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Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park

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Re: Walk up permit process?

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Walk up permit process?
June 28, 2008 07:28AM
Hi all,
Newb here to Yosemite backpacking although a very experienced backpacker overall.
I am planning a loop through Cold Canyon, past Rodgers Lake, down to Pate Valley, through the GC of the Toulumne and up to Glen Aulin.
I have a permit reserved for Sat 7/19 (which I intend to change to Fri 7/18 no matter what) leaving from White Wolf, but it is now very clear that leaving from Glen Aulin would make the trip quite a bit easier as it White Wolf is 5k ft above Pate valley and Glen Aulin is 1k below Toulumne Meadows.
So, here's the question.
Given that we won't make it up until either late on Thur 7/17 (say 9pm at Toulumne Meadows) or very early on Fri 7/18, what are the chances we could leave on Fri 7/18 with a walk up permit for either Glen Aulin or even better Glen Aulin pass through? I understand that there is no way to know for sure, but any opinions would be appreciated.
Assuming that does not work, how does the walk-up permit work? Is it a simple line or do they do a "lottery" like they do over in the Inyo National Forest? If it is a line, I'll show up well before the place opens and sit around to ensure that I can at least get Glen Aulin pass through for Sat 7/19. If it is a lottery, I'm tempted to simply suffer the extra elevation gain/loss and leave from White Wolf on Fri 7/18.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
June 28, 2008 08:23AM
Its first-come first-served, simple line. people at the "proper" Wilderness Permit center are suppose to get priorty though. (for White Wolf it is Big Oak, for Glen Aulin it is Tuolumne) (I think that is correct)
However, you can get your permit at any station so if there is not a
long line at the closest one there I would stop there. If there is a line then
you may want to just go to the closest ... Sometimes getting a
permit can be quite painful because people haven't done any research,
don't know where they want to go, trails are full, yadda yadda yadda.
There could be 2 people if front of you and it still can take 1/2 hour.

Anyway, the loop you chose is stellar. I would be surprised if you cannot
get the permit for 1 even though it is a Friday for GA Passthru.

Out of Pate is only 3800 ft. smiling smiley

Re: Walk up permit process?
June 28, 2008 09:13AM
Thank you very much for the info. It is very valuable.
I will be at Toulumne Meadows Wilderness Office about an hour before the open on Friday 7/18. If the two of us can't get out that day, we'll wait for Saturday 7/19 for a pass through and spend our day day hiking around the park somewhere and take advantage of the guaranteed (hopefully!) spot in a backpacker's campground that evening.
The simple line makes a huge difference! Basically, that means I am the master of my own fate. If it was the lottery as it is at Inyo, I wouldn't chance it.

Thanks again!

avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
June 28, 2008 12:50PM

I hope that your backpacking experience has included a reasonable amount of mountain hiking with lots of switchbacks.

I ran that loop from Tuolumne Mdws. - Cold Canyon - Rodgers Lake - Pate Valley - Tuolumne Mdws. through TOPO! and found that the elevation gain (and, of course, loss) over the 53+ miles is 17+k.
Re: Walk up permit process?
June 28, 2008 06:53PM
Hi szalkowski,
I have been using a book called "Trekking California" which is published by Backpacker Magazine. I really like the trips they have in it and have modified two trips this year since I got it.
The book claims that the trip is 59.3 miles with +10,790 and -10,790 over the course of the route. I would imagine that if I leave from White Wolf instead of Toulumne Meadows, it would add another 4k both up and down (give or take) to that total. Needless to say, I'm going to do my absolute utmost to get out of Toulumne for Glen Aulin!. If it turns out to be +17k and -17k, I may not like the book so much anymore. . . . . .
In any case, I have been around the block. I grew up in the Seattle area with an avid backpacking father. (His REI Member number is just over 4000 if memory serves!) He had me out backpacking as a child in the Pacific Northwest. Ah, the days of itchy wool everything. . . .
In any case, I've done some very substantial switchbacking and extended trips (up to 11 days) before and have a reasonable idea of what I'm getting myself into.
After it is over, I'll make sure I come back and share my experiences. This sure looks like my kind of place and am very very pleased I ran across it.
Thank you very much for the heads up.

avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
June 28, 2008 09:35PM
Coming down from Rodgers Meadow there is a set of 75 switchbacks with
>2000ft. descent. (from Rodgers it's over 5K down). Anyway, in that
section the trail is overgrown and you will have to do a little bit of
bushwacking. (was there 3 weeks ago)
Just want to give you a heads up. Hiking up it was a pain...

