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Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

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Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby BSquared » Mon May 09, 2016 10:53 am

Hi, all,

Looks like I'll be doing my annual Sierra backpacking trip this year sometime mid to late August, hopefully with some old California friends, in SEKI. Current plan (still very speculative) is to fly to Sacramento, take Amtrak/YARTS to the valley, and meet up with my friends in Tuolumne.

I'd like to find my legs (which are hopefully somewhere out there in the same general vicinity as Markskor's) by doing a moderately leisurely two- or three-day BP from the Valley to Tuolumne, and of course my immediate thought was via the JMT from Happy Isles. However, all the other times I've done this have been in connection with much longer, carefully planned trips that involved getting wilderness permits far in advance, and it appears that for the casual hiker in August (or July, or September...), getting a permit for Happy Isles to LYV would be at best extremely chancy, even for a pass-through (I don't like the LYV campground much so probably wouldn't stay there anyway). If I'm wrong, and getting a next-day walkin permit is actually likely on an early August afternoon, please let me know!

So... the only other way I could see to get to Tuolumne in the allotted two or three days was the Snow Creek Falls trail, but from reading other posts here that route sounds more like a trial by fire than a way of finding my legs . But would it be doable if I just took my time? Where's the first reasonable legal place to camp? Once I got out of the valley, it doesn't look like a particularly interesting trail (too close to the road at least after getting to Tenaya Lake)—would anybody who's done that stretch care to comment?

Are there other routes I've overlooked? Might it work better to take YARTS all the way up to Tuolumne and do a two- or three-day acclimation hike from there? Looks like the trailheads at Tuolumne are pretty well subscribed too, however.

Any suggestions would be welcome.
—B²



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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon May 09, 2016 11:08 am

The first reasonable place to camp is on Snow Creek, except, in the past couple years, the rangers have been warning people not to camp there due to a bear-can-throwing bear that will roll them off a cliff.

In your scenario, I would start either at Happy Isles, or possibly at Porcupine Creek - head to North Dome for the first night then continue north on the trail that will eventually get you to Tenaya Lake, where you can do the climb toward Clouds Rest and turn south again to Happy Isles, or continue north to Tuolumne Meadows.

If you're going solo I would just walk in on a Wednesday. I bet you would get a permit for Happy Isles without an issue.
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby markskor » Mon May 09, 2016 11:15 am

B² - Doing it all wrong - Start high and end low.
Suggest 3, (4 better) days "down"... Tuolumne to Valley? Make use of the "one night" BP camps and the free Hiker buses or YARTS.
Anyway, as no schedule here, will probably do a similar trip as my warm-up hike come this June too. On 120, Olmsted Point, or the Quarry, or Porcupine Creek start - first night, top of Snow Creek. Then backtrack to North Dome and on to top of Yosemite Falls - (Ridge route). Finally Yos Falls trail down and Valley BP camp.
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby sambieni » Mon May 09, 2016 12:20 pm

AlmostThere wrote:The first reasonable place to camp is on Snow Creek, except, in the past couple years, the rangers have been warning people not to camp there due to a bear-can-throwing bear that will roll them off a cliff.

:eek:
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 09, 2016 2:52 pm

I would not hike out of Yosemite Valley in August - it is just too hot! And if you instead went from Tuolumne to Yosemite Valley, what good would that do for acclimation? Better to do routes that stay in the high country. Day 1) Tuolumne to Glen Aulin, Day 2) to Ten Lakes, Day 3 to White Wolf. Take the YARTS bus back. Or an easier loop: Rafferty to Volgalsang, to Ireland Lake, back via Lyell Canyon. Or just do day-hikes; 1) Saddlebag Lake - loop through the upper lakes or to Conness Lakes, 2)Granite Lakes, 3) Parker Pass and Helen Lake, 3) Young Lakes, 4) Cathedral Lake with small off-trail to Budd Lake, out a nice use-trail. Any of these day hikes can also be turned into an overnight trip.
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby maverick » Mon May 09, 2016 3:07 pm

Totally agree with Mark, you should start, or do some trip out of Tuolumne or outside of Yosemite instead of YV.

