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Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest

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Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 05, 2022 10:08PM
Hello:

We have a permit for Happy Isles to Illilouette. This was not our first choice since we wanted to hike Clouds Rest. We have decided to camp the first night near a creek just after dispersed camping is allowed, i.e., after the fork.
1. Night 1 Camping: We are using AllTrails and it is hard to tell what is the shortest distance we could backpack from Happy Isles to be able to get to dispersed camping, be near flowing water in July, and have a decent site. We are hoping to backpack in about 5 miles that first day.
2. Night 2 Camping: There will be some backtracking involved since we will now head towards Sunrise creek -- it seems we should be able to get to decent campsites by backpacking about 7 miles.
3. Night 3 : Upper Sunrise Lake -- is this a reasonable distance, with the elevation gain? Sites close enough to water, i.e., at lake level? We have considered a night 3 and a night 4 camping around Sunrise Lakes too.
4. Night 4: The hope is to hike up Clouds Rest and come down and camp -- it is not clear where the nearest water would be.

Basically, we would like to do this loop: Happy Isles to Clouds Rest
However, since our permit is for Illilouette, we have to figure out where to camp the first night and also the night after we finish hiking Clouds Rest.

Given that this is another drought year, we are looking for reliable water sources in July.

Thanks in advance for advice,
Jayahc



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2022 10:09PM by jayahc.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 06, 2022 01:43AM
Look here for where you can begin dispersed camping. Not much snow this year, you may need to go all the way down to Illilouette creek to get water.

Seeing as how you have 3 more nights, why not consider doing night 2 as you planned, but then on day 3 heading over CR (from the south, via the switchbacks near the Quarter Domes) to the vicinity of the sunrise lakes, then on day 4 from there to Merced lake, and then on your last day head out via Little Yosemite Valley to Happy Isles?

The question of where to find water around CR has been discussed here before, poke around and you'll find the info.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 06, 2022 12:49PM
Realistically this year, you'll likely need to hike all the way to Illilouette Creek to find reliable water. There are a few small creeks that cross the trail between the Merced River and Illilouette Creek that may have water, so you might get lucky, but I wouldn't count on them this year in July. Another option would be to carry water up from the Merced River and dry-camp somewhere legal but short of Illilouette Creek.
avatar Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 06, 2022 06:44PM
You could always keep looking for alternate permits....
From Happy isles to Illilouette Creek is @ 7 miles and 3700 feet elevation gain, and 1500 feet elevation loss, A difficult hike in my opinion, so you may need to train HARD
Try this map to route yosemite hikes: https://www.traillon.com/map/yosemite-national-park
or use GAIA. I think they are both easier with more info than alltrails.
For Clouds Rest, pray for Sunrise creek or Cathedral lake cancellations. Check often, they do occur, and stay up to date on the FCFS procedure.
I hiked that area last year in August, and it was magnificent.
avatar Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 06, 2022 06:52PM
Oh,

If you have never hiked the mist trail, then its worth it to hike to Vernal falls, but right after the falls, ditch the mist trail, hike up to clark point and take the JMT.
It will save your sanity. Its longer, but not as steep, not as narrow, and not as congested. You can see Nevada falls on the way out.
Most people on the Mist trail are not considerate, and definitely do not follow etiquette. Trudging up the mist trail with a full pack is .....
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 08, 2022 04:53AM
Quote
Coolburn
Trudging up the mist trail with a full pack is .....
Here, let me finish that for you
Trudging up the mist trail with a full pack is...something I swore I would never do again. Not recommended.
avatar Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 08, 2022 02:48PM
That's what I was looking for!
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 08, 2022 10:55PM
Thank you all for the suggestions. We will probably do the Mist Trail and Vernal Falls on the way back and will follow the suggestion to go up CR from the Quarter Domes side. Since our permit is for a week we will probably spend an extra day at Sunrise Lakes and do a side trip to Cathedral Lakes as well. That permit is so difficult to get. Since we are in the area we may as well go there too. Let us hope for running creeks and no wildfires.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 11, 2022 09:45PM
We shouldn't be encouraging trips like this. This is an obvious use of a loophole. The OP wanted to go somewhere else and doesn't want to go to Illilouette, an area they nothing about and which is in a different direction than they want to go for an extra night. It is only because of a quirk in geography and of the permit system that it is possible with some jumping of hoops. Instead of going to a lightly used area they are going to the most popular backpacking area in the park.