Seriously consider hiking up Volunteer Peak from the Rodgers saddle.
It's about 800ft. up and 1/2 mile but well worth it.
Also, Benson Lake is a special place. Huge sand beach... The Riviera of
the Sierras.... that's 3 1/2 miles (7 total) extra and another 1800 ft. up and down.

Re: Walk up permit process?
June 29, 2008 01:05PM
Hi Bill,
Well, maybe you would be willing to help me "tweak" my plans? I'm very open to input!

7/19 Toulumne to McCabe Lakes
7/20 Matterhorn Canyon (Not sure exactly where to camp, but likely close to the trail junction)
7/21 Matterhorn Canyon (Go up Matterhorn Pass to Horse Creek Pass and possibly summit Matterhorn Peak [conditions permitting])
7/22 Rodgers Lake
7/23 Rodgers Lake (Summit one of the peaks there or perhaps both?)
7/24 Pate Valley
7/25 Waterwheel Falls
7/26 Toulumne Meadows

I actually have another day to spend. Should I spend a night at Benson Lake? That would make for a very short day or could even stay base camped at Rodgers Lake.

Any input from anyone more knowledgeable than myself would be greatly appreciated!


avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
June 29, 2008 04:13PM
I don't know your conditioning but probably your mileage is too much.
to McCabe is around 14 miles..
first 5 are not bad... next 9 are up 2000 ft. so maybe you can do it
- other option is to stay in cold canyon when you hit the "meadow"
(you'll know when u are there) -- that is 10 miles
from McCabe jct. it is another 15 miles just to summit Matterhorn
from Matterhorn to Smedberg is 15 miles..

So.. my suggestion is to go ahead and try to get to Lower McCabe on
day1 and see how it goes. ...
I would skip Matterhorn Peak this time. (Its not too bad a climb from
Burro Pass... but adds alot of miles).. UNLESS you want to go all the
way around .. Mule Pass... Rock Island Pass... Kerrick ... Seavey Pass...
to Benson... um... that's >75 miles...

Unless you are very experienced I don't recommend you plan more than
10 miles a day... so I would recommend you just stay on the PCT...
until Rodgers... hike up Volunteer Pk.... at Rodgers decide if you have
enough time to hit Benson... then follow your original route...
Total of about 55 miles... and plenty of time to do some exploring or
have a layover day if you need it...

Did this trip a couple years ago ... 7 days is a nice timeframe...
Cold Canyon, Matterhorn, Smedberg, Benson, Cascades in GCT,
LeConte Falls, out...


Everything I know I learned from Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Walk up permit process?
June 29, 2008 06:07PM
Hi Bill,
Well, my conditioning is "decent". I had noted that the vertical was relatively minor over the 14 mile first day which was the only reason I had thought it possible.
I was going to summit Matterhorn on a layover day, so it would just be the 10 essentials and enough food for the day. All the heavy stuff would be safely back in our base camp.
I do think you have a very valid point however in that there may be so much to see on the main route that the Matterhorn side trip isn't worth it on this trip. I have seen several trips that focus on that area so it may well be best to leave it for a future trip.
We are both plenty experienced to consider taking on greater mileages. I have done 13 miles in the Canadian Rockies before with quite a bit more vertical (and under almost certainly much worse conditions) than there is on day one here, but again, it wasn't overly pleasant.
Thanks for the advice. I will chew on it and perhaps most importantly, won't get too stuck on a particular plan. We have 9 days to do a 6-7 day hike. Your suggestion has added Benson Lake to the places to see if not spend a full day enjoying.

Thanks again and look for the results in late July!

avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
June 29, 2008 09:49PM
Just one thing needs mention .... the last time we were at Benson...
the log crew... (they cut the logs across the trail)... were schmucks
and were there at the same time... and HAD to have their (they said
they were mine... the goverments... whatever!) mules walk around
untied with COW BELLS on... um... we only spent 1 night there instead
of the planned 2...
Just have to mention that to cover my butt... It really sucks that you
bust your hump to get to such a beautiful place only to be ruined by
that... Not many go to Rodgers.. you will have that to yourself...
(and what a place!) DO NOT miss Volunteer Peak.. I could put a picture
but you really need to see first for yourself.. write your name in the
registery... maybe I'll respond in there later this year.
Save Matterhorn for next time along with Sawtooth Ridge... and definitely
walk down to THE SLIDE... awesome... 1/2 mile of fallen mountain.
Ok... obviously I didn't go this weekend.. ... can't wait until Wed!

