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Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

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Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby cloudlesssky » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:15 pm

Where do I pick up permits for a southbound hike on the PCT from Sonora Pass to Reds Meadow in the July timeframe? Will I need a Donohue Pass permit?



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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby maverick » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:36 pm

Where do I pick up permits for a southbound hike on the PCT from Sonora Pass to Reds Meadow in the July time frame?


Summit Ranger District Office

#1 Pinecrest Lake Road (at the Y)
Pinecrest, CA
Photo of Summit Ranger Office

Summer Hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day):
8:00am to 5:00pm

Phone: (209) 965-3434

Will I need a Donohue Pass permit?


Yes, the permit you get from Summit will only get you to Tuolumne, you will need to get another permit from Yosemite to get over Donohue since quota system instituted last year. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/jmtfaq.htm
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby cahiker » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:32 am

The instructions for a Hoover wilderness permit from Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest says that, "Self-issue wilderness permits for Sonora Pass, Leavitt Lake, and Leavitt Meadow trailheads only are located at the Leavitt Meadow trailhead." I've never gotten a permit for Sonora Pass there, but I have gotten one for Leavitt Meadow, and they had them in a box in the parking lot.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/htnf/home ... rdb5238673

The Donohue Pass exit permit is a tool that Yosemite is using to try and limit the number of JMT hikers on their trails. It only seems to apply to permits that originate in Yosemite, so you shouldn't need one for your trip that starts at Sonora Pass, whether you get the permit at the Summit Ranger station, Leavitt Meadow or the Bridgeport ranger station. Of course, it couldn't hurt to call Yosemite to confirm, because their posted info doesn't specifically address trips that start outside of Yosemite.

Last year, apparently the Bridgeport ranger station usually wouldn't write permits for the southern Hoover Wilderness trailheads for trips that exited over Donohue Pass, but sometimes they did. It probably depended on who wrote your permit, and maybe the mood they were in. These are the obvious alternative places to try and skirt the Donohue exit quota for JMT trips since they only add a modest amount of distance to the trip.

You could also turn your trip around and start at Reds Meadows since you can go northbound over Donohue Pass with a permit from Inyo NF. And those are available from recreation.gov, so you could get it now and not worry about the rules changing later.

I'm all for wilderness permits and quotas, but the crazy patchwork of different rules from different agencies will make your head spin!
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby maverick » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:37 am

The instructions for a Hoover wilderness permit from Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest says that, "Self-issue wilderness permits for Sonora Pass, Leavitt Lake, and Leavitt Meadow trailheads only are located at the Leavitt Meadow trailhead." I've never gotten a permit for Sonora Pass there, but I have gotten one for Leavitt Meadow, and they had them in a box in the parking lot.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/htnf/home ... rdb5238673

The Donohue Pass exit permit is a tool that Yosemite is using to try and limit the number of JMT hikers on their trails. It only seems to apply to permits that originate in Yosemite, so you shouldn't need one for your trip that starts at Sonora Pass, whether you get the permit at the Summit Ranger station, Leavitt Meadow or the Bridgeport ranger station. Of course, it couldn't hurt to call Yosemite to confirm, because their posted info doesn't specifically address trips that start outside of Yosemite.


The information given in my answer was after calling the Summit Ranger Station to varify because of the Donohue Pass issue, and yes you do need a seperate permit, issued by Yosemite to get over Donohue. You are correct, that the OP, can get a self-issue permit at Leavitt Meadow, but if he is coming from the west, getting it at Summit is more convenient, unless the OP is arriving very early or late.
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:06 pm

Actually, the Summit Ranger station will leave your permit in a night box outside if you are arriving late and request that they do it...

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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby cloudlesssky » Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:34 am

I contacted Yosemite with the following question: "I plan to section hike the PCT south from Sonora Pass to Reds Meadow in July. Do I need a Donohue Pass exit permit?" Here's the response I received:

Since you will be starting your trip outside of Yosemite National Park, you will have to refer to the Forest Service and Emigrant Wilderness regulations: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/stanisla ... ecid=15107.


