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Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

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Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 10, 2009 04:47AM
Hi, I'm hoping to do a solo trip this weekend somewhere where there is granite and fast flowing water.

My preference is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, starting from the White Wolf trailhead (see likely trail here). Unfortunately, page four of the Trailheads Report seems to be broken (page three is fine, but I get a blank page for the next page).

So I've got a few questions:
  1. Anyone know how the water is flowing? Last year in June I was deterred when they told me the streams were still too high to ford, so I'm curious whether we're still in the sweet spot after the level is safe but before the falls have died down; and
  2. I'm going to call later today about wilderness passes, but I'm curious if anyone has used other trailheads for this trip, in case White Wolf is full on the 11th.
  3. Oh, yeah: I hate carrying a tent when I'm solo -- I haven't gotten around to getting a ultralight solo tent yet -- so how are the mosquitoes on this route?
  4. Finally, if I can't get into Tuolumne, any other last minute suggestions? I'm looking for a moderate 25 miler or so, loop or with a public transit shuttle option (I'm solo, and heading in on a motorcycle).
Thanks, all.
--
Richard



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2009 05:39AM by MrRedwood.
avatar Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 10, 2009 07:07AM
I've always preferred that hike heading downriver from Tuolumne: Glen Aulin Passthrough permit. (Rather than the long, continuous slog uphill following the river, I prefer doing the elevation gain quickly.)

Note re. public transportation access: you generally can easily hitchhike back to your entry trailhead or, failing that, contract with one of the White Wolf or Tuolumne Meadows staff to drive you back.

You will probably make the acquaintance of several rattlers along the entire GCT section, but be especially vigilent in Pate Valley.
avatar Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 10, 2009 07:13AM
Say hello for me. They won't bother you if you don't bother them.
(quickly becoming my #2 pet peeve)
(the S word is up there too)

I've always told people to hike upstream... I wanna face the waterfalls...

I would guess you'll be able to get a solo permit. Alot of people probably
think the entire park is engulfed in flames.
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 10, 2009 02:20PM
I'm mostly ambivalent about whether I go east or west. Yeah, the west-to-east route has more uphill, but after thirty-plus years of backpacking, I've long since decided that going uphill is often easier than going downhill. And overall the elevation change is only 750 feet or so, I believe.

The crucial factor is the YARTS schedule. If I camp near or inside the park boundary (or even just get up and start out very early from San Francisco) I can be at Tuolumne Meadows in time to drop off my motorcycle at the exiting trailhead, hop on the 9am YARTS shuttle back to White Wolf and be on the trail at about 10am, heading back to the vehicle. That way when I get done, I don't need to stress about timing for a shuttle, or wondering whether I'll be able to catch a ride hitchhiking. And if I get off the trail early enough in the day, I can even hit the showers at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge (I believe they close at 3pm).

The biggest flaw in the plan would be if I decide to do a loop, instead. If I'm moving faster than expected, I'd consider turning around at Glen Aulin and heading back to White Wolf by way of Ten Lakes. Unfortunately, the eastwards shuttle is awkwardly timed, getting back to Tuolumne Meadows at about 7pm — a bit late for the ride back to San Francisco. But in that case, I could spend some time trying to hitchhike with the shuttle as a fallback.



Actually, I just checked the fire news and realized that the smaller fire is near/west-of Hardin Lake, which very close to my path out of White Wolf. [...] Hmm, on 7/1 the InciWeb closure map stated that Pate Valley trails were closed, but the incident report itself states "There is an alternate route to Pate Valley from White Wolf, which bypasses the Harden Lake area."

I sent an email asking for clarification.

[UPDATE: Well, that didn't work. The press releases provide an email address, but I couldn't find a variation that worked. Not: yosefireinformation@nps.gov, yose_fire_information@nps.gov or yose-fire-information@nps.gov. Hmmm.]

Still, heavy smoke in the valley might warrant a change of plans...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2009 02:27PM by MrRedwood.
avatar Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 10, 2009 03:43PM
The trail that bypasses Harden is about one mile to the east of the trail that follows the old road from WW to Harden. Coming up from Pate Valley you would that the left turn at the junction that is about one mile up the valley from Morrison Creek. After about 700 feel elevation gain another junction will steer you to either White Wolf/Lukins Lake, another left turn, or to Harden. Don't go to Harden. Follow that trail for about 2.5 miles and the next junction will definitely be White Wolf or Lukins Lake.

Does the shuttle go into White Wolf proper or does it only make the stop on 120 at the White Wolf road intersection?



Old Dude
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 10, 2009 03:56PM
The route goes all the way to White Wolf Lodge, according to both the map and the schedule. The lodge is a scheduled stop.
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 25, 2009 02:56PM
It was a great trip. I turned it into a fifty-miler (50-at-50, since this also "celebrated" my fiftieth birthday earlier in July), also the return side of the loop being the Ten Lakes trail. Took four days, although I was pushing my limits the first two.

As a solo hiker starting on a Sunday, I probably could have gotten onto any trail in the park, so where I started wasn't about that.

I wanted to go *up* the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne for several reasons:
(a) I thought it be nice seeing the waterfalls later, as a reward for the earlier tough sections. And approaching from below presents them better; you see them in the distance (sometimes), then get closer, then at the bottom you get the full impact of the thunder.
(b) I could do the nasty 3500-foot incline at the west end going down, which is my mild preference. My knees were trembling by the bottom, but that is a lesser evil than having my muscles turned to jelly with miles still to go.

