Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

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Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by maverick » Tue May 03, 2016 4:00 pm

Fellow Members,

The Sierra Nevada has received a decent amount of snow this year, and unlike the previous 4 years, there will be a few feet or several feet of snow above 8000-9000 ft in SEKI, and 7000-8000 ft in Yosemite, elevations will vary depending on whether the area is forested or facing due north.

Peek into the backcountry:

- Badger Pass Webcam in Yosemite (7380 Ft): ... 5A6D41C8FB

- Yosemite High Sierra Webcam (8000 ft): ... 55BD33D841

- Mineral King Webcam in SEKI (7800ft):

- Mammoth's webcam with view of the Minarets in the background: ... summit-cam

- Bishop's webcam view towards Mt. Humphrey's and Mt.Tom:

- Pinecrest's webcam view of Dodge Ridge (8149 ft):

Access to lower/popular elevation trailheads will be in high demand, wilderness permits have been gone months ago, you will have to try to secure a first come, first served permit, and for areas beyond, you will also need to possess winter camping experience, exceptional navigation skills, and understand the risks/dangers of snow/ice travel and high flow creek crossings.

Yosemite NP regulation for first come, first served permits:
Wilderness permits are available during business hours at any permit issuing station beginning at 11 am the day before the beginning of your wilderness trip. Priority for permits for a particular trailhead is given to the closest permit issuing station, though it is possible to obtain a permit for any trailhead at any permit issuing station. This mainly affects the most popular trailheads that fill up quickly each morning, such as Little Yosemite Valley trailheads, Lyell Canyon, Cathedral Lakes, among others.

First-come, first-served procedure for all wilderness permit stations (approximately May through October): Unreserved permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11 am on the day before the intended entry date. All reservations (same day and next day) and same-day unreserved permits may still be picked up when the wilderness center opens for the day.

Though popular trailheads may fill up, there is always space available on other trailheads in the park. From November through April, wilderness permits are available without a reservation.

Inyo NF regulations for first come, first served permits:
Walk in permits must be requested in person at the visitor centers. During the quota season (May 1 to November 1) walk in permits cannot be issued more than one day before the entry date. Permits are issued for same day entry or for next day entry; you must enter on the date stated.

- Walk-in permits are subject to space available* at the time the permit request is processed.
- Person requesting the permit will be listed as the group leader. Leader must be a person going on the trip and must be in person at the visitor center.
- Group leader can request a permit for the whole group; all members of the group do not need to be present.
- Leader responsibility includes the terms in Permit Policy
- Walk in permit cannot be held by phone or web.
- No night box service for walk in permits.
- Walk in permit is free.

*The amount of space available for walk-in permits may vary. For all trails except Mt Whitney, 40% of the quota space is saved for walk-in permit requests. In addition, space from any reservations that did not fully book, cancelations, group size reductions, and reservations that are not confirmed or picked up (No Show) will be made available for walk-in requests. Some specific trails are identified as non-quota and are only limited by maximum group size. ... n%20permit

SEKI regulations for first come, first served:
Permits are issued on the day of your hike by trailhead rangers during normal operating hours.
The rangers provide important information about trail conditions in the area. No night drops are permitted. You may, however, obtain permits the afternoon prior to your hike (after 1:00pm).

Approximately three-quarters of the daily trail quota (see trail descriptions) may be reserved in advance. The remaining spaces are available on a first-come-first-served basis. The permit fee applies to both walk-up and reserved permits; and both walk-up and reserved permits must be picked up at the issuing station closest to your trailhead. The Lakes Trail/Pear Lake Trail is NOT reservable. ... ermits.htm

Sections are mostly limited to the following areas in May:

Yosemite Valley:
- JMT to Little Yosemite Valley, and up the Merced Corridor to Merced Lake will be accessable, but Echo Valley will be flooded. Half Dome cables usually go up a week before Memorial Day, if conditions allow. Clouds Rest Trail will have snow, trail south of Pinnacles will be icy and dangerous in the morning.
- Yosemite Falls Trail to Yosemite Creek to El Capitan, areas into the forested sections will have snow, creeks crossings will be difficult.
- Snow Creek Trail will have snow in the forested sections, especially north of Indian Rock.
- Trails from Glacier Point will have snow, especially west of Glacier Point in forested sections.

