Page 1 of 1

Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 2:14 pm
by saucerful
We're supposed to fly into SFO next weekend (7/28) for a five-night trip out of Crabtree to Emigrant Lake and Upper Relief Valley.

Looking at the very useful PM 2.5 map that @maverick posted has us a little worried. I've backpacked in Yosemite twice but (luckily) never had to deal with fire/smoke. Here are my observations:

1) It seems like the conditions in Emigrant are changing quickly throughout the day (depending on the wind?)
2) Often the estimate is 0 ug/m^3, but it regularly gets up to 5, 10 or 20 ug/m^3 and spikes higher than that (40?) occasionally.
3) I found the EPA air quality standards which set an annual limit of 12 ug/m^3 and daily limit of 35 ug/m^3.

So my questions are:
1) It seems like Emigrant isn't so bad right now? If you were going to be hiking in the area would you change your plans?
2) If you were to change your plans, any suggestions for alternate routes that avoid the smoke? I was looking at Trinity Alps but it seems like it would be too hot right now.


Re: Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:40 am
by SSSdave
Alternative is to go well south of Yosemite, the further the better as wind flows this next week are forecast to be sw to ne and s to n.

Re: Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:19 am
by maverick
Mono Divide, Humphreys Basin, or SEKI.

Re: Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:51 pm
by saucerful
Thanks for the quick replies @SSSdave and @maverick!

I ordered the Harrison map for Mono Divide but won't have it here for a day or two and the ranger in Bishop is closed today.

For this trip we're imagining a route that's on trail and not heroic and gets us out there in a couple days, from which we could set up camp and spend a couple days exploring off trail before heading back. We're a bit more interested in lakes and valleys and wildflowers than rocks and summits.

Searching HST and Google piqued our interest in Pioneer Basin. But the Mosquito Flat trailhead is booked (looking for Saturday the 28th). Does anyone know how how likely we'd be to get walk-up permits on a Saturday morning?

Does anyone have any specific suggestions that take into account our interests and permit availability on such short notice? Thanks again!

Re: Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:21 am
by lauralai627
I drove over Sonora Pass yesterday and the smoke was pretty thick. I was in Humphrey's Basin last Thurs thru Saturday -- no smoke, just tons of hail and thunder/lightning. The trail down the pass was flooded and there were a bunch of slides on the trail and on the road to Sabrina and North Lake. We got out just in time but I think the road will be closed for a while. I'm not sure what current conditions are like in Desolation but that's another possible option since you're flying into SFO (and a shorter drive than Bishop). There are definitely more people there but the wildflowers were out in force about a week ago.

Re: Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:03 pm
by maverick
Piute Pass has also been damaged:

Re: Smoke in Emigrant and Alternatives?

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:01 am
by wildhiker
Just returned today from a 5 day trip in Sequoia Park that had good air and great conditions, with excellent wildflower displays, mild temperatures, exciting thunderstorms creating numerous ephemeral waterfalls on the granite slopes, minimal mosquitoes, and inspiring granite slopes, cliffs, and peaks. I basically hiked the High Sierra Trail in to Hamilton Lake, with a side trip and camp over at Tamarack Lake, and a dayhike from Hamilton up to Kaweah Gap. I actually started from Wolverton on the Alta trail over Panther Gap because I like the views and then dropped down to the HST to continue. Same distance as the normal start at Crescent Meadow, and actually about the same elevation gain because the HST, while appearing at rough glance to contour along the Kaweah canyon, actually has a lot of up and down. The Alta trail permits are easier to get because they are not part of the "official" HST. In fact, on Tuesday 7/17 when I showed up at the Lodgepole visitor center to get my permit to start the next day, the ranger said that zero people had started on the Alta trail on Tuesday!

I camped at Buck Creek Canyon 1st night (about 10 miles in), Tamarack Lake 2nd night (about 5-6 miles, but 2,500 feet elevation gain), Hamilton Lake 3rd night (about 6 miles and 1,500 feet elevation gain), on 4th day dayhiked up to Kaweah Gap (about 10 miles round trip with 2,400 feet elevation gain), and then packed up and headed back on the HST in the rain, intending to camp again at Buck Creek Canyon, but too tired and too late in the day so stopped at Bearpaw Meadow campground. On the last day, I hiked the regular HST all the way out to Crescent Meadow - about 12 miles - and then took the free park shuttles back to Wolverton to get my car. The scenery is wonderful past Bearpaw Meadow, but the hike to and from that point has a lot of less interesting forest walking, with periodic views of the high country. If I had a 5th night, I would start at Wolverton on the Alta trail, like I did, but continue on it to Alta Meadow to camp for the first night. Then backtrack down to the HST and continue as I did. Alta Meadow is a marvelous campsite with flower gardens and awesome views of the Great Western Divide. The one thing I would definitely do differently is NOT camp at Bearpaw Meadow campground. It is set in a barren sloping dense red fir forest with no views and is the dingiest, dreariest, gloomiest place I have ever camped!

Anyway, this area might work for you as an alternative to Emigrant Wilderness.