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Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

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Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby whiteout » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:36 pm

EDIT: to show up-top the answer so helpfully supplied by AlmostThere down here:
"Backpacker camps are intended for use by visitors in possession of an overnight wilderness permit or for visitors arriving in the park by foot, bicycle or bus." YES!


Sorry for the sarcastic tease, and an umpteenth Q on Yosemite walkup permits. Read number of topics here (& other sites) but here's the Catch 22 I can't solve.

Have a Mono/Parker reservation for a JMT launch end of Aug (requiring xc into Lyell at head), but I want our party of three to go earlier and try for a TMeadows or Sunrise Lakes trailhead launch on a walkup basis, going to Wilderness office in TMeadows at 4am. But we are taking Amtrak to Merced, YARTS to the Valley, and YARTS to the top. That bus doesn't leave until 5pm. So how on earth can you camp up there arriving without a car? (which would allow you to drive away if you can't entice someone to share their campsite?) You can't camp in the Backpackers Site, because you need a wilderness permit to do that. Or is that rule widely unenforced? Bus arrives at the valley at 1:30, so may be time to find a cancellation campsite there, but then you are trying to jump on upper-level trailhead permit openings from down low. The tour bus doesn't even leave until something like 10. Shouldn't they want to keep cars out of Tuolumne Meadows too?

I"ll be as flexible as can be, but want to be legal and don't want to have to rely on hitchhiking to make it happen.

Can't wait for when the intensity of the splendor is all I have to manage, as someone here said in 2008 post.

Charley White
Last edited by whiteout on Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby maverick » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:49 pm

Hi Whiteout,

Welcome to HST!
Some info available here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4923&hilit=tuolumne+camping+regulations&start=12
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: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:40 pm

Actually you can stay in the backpacker camp if you walk, bike, or bus into the park. Thru hikers who don't have yosemite wilderness permits overnight there as well.

Also, if you have a reserved permit, and can't get to the office by the time it closes, there is language on the letter that indicates that will suffice as well.
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby whiteout » Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:42 pm

While I didn't study all of the link maverick put up, what I gained skimming it, above what I've read (over too many days online), is that you cannot stay a night in a backpackers' campground without a permit, and you had better not try in the Valley, because they check multiple times a day, but you can get away with it at Tuolumne Meadows, because they don't.

Yes, I see on the email reservation I got for Mono/Parker Creek that it will allow me a night camping before I actually pick up the permit and start hiking, but only the day before the reservation--Aug 21---not any day I want to show up and try for a walkup on a different date. So, if I want to take a bus in three weeks earlier on Aug 1 & try for a walkup, it does me no good. I mean, I'd have that registration number to show my intentions as someone who plans to get a permit and pay, not just crash for a night, but I've yet to see how it protects me from a ticket from a surly ranger. And, yes, thru-hikers can use the backpackers' campground, but they are passing through Yosemite on a valid permit from some other agency. Kind of like the reason I don't just YARTS to Mono Visitor Center and get a FS pass for Rush Creek: because the Whitney Exit passes are un-reservable, and only by going in through Yosemite (or a different FS) can you exit Whitney when the mountain gods so guide you.

Like I said, I'm kidding a little about the title. What I mean is if you aren't moving under transportation that lets you get to the TM wilderness office at an early hour after a night outside the park, you're relying on some rules going un-enforced to be sure to get a walkup in TM. But, I'd love to hear otherwise... :)
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby tim » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:11 am

Why wouldn't you just get a random permit for the next day for your party and just not use it? Then use that to stay in the TM BP campground the first night? If there are 3 of you then a different person can get the first permit and a conflict won't show up in the system (although there is no prohibition on holding incompatible permits - last weekend I ended up with both a 2 day permit going in Sat and a 1 day permit going in Sun so I could use the BP camping on Sat night if the Tioga Rd stayed closed).
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby whiteout » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:06 pm

whiteout wrote:While I didn't study all of the link maverick put up


Now I have & thanks, Maverick. Didn't change anything re my specific question, but nice introduction to how helpful this website can be!

tim wrote:Why wouldn't you just get a random permit for the next day for your party and just not use it? Then use that to stay in the TM BP campground the first night?


