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Late Arrival

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avatar Late Arrival
April 09, 2012 11:02AM
My sons and I are flying from the east for a 5 nite backpack trip near and around the HSC camps. Our wildernesss permit is for the
day we arrive but we have to drive from San Jose. I know we can request a hold for late arrival but am worried about traffic delays or wrong turns.

We will be entering at Catherdral lakes.

Any tips, suggestions, experience with a late arrival pick-up for a wilderness permit?

Randy
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 09, 2012 12:46PM
They say that you must be there to pick them up during business hours at the particular permit station.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wpres.htm
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 09, 2012 12:49PM
What time do you arrive at SJC?
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 10:11AM
We land at 11:45 am on Thursday August 16. We expect to hike to Cathedral lakes that evening. We do not have sleeping reservation at the HSC's but have meal for Sunday night the 19th at Vogelsang. There are 3 in our party.

Randy
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 12:49PM
I agree w/ basilbop and calipidder...try to move the flight to the day before, or the entry to the day after. 11:45...means you leave the car rental 12:45-1:00, get stove fuel (best bet is probably Fremont REI, its on the way), if you end up having to take the "Hetch Hetchy Entrance Permit Pickup" suggestion due to not making it to Big Oak Flat in time that'd just add further delay to reaching your trailhead. Sunset at Tuolumne Meadows on 8/16 is 7:50 PM, and there's no moonlight (new moon is on the 17th).

Sunrise/Sunset Times available here.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 09, 2012 01:17PM
As I see it, It will take you roughly 4 to 4.5 hours to drive there. If you land during peak traffic hours it could add up to an hour to your travel time. If you count in stops for food and provisions, I would plan on 5-6 hours as being realistic.

It seems like you are worried that the permit station will close for the day before you can get there to pick up your "late-arrival" permit. If this happens your permit is cancelled.

There are a lot of variables here. What time of year? Are you staying at the HSC camps or backpacking on your own? How many in your party?

I would suggest trying to adjust your permit or your flight schedule. In my experience, driving from sea level (San Jose) to Yosemite, arriving late, and backpacking to your first overnight location (probably above 9,000 ft) is a very bad idea. It can make for a very painful beginning to a five day trip! When I come up from the Bay Area for trips I always try to take it easy and stay one night at a Backpackers' Campground before hitting the trail.

Worst case scenario...you get there too late, you camp overnight in a backpackers campground for $5 each and find an available first come first served permit in the morning. If you get there early, you'll most likely get the permit you want.

I hope this was helpful...Enjoy!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 09, 2012 01:20PM
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wpres.htm

If you will arrive later than 10 am on the day of your trip, please call us to hold your permit for a late arrival: 209/372-0308 (this number is for cancellations and late arrivals only). Otherwise, your permit reservation will be canceled. Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.

I've done it. It works.
Re: Late Arrival
April 09, 2012 03:05PM
Quote
QITNL
Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.

If coming in via 120 and picking up a reserved permit late, your best bet is often to pick it up at the Hetch Hetchy entrance station since it is open later than the Big Oak Flat (BOF) wilderness permit office. On the other hand, if you're at the BOF station after the office is closed (3-4pm or so...), you're not leaving a lot of time to drive to Tuolumne Meadows and hike in far enough to be legal for camping.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 10:32AM
We will be coming in via 120. This is our first time with the permit process. Are you saying I can pick up our pass at any permit station? As long as we have requested late arrival pick-up.

Randy
Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 11:15AM
You can pick up a reserved permit at any permit station--provided that their computers and phone system are working. (This was an issue last year in Tuolumne.) Note that most of the wilderness permit stations close fairly early in the afternoon--3 or 4pm. I think getting to the BOF office by this time based on an 11:45am landing is going to be a challenge.

My recommendation? Try to reserve a permit for the following day, and spend the first night in the Tuolumne backpacker's camground (which your *reservation* will allow you to do) for peace-of-mind and to get some high-elevation exposure before the hiking begins. Since you probably won't be able to reserve Cathedral (or Sunrise, Young Lakes, or Lyell Canyon) for the 17th, you may have to reserve a less-popular trailhead to start your loop, which may mean leaving out a camp or two.

One suggestion (if I got the dates right...): Mono Pass T/H, night of 17th at Alger (or Gem) Lake, 18th in upper Lyell Canyon, 19th at Vogelsang, then continue the HSC loop in either direction.

Another: Murphy Creek T/H, 17th at McGee (or Glen Aulin if the ranger says it's OK--seems to depend on who/how nicely you ask...), 18th in Lyell Canyon near the Ireland Lake jct, 19th at Vogelsang, then onward to Merced/Sunrise/May.

A third (more advanced): Nelson Lake T/H, 17th at Nelson (well-marked cross-country, but steep past Elizabeth Lake), 18th (via Reymann Lake--also cross country...) and 19th at Vogelsang (excellent day hikes in this area), then onward to Merced/Sunrise/May...

