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Re: 5-Days in May

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5-Days in May
May 03, 2013 10:27PM
I know you hear this all the time, but it's seriously crazy how much great info and inspiration is housed in this site. Reading through the advice served up for others really helped our planning, but I’d appreciate a sanity check and any thoughts on our 5-day itinerary for May 27-31.

We have a wilderness permit for Glacier Point to Illilouette Falls with HD permits (they urged us to get a permit from a lower TH in case Tioga was still closed, but said we’d have no trouble getting out of TL or TM when we arrive—hope that’s true). Really want to do Clouds Rest, Quarter Domes, Half Dome, head up the Merced and get up to Cathedral Lakes.

It’s our first time backpacking at altitude, so I'm trying to stay reasonable (we’re from PA). I’m a distance runner, do ~6 weekend trips each year and spend a lot of time in the woods, but this is our first 5-day trip ( it's a last hoorah for my daughter before she heads off to college in August). She’s fit but has spent less time backpacking.

I saw several suggestions to keep the distance to <~10 miles per day and Schaeffer’s guide says to expect about a 2 mph pace plus one hour for every +1000 vertical. I understand YMMV, but I hoped those were good rules of thumb because I used them as a guide for our plan.

So here's the initial plan:

Day 1: Tenaya Lakes to CR then camp near QD
Day 2: Over to HD then down thru LYV to camping area near Moraine Dome or Bunnel Point (area near the “oo” in second
Day 3: Up to Merced to Echo Valley then head up Cathedral Fork toward either Echo Lake or Matthes Lake.
Day 4 Do some exploring up Matthes, Echo and/or Cathedral then head over to Cathedral Lakes (lower?)
Day 5 Explore Tressider, Tenaya, Medlicott and/or Mariuolumne then head down one of the “short cuts” to Tioga then TL

1) Sound reasonable? Any thoughts on camping near Moraine Dome v. Echo Lake? Echo Lake v. Matthes Lake?

2) Amy suggestions on class 3 or under scrambles (particularly days 4&5)—nothing too serious. Pretty sure I've seen pics of a feathered adventurer at all of the high spots I mentioned, but I'm not sure that means they're reasonable.

3) We're staying in Oakhurst Sunday night. Is the Wawona visitor's center the easiest/quickest way to pick-up our WP?

4) Please tell me our 30 degree bags on Neoair pads should be warm enough.

5) Any idea how bad the mosquitos should be?

Any input would be great. Thanks.
avatar Re: 5-Days in May
May 04, 2013 08:10AM
First of all, I think your plan is very reasonable given the amount of time you have allotted. Gives you plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers.
There will be mosquitos anywhere near water and then some even away from water. Plan on it that time of year.
30 degree bags plus extra clothing should be adequate for your time frame.
Not sure why you want opinions on Moraine-vs-Echo Lake camping since these are 2nd day and 3rd day destinations. Both are good locations and the Moraine selection avoids the insane number of bodies in the LYV camp.
Echo Lake or Matthes Lake are equally beautiful campsites. I've not been to Matthes Lake (will this year) but have seen enough photos.
I'll let others address the Class 3 & 4 commentary since I'm essentially a Class 2 hiker.

By the way, do you have your Cathedral Trailhead permit?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2013 08:12AM by tomdisco.
Re: 5-Days in May
May 04, 2013 09:13AM
Great plan. Here is a slight variation that takes it slower on your first day. Check out of your hotel in Oakhurst, pick up permit in Wawona, maybe breakfast in Wawona, drive to Tuolomne Meadows, stop to admire the view a few times along the way, you probably won't be starting at the trail head until almost mid day.

Day 1: Sunrise TH at Tenaya Lake to one of the Sunrise lakes. 3.5 miles
The three sunrise lakes are beautiful, the middle is my favorite, has a nice little island (think swimming.) If you want some exploration Sunrise mountain has great views and Mildred lake is only a mile off trail from middle Sunrise lake.
Day 2: Middle Sunrise lake to the JMT / Clouds Rest junction. 8 miles
This is your Clouds Rest day, also time to explore Quarter Domes.
Day 3: JMT / Clouds Rest junction to twin bridges, side trip to Half Dome. 10 miles
Do Half Dome in the morning before the big crowds arrive. Then down to LYV and up along the Merced. Camping is nice in the area between the two bridges.
Day 4: Twin bridges to Mathes lake with side trip to Merced lake. 11 miles
When you get to the trail junction in Echo Valley continue a mile or so towards Merced lake all the way until you can see the lake. If you don't, you will miss Echo Valley, which would be a shame in my opinion. Then after you have explored Echo Valley go back to the trail junction and continue north and along the Cathedral fork. You leave the trail at mile 10 where the trail abruptly goes west you will continue off trail following the Cathedral fork and can either go towards Mathes lake for more dramatic scenery or Echo lake. If you don't feel up to the off trail hiking this late in the day there are nice camping spots many places along the creek.
Day 5: Mathes lake to Sunrise TH. 8 miles or Mathes to Cathedral TH 6 miles or one of the other variations that you have outlined will be great. If you end up at a different spot on Tioga Road than where you parked you'll have to thumb a ride back to your car, which shouldn't be too hard.
Re: 5-Days in May
May 04, 2013 01:29PM
Katy, thanks for the tip about Echo Valley, I'm sure we'd have missed that. Looking at the trail map it seems like you can't miss Echo Valley, but based on your suggestion, I'm sure we would have,

And I'll look a bit more at your suggestion for SRL the first night. I was thinking of that as an option depending on how we felt after the climb to the intersection with the trail to SRL. I was concerned that the first day would be the toughest because of the miles and the climb, so it's good to have options early if the climbing hits us harder than we anticipate.
Re: 5-Days in May
May 04, 2013 01:18PM
Tomdisco, that was a typo when I asked Moraine Dome v. Echo Lake.

