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Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

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Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Choop » Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:44 pm

Hello All,

I thought you all would be able to help me and answer my questions. This seems to be the best and only good Yosemite message board around. Please bear with me since I've got a bunch of questions and feel like my months/years of planning for this are slowing going to pot.

Our group will FINALLY be hiking Half Dome this summer, or so I think. We have a group of 6 that currently have reservations for Glacier Point --> Little Yosemite Valley. We have added two more to our party now and need to get them reservations as well. It appears that the Glacier Point and Happy Isles trail heads are full. How can I get these last two people a permit to stay with us in LYV without sneaking them in??

I read on the official Yosemite site that some trail heads allow you to stay in LYV on your second night but it doesn't say which trail heads will allow me to do that. I don't want to get into trouble with the rangers for having 2 of us with reservations for the wrong trail head. Picking up 2 first come first serve passes on the day of won't work either since we're all coming up from LA and I don't want to chance having 2 guys not be able to hike with us!! Any suggestions from the experts here on this??

Also, after MANY MANY tries I finally got through on the reservation line and the ranger said that reservations on any trail head will allow them to stay in LYV on their second night. My follow up question to him was how are you going to know that it's their second night? He said that the rangers will know :paranoid: . What the heck should I do?

Lastly as I mentioned, we have enough passes for 6 of the 8 of us except the only one's I could get that would send us through LYV was Glacier Point --> LYV. We definitely want to hike from Happy Isles and I figured if the rangers were checking at LYV they wouldn't know which way we came from. Now I've read on a few other posts here that they check on the trail itself!! What the heck are we going to do, are we totally screwed??!! :crybaby:

Thanks for any help you can provide this first time Half Domer and his rag-tag bunch of hikers.
-- Chris H.



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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:02 pm

“It appears that the Glacier Point and Happy Isles trailheads are full. How can I get these last two people a permit to stay with us in LYV without sneaking them in?”

Sorry about your dilemma, but by reservation, there is nothing you can do. YNP allows 60% mail/phone reservations for 6 months in advance for all its trails, reserving the 40% “next day” only for the rest. The fact is many snap up these 6-month reservations very early, wishfully inflating their party numbers to include aunt Bess and their kids. At the last minute, many, (more than you think) decide to not come (Go figure)…and the rangers at the park have no way of knowing this until the party shows up at the park to pick up the pre-reserved permits for 8, but actually only 4 show. These remaining four “no shows” are then put into the hopper with the remaining 40%...now closer to 55 - 70%. This explains why all trails today are always constantly shown full online, or by phone, when in actuality there are many (too many) left unused. Anyway, to cut to the chase, from home, you are hosed.

On the brighter side, if you are adventurous, just showing up and bagging a “next day” permit for two to join your reserved six party adventure…should not be a problem starting at GP. You could probably (easily) get two or four permits starting at Happy Isles… (8 doubtful), and all meeting up at LYV…should not be any problem. Last year on July 4 weekend, (a very busy time), my buddy and I wanted to overnight and do the Dome…were in line early, and on the trail legal by 10:30 from Happy Isles…they had another 8 openings left too.


“We have enough passes for 6 of the 8 of us except the only one's I could get that would send us through LYV was Glacier Point --> LYV. We definitely want to hike from Happy Isles and I figured if the rangers were checking at LYV they would not know which way we came from. Now I have read on a few other posts here that they check on the trail itself! What the heck are we going to do, are we totally screwed?”

About being sneaky…I would not try it, but many do. The Rangers spend hours just waiting for those trying to beat the system…gleefully turning them back…fines for attitude. For the record, the Rangers do come around 6:00 PM in LYV and check all for permits at your camp. If you were not in camp between six and eight…you might escape…or not, depending.

When going up the Mist Trail…a zoo, there is no way they can check for permits; they actually only check in LYV.

My advice is trust your Karma that you will get those permits there, and all go…I would do this myself, but there is no 100% guarantee of success....maybe 99% though. Oh, the trail from GP to LYV is nice…you can always come down the Mist.

