Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

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oleander
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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by oleander » Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:31 pm

WD,

Yosemite Valley seems like a wonderful solution for May. In fact, you have inspired me to think about doing my own trip there in May.
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:49 pm
You do have to get new permits if you stay in the valley overnight. In fact the last time I did a loop like this, I could not get a permit for the entire loop. Evidently once you cross the valley from one side to the other you need a new permit.
Just so I'm clear: It sounds like a person would need to get a second permit (for the Part II, Snow Creek start) even if that person didn't spend the night in the Valley? The act of dropping into and crossing the Valley has the effect of ending your permit and requiring you to start over?

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by bobby49 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 2:35 pm

I used to lead group trips, and we could see Yosemite Valley a lot. However, we never set foot inside Yosemite Valley. We were always hiking around the rim and looking down into the Valley. We never started or ended in the Valley. This is the thing to do if you want to avoid traffic jams of tourist buses.

May might be slightly early. Typically the week before July Fourth was best for wildflowers.

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:01 pm

oleander- last time I got a permit with a trip that came back down into the valley, they would only write the permit for the first half. Not sure if rules changed or it simply was the person who wrote the permit thought that was the case. It really was not a big problem. I took the shuttle to the permit office and had my permit by noon. On that trip I went up Yosemite Falls trail in the afternoon. I recall the time I dropped down and went back up Snow Creek (many years ago) they wrote me a permit for the entire trip. Not sure you could get a straight answer, but may be worth a call, or read the web page carefully. I have found, over the years, that there are a lot of inconsistencies in permits. They have a lot of summer help working there so I suspect some do not know the area well enough to even know that your plan includes going through the valley to the other side.

You do need to avoid the roads in the valley on weekends from about 10AM to evening or you can get stuck in traffic. I usually get my permit at the Big Oak entrance station. Then if I start at Glacier Point, I do not even have to drive through the valley. But in mid-May the valley is really spectacular and worth at least a night there if not an extra day. With a 2-trip plan (two permits), and being able to stay in the backpacker's campground the day before and the day after each permit, you do not even have to worry about getting into Camp4 and have an entire day and two nights in the valley. There is great hiking along the 12-mile valley trail. My best photographs are actually the ones I take when in the valley.

I am assuming that Tioga pass will not be open by mid-May this year. Once it opens many more options open up, including the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

I have also done mid-May backpacks from Hetch Hetchy up the Rancheria Trail into Pleasant Valley, Irwin Bright and Saddlehorse Lakes. I was not able to cross Piute Creek due to high flows. The Lake Vernon Loop would still have lots of snow. Hetch Hetchy is open most of the year, only closed during winter storms.

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by giantbrookie » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:42 pm

I would agree that Seville is the only Seki option for mid May and accessibility to the most proximal trailheads are contingent on road conditions although if not available there are some potentially more distant options that will get you in. Be that as it may this is a relatively small area to be hemmed into for a week, however nice it may be.

The bottom line is there are very limited places that are thawed out (ie lakes) and not covered in deep snow in the High Sierra of mid May during most years. This appears to be, at its driest, an average year, and it may end up being a pretty heavy winter.

The largest area of "High" (not so high but wild and rugged) Sierra that will be "open" as of mid May will be NW Yosemite, mainly accessed out of Hetch Hetchy. Laurel and Vernon Lake can be accessed by trail. The off trail part of NW Yosemite, is also open, but I have long referred to that as the "Bermuda Triangle" owing to the degree of difficulty of off trail travel (add nasty brush to steepness and route finding challenges and in early season crossing Frog Creek may be iffy). The heart and soul of the Bermuda Triangle is Edyth Lake that I will bet a keg of the finest IPA will be thawed as of the beginning of this May, but it is a very difficult place to reach. Note that the shoreline of Hetch Hetchy itself is accessed at least in part by trail and it can be incorporated into a longer trip with Laurel and Vernon if keeping things on trail.

The only other areas that I can be sure of being open as of mid May are some of lower drainages on the East Side. None of these by themselves is large enough (for the mid May-open parts) to be worth a week long backpacking trip but one could do several short trips and visit them: these are places like (from S to N). Parker Lake; Walker Lake; Secret, Roosevelt & Lane, and Poore Lakes.

Other than that mid May doesn't offer much thawed out ground in the High Sierra.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:44 pm

I do not agree that starting or ending trips in Yosemite Valley, per se, should be avoided in mid-May. Summer-yes, but not so in May. It is all a matter of timing when you arrive and leave. Looking UP from Yosemite Valley is as scenic, if not more so, than looking down, although looking down is pretty amazing. Why not do both? When you are within day-hike distance there WILL be lots of people. So half your trip will be shared with day-hikers. The scenery is unquestionably stunning. Particularly the waterfalls in May. You just have to go in with the idea that it will not be a "wilderness experience" every day. But this will be the closest you will get to "Big Mountains" in mid-May, without doing a snowshoe or spring ski trip.

I go just about every year in May and thoroughly enjoy my trips that include BOTH Yosemite Valley and backpacking. You could combine a trip in Yosemite Valley with one from Hetch Hetchy. However, I would not recommend dividing time between Yosemite and SEKI because you would eat up an entire day just driving.