This trip is 'legal' but obviously against the spirit of the law. Actions like these will force managers to change the rules, reduce choices and increase complications for everyone, as well as make crowded areas even more crowded and impacted.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 12, 2022 06:54AM
"We shouldn't be encouraging trips like this. This is an obvious use of a loophole. The OP wanted to go somewhere else and doesn't want to go to Illilouette, an area they nothing about and which is in a different direction than they want to go for an extra night. It is only because of a quirk in geography and of the permit system that it is possible with some jumping of hoops. Instead of going to a lightly used area they are going to the most popular backpacking area in the park.

This trip is 'legal' but obviously against the spirit of the law. Actions like these will force managers to change the rules, reduce choices and increase complications for everyone, as well as make crowded areas even more crowded and impacted."


The permit system is really designed to manage the traffic on the first night of your trip. After that, you are free to explore the back country however you wish, as long as you don't leave it and then come back again. The large majority of back-packers rarely make it beyond that first day's hike, which is why many beautiful places in Yosemite still don't get much traffic.

You are right, Illilouette Canyon is lovely, especially the upper end. And the OP won't get to see it. But if he/she wants to camp with all the others in Little Yosemite Valley and hike up with the crowds to Cloud's Rest, fair enough.

That will leave Illilouette for the rest of us...



Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/12/2022 06:54AM by balzaccom.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 13, 2022 10:09PM
Quote
balzaccom
The permit system is really designed to manage the traffic on the first night of your trip. After that, you are free to explore the back country however you wish, as long as you don't leave it and then come back again. The large majority of back-packers rarely make it beyond that first day's hike, which is why many beautiful places in Yosemite still don't get much traffic

No, that's how it might seem from a cursory view but doesn't really make sense. You really think managers only manage the first night of the trip? That means they are only managing a small part of the wilderness. For the OP, the other Happy Isles trails are surely full for the other days of their trip, so the logic would be that even though it's full for the other days, if you go one extra day in a different direction it's ok? There are 3 Happy Isles trailheads. Do you think managers added the Happy Isles Ilillouette trailhead so visitors would have to go out of their way for one night and then come back camp where the first 2 trailheads go?

It's a trailhead quota system, so you can only manage the first night. Managing a 2nd night wouldn't really make sense with a trailhead. That would be a zone quota of some type, exactly what I don't want and why I'm saying we shouldn't encourage trips like this. The trailhead quota system is the least restrictive system but you can have weird quirks like this one. You'll have some bad actors, but if it is small, it isn't a big issue.

With freedom comes responsibility. If we abuse that freedom it will become restricted. If you don't believe me see the Donohue Pass quota for JMT hikers. Before the Donohue Pass quota, JMT hikers were doing the same thing the OP was doing, but with the additional quota that is now abolished.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 13, 2022 11:32PM
I don't get what you're upset about. The rules are for trailheads for the first night. After that, you do what you want. If someone is willing to hike extra and backtrack on the second day because he couldn't get the permit he wanted for the first night, what's the issue?

The Mist Trail and JMT to Nevada Falls are crowded; and anyone going to Half Dome via a trail (as opposed to climbing via the Snake Dike or up the face) is taking the JMT past Nevada Falls, so that's crowded too.

In the particular case at hand, there 18 Happy Isles-Illilouette permits available per day by advance reservation, and 12 by first-come, first served (this per https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trailheads.htm). As has been discussed in this thread, in a low-snow year like this one, making camp the first night is going to entail either filling up with water by Nevada Falls and carrying that to somewhere to make a dry camp, then hiking several miles back the next day; or going even farther, to close to Illilouette Creek, in order to be close to water, thus entailing a longer hike back on the second day. Do you really think that every day, 30 people are going to do this in order to get access to CR?