I have done 3 or 4 Yosemite trips each year for 30 years or so…mostly solo or a party of two…and have never reserved a permit beforehand. I always get what I want…most small parties are generally accommodated, especially if you already have reservations for six already. A smile and a good attitude always helps out.

Good luck!
Mark
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Choop » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:34 pm

Thank you so much Mark!!

It's good to know that they only check passes when you get to LYV. Has anyone seen them check passes on the way up to LYV from Happy Isles?? If not, I can check that worry off my list.

I'd totally try to do the first come first serve thing in the morning before we start but we are staying in Fresno with my parents the night before and will have just gotten in from LA at around midnight the night before that. From what I've read you need to be at the permit office in Yosemite by 5:30am so we'd have to leave Fresno at 3am. That would give us a whole 3 hours of sleep with half the Half Dome hike ahead of us!! :eek:

I'll probably try to shoot for getting the 2 more spots we need by signing them up for a nearby trailhead but having them hike with us. If a ranger asks why the other 2 guys are camping with us in LYV we'll just tell them that they're on the second night of their hike. Do you guys think that would work? Is there some way they can tell that's it's actually their first night up there?
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Choop » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:40 pm

Oops, almost forgot one more question. Do we actually need to carry bear canisters with us if they have bear lockers in LYV campground? I read somewhere that we do but that seems odd if they have them at our destination.
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Sierra Maclure » Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:12 am

Everything Mark said is true. I'm an REI Adventure guide who leads trips in Yosemite. I have to get permits just like everyone else and I can't risk not having them and I can't deal with the stress of gambling and hoping that I'll get them on the day of the trip. I was up til midnight last night so I could click on the "submit" icon for permits 24 weeks in advance. If I have to add a trip because they're all sold out, I show up 2 days before the trip begins to be first in line the day before the trip for the issuing of the first-come-first-served walk-in permits. I camp out in the backpackers camp, set my alarm for 5:30 and sit in line in my lawn chair making coffee on my Pocket Rocket waiting for the wilderness office to open. I've had many really pleasant days in Yosemite on this "extra" day waiting for my clients to show at 5:30 that evening. While you may very well get your walk-in permits by showing up the day of your trip, this is an option that should be considered. A trip to the wilderness should be planned so that the only stress is managing the sense of wonder.

And I'd hang onto the Glacier Pt permits and go in from there. It sounds like you'll have more than one car in your group. You can leave one in the valley and drive everyone to GP for the start, then shuttle everyone back to GP from the valley at the end. That way you'll have a different view instead of just going up and down the Mist Trail and when you return to GP to get the car you can look out on the roof of Yosemite and say, "Dang, I was there!". Besides going up the Mist Trail with a full pack is not easy.

About the bear cans - good question. I can't imagine that they are necessary since there's a ton of bear boxes at LYV.

Good luck. Bring some grippy gloves for the cables, and get water at the spring behind the roots of the big fallen tree after the Cloud's Rest junction. And for extra impact, read Shattered Air before you go. Have fun.
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby maverick » Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:35 pm

The NPS site only "recommends" you carry a canister to areas with lockers just
in case they are full.
You didn't specify when (month) or days you were planning on going.
With all the snow this year the backpacking camps will be full right out of the
Valley most people do not want to hike through snow.
Weekends will be noisy and like a zoo with Mr Bear raiding campsites every
night at dinner and into the night.
As said before the ranger does come by to check everyones permits unless she is
out on patrol.
Take some gloves, take plenty of water, and do not attempt a summit if
there are thunderheads around or if anyone has problem with heights, this
is not the place to find out.
If you can go up as early as you can, possibly before sunrise, to catch a beautiful
view and to beat the crowd.
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Rosabella » Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:49 pm

Well, I don't know about what the NPS recomends, but I just applied for my JMT permit, and in the process I asked for current requirements. I was told that a cannister is "required" for backpacking on ALL trails in Yosemite.

For the last few years cannisters were only required on areas of the trail further than seven "air" miles ("as the crow flies" miles) from the road, but this policy was changed last November.

