Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Yosemite Valley

The Moon is Waning Gibbous (87% of Full)

JanSport - Accept no Imitations. The Original Backpack since 1967.


Advanced

Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 11, 2011 10:29AM
I've been following several threads on this board (y'all are so helpful!) about the areas we were planning to be in for our backpacking trip, but I'm still a bit nervous about what conditions to expect.

We live in middle Tennessee and this will be our first trip to Yosemite. We've been backpacking for a few years now and spend most of our time in the Smoky Mountains and similar environment. We're comfortable with 10-12 + mile days with a few thousand feet of elevation change. We're in pretty good shape, young and healthy. However, we have very little snow experience and almost no cross country experience. We're okay with stream crossings. We can read a map, but I'd say that our way-finding skills are average at best. Although we both grew up in snow, our only real snow backpacking/hiking experience was a trip to the Rockies a few years ago. We spent our week there getting turned around by avalanche conditions and snowfields that were beyond our skill level.

Needless to say, I'm hoping to avoid that on this trip. We don't mind the cold and wet as much as I want to be safe and not get in over our heads. We have a permit from White Wolf to exit at Happy Isles over 7 days, 6 nights. We had planned to go through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, to Glen Aulin, through Touloumne Meadows to Cathedral Lakes and either over or past Clouds Rest, to Half Dome on our last day. I understand Cathedral Lakes are still mostly frozen and there are other routes in that area, so I'm open to any option that will be passable. It sounds like once we get to the Valley side of Clouds Rest, trails are snow free and we'll be good to go. Based on what I've read, it sounds like water will be high and we'll have some challenging creek crossings in the GCT, but I think we'll be okay with that.

I'm not sure what to do after Glen Aulin, though, and how we can best get to Clouds Rest or if we should just can it and change our permit to end at TM. I feel like I'm finding conflicting information about how difficult this section will be and what trails will be clearest. We're up for some adventure, but if we're going to spend most of our time post-holing, getting lost, and having to turn back because of conditions that are beyond us, I'd rather just find a different route that will be more snow free or even car camp and dayhike, since we have limited time to enjoy the park and all it has to offer.

Does anyone have any suggestions or helpful info about this area (specifically between Glen Aulin and Clouds Rest? Otherwise, does anyone have alternative route suggestions that would be more snow free if this area is too snowy for what we're comfortable with?
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 11, 2011 11:24AM
If you can make er thru GCT now... then what u worried bout?

I stand behind my route past Cathedral Lakes->Echo Lake->Echo Valley.
You can look here:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,39233

Will be less snow than going via Sunrise HSC / Sunrise Lakes / Clouds. Guaranteed.
And you go down the Merced River... spec-tac-u-lar

Hike up from LYV to Half Dome if you want to do HD. Dayhike Clouds from Tenaya Lake if u REALLY want Clouds.

It's not much additional mileage(pretty much a wash). And you'll be out of snow a little below Echo Lake.
If you get lost on that route... uh... uh... u suk

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 11, 2011 12:29PM
Thanks, Chick-on.

I guess I'm a worrier. And scared of snow (that whole "devil you don't know is worse than the devil you do" issue).

So we'd follow the trail to Cathedral Lakes, and then just past the smaller lake, we split off to the east and follow the creek? Yes, I think I can manage that. It looks like it's not very far before we re-join the trail anyway. I just didn't realize that going that way around would be so much less snow. Your pictures from that trip do look awesome.

I'm not stuck on Cloud's Rest or Half Dome, so we'll just see what we're feeling up to at that point.

Thanks!
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 11, 2011 01:44PM
The big obstacles imo are Morrison, Tuolumne east of Pate Valley, and Register.
Everything else shouldn't be much of a problem. Water water everywhere... but you get past those... you should be golden.

For the route from Cathedral Lakes ... after Cathedral Pass you just head all downhill... following the
Cath. Fork of Echo Creek. Keep following that past Echo Lake and Matthes Crest... and you'll run into the
trail eventually. Really straight forward. If you go Long Meadow you hike up from Cath Pass... and
Long Meadow could be a pain in the rump roast with sun cups galore. And from Sunrise HSC you got more up
whichever way you go.

Options are good.

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 12, 2011 05:53AM
I agree with bill-e-g wholeheartedly regarding the Echo Lake/Echo Valley route. For best results reconnecting with the trail below Echo Lake stay on the right hand side of the creek as you go down through the woods. Not critical but it helps if you are not familiar with the area.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 24, 2011 06:07PM
Quote
happykamper

We live in middle Tennessee and this will be our first trip to Yosemite.
How was your trip?
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 25, 2011 11:51AM
It was amazing! I'm so grateful to everyone here for the advice.