A fourth (even more advanced): Budd Creek T/H -> 17th at Matthes Lake (cross country past Budd); 18th at Reymann Lake; 19th at Vogelsang, onward...
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 11:46AM
Yep. Landing in SJ, waiting for luggage (they take FOR EVER there), picking up a rental car, getting out of the bay area, is gonna take a while. I would say if everything went perfectly (flight on time, no traffic, etc) you'd still be really, really lucky to make it to BoF permit station by the 4pm close time (if that is still the close time this summer).

However, Bay Area traffic, unforeseen travel delays, etc, grabbing dinner, will probably get you there long after the permit stations close. You'll probably need to stop somewhere to pick up some stove fuel too since you can't fly with that. Add another ~1/2 hour to stop by the Fremont REI or similar store. That doesn't even include the next hour of driving to the trailhead, getting packs all organized, and actually hiking to camp. I regularly go for ambitious travel and hiking plans and even I wouldn't do that. You'll be completely wrecked by then.

I'd either move your flight or try for some kind of permit like BasilBop describes for the next day. Take time to sleep at Tuolumne, acclimate, and regroup after a busy day of planes and automobiles (no trains, I hope).
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 10:33PM
Quote
BigR
We will be coming in via 120. This is our first time with the permit process. Are you saying I can pick up our pass at any permit station? As long as we have requested late arrival pick-up.

Randy

Basically you call in your request to the main wilderness center in Yosemite Valley, and I'm pretty sure they note that in the reservation database. All permit stations should be able to access that information as long as the electronics are working.

I remember my trip was along Tioga Road. If I was going for a first-come, first-served permit, the initial selection would have been out of the Tuolumne Meadows permit station. However, I didn't go that way (I don't even know if it was open yet) and I just picked it up the day before at Big Oak Flat.

As for permit stations, I remember when I was at Roads End at Kings Canyon NP waiting for my traveling companion (AKA my wife) to finish using the restroom. I was bored and struck up a conversation with the worker (he wasn't NPS) at the Roads End permit station about the photo they had of the Half Dome cables ("Be glad this isn't Yosemite" ) and I noted that I'd just gone on a solo trip and met up with my wife. I wasn't sure if I was taking up his time, but he said that he was there all day with hardly anyone showing up, so he didn't mind having someone to talk to. They were renting out Bearikades (rather the Formula 1 version of bear canisters in carbon fiber and machined aluminum alloy) for $5, although you'd have to put up a deposit for the replacement cost. He was also eager to show me their new Bear Vault BV350s - still in the box.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 10:22PM
Quote
QITNL
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wpres.htm

If you will arrive later than 10 am on the day of your trip, please call us to hold your permit for a late arrival: 209/372-0308 (this number is for cancellations and late arrivals only). Otherwise, your permit reservation will be canceled. Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.

I've done it. It works.

I think that's been read by the OP and understood.

However, the issue isn't with calling in to request a late pickup, but that they might not get to a permit station before it closes down for the day. If it doesn't get picked up by the end of the day for the first night, it's automatically cancelled.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 02:01PM
Basil gives good options... but IMHO some of them are prolly a bit aggressive for an
"intermediate" backpacker. Just my opinion.
One question I'd have for the poster... have you been to Yosemite before?
If not... then my 2 cents is to get in a couple of days before you plan on doing this trek
and explore the valley and tuolumne. Since you'd arrive mid-week the chances of getting
a campsite other than the valley are close to 110%.
Heck even if you HAVE been to Yosemite before ... if I was flying any distance at all..
I'd still do that.

Whatever you end up doing... have fun and take it easy.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 09:44PM
Agree.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 08:01PM
Quote
BigR
My sons and I are flying from the east for a 5 nite backpack trip near and around the HSC camps. Our wildernesss permit is for the
day we arrive but we have to drive from San Jose. I know we can request a hold for late arrival but am worried about traffic delays or wrong turns.

We will be entering at Catherdral lakes.

Any tips, suggestions, experience with a late arrival pick-up for a wilderness permit?

Randy

As others have suggested, I think with a 11:45 AM same day arrival at San Jose, you're just cutting it far too close time-wise to get your permit then drive to the Cathedral Lakes trailhead and hike out far enough to camp overnight within the legal guidelines of the permit.

Even if your flight is on-time and you have no checked baggage (so you can skip baggage claim), the earliest realistic time you'll be leaving the airport in your rent-a-car will be around 12:15 to 12:30 PM (and that's if everything goes perfectly as planned and you have an express pickup option for your rental (like the Hertz #1 Gold Club)).

But even leaving at that time you'll be hard pressed to get to the Big Oak Flat Road permit station by 4:00 PM. Your only realistic hope would be making a detour and arriving at the Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station by 5:00 PM to grab your permit. (But by doing so, you probably won't arrive to the Cathedral Lake trailhead by 6:30 PM at the earliest.) This simply wouldn't be wise in my book.