Hetch Hetchy (Yosemite):
- Rancheria Falls Trail is open, Wapama Falls bridge crossing needs to be done with caution, preferable in the morning, when the run-off levels are lower.
- Vernon Lake Loop will have snow in sections, and some creek crossings may be difficult. Sections after Vernon, descending to Tiltill Valley may have snow, Tiltill Valley will be flooded, be prepared with proper footwear.

Tuolumne Meadows:
- Tioga Closed, will open in the later half of May, but the high country will have snow and/or flooded section, creek crossing will be difficult in area's. A trip to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Waterwheel Falls/LeConte Falls, will require difficult creek crossing at Glen Aulin and a large flooded section above California Falls, be prepared with proper footwear.

- Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road should be opening a week before memorial Day.
- 180 to Roads End is open, Mist Falls and Lower Paradise Valley are accessible, Bubb's Creek has patch snow starting at 7000ft, solid coverage at 8000ft.

Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by ksenn » Thu May 05, 2016 10:20 pm

Thanks for bringing this info to the spotlight and the wonderful webcam links!

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri May 06, 2016 8:58 am

I have looked back to see where I have backpacked in April and May. The snow pack is that in Yosemite because I do most of my early trips close to home. Perhaps this will give folks some ideas.

2001 was a 67% snow year; early June we went into Hamilton Lake and up to Keweah Gap.

2002 was a 95% snow year; in late April we hiked up Yosemite Falls then did a snowy traverse to the top of El Capitan to camp on dry slabs. Mid June we went into Charlotte Dome via Kearsarge Pass.

2003 was a 65% snow year; did Paradise Valley and Castle Domes out of Roads End- that was before the bridge- log crossing was flooded by afternoon, next weekend did the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne at peak runoff-we sure waded in lots of icy water! Climbed Mt Whitney in late June and Langley via Tuttle Creek Fourth July.

2004 was an 83% snowpack year; Memorial Day found is climbing the domes along the Beasears Road south of Yosemite. Mid May we climbed Mt Lassen.

2005 was a 163% snow year; Memorial Day we went to the east side of the White Mountains and did a 13'ers traverse of the north part of the range. Also did the Lost Coast- always a good option when snow is too much in the Sierra! Did a road trip to So Cal in mid June to climb San Jacinto, Baldy and Gorgonio.

2006 was a 129% snow year; Memorial Day I did a 5-day backpack over Rancheria Mountain to Piute Creek which was too swift to cross and then climbed Piute Mountain, which was a snowy affair. The little creek flowing down Rancheria Mountain nearly dried up the five days I was out! June 16-21 Sky Blue Lake via Cottonwood Pass and return New Army (snow cornice- luckily we had crampons!). July 1 did two loops in SEKI- Mineral King loop Farewell Gap-Shotgun Pass-Franklin Pass and out of Lodgepole- Tablelands, upper Deadman Canyon (snow) and Glacier Ridge.

2007 was a 46% snow year; May 8-9 I did the Pohono Trail (snowy patches) west-to-east and exited the Four Mile Trail just before Glacier Point road opened, allowing me to camp in places not legal after the road opens. A grandchild arrived so granny duties trumped early season backpacking.

2008 was a 99% snow year; my first Sierra trip was Memorial Day. We climbed Glass Mountain (east of Lee Vining) waiting for Tioga Pass to re-open after a late storm! Then we dropped from Tenaya Lake (deep cold crossing!) to Yosemite Valley via Clouds Rest (snowy) and climbed Half Dome. Next week after the Minaret Road was open to the end I went up the San Joaquin via Hemlock Crossing to Twin Island Lakes and up into the back side of the Ritter Range. Also climbed Matterhorn Peak late June and backpacked the Mono Recesses July 4th weekend.