We ended up backing out of starting at White Wolf (after hearing reports of tons of water from the rangers, which turned out not to be true), and instead got a permit starting at TM to Glen Aulin. Stayed at GA the first night, day hiked to the footbridge past waterwheel the next day (all the falls were incredible and huge!) and stayed at GA again. Hiked from GA to Lower Cathedral Lake, where we had a beautiful campsite on the rock next to the lake. The next day we headed up to Upper Cathedral, through Cathedral Pass, and then took the Chick-on route past Echo Lake. What a beautiful area. Camped near a footbridge along echo creek, and then headed over to Little Yosemite Valley the next night. The cascades in the canyon along the Merced were pretty incredible too. Our last day in the backcountry we climbed Half Dome (I needed some significant encouragement on the subdome, but I made it) and headed out via the Mist Trail (which was a little scary heading down, the day after the 3 fatalities at Vernal Falls). We had another night planned, but decided to shorten the trip a little since we had to retrieve our car from TM - the shuttle didn't start running until a few days after we started our backpacking trip. It was fun because it gave us time to drive through Tioga Pass and check out Mono Lake in Lee Vining (highly recommend the Whoa Nellie Deli!).

We ran into no trail conditions that worried us - everything was very easy. The first few days we were moving pretty slowly, but we got our legs back under us the second half of the trip and were able to pick up the pace a little. It was an incredible trip. We were glad to have a chance to do the tourist thing in the valley for a couple days before and after our backpacking trip and enjoyed hiking in the Mariposa Grove, seeing Glacier Point at sunset, and hiking the valley floor loop and Yosemite falls. We even got to spend a little time sitting by the Curry Village pool and have dinner at the Ahwahnee.

I definitely want to head back to see more of the further-out areas of the park sometime, and have added hiking the JMT to my bucket list too.

Thanks again for all the help.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 25, 2011 12:11PM
It sounds like a great trip! Thanks for the report.

Did you manage to snag the proper Half Dome permit while you were in Tennessee, or did you get one somehow after you arrived in Yosemite?
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 26, 2011 06:30AM
You can check nps.gov/yose for the exact rules on Half Dome Permits, but the basic rule is that if you're backpacking a route that can reasonably lead you to Half Dome, you can get a permit. They give out the 400 (or whatever it is) to day hikers, but plan on an extra 100 for backpackers. All you need to do is ask at the Wilderness Center when you pick up your backcountry permit and they'll give you a half Dome ticket with an 'expiration' date instead of an exact date you need to be on Half Dome. It worked great for us since we were there a day earlier than we originally planned (of course, we got there early enough that they weren't checking for permits anyway).
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 26, 2011 12:27PM
Quote
happykamper
. . . snip . . . and they'll give you a half Dome ticket with an 'expiration' date instead of an exact date you need to be on Half Dome. . . snip . . .

I hadn't heard this. So if I'm backpacking through the HD area I don't have to have exact planning for the day of the HD ascent? Thats GREAT!
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 27, 2011 07:00AM
That's how the ranger explained it to us. She told us we'd need to have our wilderness permits with us at HD in case the person checking tickets gave us any hassle, but we were there early enough (9:00ish) that no one was checking anyway. They were there checking when we finally left the area.
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 26, 2011 09:03PM
Nice report. Thanks for posting. How many miles did you hike, and over what period of time? How heavy were your packs? We have only done the HSCs at Yose and want to venture into real backpack camping next year. Curious to know the pace and pack sizes/weights of others out there.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 27, 2011 07:46AM
Hi Paris,

To answer your questions (I don't have my maps with me, so these are estimates of mileage based on what I remember):

We spent nights 1 and 7 at the backpackers' camp in Yosemite Valley.
TM to GA - 6 miles
GA to the bridge over Return Creek and back - I think this is about 8 miles
GA to TM to Lower Cathedral Lake - somewhere around 10 miles
Lower Cathedral to where we camped along Echo Creek - maybe 8 miles
Echo Creek to Little Yosemite Valley - 7.5 ish
Little Yosemite Valley to HD, back to LYV, and out to Yosemite Valley via Mist trail - 11.5?
For a total of 51ish miles. We've done higher-mileage days elsewhere, but we decided we were in no hurry to get anywhere in Yosemite. We usually roll out of camp in the morning around 9 and get into camp in the afternoon around 4, so we take our time getting there and stop a lot to take pictures, enjoy the views along the way and just dawdle.

I backpack with my husband, so we do share some gear (tent, stove, water filter). We aren't ultra-light by any means, but we are working on getting our pack weights lighter. We've got a few more pounds each we can easily drop once we have the money for more gear upgrades. For this trip, we each started with about 29 pounds - including seven days of food, water, fuel, bear canisters, and all gear. We do carry trekking poles in addition, but other than maybe a lighter and a pocket knife, we do not carry any gear that isn't in our packs. We definitely carried too much food this trip and could have saved some weight there.
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 27, 2011 08:01AM
Quote
happykamper

We definitely carried too much food this trip and could have saved some weight there.

