feet of debris across the roadway," he said. "While we are still unclear if it is natural or human triggered, we don't believe we have any victims associated with this slide at this time," Deiter said. "Granite Creek isn't an area people typically associate with avalanches and it just goes to show you that even when you think you are below avalanche terrain, it is still a good idea to have a transceiver on, and with you as the snowpack can be very unstable," he said.
Until the temperatures drop or more of the moisture dissipates, conditions are not anticipated to improve any time soon. "We can close the roads, or allow people use their discretion in choosing which roads and trails to utilize during this rain and melt off," Deiter said. "The Forest winter patrollers who normally are able to plow on their way into a trailhead as they begin their rounds were unable to do that all weekend because the snow was too deep and too wet," Deiter said. "The slush on the roads absolutely overwhelmed the capability of the trucks and the plows that we have on the Forest and we were unable to patrol many of the areas we typically access this time of year," he said.
The Forest hasn't officially closed any roads or trails yet, but that could change if recreationists continue to travel the routes in these unsafe conditions and continue to damage the surfaces below. "The best advice we can give people right now is to not drive into deep puddles and to park on paved, frozen or compacted surfaces," said Deiter.