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backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

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backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby adornowest » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:44 am

A few friends and I are looking for backpacking trips, preferably on the west side, in the 3-7 day range that will be particularly spectacular due to this year's unusually high snowpack. We don't want anything that involves any iffy water crossings, snow bridges, etc. Otherwise, we've had some easy, class-2 xc, including some around the Big and Little Fives last year, which we very much enjoyed and would like more of. We can do 8-12 miles a day, depending of course on conditions, and we are not fisherman.

Information about when to do these hikes (or how to tell when to do them -- when it is safe enough, or when the water is at its best) would also be greatly appreciated.

I really appreciate the help!



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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby maverick » Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:26 pm

HI Adornowest

Start you hike at White Wolf, head down to Pate Valley, and then head up the
Grand Canyon of Tuolumne to Tuolumne Meadows.
Park one car at each trailhead (White Wolf & Tuolumne Meadows), this hike can be done
in 4-5 nights at a very comfortable pace (who's in a hurry).
I would plan on doing this in late June/early July since as you get later in the season (Aug)
the highlights LeConte, Waterwheel Falls, and Tuolumne Falls will not be as spectacular.
The first night down to Pate is a long drop of a several thousand feet, but then it is
a nice graded climb up to Tuolumne Meadows.
There may be some area's that the trail may be flooded, and you will need to look for
ways to climb around this after Pate Valley.
Also the area above California Falls will be flooded, but this is no big deal, just carry
Teva's or skirt the cliffs around, if you do not want to go into the water.
There is some good camping above Waterwheel Falls.
There are several trip reports, some here, and numerous on-line with photo's so you can
get an idea about what to expect.
Waterwheel and LeConte Falls are very beautiful, and quite a spectacular site to see
in person.
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby rlown » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:45 pm

why wouldn't one start at TM and head down canyon and then back up to White wolf? double car park thing is a good idea, still. And yes, below the glen, the trail will be flooded. I guess the road would have to be open as well. Should be an interesting melt.
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby balzaccom » Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:06 pm

Because if you start at TM and hike down the canyon, you are left with the last final climb back up to White Wolf--steep, hot, dry, and long. And did i mention steep?

It's a long day...which is why most people do this hike the other direction.
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby rlown » Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:12 pm

i guess one picks their poison.. a dart down into GCT and the long shlogg up, or after you're already acclimatized, the long shlogg on the last day. It's not hot if you start early. just saying..

Both ways are fine. The water is amazing.. expect a wade in it, early season..
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby Mike M. » Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:18 pm

This is a nice trip suggestion if you're looking for spectacular water and don't mind lots of people (Glen Aulin can be very crowded, as there is a High Sierra camp located there, complete with hot food). Should be spectacular this year.

Two warnings: first, Pate Valley is notorious for its bears -- it has perhaps the worst bear problem outside of Yosemite Valley. These bears are smart and tenacious! Be sure to secure everything edible in bear-proof canisters -- everything. (These are Mensa bears, wily and determined.) Second, if you choose to hike down the Tuolumne to Pate Valley, keep in mind that the hike up to White Wolf is long and hot. Hit it in the early morning. There is good water (Morrison Creek) half way up the switchbacks -- the trail crosses a stream near there, where good campsites can be found, with views of Hetch Hetchy reservoir.

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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby oldranger » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:12 pm

Re bears: It shouldn't matter what the notoriety of a place for bears is. Always store your food properly and you won't be sorry. Been thru Pate Valley twice, never saw a rattlesnake (they scare me much more than bears) and the second time thru, with Maverick, saw one bear that totally ignored us (probably afraid of any dude named Maverick).

I've heard rumors that Rodgers Creek crossing can be a little intimidating early in the season but these are the same guys who asked me how I crossed Piute Creek in Pleasant Valley after they spotted me on the middle of a log jam crossing Piute creek!

