How to do Yosemite in May

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar
maiathebee
Topix Regular
Posts: 288
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:59 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Oakland, CA
Contact:

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by maiathebee » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:10 am

You inspired me! I'm planning the one trip you didn't really describe (lol), just backwards of one of your described trips. I got a permit to start the Pohono Trail at Tunnel View in mid May. I plan to drive from the bay area that morning and pick up my permit at the gate (big oak flat) and then drive in to the valley and start hiking hopefully by mid-morning. I'll keep the first day shorter due to this, but am curious as to what people think for the first night's camp. Stanford, Crocker, or Dewey? or should I modify my plans and try to get going early enough to get all the way to Taft the first day?


oh hey! you're reading my signature.
that's nice. want to check out my blog?
here it is: plutoniclove.com
ig: @plutonic_love






User avatar
bobby49
Topix Expert
Posts: 557
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:17 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by bobby49 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:18 am

I guess you know. When you start from Tunnel View, you are going straight up a steep trail.

User avatar
maiathebee
Topix Regular
Posts: 288
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:59 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Oakland, CA
Contact:

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by maiathebee » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:01 pm

bobby49 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:18 am
I guess you know. When you start from Tunnel View, you are going straight up a steep trail.
The same thing is true with WD's route straight up the Mist Trail. Basically every valley trail has this lovely, endearing quality :P
oh hey! you're reading my signature.
that's nice. want to check out my blog?
here it is: plutoniclove.com
ig: @plutonic_love

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4312
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:19 pm

That is just part of the deal when you backpack in and out of Yosemite Valley. But the elevation is relatively low and trails are well maintained and my pack is always light, so I have never found it a huge problem. These routes definitely are NOT for those adverse to big elevation gains, occasionally sharing the experience with day-hikers and tourists or dealing with rather complicated logistics. On the other hand, you cannot beat the scenery! I have poked around with a lot of other early season trips, and must say Yosemite is my favorite. I am an ex-rock climber so Yosemite Valley is a very special place for me, so I may be a bit bias. Once Tioga Road opens, another whole world opens up, but this year, that is not likely going to happen in May.

User avatar
bobby49
Topix Expert
Posts: 557
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:17 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by bobby49 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:17 pm

Yosemite Valley can be a strange place. Once year I had a group camped west of El Capitan, and we took a dayhike over to the top of Yosemite Falls for the view. When we got there, one of gals asked me to loan her $5. I asked what it was for, since there obviously is no place to spend money there. She said that she wanted to get ice cream, and she was willing to dash down into Yosemite Valley for it. I explained how crazy her idea was, but then I gave her the $5 and reminded her what time we would eat our evening meal. The rest of us then hiked all the way back to camp, had Happy Hour, and then began our cooking. As it got dark that evening, the gal came limping back into camp, having missed the meal. She had dashed down into Yosemite Valley, could not find ice cream, then hiked all the way up to Glacier Point before she found it. Then back down to Yosemite Valley, back up to the top of Yosemite Falls, and then all the way back to our camp.

Kids, this is only for trained professionals. Don't do it at home!

User avatar
mckee80
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 34
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:40 am
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by mckee80 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:10 pm

Wandering Daisy, thank you very much for posting this. I came on here a couple days ago to look for information about a 4 night trip starting May 19. After checking out all those routes and seeing what was available (both Happy Isles and OBOFR were full), we decided to go up Yosemite Falls (and take our time doing it), maybe day hike the next day to El Cap and Eagle Peak, then North Dome, Snow Creek, and out. If we're prioritizing scenic campsites, are North Dome (I know it is dry) and Snow Creek where we want to be along that route? I noticed you mentioned Canyon Creek, I didn't know if that was just because the mileage worked out. I plan on calling the backcountry office the week before, as we're not very experienced in snow, and we may have to adjust based on conditions.

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4312
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:45 am

Camping at Indian Canyon Creek is just a substitute for those who prefer to camp at a stream, rather than dry camp and haul water. If you are coming from Yosemite Creek you would have to haul water quite a distance; less so if going the opposite direction. Personally, I have always preferred to do the traverse counter-clockwise. The area between Yosemite Point and North Dome is not very scenic.

There is a map that shows the legal camping areas on the rim- I think it is on the Yosemite web site. The later in the season you go, the more you need to stay out of the "off-limits" camping areas; earlier such as in April or early May, not as critical with respect to "getting busted". Very early, you are somewhat forced to get closer to the rim to camp because everything back is totally snow covered. If you camp upstream on Yosemite Creek, the northeast bank has easier access and better camping. I usually go up to the first switchback, then leave the trail and traverse upstream. It is quite cliffy. I have tried the other side but it got so gnarly I gave up. Perhaps I left the trail at a bad spot. If planning on going to the top of El Cap, you can make it on one long day from the trailhead and has dry camping with a nearby small stream for water. Then the next day you can get all the way to North Dome.

User avatar
bobby49
Topix Expert
Posts: 557
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:17 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by bobby49 » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:36 pm

As was pointed out, the top of El Capitan has a great view, but it is kind of a poor place to camp since there is no flowing water. There is one stream a half-mile east, but it will have water only in a wet year. There is a larger stream a mile west, so that is where we used to camp. Specifically, there is a nice sandy dry open place just 150 yards upstream from Ribbon Creek. On the driest years there is generally still a tickle in it.

User avatar
mschnaidt
Topix Regular
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:58 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Cameron Park, CA

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by mschnaidt » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:29 pm

Here is a copy of the Yosemite Trailhead map. Dispersed camping is allowed beyond the colored arrows.

I'm considering a North Rim trip in early July starting at Olmstead Point and working our way down to El Cap over a few days. Then backtracking and heading down the Yosemite Falls Trail.

If you have a permit you may spend 1 night at the backpackers camp next to the North Pines Campground. We're planning on that and then taking the Hiker's Bus from the Valley to Olmstead Point leaving our car at Half Dome (Curry) Village. It's convenient as you can catch the Hiker's bus there. I'm attaching the Hiker's bus schedule I found on the Yosemite site also.
Yosemite trailheadmap.pdf
Yosemite - hiker-bus_shuttle-rates-schedule.pdf
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4312
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: How to do Yosemite in May

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:46 pm

Early season there is a fine snow-melt stream very accessible from the top of El Cap. It does dry up later; probably dry after May. In very early season, the top of El Cap has dry camping. We are discussing here backpacking in May. I would not count on it in July, even this year. In fact a lot of the streams in Yosemite dry up before the end of the season, even those shown as "permanent" on the USGS maps. I have been in semi-dire situations twice in Yosemite counting on a water source than was not there when I arrived.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: imtomfritz, Teri and 8 guests