- Catherdal Lakes>Echo Lake>Matthes Lake>Nelson>Reymann Lake>Elizabeth Lake
- 20 Lakes Basin from Saddlebag Lake>Upper McCabe Lake
- Ten Lakes>Polly Dome Lakes>Tenaya Lake
- Twin Lakes>Peeler Lake>Kerrick Meadow>Snow Lake>Crown Lake (Northern Yosemite out of Bridgeport, low usage, very pretty)
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby markskor » Mon May 09, 2016 3:38 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I would not hike out of Yosemite Valley in August - it is just too hot! ?

True!
Wandering Daisy wrote:And if you instead went from Tuolumne to Yosemite Valley, what good would that do for acclimation?

B² is looking for his legs as well as his lungs...and has a limited time-window. All those Tuolumne (most anyway) popular trailheads mentioned are booked solid - probably be able to bag a "next day" permit but that's another extra day just hanging out in Tuolumne. While a great place to veg out...drinking Mammoth Pale Ale, day hiking at altitude, would rather do some miles with a backpack than day-hike and wait...whatever.
Permits from Porcupine Flat are always available that day...can start immediately. BTW, the Valley's 4000 feet elev is still lots better than that of Maryland's.
Morning Yarts gets him back to Tuolumne easily too.
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon May 09, 2016 5:42 pm

I wouldn't recommend going UP Snow Creek during daylight hours, in May, June, July or August.

I don't like being chewed a new one by the victim....
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby wildhiker » Mon May 09, 2016 5:46 pm

Although many trailheads in Yosemite are "fully reserved", they still keep 40% of the permits for walkups. As a solo hiker, BSquared has a good chance to nab something out of Tuolumne Meadows. One trail that is not even fully reserved (so he could even reserve it) is the Mono/Parker Pass trail. I've done this many times, always with a walk-up permit. I usually leave the car at Tuolumne Meadows and take the 9 am free shuttle that goes to the Mono Pass trailhead. Then I make a leisurely hike up to camp at Upper Sardine Lake, which has a dramatic view down Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake. I've never seen anyone else camping there. This is a great location for a base camp. You can explore the old mine cabins at the pass and climb Mt. Lewis (easy walkup), head over to Parker Pass or Helen and Spillway Lakes, etc. A long day would get you all the way up to the Kuna Crest pass west of Helen Lake with fabulous views of the Mt Lyell region. If you have a few days and want a longer backpack, you can skip Upper Sardine Lake and instead go over Parker Pass the first day and camp at one of the small tarns a mile or two to the east. Then over Koip Peak Pass the next day and down to Alger Lakes. One or two more days (depending on what you want to see on the way) gets you down Rush Creek to Silver Lake. Catch one of the morning YARTS buses back to Tuolumne Meadows.

-Phil
Last edited by wildhiker on Tue May 10, 2016 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby maverick » Mon May 09, 2016 5:57 pm

Although many trailheads in Yosemite are "fully reserved", they still keep 40% of the permits for walkups. As a solo hiker, BSquared has a good chance to nab something out of Tuolumne Meadows.


This is correct, but just in case B2 needs clarifications on the regulation:

Yosemite NPS (first come, first served):

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.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby rlown » Mon May 09, 2016 7:16 pm

hmm. If it were me, i'd do 1 of 2 things.

1) hang out at Markskor's place and go on his daily hikes at altitude around one or two lakes.

or

2) I'd head to Saddlebag or one of the campgrounds on the Eastside of Yose, and then hike around the 20 lakes basin area.. It's flat, high enough, and a few "laps" should get you what you need B2

Kind of eliminates the permit issue, except for your final permit need (although you still need a permit for 20 lakes). What is that inevitable trip???? after you find your legs...?
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Re: Acclimation Backpack, Valley to Tuolumnne?

Postby BSquared » Tue May 10, 2016 11:35 am

Excellent suggestions, all! Thanks much! I really don't like the Valley in summer either, because of the heat and the crowds, so it does seem to make more sense to take YARTS up to Tuolumne and find some place to go from there. IUnfortunately, it looks like the YARTS schedule would have me stuck in the Valley for most of a day, but I could probably use the time to see about next-day permits for any of the various Tuolumne trailheads (and of course *any* wilderness permit would give me the right to stay in the Tuolumne BP camp). I particularly like Wildhiker's and WD's suggestion of the Parker Pass/Mono Pass trailhead; haven't been up there for ... well, let's just say a long time, and it would be fun to revisit it after all these years.

Thanks again!
—B²
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