When I contacted Stanislaus as Yosemite suggested, here's the response I received:

It is my understanding that JMT and Donohue Pass is only issued by Yosemite Wilderness folks. We have been directed Not to issue any exiting Wilderness Passes for those areas. We can however, issue Wilderness Pass up-to those areas but you might get held at that point by the Yosemite folks.


It seems there is some confusion amongst the permit writers themselves.
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby snusmumriken » Sat Mar 19, 2016 3:07 pm

Actually it sounds like the answers from the different permit folks, including the one Maverick got from the Forest Service, are consistent. The Forest Service issues the permit from Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows. Tuolumne Meadows to Reds needs a Yosemite permit which is subject to the Donahue quota. Sounds like a nice long trip, enjoy!
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby cloudlesssky » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:57 am

After several back and forths with the permitting agencies I decided to take the easy route and pulled a permit going south to north. All parties agreed this was acceptable. I guess if you head north there is less impact. ](*,)
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby markskor » Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:55 am

Sounds like a great trip - glad you got it figured out.

Maybe a bit off-topic but...
Interesting... certain "exceptions" accompany a PCT permit, and its "500 mile rule".
https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail ... t-request/
A long, multi- section, PCT permit seems to allow free, unfettered access over Donahue...
Also, (just a personal observation), a PCT permit, (real or not), seems to allow the leaving and rejoining the trail - anywhere/anytime - on a whim.
And then there is their nebulous Bear Can requirement thing too.
just saying...
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby maverick » Sat Apr 02, 2016 12:35 pm

After several back and forths with the permitting agencies I decided to take the easy route and pulled a permit going south to north. All parties agreed this was acceptable.


Would you please elaborate on what the issues were from each agencies side, I would like to address the folks in charge, so these kind of permit issues will not be an issue in the future, obviously there are some existing issues that have not been ironed out and they need to be addressed.
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby cloudlesssky » Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:22 pm

Maverick here's a synopsis:

1) I contacted Yosemite describing my planned hike (PCT section from Sonora Pass to Reds Meadow) and asked if I'd need a Donohue Pass exit permit. The response was "Since you will be starting your trip outside of Yosemite National Park, you will have to refer to the Forest Service and Emigrant Wilderness regulations"

2) I contacted Stanislaus NF and was told "It is my understanding that JMT and Donohue Pass is only issued by Yosemite Wilderness folks. We have been directed Not to issue any exiting Wilderness Passes for those areas. We can however, issue Wilderness Pass up-to those areas but you might get held at that point by the Yosemite folks."

3) I asked Stanislaus NF for further clarification since I was hiking the PCT which is coincident with the JMT for only a minor section of my hike. The response was "I believe the PCT and JMT are the same trail at the exit point of Yosemite in question (Donahue Pass), and as you know, there is a quota in place for that exit. We (the Stanislaus NF) can issue you a permit from Sonora Pass to as far as Tuolumne Meadows, but that is it. You would need to obtain a permit from Yosemite the rest of the way to Donahue Pass, which may be booked up for the days you would like."

4) I contacted Yosemite again with the info from Stanislaus NF and received the reply "You will need two permits for your hike. As Joel said, Stanislaus NF can issue you a permit from Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows. You can apply for a permit reservation from Yosemite National Park from Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wpres.htm.

5) I asked Yosemite about going the opposite direction (south to north) and received the reply "If you do the trip from south to north, you would only need one permit from Inyo National Forest."

6) I went to Recreation.gov and booked a permit from Red Cones/Mammoth Pass to Sonora Pass (south to north).

I can provide the email trail if it's helpful.
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Re: Permit for Sonora Pass South to Reds Meadow

Postby maverick » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:15 am

PM sent.
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