I haven't looked at all the trailheads in the park, but the ones I have in TM area have no availability around Aug 1. None for TM, Sunrise, or Mono/Parker. Didn't look at McClure, because my guess was this would be a little like a permit for a non-TM trailhead: cheaty-cheaty. But my problem with 2 days looking online was not looking one more hour, because I just found an email address for Yosemite & such questions. Have asked about legality of just that: permit for trailhead remote from TM giving you permission to camp TM.

The real good new is Spain is sinking so my nephew won't have a teaching grant beginning Aug 1, so we can just go ahead and go in Mono//Parker as reserved on Aug 21. Which will be fine unless the scramble over Kuna Saddle from Helen makes my wife homicidal...
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby tim » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:25 pm

Nothing cheaty about it (other than lack of intention to use permit). If you had a car or were getting the shuttle bus and were coming in on the East side then you could be going anywhere in the park the next day. There certainly will be availability on some Tioga Rd trailheads then.
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Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby bheiser1 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:35 pm

@tim, re:"cheaty, cheaty", if he reserves a permit without using it, is he keeping someone who really intends to go backpacking on that date from doing so, or does the permit system account for no-shows when determining quotas?
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby tim » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:27 pm

If you reserve but don't collect a permit then it can be given to someone else as a walk-in. My understanding has been that the reservation receipt alone should suffice for the BP campground (if for example you arrive after the office closes), so in theory it could be used by someone else. However, I would have thought that just getting a walk-in permit for an obscure trailhead would be easier anyway (and free). For example, Olmstead Pt basically doesn't go anywhere useful. Many of the White Wolf trailheads are empty in August also.
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby whiteout » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:17 am

OK, I may be getting it. (Maybe the more I read the Yose website, the less i comprehend). I was given to think the Tuolumne Meadows Backpackers' Campground (TMBCG) was intended for only trips launching from there on the several trailheads nearby--at least in the "Tuolumne Meadows" district. So you couldn't "legally" camp there the night before a reserved launch from Bridlevail, say. Nor could you do a kosher launch of Lyell Canyon having camped Camp 4 the night before. But, with only two of these BCGs, kind of impossible if they really want you there and your car outside. With the inevitable variance between what's booked in Feb, and actually hiked, I don't have a problem with a legal reservation and a legal cancellation after a legal walkup permit elsewhere.

Confused myself with the McClure "cheat" because I'd been giving some thought to reserving and launching a trip there on a route with a quick U-turn, road-walk, and course up Lyell Canyon. No different from if I came from Bridgeport. Felt pretty cheaty & abuse of system tho.

I've been assuming no regular, $20 a spot, sites would be available at TM (no openings show on Recreation.gov, & Yose site says "sites fill by noon." But there are a ton, and a bunch FCFServe. Any notions on the odds on getting one midweek, arriving after 6pm, or how customary it is to share with someone with room after a little enticement?
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby whiteout » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:50 am

Here's a word back from Yosemite: "Getting another permit
that you have no intention of using is not an option."

No CFR citation, but the absoluteness of response, however general, says they consider it abusive.

I replied to see if even trying for a walkup switch to a different TH the same day would be considered rendering your original permit "no intention of using." Just like to know where the lines are....
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Re: Can you camp Tuol Meadows WITHOUT a car?

Postby tim » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:59 pm

I'd say your chances of getting a regular campsite at TM any evening in the middle of summer are somewhere between zero and non-existent. If you really want to comply with the strict letter of the rules then get a permit and hike somewhere a couple of miles off the TM shuttle route the first night. You should be easily able to hike back to the trailhead and get the free shuttle bus to the permit station by 11am. A couple of obvious options would be Olmstead Pt or Murphy Creek (to Polly Dome Lakes). Alternatively go outside the park on the East side of Tioga Pass (non quota area) but that is harder to get back from with public transport.

Wrt your idea of changing direction, I think walking up one trail and not staying there the first night would be considered against the rules.
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