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by Loseyourself » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:46 am

A sincere thank you to everyone. I'm reading these posts closely and am reluctantly coming to the realization that SEKI is not going to work in Mid-May.

I'm going to start looking at alternatives, including Yosemite. I've done some desert backpacking before so I'm keen to stay in the Sierra somewhere.

Fortunately, I'm relocating to Los Angeles for a few years so there will be other chances to visit the park. It's just that I have over a week free while I transition jobs with the wife and kids still at old location, so I wanted to do that dream hike I've been, well, dreaming about. I'll see SEKI in bits and pieces on 4 day weekends, etc.
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:49 pm
If this interests you, I could bump up one of my trip reports for you to look at.
That would be great. (Or send me the link. Which ever you prefer.)

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by oldranger » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:04 am

rightstar76 wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:31 am
Loseyourself, after reading your criteria, it seems like Rowell Meadow Trailhead to Seville Lake meets your needs. SEKI yes. Snowshoeing yes. Hard ice that's exposed no. Forest yes. Big mountain scenery, the granite cliffs above Seville Lake are big and scenic. Only question is if the road to the trailhead will be open.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sequoia ... ecid=79527

@Oldranger, what do you think? Does it meet OP's criteria@oldranger

Auto access to Sunset meadow th is unlikely in mid may this year. In early June of the giant snow year of 1983 I skied from w. end of Big Meadow into Rowell then did day ski to Seville. At the end of the June that year I started hiking from Wolverton then donned my skis sometime before Heather Lake before skiing to Pear Lake Hut. Next day I skied over Silliman Crest and down to Crescent Lake. The next day due to the complexity of the terrain and the fact that the area had lots of needles and crap on the snow I was forced to post hole off trail to approximately the Belle Canyon entrance which I missed slightly to the n. After dropping down the ridge a bit toward the trail the snow became patchy and i was able to follow the trail to the Rowell Meadow Cabin. This route involved no sketchy stream crossings. A couple days later when I learned that the big Meadow road would not be open thus no visitors I hiked into Roaring River. I almost lost it crossing Sugarloaf Creek. The current spun me around and I plunged the ice ax I was carrying into the creek directly downstream from me and that stabilized me and quite shaken I was able to make it across. The next day Duncan Hollar, the Roaring River ranger, and I hiked up to Big Brewer Lake and the following day summited Mt. Brewer. On my return to Rowell I took a direct route from Roaring River to Ellis Meadow, then followed the cowboy trail down to Box Canyon. Crossed that creek and paralleled Sugarloaf Creek up to Comanche Meadow before connecting to the trail back to Rowell Meadow. Point being for this digression is that Mid may in SEKI should be considered for a ski trip, not a hiking trip. Mid may conditions above treeline usually provides great spring skiing. I think Paul should step in here if he considers me to be off base on my assessment.
Mike

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by rightstar76 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:17 am

@Oldranger, thanks for your insightful commentary! :) Your story about Sugarloaf Creek, what an adventure!
Loseyourself wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:46 am
I'm keen to stay in the Sierras somewhere.
I recommended in another thread to a June backpacker, the Golden Trout Wilderness in Sequoia National Forest. I recommend it to you as well. Although your trip is starting earlier, given the Climate Prediction Center is predicting a warming trend starting in March it is possible that Lloyd Meadows Road might be open by the time you go 3 months from now. If it is, you can get a permit last minute very easily.

https://goldentroutwilderness.wordpress.com/

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sequoia/ ... ev3_059517

Good luck!

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by Loseyourself » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:47 am

rightstar76 wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:17 am
I recommended in another thread to a June backpacker, the Golden Trout Wilderness in Sequoia National Forest. I recommend it to you as well. Although your trip is starting earlier, given the Climate Prediction Center is predicting a warming trend starting in March it is possible that Lloyd Meadows Road might be open by the time you go 3 months from now. If it is, you can get a permit last minute very easily.

https://goldentroutwilderness.wordpress.com/

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sequoia/ ... ev3_059517

Good luck!
Thanks for the response. If I may ask, why is the Golden Trout Wilderness a better option that say Sierra or NW Yosemite? I'm looking at the map, and see it's obviously further south, and not as high as Kings Canyon. So less snow, I presume. Am I still looking at tough creek crossings and need for snow shoes? I don't mind the latter.

What trailhead would you suggest off of Lloyd Meadows Road (just so I can start a map reconnaissance)? Thank you.

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Re: Mid-May in SEKI - what are my options?

Post by rightstar76 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:37 pm

Yes, Loseyourself, lower elevation so less snow. Also more southerly location. One exception is Maggie and Coyote lakes. You won't want to visit them in mid-May since they are high elevation and will be snowed in. About NW Yosemite, although the lakes are lower in elevation, with the snow we've had and the more northerly location, you'll probably run into heavy snow on Kibbie Ridge and beyond. Also, the road to Cherry Lake and the trailhead may not be opened. As for which trailhead on Lloyd Meadows Road, well, as I told another HSTr in a related thread, do your research and make it so! ;)

https://goldentroutwilderness.wordpress.com/

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