SM, being a guide, I'm kinda surprised you weren't aware of this.
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby markskor » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:09 pm

Once again...Rosie is spot on. How does she do it?
According to a recent phone call to YNP...(which does not necessarily mean it is 100% true everywhere in the park, but at least somebody there in the park office agreed.) Strict guidelines state: at least one person in each party must have in their possession; an approved bear can capable of holding 100% of all food and related items when in the wilderness backcountry. It appears that the multitude of bear boxes there do not count… (Why?…who knows)…maybe some kinder rangers might interpret this to say it is ok in LYV per se, as you are really not in the wilderness for another mile in my humble opinion. I would ask when getting your permit.

Cans rent for $5 a week last year all throughout the park...and you had better have at least one with you...or, maybe, catch the Ranger on a good day. Some of them rangers get a little "edgy" when they think they have something to prove...(Can you say attitude?)

I myself have never had to prove that all my food fits in a can, but have been made to take my Bearikade out of my pack and actually show it to a Ms. Ranger for her inspection and scrutiny.
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Sierra Maclure » Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:51 pm

Yes, Rosie I know about all that bear can jazz. I just can't see carrying one in if there are boxes there. Dealing with "Mr. Ranger, Sir"., as Yogi would say, is another matter. And again Mark is very right about keeping a good attitude, and conveying you know something about LNT helps too. I was a supreme food hanger and bear chaser and it really bugs me to have to carry a can. Although, when I can get my coffee out of a can in the morning instead of a tree top, I'm a happy camper. I can get a little testy, too, about people telling me how to use my wilderness. Sorry.
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Rosabella » Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:12 pm

Nothing to be sorry about….that’s why we all enjoy these forums – to express and discuss ideas.

But at the risk of turning this thread into a debate on the pros and cons of the bear canisters policy, I’m just not sure how to respond here… it just seems a contradiction when the requirements to obtain a permit are so important as to camp out at the wilderness office for days to fulfill that requirement, yet being required to carry a canister to ensure that a bear doesn’t get your food is interpreted as “people telling you how to use your wilderness”.

I’ve had more than a couple times on backpacking trips where I got into camp late and the bearboxes were full… then what? Well, I don’t think I would have got much sleep in those situations if I hadn’t had my BeariKade. Yes, I’ve done my share of chasing bears out of camp, but that’s a heck of a way to spend the night.

It’s really immaterial whether I agree with the policy or not – effective last November it’s policy. But honestly, I don’t have a problem with it… when I carry my BeariKade I’m not a slave to camp only at locations with bearboxes, and I can sleep knowing that my food and supplies will be there in the morning.

:hippy: Rosie
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Re: Please Help - Yosemite Wilderness Permit Questions....

Postby Sierra Maclure » Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:24 am

When I camp with clients I'm 110 % legal and I teach my clients the reason why the laws are there. I can't afford to be turned back with no permits or without bear cans. That's why I camp out at the office and carry cans. Park policy is just that and if one doesn't follow it they should be prepared to be dinged. Besides it's in the best interest of the bears. But I don't have to like it. I've never encountered a full food locker in Yo. And since I don't frequent those places that often, it certainly doesn't mean it doesn't happen. And the truth is that there are a lot of areas in Yosemite without camp bears. But I can understand why they have a blanket policy. The NPS is probably doing a 6 Sigma effort on preventing bear feeding.

I've found the JMT is another story. I encountered a full food locker just north of Forester Pass a few years ago. Then, too, the JMT is a highway with high calorie food running up and down it all summer long with bears to match.

There's also an unwritten policy about no flotation devices in Yosemite backcountry lakes. It's in the Superintendent's Compendium as stated to my husband by Laurel Boyers who just retired last year as Director of Yosemite Widerness. That includes your Thermarest or foam pad or the little Sevelor Trail Boat that my friend Stephen packs. She couldn't even explain why and said my husband could not have access to the compendium. That's another rule I don't like. In fact, I think it's absurd and deserves a little civil disobedience. Call me a renagade - I don't always follow the speed limit either.
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