2009 was a 92% snow year; May 9-10 we opted for a trip up Canyon Creek in the Trinity Alps.

2010 was a 107% snow year; June 6-8 Yosemite Valley flooded and I hiked up to Merced Lake, with much wading in ice cold water above Little Yosemite Valley and through Echo Valley. Even at the end of June my trip from Rush Creek TH to Alger Lake, Lost Lakes was almost totally snow.

2011 was the "big" snow year with 178% snow; we kept to the lowlands with Putah Creek May 8, Feather Falls May 20-21, Kibby Lake (very snowy) May 28-30, Mumford Bar June 8-9, Ruby Mountains (Nevada) June 27-8, Yosemite North Rim June 15-17.

2012 was a 43% snow year; April 23-25 I did the Mist and Panorama Trails and backed off the Pohono trail due to deep snow, May 11-13 we backpacked out of Kennedy Meadows to Kennedy Lake. Just after Memorial Day, the day Tioga opened, I looped the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and back via Ten Lakes from the Lukens Lake TH.

2013 was a 52% snow year; May 1-2 I walked the entire Yosemite Valley trail "backpacking" in Camp4. Early June I did two trips in Desolation, one on each side.

2014 was a 33% snow year; just after Memorial Day I did a loop through Emigrant Wilderness from Gienelli to all the little lakes and then to Upper Relief Valley, over to Lewis Lakes (which were frozen!) up Mosquito Pass to Emigrant Lake and back out in photogenic but sloppy wet conditions. End of June we Little and Big Five Lakes from Crescent Meadow and there was NO snow!

2015 was a 7% snow year. In May I did a repeat of the Lost Coast. Unfortunately I missed the early opportunities for the high Sierra because we were on a long road trip through the desert southwest.

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by Ska-T » Mon May 09, 2016 10:16 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:2006 ... June 16-21 Sky Blue Lake via Cottonwood Pass and return New Army (snow cornice- luckily we had crampons!).
The GF (Carol) and I were in Miter Basin June 18 & 19 in 2006. We only saw one other "group" in Miter Basin during that time, the evening of the 18th when we had dinner at Sky Blue Lake.

Carol getting ready for dinner.
Sky Blue Lake.jpg
Is that you, WD, on the east side of Sky Blue Lake?

Wandering Daisy?? (Click on photo and zoom in.)
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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue May 10, 2016 10:14 am

That is where we camped! Small world.

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by FeetFirst » Tue May 10, 2016 10:27 am

Modeled snow depth for May 10, 2016 (NOHRSC Interactive Snow Information):

(center of map is Happy Isles)

I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by sheperd80 » Tue May 10, 2016 11:32 am

Thanks for this!

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by Maryl » Tue May 10, 2016 3:23 pm

Thank you very much . Thank you for the great info I'll let y'all know what our final decision is

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by bbayley80 » Wed May 11, 2016 2:43 pm

Thanks Maverick as always.
i had hopes-and a reserved permit- to take my somewhat novice friend up to Cottonwood Lakes over Memorial Day weekend.
however, with the fortunate good snow year-and seeing just how much is indeed left- trudging through snow and muddy, wet meadows didn't sound so hot .

so we made the wiser decision to pull the plug.

we somehow scored the last spot at Onion Valley and plan on a deluxe car camp there with a nice day hike up to Matlock/Bench area to fish and chill conditions permitting.
best of both worlds!

looking at how many quotas are full up and down the Sierra for Memorial Day there's gonna be a lot of bummed people come Saturday mid afternoon when they get up the trail a ways and are greeted by the snow..we all got spoiled by the low snow these past years.

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Re: Info For May Trip Inquiries By New Members

Post by ExploreABitMore » Wed May 11, 2016 4:25 pm

Thanks for all the info Maverick, very helpful for all of us planning trips! :thumbsup:
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