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5-6 day loop in September

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5-6 day loop in September

Postby dreamer1 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:10 pm

Now that our kids are getting older, my hiking buddy and I (approaching 50 but reasonably fit) meet up about twice a year to backpack in various places for a week or so at a time. After spending the last two years exploring the Grand Canyon (4 nights each time with 45 lb packs), we are now looking forward to wonderful Yosemite. I have read many informative posts from this site and other sources and have narrowed down the possibilities for a 5 or 6 day loop trip leaving from TM but would like your input keeping in mind that a) we will be there in early September (right after Labor day), b) we wish to camp in spots with nice views but stick close to trails for hiking, c) would like to have a ‘leave the tent here’ day or two along the way where we can stay put and explore the area or peaks nearby, and d) we love lakes. Hiking with bear cannisetrs in our packs will be a 1st for us but we awaiting news for possible meals at Sunrise HSC which would be nice and lessen our load somwehat.

If no meals at Sunrise HSC:
Day 1: Leave Cathedral Lakes trailhead near TM and hike a bit past the Sunrise High Sierra Camp area
Day 2: Hike to Merced Lake HSC via the trail that goes thru Echo Creek.
Day 3: Hike to Bernice Lake via the Lewis Creek trail or to Townsley via the Fletcher trail
Day 4: Explore area around Bernice Lake or Townsley (e.g., Hanging Basket)
Day 5: Bernice Lake to Evelyn Lake via Vogelsang HSC
Day 6: Hike back to TM via Lyell Canyon

If meals at Sunrise:
Day 1 : TM to Townsley (or Fletcher) via Rafferty Creak
Day 2: Stay at Townsley and day hike about, including to Hanging Basket
Day 3: Townsley to Bernice Lake passing by Vogelsang, set up tent and go explore without the backpack (or is it better to head to Merced via Fletcher and take a stop day elsewhere along the way?)
Day 4: Bernice Lake to Merced Lake area
Day 5: Merced Lake to Sunrise Lakes area (and 'real' meal)
Day 6: Exit to TM via the JMT

Any suggestions/comments or alternate routes (espeically on spots to spend a 'backpack-free dayhiking day or 2) would be greatly appreciated!



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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby rlown » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:21 pm

are you going to fish or enjoy the area?
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby dreamer1 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:34 pm

We will not be fishing; the lakes are just for visual enjoyment (like the mighty mountains!). The 'off' day or 2 we would like to include are really to stay put tent-wise and explore the area at our own pace without lugging our full packs. In past multi-day hikes, we really appreciated these unstructured days and so did our knees :-) I also want to be more on the safe side in terms of hiking distances given the altitude factor (we will be arriving 2 days earlier and plan to sleep 2 nights at TM with some day hiking prior to heading out for the loop) but 7-10 mile days with a break or tow should be ok. We plan to return the following year so we can always try something harder/longer then (this is the approach we have taken in places like the GCanyon).

Thanks again.
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby rlown » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:20 pm

ok, Here's what you might see on the East side of the area you're planning on. I've no idea about bernice, but others have been there.

Here's a pic of the of the approach into Evelyn from vogelsang. Note we always cut the corner out of rafferty because, well, we don't like going through the HSC and it's way shorter.

HPIM0039.JPG


Here's a pic looking down from the lip of HB towards Townsley. Note that when we stay at Evelyn, we walk right from Evelyn across that plateau on the right to Townsley:

DSC01717.JPG
DSC01717.JPG (85.25 KiB) Viewed 507 times


And here's a pic of HB.

HPIM0085.JPG


Hope this is of any use.
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby dreamer1 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:33 pm

Yes it is of help -- has me dreaming already, especially the shot of HB - wow! Little question: my hiking partner dislikes leaving trails (fear of getting lost even if with someone with reasonable orienting skills). How easy is it to cut across the plateau as suggested (with map and compass?)
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby rlown » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:45 pm

the plateau is easy. you go to the SouthWest side of Evelyn, then up where the inflow stream is. it's about 300' vertical. You can see the HB canyon next to fletcher at when you get up on the plateau; do not go up to HB if the weather sucks, as you will have really, really bad winds, snow, sleet (well we had it all in this trip, but we go after sept 15th.) Depending on where you want to stay (east or west), you go that direction when you're on the plateau. There are existing campsites on the west end, but we stayed on the East behind a big rock. HB is all class 2 at least to get up; there is no trail; follow the drainage up and stay in the drainage. don't go right; loose scree and worse.