If possible, try to book a flight so you arrive to San Jose or any other nearby major airport (San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, or Reno) the DAY BEFORE. (Or even fly the day before to Las Vegas and stay overnight in Bishop or Mammoth if you can book a cheaper flight to Vegas.) That way you'll be able to arrive and get your wilderness permit in the morning and give yourself plenty of time to get organized before you head out on your backpacking adventure.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/12/2012 08:30PM by plawrence.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 12, 2012 08:15PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
BigR
My sons and I are flying from the east for a 5 nite backpack trip near and around the HSC camps. Our wildernesss permit is for the
day we arrive but we have to drive from San Jose. I know we can request a hold for late arrival but am worried about traffic delays or wrong turns.

We will be entering at Catherdral lakes.

Any tips, suggestions, experience with a late arrival pick-up for a wilderness permit?

Randy

[...] and you have no checked baggage (so you can skip baggage claim), [...]

.

I've flown for outdoor trips in other areas of the country, he'll have plenty of checked luggage.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 11:09AM
Thanks for all the advice and counsel.

1. We're fit and excellent hikers. Intermediate comes from this being our first backpacking trip.
2. We've taken a family trip to YNP before and did the valley floor to Half Dome and back in a day. We spent 7 days in YNP so we're
pretty targeted in our loop plan (Cloud's Rest being a major objective).
3. All the advanced permit reservations are taken the day they become available so we took a gamble on the arrival day pass and
would have attempted day 2 pass had we failed. Too risky to wait for morning of the hike for first come passes.
4. Airlines were booked well in advance to try and manage the costs. Also, my sons have just started their careers so vacation time is at a premium.

Fortunately the boys are strapping young men and can handle most adversity. Altitude might be a problem for one of them but we've dealt with it before. The other lives at 4000 in the
North Carolina Mtns.

Google maps gives me a 3 hours travel time to BOF (158 miles). BOF is open to 5pm.

1230 pm getaway, 30 minutes stop for stove fuel (any recommendations where to stop?) hopefully will put us there 4pm. 5ish to TM, 6pm on trail, 8pm pitching camp. Long
day but doable.

You guys are great and thanks for the help.

Randy (the old one of the group).
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 11:38AM
3 hour drive with no traffic. You won't leave the airport before 1:30 unless you have no checked baggage. Quite possibly 2:00. A 3 hour drive gets you there at 5:00. If anything at all delays you (traffic is a real possibility) then you won't make it in time. If you are going to attempt this schedule I would have a backup plan.
Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 11:46AM
If it were me, this schedule would be far to rushed. That being said here are my top tips:
- No need to stop for fuel. Buy it at the store in Tuolomne Meadows which is open until 6 pm or maybe even later. The store is only a couple miles down the road from your TH.
- If you do arrive at the 120 entrance after 5 pm, as others have mentioned, there is the option of taking a detour to the Hetch-Hetchy entrance. The HH entrance doubles as a wilderness permit station so you can pick up your permit and rent your bear canisters here. In July it stays open until 9 pm. Driving to HH and back will cost you an extra hour though.
- If all else fails and it is to late to start hiking that evening, camp at the Tuolomne Meadows backpackers camp that first night, then go to the wilderness center in the morning and see what permit they can set you up with. Don't worry, there are many trail heads and with five days of hiking not hard to get to both Clouds Rest and Vogelsang regardless of where you start.
- This is bear habitat so food storage is very important. Don't leave any food in your car, there are metal food storage boxes at the trail head, just put any extras in there. Rent bear canisters at the wilderness center, with five days you will need one canister per person.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 11:58AM
I live 10 minutes from SJC and the fastest time I have ever made it to Big Oak Flat is 3 hours 20 mins. That was leaving at 4 am, speeding on the freeway, taking the Old Priest 'shortcut', and no traffic with only one gas/food stop. Afternoon traffic out of the Bay Area is a nightmare, even as early as 2 pm (at least it won't be a Friday, it's worse then). There is definitely a chance you'll make it, but there are so many variables here that I'd make sure to follow the suggestions to have a back up plan!

The quickest places to grab fuel along your route would probably be the Fremont REI, the (shudder) Bass Pro in Manteca, or Tuolumne store.
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 12:04PM
Maybe you can find a friend to pickup your permit and meet you somewhere in the park?
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 12:37PM
Eeek, that's a great idea. but would likely have to be someone already in the park. It would be a bit of a haul for any friends we have in San Jose.
We will already have our bear canister and will have our provision with us from Raleigh. I do have #1 Gold status with Hertz so that might help

I will make a back-up plan.

Gas in TM sounds like a smart plan.

Randy
avatar Re: Late Arrival
April 13, 2012 12:43PM
Quote
BigR
Eeek, that's a great idea. but would likely have to be someone already in the park. It would be a bit of a haul for any friends we have in San Jose.

If you can't get somebody you already know, you can try here. Somebody might be willing.
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