I also note there are no quotas for day hikes. So if the OP wanted to do CR as a day hike from Happy Isles (ambitious, but doable for someone in good shape), or from the Tenaya Lake outlet (Sunrise Lakes TH), would you object to that too?

And don't forget that this year, the GP Road trailheads are all closed (although GP--> Illilouette is listed as being an option via the 4-mile Trail TH). In a normal year, how many people do you think would start from GP or Mono Meadow, cross Illilouette Creek and head to CR?

There are also the High Sierra camps, which again, as I understand it, are not operating this year. But when they're open, what are the odds that some people venture between Merced Lake and Sunrise Lakes, or vice versa, via CR? Apparently by your criteria, that would be a disaster.

The first time I visited YNP, I discovered that 99.9% of the visitors confine themselves to things that are within 100 yards of a parking spot. I'm not concerned about any spot that's only accessible via several miles of hiking and several thousand feet of altitude change - like CR - being overrun by backpackers who couldn't get their first-choice trailhead and instead opt to put in even more effort to reach their goal.
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 23, 2022 06:49PM
I'm with buster on that one, but think it is more than a "loophole". Regardless of what you think about the permit system, what the OP is trying to do is illegal. Based on the permit s/he got, s/he MUST 1st-night camp after the fork towards Mono Meadow/Illilouette Creek (see https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf). Afterwards, it's not "you do what you want". Specifically, the rule is "Hikers may not backtrack from one trailhead to another trailhead on any night of their trip (either partially or fully) unless exiting at their entry trailhead to end their wilderness trip" (again, see https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf). This rule is stated explicitly to forbid the aforementioned "loophole".
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 24, 2022 12:02PM
Quote
webenji
I'm with buster on that one, but think it is more than a "loophole". Regardless of what you think about the permit system, what the OP is trying to do is illegal. Based on the permit s/he got, s/he MUST 1st-night camp after the fork towards Mono Meadow/Illilouette Creek (see https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf). Afterwards, it's not "you do what you want". Specifically, the rule is "Hikers may not backtrack from one trailhead to another trailhead on any night of their trip (either partially or fully) unless exiting at their entry trailhead to end their wilderness trip" (again, see https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf). This rule is stated explicitly to forbid the aforementioned "loophole".

Huh. Assuming that that "rule" is a rule (it does not appear on the Wilderness Regulations page (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildregs.htm), or here https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trails.htm, or here https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trailheads.htm, which suggests to me that it's of dubious legal force), I must have missed the part about the OP backtracking to Happy Isles - you know, the *trailhead* - on the second day, and then starting his hike again. What he proposed to do was to go from HI to the Illilouette basin, then retrace his steps towards CR, passing by Nevada Falls on the way, not going anywhere near the HI trailhead. The statement you quoted does not say that what he proposed is prohibited.

I also don't see how what he's proposing is different than going from Glacier Point to Illilouette, and continuing from there toward CR (or looping around via Ottoway/Merced lakes and then to CR). There's no quota for day hikers up the Mist Trail or JMT, or from GP to HI, so the only trail section that would be getting "extra" use here would be the part between that trail that branches from the Panorama trail above Nevada Falls into the Illilouette basin.

The people running the park aren't dummies. If they see that people taking HI --> Illilouette permits and then backtracking to CR is a problem, they'll make it clear that that's not allowed. And if you think this is a significant problem, you can contact the park staff yourself: "Send us an email if you have suggestions for additional questions"
Re: Happy Isles -> Illilouette-> Clouds Rest
April 24, 2022 07:32AM
"Afterwards, it's not "you do what you want". Specifically, the rule is "Hikers may not backtrack from one trailhead to another trailhead on any night of their trip (either partially or fully) unless exiting at their entry trailhead to end their wilderness trip"


Hmmm. So how does one complete a through hike? I'm not questioning the accuracy of your source material, but I have often exited a different trailhead from where I started. I don't think this section of the guidelines makes sense. I bet if you asked a wilderness ranger when you got your permit, they would agree.



Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/24/2022 07:33AM by balzaccom.
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