Pretty place. I tend to revisit it every other year.
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:59 pm

Hi Dreamer,
Couple of thoughts:
The trail to Voglesang from Tuolumne - when at Tuolumne Pass (or whatever the pass is just 1/2 mile before Voglesang HSC), leave the trail at the 10,000 ft pass sign and head Southeast up directly to Fletcher...like said before, an easy 300 feet of elevation and the trail (Evelyn - Fletcher - HSC) is right there on top. Good sites abound. That last 1/2 trail mile up to Voglesang is a roller coaster of a joke and actually takes you away from where you want to go. A nice day trip then could include HB and Ireland too...easy X-country...lot of use trails too along the lakes and you cannot get lost. BTW, I did not find barren Evelyn that enjoyable.
If fishing, then I would definitely go Bernice; Voglesang Pass is amazing...Voglesang Peak is only a 1/2 hour side trip too... but since you are not...either trail down to Merced will suffice...FYI, Emeric and Boothe are nice too.

Food/meals also available at the Merced HSC...chef John there a friend...bigger than Sunrise and food is excellent. Maybe an extra day there (two food nights) and a day hike to Washburn?

Merced to Sunrise the next day...(BTW, the standard fee for an employee to haul a full pack to Sunrise from Merced HSC is $150 but there are shortcuts used here that only the locals know...saves a few hours if interested.)

The trail up through Echo to Sunrise is a bit of a mother...2000 ft elevation to gain back...be prepared.
Sounds like a great trip!
Mark
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby The Other Tom » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:08 pm

Hey Markskor,
I'm interested in the shortcut from Merced to Sunrise. Are you talking about going via the Mansfield "peaks" ?
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby dreamer1 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:00 pm

Thanks for the heads-up and advice markskor!

I know about the food options at the other camps along the way and have no doubts about the yumminess of cook John’s grub, but from what I read Vogelsand and Merced close down on Labor day and we will be heading up right after. Now to add to options, it has been suggested that we consider 2 shorter backpacking trips instead of 1 longer one and to skip Merced.

The 1st hike would involve going to Clouds Rest (which I would be keen on doing) from Tuolomne (Cathedral Lakes trailhead ) with an overnight near Sunrise Lakes; then hike and set up the tent near Clouds Rest, go the top and sleep at the base overnight; exit maybe to Tioga Road by Tenaya Lake and shuttle back to Tuolomne (or to start from Tioga Road and do the reverse). So 2 nights/3days…

The 2nd would be part of the original idea, that is Tuolomne to Townsley or Fletcher via Rafferty Creak; stay around Townsley and day hike about, including to Hanging Basket, maybe further up Fletcher Creek; then cut across to Ireland for another overnight and xploration about; hike out via Lyell Canyon. 3 nights/4 days.

As much as I like the whole loop idea (I love getting away for longer stretches) this also has its own appeal, especially knowing that we will be coming back (maybe for a challenging loop in the Clark range) the following fall… One thing though I was not sure about is if we can store our food for our ‘2nd leg’ in a bear box at the Tuolomne campground while we are away on the first mini-loop. Once again, thank you for your helpful comments. Oh yeah, also interested in the shortcut bewteen Merced and Sunrise!
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby dreamer1 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:09 pm

PS: markskor -- I forgot to mention; those solo backpacking adventure reports are truly great reads... great thread!
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:19 pm

The Other Tom wrote:Hey Markskor,
I'm interested in the shortcut from Merced to Sunrise. Are you talking about going via the Mansfield "peaks" ?


They swore me to secrecy when showed the way...lol...I could show you, but then... [-X
Yes, does cross near the peaks.
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Re: 5-6 day loop in September

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:55 pm

Dreamer,
"The 1st hike would involve going to Clouds Rest (which I would be keen on doing) from Tuolomne (Cathedral Lakes trailhead ) with an overnight near Sunrise Lakes; then hike and set up the tent near Clouds Rest, go the top and sleep at the base overnight; exit maybe to Tioga Road by Tenaya Lake and shuttle back to Tuolomne (or to start from Tioga Road and do the reverse). So 2 nights/3days…"

While the Clouds Rest portion is a great route, you sure you want to attempt this entire segment in 2 nights/ 3 days as your first Yosemite hike?
Maybe it is just me getting old, but this itinerary you mentioned is mostly uphill and a bit rugged... recommend adding a day as there is that pesky 9,000 - 10,000 elevation thing to consider, and that by itself, first time/day out, makes your plan optimistic at best. Tuolumne to Cathedral, then on to Sunrise in one day would seem to be a long trail day even if you had your mountain legs...why?

Stay over at Upper Cathedral first night and then on to Lower Sunrise the next...a much more enjoyable way to see Yosemite. Then you could do the CR thing and still be back to Tenaya that night after camping at/near Clouds Rest...3 nights/4 days. BTW, illegal now to sleep atop Clouds Rest -(plenty of room and best views in the park) but still done frequently. Just do not mention this part when picking up permits...will be denied. Don't ask - don't tell.

FYI, there is a fisherman's trail just east of Tenaya...up the falls - maybe 2 miles total - Lower Cathedral is just on top...lunch, and a nice hike to the south end of Upper Cathedral makes a good first day's trek.
Just my 2¢

BTW, thanks for the kind words about my Solo Backpacking exploits.
Mark
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