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Re: High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?

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High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?
July 17, 2015 10:33AM
I have reserved 4 nights in the High Sierra Camps starting Monday next week, July 20. I'm going to Vogelsang, Merced Lake and Sunrise. I am concerned that the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms with lightning. I've done these hikes before so I know that there are many exposed areas that I simply don't want to be during a lightning storm.

If I start out from Tuolumne to Vogelsang and there is lightning around, I will likely turn back rather than risk being up on Tuolumne Pass during the storm.

Does anyone know the DNC policy regarding refunds due to dangerous weather making it risky to hike to the camps?

Thanks, Mom

(It's nowhere on the reservation form. I did get a refund from the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge a few years ago when the Tioga Road was closed unexpectedly due to snow.)
Re: High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?
July 17, 2015 11:09AM
I think it would require rather severe weather--such as significant snow--for the camps to cancel reservations due to weather--but it's worth a call. Thunderstorms are not that rare or exceptional in the Sierra, and JKW and I have hiked to enough camps in thunderstorms that I suspect they consider such weather routine and expected. These stormy trips have been some of the most memorable trips--watching (and listening to) a storm from the hill behind May Lake is an experience to remember, and I suspect it would be similar for Vogelsang or Sunrise.

I'd leave early on the days you head to Vogelsang and Sunrise to make sure you are past the high points as early in the day as possible--the storms tend to build up in the afternoon.

Many years ago JKW and I met up at Merced Lake with a group who had signed up for the ranger-led hike--"Danger Rave" was the ranger. Anyway, they encountered a lot lightning over Vogelsang Pass, to the extent that they got to see (and smell) a freshly hit tree on the side of the trail. They apparently timed the strikes to cross the pass--I'm not sure I understand the logic of this, but it's clear they were very much in the storm.
Re: High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?
July 17, 2015 11:22AM
I called them and yes, they say they are strict on the cancellation policy. Thunderstorms are predicted for early next week. If lightning bolts are raining down from the sky when I am set to leave Tuolumne Meadows, I'll either wait or turn around and argue with them later.

I have encountered Ranger Dave, ha. Sounds like his group just got lucky. There is no way to 'time' lightning bolts. "Shattered Air" made quite an impression on me. I think I know what to do during a lightning storm but I don't want to have to put it to the test.
Re: High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?
July 17, 2015 11:43AM
Quote
Mom
Sounds like his group just got lucky. There is no way to 'time' lightning bolts.

While I agree that timing lightning doesn't make sense, I also don't think it was luck--the most dangerous part of the trip for any of those hikers was probably the drive to/from Yosemite, not hiking in a thunderstorm. I wouldn't try to bag a peak or dome in a thunderstorm, but very little of the High Sierra Camps Loop is both high and exposed--even at Vogelsang Pass you are surrounded by rocks much higher than you.

Of course, I'm someone who did a trip so I could be in the middle of a spectacular storm. And I'm signed up for more this weekend :-)
avatar Re: High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?
July 17, 2015 12:19PM
Quote
Mom
I have reserved 4 nights in the High Sierra Camps starting Monday next week, July 20. I'm going to Vogelsang, Merced Lake and Sunrise. I am concerned that the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms with lightning. I've done these hikes before so I know that there are many exposed areas that I simply don't want to be during a lightning storm.

If I start out from Tuolumne to Vogelsang and there is lightning around, I will likely turn back rather than risk being up on Tuolumne Pass during the storm.


The hike from the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge to Vogelsang via Rafferty Creek is under 7 miles. If you leave in the morning (before 8 AM) you should safely arrive at Vogelsang by midday, most likely far before any thundershowers might come to pass later in the afternoon.

I doubt that DNC would let you cancel your HSC reservations without any penalties unless — at the very least — it was downpouring torrential rains throughout the entire day.

.
Re: High Sierra Camps Weather Policy?
July 17, 2015 01:23PM
Yes, I know, I've done the loop before. On Tuesday morning, I'll be leaving Vogelsang headed for Merced Lake. Thunderstorms are predicted that morning. But if it looks bad I'll take Fletcher Creek instead of Vogelsang Pass. It's more protected, less exposed.
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