Mike
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:44 pm

I did the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne east-to-west at very high water. In fact, it was the day they opened Tioga Pass. The bridge to Glen Aulin was only passable in the morning. The swamp below Glen Aulin was up to crotch deep. The trail was quite flooded in many places. We could not cross Rodgers Creek- it was just too swift - we went up stream and crawled across on logs. There are LOTS of rattlesnakes in Pate Valley. I definitely would NOT camp in Pate Valley, between the bears and snakes. We found nice camp spots between Pate Valley and White Wolf, so there is no need to go out in one day. If it is flooded in the canyon, there are tons of little water seeps and trickles along the trail on the way up. It was a great trip. But you must be prepared for lots of wading. White Wolf was not open so we had to walk all the way to the highway and then hitch. Before you go check to see that you can park on Hwy 120. We parked at Lembert Dome parking lot. I have also gone up the canyon. I feel the biggest advantage of going up canyon is that the views of the falls are better. Going down canyon you have to stop and look back to see them. Early season the conditions are go from cold and snow at Tuolumne to HOT in Pate Valley. But you do not spend that much time in the snow, so I packed for a warm-weather trip. I hiked in tennis shoes with superfeet inserts. They dry out a lot faster. You feet will get wet no matter what. The bridge at the base of Waterwheel falls (Register Creek??) has washed out in the past. If you go Tuolumne to White Wolf, it is a shorter backtrack if the bride is out.
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:11 pm

I did TM to WW last August. Two and a half days. I was with someone who is a much stronger hiker than I am. We camped at the sites just before the bridge at Register (or is it Return? I never remember, but it was the first of the two westbound down the canyon) and then at Morrison Creek about 2/3 of the way up out of Pate.

I had been on Tioga Pass backpacking with others, got a walk in permit for GCT starting at TM the morning after the first trip, and drove to White Wolf, spending the night in the backpacker camp there. (We had a visit from the Very Large Bear that harasses the campground every night.) In the morning my friend picked me up and drove us to TM and we got on the trail around 9 am after breakfast at the grill. I got pics of the falls and later looking at them started to notice people in them - like the lady in the bikini laying on the granite in front of a waterwheel!

Bear scat all over the place, rattlesnakes - one four footer was hogging the trail but he left when we started banging trekking poles on the granite. From a discreet distance of course. We passed former campsites in the burn area. In Pate we could tell it's a boggy buggy mess earlier in the year.

If I had to do it again, I'd camp not in Pate but before - there are some areas in rocks alongside the trail, almost too close to the river to be legal, but on duff and not in green meadowy areas where you're likely to have condensation inside the tent. I'd get a really early morning start, to get a run at the switchbacks up out of Pate before the afternoon. Anyone sensitive to heat should. My friend had to run ahead to Morrison Creek because I ran out of water and was really struggling up the granite, slowed to a plodding 1 mph and rested in any patch of shade, and when he got back with water he carried my pack the half a mile to the creek and we found a great tent spot on a ridge quite near the creek, with an awesome view of Hetch Hetchy. The following morning I was recovered and made it to White Wolf before 10 am.
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby diesel » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:14 pm

I did White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows last year in late June. Seemed like the perfect time for this trip, though very WET (somewhat swift creek crossings but nothing too crazy, and some flooded portions of trail in glen aulin and swampy around pate valley). We parked our car at Tuolumne Meadows and took the YARTS shuttle to White Wolf (runs around 9 AM on weekends, I believe...check the YARTS web site to for the schedule) and hiked for 3 days back to Tuolumne where we parked. I agree with Maverick about taking your time...make it a 4 or 5 day trip.
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:38 am

Rlown wrote "why wouldn't one start at TM and head down canyon and then back up
to White wolf? Because I like ending the trip on a high note, when possible, and the
climb up to White Wolf is boring (though the views of Hetch Hetchy are good), unlike the
hike up TM.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: backpacking trips to take advantage of all that water

Postby adornowest » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:20 pm

Thanks for all the advice -- the hike sounds spectacular, but rattlesnakes don't sound fun. I've also not done a hike that has required much wading, and I'm confused about how big of a deal this is. Maverick says no big deal with tevas, while Wandering Daisy says they encountered "lots of wading."

Also, are there other hikes people would recommend to take advantage of the water, or is this really the clear choice?

Many thanks for all the help. I used this board last year for planning my backpacking trip and was very glad I did!
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