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Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls

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Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 10:07AM

I have a reservervation for Olmstead point trailhead for our first backpacking trip in Yosemite. We are excited. I will be hiking with my 12yo. We will go 3 days with a late start on Day 1 ... about 2pm. On day 3 we need to be picked up in Yosemite Valley in the afternoon. I figure we will join with the snow creek trail and make our way over to come out at yosemite falls trailhead.

Is this a good plan for that amount of time? From the map it looks like we could go up the trail to sunrise and come down that way, but maybe that is frowned upon???

This looks like a great forum. Thanks in advance.
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 10:34AM
If you have an Olmstead Point permit then you have to go in there. You can't switch to a different trailhead without changing your permit. When you pick up your permit ask if a change is possible.

The trip from Olmstead to the valley floor via Yosemite Falls is a great route and not very heavily traveled. Take the leg that goes to North Dome and try to spend a night on North Dome. Anyway the whole route from Olmstead to the valley floor is about 15 miles and you should be able to it easily in three days. Mostly down. Keep your water topped off at two liters per person then you can pitch wherever you want without worries.

I'm not sure what you mean by "sunrise".

Old Dude
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 12:40PM
Uh, Mike...

That's quite a bit more like 2 days... with a 12 year old. Also, it's more like 18+ miles from Olmsted down to the valley floor. Perhaps you would like to reconsider your response..

Also, I think that he means hiking up the trail section from Olmsted to Tenaya and going down into Little Yosemite Valley past Sunrise Lakes. Strictly speaking, that's OK.

Brian, that actually might be your best option for your time frame if you can't change your trailhead entry point. What I would really recommend, though, is getting your trailhead entry changed to Porcupine Creek. Day 1: follow the trail down Lehamite Creek and camp near the trail intersection coming over from North Dome. (There is a real nice spot near the creek if you head east from the trail intersection and go south about 50 yards into the woods right before you drop down to cross the creek). Day 2: go over to the upper fall and up Yosemite Creek about a mile (go past the trail intersection going out toward Eagle Peak Meadows) - there are some good camping spots along the creek there. Last day: Yosemite Falls Trail down to the valley. This will only cover about 11-12 miles and give you ample time to do things like detours to Yosemite Point on Day 2 and down to the upper fall viewpoint on either Day 2 0r 3. (Does that thing have a name? Anybody?)
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 02:20PM
You are correct about the distance. I left out the North Dome leg and had them going down the Lehamite Creek trail.

Brian states this their Yosemite trip so I'm assuming they have some experience. I'll stick with the recommendation for Olmstead point to the valley floor via North Dome. Twelve year old kids are tougher than you guys are giving them credit for so long as they don't have all their worldly possessions in their pack.

Day one: Olmstead to Snow Creek. <6 miles mostly down
Day two: Snow Creek to North Dome. 5 miles with about 1200' up but not severe and then 600' down to North Dome
Day three: North Dome to the valley floor. 7 miles basically 3500' down.

Even at 1.5mph day one is 4 hours, day two is 3.5 hours, and day 4 is 5 hours of trail time. This is plenty of time. Also starting at Olmstead will give views into Tenaya Canyon on the way to Snow Creek.

Old Dude
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 10:50AM
He means Sunrise Trailhead. Def. frowned upon.
No idea what they would do to you... but don't do it.

Anyone got any stories of schmos without permits and what happens?
Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 12:57PM
I am new to backpacking yosemite and the trailhead quota system, but I appreciate what they are trying to do. I meant hike from my reserved spot, olmstead point, to sunrise lakes and then back down to yosemite valley. The only map I have so far (I ordered a better map) shows a trail from olmstead to sunrise lakes. However, this trail looks like it passes through the sunrise trailhead so that is why I think it is probably frowned upon.
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 01:37PM

Technically, you can enter at Olmstead where your permit requires you to and simply go east instead of west and pick up the Sunrise trail at Tenaya. Once you enter your permit trailhead you are free to actually go wherever you wish provided you do not come back out to Tioga Road. If you come back out to the road you have used up your permit and require a new one to re-enter any other trailhead. Going east from Olmstead will intersect the Sunrise trail .2 mile in from the actual Sunrise trailhead so I think you should be O.K. If anybody else thinks this is stretching interpretation too much then perhaps the next paragraph is appropriate.