For a seven day backpacking trip, especially one that does not include any fishing (or hunting -- where it's legally permitted), I think it's probably wiser to err on the side of bringing too much food, than too little.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 29, 2011 07:27AM
Yes, you're right. I tend to err on the side of caution, so threw in some extra snacks at the last minute, which was not necessary. But, it's definitely better to be safe than sorry.
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 27, 2011 01:53PM
Great info! Thanks so much.
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 28, 2011 01:00PM
Quote
Paris92
Nice report. Thanks for posting. How many miles did you hike, and over what period of time? How heavy were your packs? We have only done the HSCs at Yose and want to venture into real backpack camping next year. Curious to know the pace and pack sizes/weights of others out there.

Pace is up to each individual, a balance between your capabilities, the terrain, waypoint goals, etc. For some, 6 miles a day is tops. For others, 9-10 miles. For a few, the sky is the limit. Similarly, pack weight will vary according to your ability and what you consider essential for your needs. I carry 30 lbs tops, including water. It could be less but I will not part with my tent, tent fly, inflatable mattress, and slip-on camp slippers. Weight is also highly dependant on different brands and models of equipment. Another critical factor is having the lightest weight shoes that will still get the job done for you. Even though your shoes are not on your back, they still represent a major part of your body's lifting effort.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 29, 2011 07:30AM
Quote
tomdisco
Another critical factor is having the lightest weight shoes that will still get the job done for you. Even though your shoes are not on your back, they still represent a major part of your body's lifting effort.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. We just switched to wearing trail runners this year and we are both so much more comfortable. Our feet never bothered us on this (or any of our previous trips in these shoes) trip, even our highest-mileage days. We got sturdy enough shoes that they grip well on rocks, but they are lightweight and breathable and we're much happier in these than in our old gore-tex boots. But, everyone's needs are different, especially with shoes. It's just important to keep shoe weight in mind.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 29, 2011 07:55PM
Quote
happykamper
Quote
tomdisco
Another critical factor is having the lightest weight shoes that will still get the job done for you. Even though your shoes are not on your back, they still represent a major part of your body's lifting effort.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. We just switched to wearing trail runners this year and we are both so much more comfortable. Our feet never bothered us on this (or any of our previous trips in these shoes) trip, even our highest-mileage days. We got sturdy enough shoes that they grip well on rocks, but they are lightweight and breathable and we're much happier in these than in our old gore-tex boots. But, everyone's needs are different, especially with shoes. It's just important to keep shoe weight in mind.
I also left my heavy soled hikers ($200 all leather) at home this year. Wore some lightweight hikers with aggressive tread I got at Bass Shoes. I really noticed a difference, I did miss the ankle support a few times, but not that much.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/29/2011 07:56PM by hotrod4x5.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 25, 2011 09:26PM
I am considering my options for my Half Dome trip. I am still hoping that the Feds won't close things down and enough snow will melt in time. I am starting up towards Cathedral Lakes Sunday the 7th of August. Chick-on, Can you give some more details about this alternate route. It sounds like you are talking about going off trail. A bit further than my intended route, but better that being blocked by snow. Can anyone offer an informed opinion on whether the snow and water will be reasonably passable by that time? The Yosemite web site on Wilderness conditions says that for Clouds Rest trail, "the approach from the east side is still partially snow covered". I am not Super-Backpacker much less chick-on, and it looks like I will be making the trip solo. My brother in law has to bow out because of work. Thanks Ken
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 26, 2011 06:32AM
The east side approach to Clouds Rest only had small patches of snow on July 16th. Following the trail was a non issue and I'd bet anything that 99% of that snow is gone now.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 26, 2011 09:53PM
That is very good to hear. Thanks for the update. Ken
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 27, 2011 08:45PM
Thanks again chick-on for the info. Now if only the feds don't mess things up.eye rolling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 08:46PM by traildad.
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 27, 2011 06:58AM
Ken,
You can put your worries aside. There will be no snow to worry about by then.
Even the outlet of Tenaya will more than likely be a rock hop by then.
(it looked to be about a foot deep yesterday)
You want to go up Half Dome... so you should go over Clouds IMO.
Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 29, 2011 07:04PM
Quote
chick-on
You want to go up Half Dome... so you should go over Clouds IMO.

I second that.
Re: Advice on Trip: Leaving tomorrow
July 29, 2011 08:02PM
Quote
chick-on
Ken,
You can put your worries aside. There will be no snow to worry about by then.
Even the outlet of Tenaya will more than likely be a rock hop by then.
(it looked to be about a foot deep yesterday)

Tenaya canyon may be low enough next week
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login