Happy Trails
p.s... on the bear can.. I never put mosquito dope in bear can..
never had any issue... You probably only need to worry about bears
at Glen Aulin... and you'll be cruising thru there... until the end of the trip...
Never lost any food or anything to bears in >100 times going (no kidding)
avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
June 30, 2008 09:00AM
He has lost HO HOs or something like that to my daughter though when he was off on a day hike and left his bear can unattended.

Old Dude
avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
July 04, 2008 07:44AM
Happy 4th.. should be in the woods but something came up.
Just got back from Elizabeth-Nelson-Mathes-Budd Lake Loop.

This is what the ranger at Big Oak Flat said:

Big Oak: 8am
Hetch: 7am
Wawona: 8am
Tuolumne: 7:30am
Valley: 7:30am

As I mentioned before the people at the station closest to the trailhead
have priority over walkup permits. So, in theory if you get to the Valley
at 7:30 and want to get Glacier Point permit you have to wait until
8am (wawona opens) to make sure someone at Wawona isn't waiting.
Or likewise, you can't run into HH and snag Sunrise Permits until 7:30.
I know they don't always follow this since when we went GP to Starr King
a few weeks ago the lady at Wawona was not pleased that they never
called her. So, anyway, it's 7:30, not 7 as I thought elsewhere.

On another note: The Ranger also said "you need to have ALL scented
items in your bearcan including mosquito spray at ALL times unless you
are using them". You all can giggle at that one... ok... you can get
back on your chair..

On last thing: The Mosquitos above 9500ft were BRUTAL. Even at 11000ft
there were 100's flying around us. On the bright side coming out of
Budd Lake around 9000 they were non existent all the way to Tuolmne
Meadows. Saw none at our car at Eliz Lake trailhead. So it looks like
a light year but they got us good.

Have fun.
Re: Walk up permit process?
July 11, 2008 10:37AM
Benson Lake is a beauty. When the water is smooth, you can see domes across the lake reflected in it. Not much to do there but swim and lie on the sandy beach.

Mules wear cow bells because (1) they need to eat and (2) the packer needs to find them. The mules can't carry their own food, so they have to graze. You can't graze a whole string of mules on the end of a rope, so you have to turn them loose. If you want to be able to find them when you need them, you have to bell them. Hence, the cow bells.

Be patient with your mule friends. If they weren't there, the trail would be much rougher for you. Relax and enjoy their songs and their bells.

And enjoy your trip!

Doug Parr
avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
July 11, 2008 01:17PM
I cannot agree with your cow bellsh*t.

The pack trains that go in there do not put bells on their mules.
It's only the log "crews" which, IMO, should not be spending more than
1 night there. Cut the logs as you move along. It's only the log cutters
that are there, not the true trail crews. They set up spike camps and
bust their hump. We always say a hearty "thank you" to them as
we walk by.

And don't tell me that they are "my" mules. I wouldn't let my mules
run around while people are camping on the lake. It is not
wilderness with mules running around with bells on.

Have a nice day

Everything I know I learned from Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
July 11, 2008 06:42PM
I was there as were my daughter and her then boyfriend now husband. Imagine mules wandering around during the night next to your tent and I mean next to your tent with a cow bell clanging. This was not the little cow bell you would have at a football game but rather the kind you would expect to find on a cow in the Alps. We were rather forgiving the first night but when the second night brought the same thing all four of us were fit to be tied. The clanging went on all night well within earshot.

I've been to Benson when there were at least 20 mules from two to three pack trains camping nearby and the mules were all running loose, none with bells and none milling through our tent site.

This event was two years ago and I still get riled thinking about it. The attitude of the tree cutter was "Suck it up."

Old Dude
avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
July 11, 2008 07:46PM
20 Miles from the trailhead... Ahh... the tranquility...

Everything I know I learned from Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Walk up permit process?
July 12, 2008 04:57AM
Is that a beer bottle in the foreground? Or is it a bottle of single malt? I personally prefer to carry my single malt in Lexan, but to each his own. smiling smiley

avatar Re: Walk up permit process?
July 12, 2008 06:54AM
Um... no... it's just my "golden" water bottle ... with "Hi Poopy Brain" on it...
Unfortunately it is no longer with us... Guess I should not have filled it up
all the way when the temp hit 25 during the night on a different trip...

Used to take a couple of Fosters or Guiness with us... this was kind of
stopped after a trip to Tiltill Valley after stopping at Rancheria Falls for
a "cold one" before the 1500 ft. climb up and over into Tiltill..
Some of "us" not feeling so good after that one..

Here's a view from the "boobies" on the other side of the lake:

Everything I know I learned from Chick-on is looking at you!
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