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Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)

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Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 01:13PM
For July 4th week we have permits to enter at Wawona. The original plan:

Wawona -> Chlnualna Falls -> Grouse Lk -> Buck Camp -> Merced Pass -> Illilouette Cr -> Mono Meadows -> Wawona

I've not seen any recent TRs for that area (specifically Merced Pass, which I think will be the biggest problem). Realizing it's a very dynamic situation and predictions are difficult - is this even remotely possible (w/out crampons/Katoolahs/etc)?

Alternative #1 (built-in long ago when the snow pack was pretty certain to be big this year):

Wawona -> Chilnualna Falls -> Ostrander/Horse Ridge/Hart Lks -> Illilouette Cr (wander about - haven't seen much of that valley/canyon yet) -> Mt Starr King -> Mono Meadows -> Wawona

And we can adjust along the way depending on what we find in real life. Is this likely to be doable? The reason I ask is that if this entire area of the park is too challenging (snow cover) then we do have a 3rd backup plan at (somewhat) lower elevations in the Hetch Hetchy area:

Smith Meadow/Peak -> Harden Lk -> Pate Valley -> Pleasant Valley (getting higher here...) -> Rancheria Falls -> Wapama Bridge (if open) -> HH

and for another in-flight option:

Smith Mdw/Pk -> Harden Lk -> MF Tuolumne -> Aspen Valley -> Bald Mtn -> HH

Other than passing through Pate Valley (and out at White Wolf) on a GCT trip years ago, and a day hike to Aspen Valley, and the well-trodden O'Shnsy Dam->Rancheria Falls stretch, most of this would be new for us. The high route (passing through Pleasant Valley) seems almost certain to be spectacular (but... high, and snowy...); the lower route along MF Tuolumne looks like it could be nice -- or not so much.

Suggestions? Thanks.
avatar Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 01:44PM
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?17,89399

I'll let others chime up before I give my 2 dollars worth...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 03:33PM
I did find that TR, but I think I misinterpreted it. It was clear that getting to the falls is fine, but beyond not so good. I suppose I should have taken that to say that (especially with the snowmelt that is likely to be happening with the higher temps now) any stream crossing (meaning even our bail-out route to the north) is likely to be impassible. Ugh.
Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 03:48PM
I think that's right. Stream crossings are the real issue now, and it is pretty amazing how much water is coming down right now.



Balzaccom

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Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 04:02PM
And even the "fourth choice" MF Tuolumne route crosses MFT (at least once - can't tell if there's a bridge or not)

It's hard to find a 5-7 day backcountry route with no water crossings...
avatar Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 04:45PM
Quote
ags
And even the "fourth choice" MF Tuolumne route crosses MFT (at least once - can't tell if there's a bridge or not)

It's hard to find a 5-7 day backcountry route with no water crossings...

It crosses it twice... and there are no bridges at either place. I've done Smith to Harden and around... and turned
around and headed back once when I hit MFT. Another time I crossed it up to my dingleballz at the first crossing
nearest to Cottonwood... and then found logs and such to cross it closer to WW. Anywho... blop posted a TR
w/r to Bald... and um... I'd say that you may not have fun... unless you are on a TQ and like shrub and/or they
went thru and de-shrubbed the trail...

w/r to ur original question:
Merced Pass isn't your biggest issue... Merced Pass is actually a VERY VERY simple pass...
Your biggest issue is Ottoway Creek. ... Or Chilnualna Creek.

I mean there are ways around things... you just gotta go xc and work around things and such...
Every route you have included a MAJOR water crossing which if I were planning I'd be willing
to turn around and head back...

There's a lot of goodness around Chilnualna Falls and Creek if you are willing to put some effort in and
get off the trail. I don't see why you couldn't get to Buena Vista Lake and top o Horse Ridge if you
again are adept at XC and all... and willing to hike back down the same-ish way...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 19, 2017 05:41PM
I remember reading the Bald Mtn TR when first posted (I recall it as a combination of TR and various levels of... critique?... by JKW of the shrubbery on the route :-). I thought that was because it was a chick-on xc route-finding extravaganza; it didn't occur to me that was actually when following the trail.

I've been over Merced Pass and agree it's not challenging (unless the elevation causes snow challenges in years like this - it was clear when I went over as part of a big loop including Red Peak, Post, Fernandez, etc.)

So I guess that the Pleasant Valley route is also out (much higher elevation than the MFT route). Too bad, I've never been that way (due north out of Pate) and was looking forward to it as an alternative.

So back to Chilnualna: I love XC travel; actually prefer it. From looking at maps (but never having been there in person) it looks like there's no way out (beyond) the falls that doesn't require at least one crossing of the creek, which was my (newfound) hesitation.

I was also looking forward to following along the Illilouette Cr drainage upstream - never been very far up there either. I don't know how we'd get there from Ostrander/Horse Ridge, but presuming we did, is that also going to require potentially turn-around creek crossings?

I guess I have to think of every stream crossing this year as being similar to the perennial Tenaya outlet crossing in early May. Wow, what a difference a year (and 20' of snow) make.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/19/2017 05:46PM by ags.
avatar Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 20, 2017 06:52AM
Quote
ags
So I guess that the Pleasant Valley route is also out (much higher elevation than the MFT route). Too bad, I've never been that way (due north out of Pate) and was looking forward to it as an alternative.
This big issue with this is Morrison Creek may be a raging torrent.
Once you put in all the effort to get to Table Lake and ... then you hit Piute Creek...
and you will have been looking at it for a while going up 75+ switchbacks...
and if the tree(s) across the creek are no longer there... then you are turning around.
The trail from Smith Meadow to Harden Lake was very overgrown last year
too... they had signs warning people...
Anywho... You could still make a go of this... you hike up Smith Peak
(hopefully they fixed this trail too) ... then head towards Morrison... if crazy...
you turn around... and head back...
It would be a nice 4 day trip... with maybe some snow around White Wolf.
If you wanted to check out Old Tioga and Middle Tuolumne it's right there.. ish..
but you will probably have to turn around at where the bridge is absent.

I'll address the other stuff in other replies



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 20, 2017 11:52AM
Quote
ags
So back to Chilnualna: I love XC travel; actually prefer it. From looking at maps (but never having been there in person) it looks like there's no way out (beyond) the falls that doesn't require at least one crossing of the creek, which was my (newfound) hesitation.

You'll have to cross some feeder creeks but if you love XC you should be able to get to Buena Vista Lake
by going around Chilnualna Creek to the north. There was the Chil Lakes fire in that area last year
but it shouldn't provide too much pain.
If you can get over the outlet of BV Lake then you have a lot of goodness to explore.
Even if you don't want to do that ... Horse Ridge traverse is a treat...



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Yet another Snow Condition post... Merced Pass (request)
June 20, 2017 11:56AM
Quote
ags
I was also looking forward to following along the Illilouette Cr drainage upstream - never been very far up there either. I don't know how we'd get there from Ostrander/Horse Ridge, but presuming we did, is that also going to require potentially turn-around creek crossings?

Sorry on your loop I said Ottoway... it's actually Illilouette after Ottoway has confluenced with Ill.
If you want to go upstream from Upper Merced Pass... I would think that is doable..
The xc that-a-way was very simple... only need to get over the Upper Merced Pass outlet
from there you should be able to go play around in the basic SW of Merced Peak
(it's a stellar area btw)
Or you could just play on the ridges (also spectacular)

Anyway, have fun!



Chick-on is looking at you!
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