I also wanted to do the Grand Canyon part *first*, since one nice aspect of this loop is that in case of injury, exhaustion, equipment malfunction, etc., it is easy to bug out half way. When I got to Glen Aulin I could have hiked out to Tuolumne Meadows and left it at a thirty-miler instead of doing the Ten Lakes return. Nice escape clause.

The nastiest mosquito section to me was halfway through Ten Lakes, when alongside the South Fork of Cathedral Creek. Everywhere else they were only mildly annoying at worst, although the very slow portion of the Tuolumne just below Glen Aulin seemed like it could have gotten pretty bad, but I did it shortly after dawn. I'm one of those folks that tries to wake up at dawn and hit the trail as soon as possible while the morning air is still crisp and fresh, then have breakfast a few miles later when the day has gotten warm enough that it's time to switch layers anyway. By that time I was in Glen Aulin, making breakfast at their fire circle.

Excellent trip, and I can strongly recommend that loop. It's only real downside is that the first and last miles, next to White Wolf, are by far the most boring part of the hike.

I'm planning on doing a photo-and-geotagged trip report; if I do I'll post a link here.
--
Richard
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 19, 2009 10:35AM
Hey there,
I just finished the full loop(ww to glen aulin through pate valley-back to ww through ten lakes). we started the trip on the 1st and finished on the 9th(we took our time). July 1st was the first day of trail closure due to fire. at that point, rangers said the fire was not contained, but didn't seem too worried and it did not affect air quality(that i noticed). Per your questions:
1)the water was plentiful at that point, but not impassible. Some snow/washed out trail on the ten lakes side.
2)ww seems to be the less popular entry point. i would think the odds are better of starting there.
3)the mosquitos are not bad near the river(too hot?). they are terrible past glen aulin.
4)and if it doesn't work out, try desolation wilderness. start at loon lake and head toward rubicon reservoir. the trail is hard(road of giant granite chunks), but the lakes are pristine. and few people!
good luck
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 03:34AM
Trip report done as a Picasaweb photo album. See the photo album here, or see the pictures spread across a Google map here.

Comments on the photos are enthusiastically welcome -- it's always nice to see that people are at least looking at the results of all that effort!
--
Richard
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 11:32AM
Wow! Your photos are great and the descriptions are amazing--I feel like I was there. My favorite photo is #75--the trail through the trees going to the lake. It really draws you in. Thanks for sharing.
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 04:58PM
Quote
photohiker
Wow! Your photos are great and the descriptions are amazing--I feel like I was there. My favorite photo is #75--the trail through the trees going to the lake. It really draws you in. Thanks for sharing.

Actually, that trail was muddy enough it really did draw you in... or, rather, down.
avatar Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 01:31PM
Richard,

What are the structures on the cliff side in photo # 15? Or am I seeing things that are not really there?

Jim
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 04:56PM
Quote
tomdisco
Richard,

What are the structures on the cliff side in photo # 15? Or am I seeing things that are not really there?

Jim

You're imagining things. :-) If you zoom in it is more apparent -- just a jumble of stains from minerals and lichen.
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 04:59PM
Actually, when I encouraged comments on the photos, I actually meant on the photo's pages -- there's room for comments down at the bottom. But here's okay, too....
avatar Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 05:51PM
Quote
MrRedwood
Quote
tomdisco
Richard,

What are the structures on the cliff side in photo # 15? Or am I seeing things that are not really there?

Jim

You're imagining things. :-) If you zoom in it is more apparent -- just a jumble of stains from minerals and lichen.

LOL; we older folks have lots of practice imagining things. This one got me good because I missed the zoom button. From a distance they looked too rectangular to be natural but mother nature likes to have fun with us, well,-------me anyway.

Jim
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 29, 2009 06:10PM
I suspect most folks are using the slideshow option, which means they miss all the advanced options on the regular page, such as zoom, show in Google Maps, and the "I like this" and Comment portions.

The integration with Google Maps is pretty cool -- you can see thumbnails of all the photos laid out against the map, and click through them in sequence. You can also look at them in Google Earth, but I understand you can do even cooler things by building the trip inside Google Earth -- actually having the viewer "fly" your track, stopping to show the photos with the Google Earth view tilted and rotated to mimic what you were facing when you took that shot. I'm going to investigate that.

The individual photo pages are also where the geotags are visible, although you have to click "more info" under "Photo information" to see the data. I created a parallel Picasaweb album just for the potential camp sites I spotted along the trail, so someone could use the Lat/Long to plan their trip (or simply add those sites as POIs in a GPS unit, I guess).
--
Richard
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 30, 2009 03:11PM
Richard,

Those are excellent photos. They make me want to get out there.

It's a good thing you went when you did! There is a fire in the area now.

http://www.uniondemocrat.com/2009073097399/News/Local-News/Fire-ignited-in-Yosemite
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 30, 2009 03:37PM
Wow -- that is lucky, since the Hardin Lake fire was fully contained the day I started my trip. Of course, even when that one was going it didn't close off the canyon.

Well, you know the lyrics... iron wants to rust and wood wants to burn.
--
Richard
Re: Waterfall trip up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
July 31, 2009 02:20PM
Portions of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River trail are now closed, due to the Wildcat
Fire. It's now > 300 acres.

So, Richard, you were even luckier than you think!

http://www.uniondemocrat.com/2009073197412/News/Local-News/Wildfire-continues-to-burn-in-Yosemite
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