I meant to ask which of these was better camp site:
a) below Moraine Dome (is that technically the east end of LYV)
b) the area between the two footbridges below Bunnell Point; or
c) the Echo Valley Jct

It will probably depend on how we feel, but it would be nice to know if one or two of those spots are significantly better than the others.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2013 01:30PM by Etrain.
avatar Re: 5-Days in May
May 07, 2013 04:48PM
Tomdisco, that was a typo when I asked Moraine Dome v. Echo Lake.

I meant to ask which of these was better camp site:
a) below Moraine Dome (is that technically the east end of LYV)
b) the area between the two footbridges below Bunnell Point; or
c) the Echo Valley Jct

It will probably depend on how we feel, but it would be nice to know if one or two of those spots are significantly better than the others.

Dunno Jimdisco been these places so I'll comment.
Echo Valley Junction is nothing to write home about. Def. not there. There are spots before you leave the river heading upstream that are nice.
Between the footbridges... um... not exactly. There is no area BETWEEN the footbridges to camp. The area at the footbridges ... just to the
north and east of there is really nice. I like that spot the best of the 3 you mentioned. Moraine Dome "campground"... that's the area
by Little Grizzly Falls... it's just camping in the woods. The cascade/falls is more or less right there... but the camping doesn't have much
for views. Not my cup of tea. My 2 cents. Def. you want to stop and enjoy both Little Grizzly Falls and Bunnell Cascade.
There isn't much of any camping in Lost Valley.

What else? Def. try to check out both Lower and Upper Cathedral. Lower will be nice and mushy then though.
I wouldn't recommend hiking the trail from Cathedral to Tenaya Lake... it's mostly wooded and not a huge number of views.
IMO you should try to explore the lakes and domes around Cathedral like you mentioned... along with Fairview ... which is
pretty simple friction climb up imo. YMMV. Peak 10450 above Upper Cath is worth the view and effort. I've never done Tressider.
Echo Peak (the highest) is good fun. Dunno how much climbing around time you'll have.
To save time camp at Echo.

Please at Echo and Matthes... seriously consider not having a campfire. These lakes get a huge amount of pressure.
Please note that both Cathedral and Nelson Lakes area are no campfires... so it won't be long before Echo and Matthes follow suit.
Please also spread out and do not create or enhance any trail... try to keep it xcountry...

Thanks and have fun whatever you end up doing.
(and saying please and thank you go a long way) (it shouldn't get old... and doesn't)

Have fun!

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: 5-Days in May
May 10, 2013 01:35PM
 We'll make sure  no fire at Echo.  By the way, I'm not sure what you mean by Echo and Matthews lakes get a huge amount of pressure? Do you mean use/abuse or something particular? (I just like to make sure I don't inadvertently do something I shouldn't).

Thanks for the 10450 suggestion. I checked out the routes in the thread you and Calaveras had last year. It looks more doable than I thought just looking at the topo.

Also, if Lower Cathedral is going to be "nice and mushy", I assume that means it would be preferable to camp near Upper Cathderal, yes?

Hard to believe the trip is only two weeks out. 

Thanks for your input and suggestions. They've been really helpful. 
avatar Re: 5-Days in May
May 10, 2013 03:36PM
By pressure I just mean that those lakes are becoming wildly popular.
(for good reason)

If you missed it... here's my buddie Bearpoof on 10450 from last year:

Nice and Mushy... Lower Cathedral... I just mean the meadowy area ... right where
the trail runs...
for camping you should be able to easily find some nice granite north of the
lake closer to the outlet.
When Bearpoof and I did that hike last year we came up the "fisherman's" trail,
easily crossed the outlet... and hiked around the south side... then shot up
SE completely avoiding the trail to the ridge and then up to 10450.
Fairly simple.

Year prior came up between Mariuolumne and Fairview....

My apologies if you seen all this and that before.

Hope you really enjoy your trip

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: 5-Days in May
May 04, 2013 09:34AM
On the 30 degree bag for late May, the bag should be OK but I'd consider bringing a liner, in the higher-altitude areas of your trip below freezing nights (with warm days) would be typical (last weekend I had just barely below freezing at night, which is quite warm for late April). In the lower-altitude areas of your trip 30 will be fine.
Re: 5-Days in May
May 04, 2013 01:36PM
Thanks Tilley. I thought I remembered reading that there was some pretty cold weather either last Memorial Day or the year before (and snow?), so I figured there was the possibility of some cold, but I was hoping the bags would be OK and we'll bring something to supplement like you suggest (liner etc.). We don't do enough cold weather hiking to justify the cost of nice 0 or 20 degree bags, but I also don't want to be miserable on our trip if I underestimate how cold it will be for 4 mights.
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