Just to cover yourself I suggest you inquire about this at the permit station when you pick up your permit and bear cannister. They might modify your trail plans on paper so you will not have to do any fancy explaining if spot checked by a ranger on the Sunrise trail. Who knows; they may even be able to change your entry point to Sunrise trailhead and eliminate a couple miles of walking from Olmstead unless you want to hike that section. The permit stations use the National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps which clearly show the intersection .2 mile in from the trailhead. Whether or not that is far enough in may be their call to make. When in doubt just ask them. You may also be able to get this question resolved over the advanced resevation phone line.

avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 12:58PM
Anyone got any stories of schmos without permits and what happens?

The enforcer takes care of them:

avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 02:03PM
I think you are really stretching it.. which is why I said you probably shouldn't do it.
It's really not keeping in line with what the quota system is for.
Sunrise is one of the most popular TH in the park... I highly doubt they will be ok with it...
(what's to say I just start at Sunrise? "I hiked from Olmsted, really, seriously, no I'm
not lying... ok I'm lying"winking smiley
For 12 year old for sure Olmsted to Sunrise and out in that timeframe is not advisable IMO

Lens right.. take Porcupine Creek. Or do something easier.
Is this the first time ever? or first time in Yosemite? What has your son done before?
etc. etc...
There are a number of other trips you can take that would be easier.
or ... take another day and do the Olmsted..one.. It's all great... it won't matter too
much what trail you pick...
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 02:07PM
When you reserve your permit usually they ask for where you are camping the first night. Better stick with that to stay out of trouble.
Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 05:06PM
Thanks a lot for all the advice! I will not do the Sunrise loop. I see all of your points and agree that it is not in line with the purpose of the quota system. Besides, sounds like my original plan will be a good one. Mike and Len, I think I will stick with the Olmstead trailhead and follow the itinerary Mike laid out. I want it to be challenging but rewarding. I have been backpacking before but it will be a first for my kid. I think we'll be able to hit yosemite point and the upper falls view from what I can see on the map.
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 06:59PM
I want it to be challenging but rewarding. I have been backpacking before but it will be a first for my kid.

How about not discouraging? It really seems to me that you are going to be way outside the comfort envelope for your son's first trip. Primarily, you want him to enjoy it so he will do more. No matter what you do, it will be rewarding.

As Dale said, there are a lot of questions unanswered that prevent us from giving an intelligent answer to your original questions (which is why I strongly disagree with Mike's "no problem" answer). How about your backpacking experience? How many times? Where? What has your son been doing to prepare? He's not going to do that hike in the time frame allotted if he has basically never carried a full pack around for a couple days. I would be a bit less concerned if your son was 14 instead of 12; from my experience with kids that age, the extra 2 years makes a tremendous difference. Maybe your son is big and strong for his age.

The Porcupine Creek trailhead can be a bailout point if you find that you are way behind in your schedule. When you hit the trail intersection going to that trailhead, you can decide if you want to bail or not. You should have some sort of understanding with the people that you would meet down in the valley to meet you there if you are not down in the valley by a specific time. Also, at that intersection you may want to decide to cut 3 miles and a reasonable climb off your route by going down Lehamite Creek rather than over toward North Dome. I looked closer at the map milages, and if you do the Lehamite Creek route it is nominally 17.3 miles from Olmsted down to the valley. Going past North Dome, it would be 20.2 miles (add another 1.0 mile if you take the spur trail to the top of ND).

At this point, I still strongly recommend starting at the Porcupine Creek trailhead and going down Lehamite rather than over to ND.

Final note: hiking the Yosemite backcountry (even the near backcountry) is not like a "Sunday in the Park with George."

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2009 07:06PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 08:12PM

I think Len has some valid points regarding first time backpacking in Yosemite but if you plan the route carefully, pace yourselves, and stay well hydrated you should be O.K. I know you are getting a late start but if you can knock off the first 5.4 miles the first day that will put you at that first trail intersection near Mt. Watkins. A very short ways after that intersection is a creek crossing for water resupply. After that you have 15.8 miles remaining (including the North Dome leg). That's 7.9 miles per day average for the 2nd and 3rd days, not too difficult considering the amount of daylight available. That should allow ample rest/photo stops along the way without killing yourselves.

