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Clark Range circuit in August

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Clark Range circuit in August
June 10, 2017 10:03PM
I have a permit to go to the Clark Range in the second half of August. We'll enter at Glacier Point, ascend Illilouette Creek and cross Red Peak Pass, and descend the Merced River to return to the trailhead. This will be my first visit to most of these trails (except the short stretch that overlaps "ye olde" Happy Isles to Half Dome route). I have a couple of concerns:

a) Snow on Red Peak Pass. I know it's still early in the summer, and a long time since we had nearly this much snow, but I would appreciate any tips concerning snow conditions descending the north side of the pass. I don't have microspikes, and really don't feel like buying them and carrying them 50 miles for the sake of one pass.

b) Siting the last campsite. My trusty Nat'l Geographic map shows two campgrounds in Little Yosemite Valley, but otherwise no camping between Lost Valley and Glacier Point. I stayed at Glen Aulin backpackers' camp last summer and found it a rather poor facsimile of a wilderness experience. Considering this, I'd gladly add a couple of miles to the last day's hike if I can gain some solitude. Are there good, secluded campsites in Lost Valley? I would consider camping even as high as the area around the bridge and stream crossing above Bunnell Cascade
Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 11, 2017 01:37AM
1. I climbed Red Peak Pass in early August 1998, which was similar to this year in having a huge snowpack, doing a trip similar to yours, but in reverse. The Illilouette side was nearly clear of snow to the top, but the Merced side had a few feet of snow on average for the final 500 foot climb (the side I came up) and it was totally freeform. We missed the pass and had to backtrack through a field of boulders about 1/4 mile, but the direction you are coming is more obvious and has just a lot of steep switchbacks to get to the top. I used cramp-ons in the snow, and they worked well for me until I stopped to rest on a rock sticking out of the snow. The problem was the grade was so steep that I couldn't stand up again with my pack without falling down, and I ended up smashing my knee on the rock. Luckily I didn't break anything, and my friend was able to help me get up and finish the ascent. I expect you will find snow on both sides in late August this year, but much more on the Merced side. How much snow depends on what the weather is like this summer. So far spring has been as cool as I can remember, so the snowpack is melting slowly so far. Due to the grade, Red Peak Pass would be easier to ski down it than to hike down it where the snow is.

2. There are three campsites with fire rings in Lost Valley very close together and between the trail and the Merced River. I recall seeing a marker on a tree that camping was allowed just before reaching them. This is a much nicer area for peace than LYV, but don't expect to be there alone, and make sure you show up early enough to get one of the three campsites. You will also likely be visited by a bear there, possibly before the sun goes down. The last time I stayed there, I had my first visit two hours before sunset. There are no bear lockers there. I have not gone through there for several years, so things may have changed a bit since the fire. It used to be a well forested area, so not much light got through in the evening or morning.
avatar Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 11, 2017 07:48AM
Lost Valley is completely burned from The Meadow Fire. Even, wow, um...
in 2001 camping in Lost Valley ... um... sucked
(we started at Glacier Point like you are and went clockwise)
(there weren't as many rules and stuff then... or I didn't know... and)
Anywho... just fyi...
Bunnell Cascade is here:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.745233,-119.470632&z=15&t=t4
Grizzly Falls is here:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.736342,-119.480632&z=15&t=t4

The other "campground" (and next legal spot to camp upstream of LYV ) is here:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.735867,-119.483636&z=15&t=t4

I wouldn't recommend camping there... it's doable and people have done...
hmm... let's see...
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?17,77826,77826#msg-77826

(can explain those and where if like)

Anyway... yes, this spot:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.745064,-119.461448&z=15&t=t4

Is nice and is not burned. (just for the record... I don't mind the burn per sey...
but I do mind a tree falling on me)

Ok, so what else? Snow on Red Peak Pass

Lots of low snow years... latest been thru with snow was end of July almost August
I'd recommend hiking sticks... and just don't do very early in the day...
since you going west to east... that's probably not gonna happen ... so
I wouldn't worry too much... The trail should be discernable by then..
if not... then map compass etc
I wouldn't worry about spikes... just have hiking poles.

anywho... if too much you can consider Fernandez Pass... though thats a long way around
and you have to do this that and the other

if you get along too early to Bunnell area... you can try for this:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.706028,-119.544018&z=15&t=t4

Anyway, I've probably said too much

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 13, 2017 08:42PM
Thanks for the tips, both.

@rgliebe: When you mention the three sites, I suppose there are other possible sites as well, without fire rings. Right?

@chick-on: I'm not sure whether your map links refer to the notes above or below. Can you edit and clarify?
avatar Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 13, 2017 09:05PM
Quote
iivvgg
Thanks for the tips, both.

@rgliebe: When you mention the three sites, I suppose there are other possible sites as well, without fire rings. Right?

@chick-on: I'm not sure whether your map links refer to the notes above or below. Can you edit and clarify?

My map links follow comments. I'm not sure exactly what you want clarified.

w/r to @rgliebe I was hoping one would realize that he was actually talking about the "Moraine Dome" campground
... which is ... well.. I pointed it out in my reply above as such:

Quote
bird
The other "campground" (and next legal spot to camp upstream of LYV ) is here:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.735867,-119.483636&z=15&t=t4

I was trying to point out that that area (it's still Little Yosemite Valley) was completely burned. I can draw in
the pictures that I posted w/r to The Meadow Fire post if you need clarification. Please ask but I will not
be online again until next week.
Lost Valley proper is also entirely burned and really doesn't have alot of great camping ...

Sorry if I wasn't clear here or there.

Please ask again and I can try to be more specific with pictures and notes and such ...
Please do read my original response and try to decipher. Again, my apologeez if it's not clear.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 17, 2017 05:55PM
Sorry, I was thinking of Moraine Dome when I said Lost Valley for some reason. I haven't been there since the fire, so it's probably not very shady or pleasant anymore. Falling trees and a distinctive wood burn smell are two new drawbacks to that area. There really isn't room there for more than three groups without turning it into a crowded area like LYV.

The only other place I have camped between Merced Lake and Moraine Dome is on the east end of Echo Valley. You can barely fit a campsite in there near the Merced River that is flat and out of the water. It's an alternative to using the Merced Lake HSC with no bear lockers and much fewer people.
Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 14, 2017 08:52AM
ivvgg,

I did this route in late July 2011 which was after a snowy winter, there were patches of snow over Red Peak Pass but passable with care. Just be careful with navigation, I was lazy and followed some foot prints that took me way off track.

You may also want to consider the Backpackers Campsite next to the Merced Lake Hi Sierra Camp, I know its next to the tent cabins however its usually much less chaotic than LYV. It used to have food lockers and if the camp isn't to busy you can get a meal.
Re: Clark Range circuit in August
June 21, 2017 11:04PM
Quote
Bilko
ivvgg,

I did this route in late July 2011 which was after a snowy winter, there were patches of snow over Red Peak Pass but passable with care. Just be careful with navigation, I was lazy and followed some foot prints that took me way off track.

You may also want to consider the Backpackers Campsite next to the Merced Lake Hi Sierra Camp, I know its next to the tent cabins however its usually much less chaotic than LYV. It used to have food lockers and if the camp isn't to busy you can get a meal.

High Sierra Camps will be closed this year, so no meals, no crowds, no mule trains. (All good in my book.)
Re: Clark Range circuit in August
July 22, 2017 04:53PM
Any Clark Range/Red Peak Pass updates?
Thanks,
LK
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