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Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

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Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby guiriguiri » Tue May 03, 2016 11:31 am

Hi all,

Forgive me if similar posts abound in these parts but I didn't have much success with the search feature.

I'm looking to do a 2-3 night loop, averaging 7 miles/day somewhere within 6 hours of San Francisco. The exact start date can vary but I have to be out on the 24th.

I'm moderately experienced backpacker with several trips a year for the past 10 years or so, mostly in Oregon, Canada, and the Caucasus. However, I will be bringing my brother along. He's 26 and fit, but has only backpacked once, lives at sea level, and maybe over-focuses on weights/under-focuses on cardio a bit.

We'd be comfortable with class 2/3 and passes. Slight amount of x-c if necessary but prefer trails. Creek crossing is OK; raging rivers, less so.

I'd like to at least have some mountain views, but would also love some lakes to cool off in and some big beautiful trees. He lives in TX, so no matter what, it's going to be spectacular for him.

I've been trying to find something on the Internet and with our lone CA guide book. The Internet has been fruitless and the guidebook has only suggested overly-long trips or trips that are too popular to get a permit this late in the game (would've started planning earlier but the trip to CA just fell in my lap a couple days ago).

OK, I welcome any and all suggestions for loops, maps, guidebooks, permits, etc.

Thanks in advance!



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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby markskor » Tue May 03, 2016 11:53 am

Hey, You're preaching to the choir. Yes, all of the Primo trailheads seem filled - long ago reserved.
However, do not despair. Got one extra day before? Two people? Good Karma? Flexible?
40% of the quota is still wide open, (plus the no-shows).
Suggest somewhere Tuolumne. Get yourself all packed up/ready, and show up Tuolumne Meadows, park... one day early - acclimate...can stay in TM BP.
Go to the Wilderness Permit office close by (free shuttle) - get there around 9:00 AM, and ask for a "Next Day" or "same day" permit - just ask the Ranger what is open. You should be able to snag Rafferty Creek, or Ireland Lake, or Cathedral, or Sunrise, or Nelson, or May lake, or Saddlebag, or...lots of possibilities 3 days/2 nights.
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby maverick » Tue May 03, 2016 12:21 pm

Hi Guiriguiri,

Welcome to HST!

- Agnew Meadow > Ediza Lake (6.9 miles) > 1000 Is Lake (7.4 miles) > Agnew Meadows via the High Trail (7.8 miles) 6 hr drive
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby snevill » Tue May 03, 2016 2:25 pm

The Ansel Adams itinerary suggested above would be among my strong recommendations. An alternative would be:

Agnew Meadow > Garnet Lake > Thousand Island Lake via the simple X country pass between both lakes > Agnew Meadows via the High Trail.
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby guiriguiri » Tue May 03, 2016 2:44 pm

Thanks for the advice!

So the general consensus is that you will find something if you show up looking for same day or next day permits?

Maverick and snevill, those trail looks amazing. It looks like you need a permit on the Shadow Trail for that loop (I could very easily be confused) and the reservable permits are all gone. Are there other options from that area if I fail to pull a same/next day Shadow permit?

Fortunately, every trail looks mindbogglingly beautiful, so as long as I get on something, I'm sure I'll be happy.
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby snevill » Tue May 03, 2016 3:54 pm

Yes, for both of the Ansel Adams Wilderness itineraries suggested you will need a Shadow Trail permit, but you can do it in reverse by getting a permit for the High Trail. You could consider the classic Minaret Lake>Cecil>Iceberg/Ediza route, but I would expect you to run into similar permit reservation issues as it is very popular. A quick search on these forums or on google should provide all the info you need for that route.
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby maverick » Tue May 03, 2016 4:03 pm

Maverick and snevill, those trail looks amazing. It looks like you need a permit on the Shadow Trail for that loop (I could very easily be confused) and the reservable permits are all gone. Are there other options from that area if I fail to pull a same/next day Shadow permit?


Read this post, it has the regulation for Inyo NF first come, first served permits: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14265#p106379
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby markskor » Tue May 03, 2016 4:34 pm

All (most anyway) of the the popular trailheads Sierra operate on the same 60% - 40% quota system. If you are a one or a two, the 40% permit gamble usually works pretty well.

The reason I suggested Tuolumne first was that, if you have to stay (waiting on a next day permit) an extra day before, Tuolumne Meadows is a fine venue. Mammoth Lakes is also nice, but can get expensive. Whatever, here's the scoop on permits Mammoth Lakes (across from McDonalds), the closest Permit Office to Shadow lake - JMT, River, or High trails.

If not staying hotel, stay Shady Rest campground - walking distance to permit office. ... hit the PO first. (If late/already closed @ 5:00 PM, they open again at 8:00 AM). First thing is to ask if any slots open right now - (any no shows?), and you might be hiking immediately. If not, (they open at 8:00/in line by 7:00) you will have to wait a bit as they do not give out the "next day" permits until 11:00, but they do give you a "line" number, here in Mammoth. Hold onto it, go to breakfast (Stove, Breakfast Club, Vons....BTW, free shuttle buses in Mammoth), and when you return promptly @11:00, you will be given line preference as to this number.

After bagging the permit, take the free bus up to, or park at, Mammoth Mountain main lot, and $7 shuttle (round trip) down to Reds...camp down there. Next day, you're off - have fun!
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby guiriguiri » Tue May 03, 2016 4:41 pm

Got it. Thanks for the help. I'll let y'all know how it all pans out.
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Re: Loop advice for Yosemite/Ansel/Inyo/Sequoia in late July

Postby wildhiker » Fri May 06, 2016 11:52 pm

I'd go with Tuolumne Meadows if coming from San Francisco - significantly less driving than over to Mammoth Lakes. You can almost always get a permit for a small party going into Nelson Lake. As of May 2, the Yosemite "full permits" web page says the reservable part of the Nelson Lake quota (remember, only 60% is reservable) is only full on two days: July 20 and 31. I agree with Markskor - drive up day one, get your permit for the next day, and acclimate by camping in the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker's campground that night ($5 per person). Don't forget to walk around the meadows at sunset - just gorgeous. By the way, if driving from SF on highway 120, you can stop to get your wilderness permit at the Big Oak Flat entrance station just as you enter the park.

Nelson Lake is a "dead-end" trail, but there is a very easy cross-country route over open meadows and slabs up the drainage and over the divide to catch the Rafferty Creek trail at Tuolumne Pass. I've taken my children as young as 6 years old on that route. PM me if you want a map of the route. You can camp the second night at Fletcher Lake, or if the crowds are too much for you, continue on past Evelyn Lake to the next small lake. Then continue hiking east the third day to Ireland Lake and down Ireland Creek to the John Muir Trail in Lyell Canyon and back to Tuolumne Meadows. The first two days of this three day loop are 6 or 7 miles; the last about 9, but almost all downhill. This loop has great scenery and beautiful lakes throughout.

-Phil
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