Len's point about leaving Porcupine Flat on Tioga Road as a bail-out back-up plan is worth keeping in mind if by some remote chance your son is not up to it. Lot's of people start in Yosemite with small day hikes to get the feel of it. Many of us are basically flat landers or at least low elevation people who normally have limited respect for what it's like to carry a backpack load 8,000' above sea level in the heat until we're actually doing it. I've been there before where I always had limited time on the trails preceded by a very long drive and/or trying to squease as much goodness as possible out of a brief weekend. You don't get many miles along the trail before you realize every muscle in your body is being denied the amount of oxygen it's accustomed to and it requires a lot more water than you are accustomed to drinking. Your son will be discovering all this for the first time along with the fantastic scenary. Make sure he is not carrying any more weight than absolutely necessary.

Have a great trip.

Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
May 07, 2009 11:19PM
Thanks for the info guys. I'm sorry that I haven't mentioned it is my daughter, not my son.

Len, the last time I backpacked was two years ago in the Uintas. Before that I have been to the Uintas twice and the Wind rivers once (all these trips were 30 miles plus) but it has been several years. I think I have the respect for altitude and a full pack that Jim mentioned, but I know the selective memory kicks in when planning for a trip like thiswinking smiley This year I will be investing in some real nice gear under the advice of a neurotic brother-in-law who I would classify as an elite or close to. He does 50 milers every year. So I should be fairly light on this trip.

I am seriously reading your comments. I have been looking at the trail descriptions on nps.gov and can see that your mileage is correct, easily 20+ miles including north dome. I think I can make it, but we'll have to see with my daughter... We are going to do a big day hike (10 miles) plus an overnighter with full packs to get ready. After that I'll have to decide. If she struggles, I think porcupine creek is definately the option for us based on your info. Also, thanks for the tips on the specific camping spots. If we stick with Olmstead, sounds like Day 2 will be the key for us ... if doing well, go for north dome, if not, lehamite creek. If really struggling, bail out at porcupine creek trailhead next day. That is a good backup plan that I wouldn't have thought of, thanks.

Oh, by the way we have some extra motivation, as we are being dropped off on the way to visit in-laws, so this trip gets us out of 3 days of visiting in-laws winking smiley
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
July 10, 2009 11:41AM
Sure would like to know if this occurred or not and what the outcome was...

Why is it that no-one (or hardly anyone) posts anything other than "where can I take a shower?".
No trip reports...

My discouragement needles is at about 9.
(and the in-laws are in town... can't wait until NEXT Friday when can go back into the woods!)
Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
July 12, 2009 12:38AM
Yes this occurred June 17-19. Sorry about no report ... until now (better late than never). We had a tremendous trip. Will be the highlight of summer for me. Good weather ... no rain. The first day was in the 60s and overcast...great for hiking. Our progress went pretty much as planned. Camped first night about a 1/4 mile before the footbridge on snow creek. Day 2 went up and around to indian rock and North Dome. Then proceeded toward yosemite falls. Camped about a half mile before coming out to the rim (past lehamite and canyon creeks). We got an early start day 3 to make it out to meet our ride. We were well on our way down the yosemite falls trail and I thought we might make it out by 12 or 1, but it took a lot longer. That is a long way down! What a hike that would be going up. Wow, hundreds of switchbacks. My daughter did great ... she only struggled a bit towards the end of our descent (we both did). I carried her pack about the last half mile. We had no trouble finding great campsites.

Highlights for me were: Olmstead point to snow creek leg was great. We did not see a another person. Much of the first couple miles was across granite slabs ... a little hard to follow but adventurous. Looking over tenaya canyon was beautiful. North dome was awesome. As I took pictures of the valley and half dome with my point and shoot camera and then reviewed them, I was thinking this just doesn't capture the vastness and grandeur of this place. The whole thing was very scenic. Can't wait to go again next year.

avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
July 12, 2009 07:26AM
A big Thank you! Appreciate the pictures and report. Very nice.

Hope you have many more memorable trips with your daughter.
avatar Re: Olmstead point to yosemite falls
July 12, 2009 07:43AM
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