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When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

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When would you start the trip?

Last week in June
9
60%
First week in July
2
13%
Second week in July
1
7%
Third week in July
0
No votes
Fourth week in July
2
13%
Fifth week in July
1
7%
 
Total votes : 15

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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby LMBSGV » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:31 pm

I would pick your date and get your permit now. The SEKI Wilderness permit application says:

"Changes to the entry date or trail and increases in group size must be made at least one week before your entry date. One change can be made with no cost. Any additional changes result in a $10 processing fee."

If you discover that the conditions would be better if you go later, then change the date at least a week in advance. With two people, changing the date shouldn't be difficult, especially for a weekday. That way you can relax and enjoy your wedding and still will have your permit for the honeymoon.

This is what I did three years ago and I had to change my entry date due to family plans changing. All it took was a phone call. It's also what I'm doing this year since I don't know for sure the dates I picked will hold -- my wife and I need to hear from an irresponsible/uncommunicative family member who lives 2,000 miles away before we can finalize summer plans. But at least, I'll have my permit instead of worrying about getting a walk-up for Copper Creek (I'm hoping to do the Lakes Basin/Cartridge Pass/Pinchot Pass loop).

Congratulations and have a happy honeymoon.



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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:03 am

I would walk in for a permit.

Never had an issue for any trailhead in SEKI doing that. As long as it is not Paradise, Bubbs, or Crescent Meadow, there's never been an issue.

Copper Creek is a very, very, very strenuous trail - 5,000 feet of climbing in the first miles - and while it's not unused, it's not what most people are up for.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby afahrland » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:36 am

As others have said, I wouldn't worry too much about getting a permit. Not many people want to walk up all those switchbacks.

Of course things can change if we get some big storms, but right now there is even less snow than last year. Here is a photo from a section just off the High Route near Tuolumne Meadows from June 14th of last year:

Image

That trip felt more like late July than mid-June.

Personally I would bring an ice axe (and practice with it a few times to refresh your memory) and maybe microspikes since you are bound to encounter some steep snow slopes but there just isn't that much snow out there.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby jessegooddog » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:43 am

The trick to getting a room at the Ahwahnee, always booked ahead for the year, is to start calling a week or so before you want a room to get in on those last minute cancellations. Personally, I liked staying at the Wawona just as much. Have a terrific wedding and honeymoon.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby rlown » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:06 pm

just to clarify, My wife and I got married at the Yose Chapel in Feb '94. 2' of snow on the ground with about 30 guests who made the trip up to stay in the valley and celebrate with us. Even served my own beer and hard cider.

We had our reception in the Solarium at the Ahwahnee. Stayed for a couple nights there. Even had some nice hikes and a Mule ride. I think we had room 450, which gave us patio access and overlooked the valley to the west. It IS now very expensive to stay there, but very nice, esp if you do the dinner and the brunch.

It was funny as there were a few animals running around as we did the reception. Deer, Coyotes..

Brendan, I hope yours starts out as memorable.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:09 pm

There is a cut-off time to get permits at Roads End. I think it is 2PM or 3PM. They do that because they want people to get 4 miles up the trails before camping. I started up the Copper Creek trail at 5AM. It can get hot quickly. I got a permit the previous day and camped at Moraine Campground. It is hard to get on the trail before 8-9 AM if you get a permit the day you walk in.

I agree a walk in permit should be no problem. That gives you flexibility. Unless we get a LOT more snow this spring, I would be more concerned with forest fires (smoky conditions), mosquitoes and river crossings than snow. Snow does not bother me for June backpacking; river crossings do!

I would say that if you are well versed on snow, can confidently self arrest, know when snow becomes unsafe and roping up is needed, then going early, if properly equipped is no problem. Otherwise, starting about 3rd week in July would allow you to avoid snow (given we end up a very dry year). A late as possible start would be my preference just to avoid mosquitoes.

I think the HSR is a great honeymoon! Just do not plan days so long that each one is a death march.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby SweetSierra » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:51 pm

AlmostThere wrote:I would walk in for a permit.

Never had an issue for any trailhead in SEKI doing that. As long as it is not Paradise, Bubbs, or Crescent Meadow, there's never been an issue.

Copper Creek is a very, very, very strenuous trail - 5,000 feet of climbing in the first miles - and while it's not unused, it's not what most people are up for.


I wish that this had been the case for our group. Just found out that our group couldn't get a permit for August for at least six of us for the Copper Creek trail. Instead we'll have to do the trip in reverse, which means going to Paradise Valley and up to the arrow lakes on the first and second days and then on to Bench Lake, Lakes Basin, Grouse Lake, and eventually down Copper Creek. I was surprised that we couldn't get a permit given how strenuous Copper Creek is. I've been up it once and don't recall an issue with a permit.
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When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:45 pm

six people. i get walk in permits in yosemite, where it's even harder to get them, by having one or two people.

people are forever changing plans - walking in lets you pick up open spots left when others who reserved figure out they cannot go. or more likely, all their friends drop out on them.

i have reserved second choice, walked in, asked, and gotten a last minute change to what i wanted in the first place, with six people, from lodgepole.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby oleander » Sun Mar 09, 2014 2:16 pm

I'd advocate for a mid-July or later start. Simply, you'll avoid more snow and mosquitoes, both.

A wedding PLUS a backpacking trip immediately following, is a LOT to plan for all at once. Why not have the wedding, and THEN move into backpack planning mode? Chart your mileage, plan your town visits, pack your food, etc. after the wedding. You will be plenty busy.

- Elizabeth
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby sparky » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:24 am

You will be hiking in your tuxedo, right?! :wink:
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: When to start the High Sierra Route this summer?

Postby BrendanM » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:48 pm

Hi everyone. I realized that I never posted a reply of thanks for all of your sage advice :( My sincere apologies -- I'm going to do better in the future. All of the conversation that came of this post was very helpful in planning out our honeymoon trek along the Sierra High Route.

Here are some conclusions, informed by everyone's advice:

- We are going to start the week after the wedding (June 27). Yes, we've seen a decent amount of rain in the last month and yes recent snow surveys are showing surprising depth at the high elevations (http://www.pcta.org/2014/state-snowpack ... erra-18573). However, this is still an abnormally dry year and we'll prepare ourselves for the occasional snow patches. I am probably also going to customize our route so that we detour off of the prescribed Sierra High Route where there are known or likely snow covered north-facing passes.

- My fiance got a kick out of the common advice that I butter her up with some time at the Ahwahnee. We won't be doing that (she doesn't want it), but we are going to add some luxury to the trip. First, we're going to spend a night or two at a resort immediately after the wedding and before we hit trail. The point will be to relax and pamper, probably somewhere in the Bay Area. Second, I'm going to hire a pack team to resupply us at least once. I'm going to have them bring up a nice bottle of wine and a nice dinner. She won't know about this.

Thanks again for your thoughts, everyone. I look forward to posting the trip report when all is said and done... and I wouldn't be surprised if I asked for some more advice before then too.

Brendan
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