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South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

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South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby Petrarch » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:26 am

Hi there, first time poster here. I'm looking for some advice on a south Yosemite loop for mid to late June. I'd like to start in the Valley and head to Merced Lake, but once there I have some questions...I prefer to stick to trails for the most part, but have no problem packing on some milage. Time is flexible right now

Anyone have an opinion on staying low to Washburn Lake/along the Triple Peak Fork or go along the bench to the Lyell Fork of the Merced?
From there going across Red Peak Pass but then another question, I think Illouette Creek trail and then taking the Panorama Cliff back to glacier point would be great, but is it "worth the extra miles" to loop south to through Merced Pass, Buck Camp, and then north on the Buena Vista Trail?

Totally subjective answers welcome. Thanks!



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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby markskor » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:36 am

Welcome...
First thought is why start out in the Valley? Start high and end low.
Suggest starting out Mono Meadows (easy permit) and reversing directions.
Leave car in the Valley - safe - and take the $$ AM bus that heads for Glacier Point; You will be on the trail (Mono Meadow TH) by 11:00... stay somewhere along the Illilouette canyon/creek, maybe 5 - 6 miles below Ottoway. Next day, after wetting a line at Lower...(Upper Ottoway fish-less) - head over the pass and... the rest is wide open and mostly level or downhill whatever route (and you have options - lots of them) you then choose back down to the Valley.

BTW, that entire Lyell Fork of the Merced area is pretty special to me...many trips taken and rumors still call out, both on or off trail...lots of isolated magic up there. Thankfully, not many visit the area...
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby oldranger » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:36 pm

Agree with markskors assessment of starting point. Answering your question about Merced pass, unless you have tons of time I'd bypass and do just as Mark said. Then the question is high trail or heading down triple peak Fork to Washburn and Merced lakes. The high trail offers great views of the Clark Range but has a few more ups and downs than the mostly gradual trip down the river. The high trail also has a couple off trail diversions if you have the time--Harriet Lakes and up the Lyle Fork as markskor mentioned. The river trail has the wonderful triple peak falls and Washburn Lake right on your route. I could easily make it from the ford at Triple Peak Fork to Merced lake in a day but the high trail would take me two with no side excursions, but I am old and slow. Which route you choose is a matter of the time you have and what your priorities are. The upper Merced area is a magical place for me. Over more than 50 years of backpacking I have been thru 6 times, 4 in the last 8 years.

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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby robow8 » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:43 pm

Did a loop here last year late August. HI up the Mist Trail to Illilouette Creek to Lower Ottoway Lake over Red Peak Pass to Triple Peak Fork back down to HI. The climb out of the valley was rough. I would start at GP or Mono Meadow if I did it again. Camped at Clark Fork, Lower Ottoway Lake, Triple Peak Fork Jct, Merced Lake, and LYV. The area between Red Peak Pass and Triple Peak Fork Jct has several small lakes that would be great spots if the weather was good. And I agree, the upper Merced was wonderful!
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby TehipiteTom » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:58 pm

markskor wrote:Welcome...
First thought is why start out in the Valley? Start high and end low.
Suggest starting out Mono Meadows (easy permit) and reversing directions.
Leave car in the Valley - safe - and take the $$ AM bus that heads for Glacier Point; You will be on the trail (Mono Meadow TH) by 11:00... stay somewhere along the Illilouette canyon/creek, maybe 5 - 6 miles below Ottoway. Next day, after wetting a line at Lower...(Upper Ottoway fish-less) - head over the pass and... the rest is wide open and mostly level or downhill whatever route (and you have options - lots of them) you then choose back down to the Valley.

BTW, that entire Lyell Fork of the Merced area is pretty special to me...many trips taken and rumors still call out, both on or off trail...lots of isolated magic up there. Thankfully, not many visit the area...

Does the Glacier Point bus stop at Mono Meadow TH? Last time I was considering this I got the impression it didn't, but I could have it wrong--you spend a lot more time in Yosemite than I do.
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby markskor » Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:16 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:Does the Glacier Point bus stop at Mono Meadow TH? Last time I was considering this I got the impression it didn't, but I could have it wrong--you spend a lot more time in Yosemite than I do.

Tom,
Not a scheduled stop but, like all Yosemite buses to "out of the Valley" destinations, drivers will gladly stop anywhere on route (if/ where there is a safe place to pull over) when requested. Mono Meadows TH has a big pullout space/parking lot - so no problem there. The only fly in the ointment in using the Glacier Point bus here is the cost. The round trip (complete with witty patter from the driver) costs $25 (alas, no price break - I asked)...Even though you are doing less than half the route when getting off at the Mono Meadow TH.

However, it is the only expedient way, short of hitch hiking, that works if only one car, or solo...
Does gain you that 5,000 feet of elevation though, and you are walking back down to the car - always a good thing.
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby Petrarch » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:42 am

Thanks for the ideas, I think I might try to hitch to get an earlier start at Mono Meadows TH.
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby markskor » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:30 am

Hitching a ride in Yosemite can be done - lots easier if you sport a real backpack, possess good, well-used gear, be devilishly handsome or at least look like a real backpacker (really?), be reasonably clean (or not?), appear you know what your doing (yeah right), don't smell too bad, and always have a "destination sign" visible...but even at that, any ride can take quite a while, especially when exiting from the Valley zoo. (Take this from someone who does a lot of summer thumbing Sierra.) Best to be on the specific destination road, after any fork ahead not before, standing on a place where the ride can pull over and stop easily...a smile helps too..all still do-able but not a timely way to get around.

The problem with hitching an AM ride from the Valley to Mono Meadows is getting from the Valley BP camp, (where you stayed the night before?) to the Wawona Road cutoff - the road that goes eventually to Glacier Point and your TH. There is no AM shuttle bus going anywhere close to the Wawona/ GP fork...and in the Valley there are too many other road options just ahead going out and elsewhere...not a good bet on getting a ride faster than the GP bus. I would get up 6:30, pack up, walk the 1/2 mile to Curry Village, buy a coffee, and from there pay the money and take the 8:30 bus from Curry to MM...lots easier.

Yosemite has an enlightened bus system - mostly cheap and highly recommended.
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby ndwoods » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:17 pm

Ditto taking the shuttle to Glacier Point. The drivers have no issue stopping to let hikers off at Mono Meadows. In June you might hit snow on Red Peak Pass btw....
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Re: South Yosemite Loop? (merced, Isberg, Red Peak Pass)

Postby balzaccom » Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:59 am

Mono Meadows is definitely the better starting point for this hike, particularly when you remember that your pack will be full when you leave the trailhead---and you don't want to start with a long uphill climb at that point.

We've hiked into this area from two different directions. Isberg Pass is tough...but Post Peak is a glorious route---you hike along the ridge for quite a while, with great views in every direction. Or you can camp, as we did, at the lake underneath Isberb Pass, with tons of nice brook trout.

Illilouette Canyon isn't the most scenic, but once you get in a few miles and leave the fire damage behind, it opens up nicely. Lower Ottoway is simply lovely...and it just gets better after that.

One more place to explore---the canyons and lakes above the Merced river as you head up to Isberg Pass. Lots to see up there.
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