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Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)

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Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 10, 2013 01:35PM
Reposting from General Discussion Section

Got wilderness permits for memorial day weekend starting at Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through). Never been to the valley in the summer (only winter). Feeling lucky after getting permits and spending the long weekend exploring the area.

Would love suggestions:
- Preferences to hike up the mist trail or the JMT?
- Suggestions for a trip route for 3 days.

Thanks!
Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 10, 2013 05:28PM
The route on your permit doesn't give you much leeway beyond Mist vs. JMT, and that will depend on whether you want to go shorter miles/lots of granite steps/get wet, or switchbacks up to the top of Nevada Falls/add about a mile/potential to get a little less wet (the melt trickles over an overhang just before you reach Nevada Falls).

Unless you want to do cross country, you're going up the Merced river canyon from Little Yosemite Valley. You'll have fun just the same.
avatar Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 10, 2013 06:38PM
The permit is Happy Isles-Sunrise/Merced Lake (passthru). Has been for years.
This means you have to either hike past LYV and up the JMT towards Half Dome/Clouds Rest
and the first location you can camp is beyond the HD/JMT split.
OR hike up the Merced River Canyon approx. 2 miles beyond LYV to what is referred
to as Moraine Dome "campground". (it's just place in the woods next to the river)

Anywho... as long as you can get going at a reasonable hour... I always recommend up
Mist and down JMT. Mist is shorter. If you go down the Mist then you have to time it
so it's not chock full of people... and I always hike with sticks... when carrying a backpack.

It's about 25 miles if you were to go all the way to Merced Lake ... turn around and then
come back via the higher trail which connects to the JMT.
That is the route that I would recommend... going UP river I always find mo butter
than going down river.
You may want to just do the out and back from Merced Lake... it's just that pretty.

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 10, 2013 11:06PM
This forum is always a fantastic resource. Thanks for the information and quick replies!

So, below are two options for the trip itinerary. How do these sound?

Itinerary 1 - total mileage ~26 miles?
Day 1: up the Mist trail, then following the Merced River past LYV to at least Moraine Dome for camping
Day 2: hiking to Merced Lake and camping at the backpackers campground
Day 3: hiking back the Merced River using the JMT to Happy Isles (13 miles?)

Itinerary 2 - total mileage ~25 miles
Day 1: up the Mist trail, then following the Merced River past LYV to at least Moraine Dome for camping
Day 2: hiking to Merced Lake, and start loop using the higher trail. Camping between there and the HD/JMT junction.
Day 3: hiking back down the JMT to Happy Isles

For the Merced River trail, are there dispersed camping spots after LYV, or is camping limited to the Moraine Dome area and the Merced Lake backpackers campground?
avatar Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 11, 2013 07:24AM
Beyond Moraine Dome area...
(which is right smack next to the "Helmet Dome/Little Grizzly Falls/Bunnell Pt." picture here btw)
you can camp anywhere you like until you get to Merced Lake. At Merced Lake you are
suppose to camp at the campground by the HSC. Everywhere else on that route...
you can camp where you see fit that abides by the rules on your permit.
Lost Valley has suspect camping... Area before the bridges where you cross over
the Merced (where the Bunnell Avalanche lives)... that area is the best
imo on way to Merced Lake. Echo Valley is nice.

Um... so if I wasn't clear... you can go anywhere beyond LYV. Clouds Rest.
Shoulder area of Half Dome. Quarter. Forsyth Trail. Sunrise HSC.
You could even do this loop In Search of Bigfoot
(we did it in 3 days)
Anywho... I'd go with up Merced River towards Merced Lake and back either same way or
via the higher trail.

Have fun whatever you do



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 11, 2013 01:03PM
The hike up along the Merced river canyon is beautiful and a perfect early season hike.
I don't find Merced Lake all that exciting and if you camp at the lake you are limited to the backpackers campground. For that reason I would only go as far as Echo Valley, a fabulous place to camp and explore. So here are a couple of variations on your itineraries one and two.

Itinerary one is a mellow trip along the Merced River
Day 1: up the Mist trail, then following the Merced River past LYV to Morain Dome "campground", 5.5 miles
Day 2: continue to Echo Valley, 5 miles
Day 3: go back the way you came except taking the JMT for that last part 12.5 miles mostly down hill

Itinerary two is more ambitious with higher milage, particularly on the first day
Day 1: to Echo Valley 11.5 miles
Day 2: take the high trail to Clouds Rest / JMT junction (there are two such junctions, take the southern one), fill up water here, go up to Clouds Rest, then back down a little ways to camp. 10 miles
Day 3: back down to JMT junction and then down JMT all the way to the valley. 8.5 miles
avatar Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 11, 2013 05:09PM
Option 1 there is really the way to go for a newbie that has never been up that-a-way imho.
Just so much to explore and gawk at along the way. Although I agree about Merced Lake...
the hike to the lake just before you get to the lake itself .... highly recommend.
I much prefer Washburn Lake mainly due to some of the features on the wall.
Not that great of camping spots at Washburn though.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 11, 2013 05:19PM
Fishing at Washburn is really good though - Not much happening at Merced
Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 11, 2013 06:43PM
A bit strenuous, but:
Day 1: mist trail to echo valley.
Day 2: dayhike the trail up towards Vogelsang. You get to see Lake Merced up close and, better, from above; plus the Clark Range, invisible otherwise. Also great views of Half Dome. And best of all, the cascading falls coming from Vogelsang. Return to your already pitched campsite.
Day 3: depending on how you feel, the high trail back, or the easy descent back the way you came. But nowadays at the junction I always take the JMT down, not the mist trail. Add twenty minutes to your itinerary.

Best of all: find a way to take four days.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2013 06:44PM by hegel.
avatar Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 12, 2013 10:44AM
elicali,
The primary reason most folks are suggesting the JMT return instead of the Mist trail return is that it's really tough on the knees. Some of the Mist trail is manmade stepping stones that are fine for going uphill but will beat up your knees going downhill, especially with a full pack and if you already have a lot of miles behind you. The JMT in that area has more gradual switchbacks and is also used by the horse and mule trains.
Jim
Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 12, 2013 02:41PM
Also, those man-made steps get VERY wet and, hence, very slippery. Much easier to lose your footing going downhill than up, I would say.
avatar Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 12, 2013 08:17PM
Quote
DavidK42
Also, those man-made steps get VERY wet and, hence, very slippery. Much easier to lose your footing going downhill than up, I would say.

And if you do go down the Mist Trail with a pack on stay to the inside and force the up-going hikers to the edge side. Be sure to have sticks.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Suggestions for 3 day trip: Happy Isles to Merced Lake (pass-through)
March 13, 2013 07:14AM
The other reason is it's just so narrow at the top it can be a major pain to
navigate those high steps at the top with a pack on and with Memorial Day
weekend crowds.
Up Mist... down JMT ... unless don't get going until late and Mist is already jammed...
then up and down JMT... and then it's highly unlikely can make it to Echo on day 1.
But, hey, I've heard lots of people who were starting after noon saying they
were going to Merced Lake on day 1 as we're packing up to go home at the HI TH.
Days are long then. My guess is that plenty with a passthru konk at LYV
saying simply... no mas.



Chick-on is looking at you!
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