7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

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Sax
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7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Sax » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:11 am

Hi everyone, I'm Sax :)

I grew up backpacking and climbing in WA, but I've never been to the Sierra before. I'm visiting late September on a last-minute trip, and I've sent out a reservation application for a portion of the SHR (Lake Thomas Edison to Yosemite Valley). I'm stoked! But it may take a week or more to find out if my reservation is accepted, so I want to have a Plan B in place.

Ideally Plan B would begin within a 6 hour drive from Oakland and end as close to the valley or Tuolumne as possible, securing a permit would be virtually guaranteed, and it would be close in character to the SHR (alpine, significant off-trail, killer views, solitude). Ideally.

I'm aiming for 10-15mi a day depending on terrain, up to 6k gain. Comfortable with class 3 unless it's particularly loose or exposed. Prefer to leave the axe/pons at home.

I'll be looking at maps and sifting through TRs on my own, but I would really appreciate some insider advice...particularly on no-stress permit availability. Thanks in advance! :rock:








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AlmostThere
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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:05 pm

I'm sure you'll get your plan A. But how are you getting back to your car?

You must be a super athlete, off trail and 10-15 miles per day is pretty darned ambitious. I hope you are good at routefinding.

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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by bobby49 » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:34 pm

This is especially challenging since by the end of September you won't have that many sunlit hours.

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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Sax » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:25 pm

Thanks for the optimism! That makes me feel a little less stressed. My friend is doing me a huge favor and dropping me off, then we're meeting up for another few days of dayhiking and sightseeing around YNP.

If 100% off-trail 10-15 would be too ambitious, I guess I was basing that off the SHR itinerary I'm looking at where every day except one has >5mi of trail. My fully off-trail day will be Ediza Lake to Twin Island Lakes or Blue Lake, depending on how efficient I am.

There will be almost exactly 12hrs between sunrise and sunset (trip actually begins on the autumn equinox).

My fitness and experience haven't been tested against the Sierra, so I'll keep the words of caution in mind. But I cut my teeth on off-trail long ago, in the northwest where we need a Bushwhack Rating System ;)

http://www.alpenglow.org/themes/subalpi ... tings.html

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AlmostThere
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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:00 pm

The thing is, you won't find a lot of bushes to whack. What you find is rocks, talus, scree, little cliffs that lurk between contour lines on the map that seem to exist only to screw you up. How much block talus have you encountered? This is after all the Sierra HIGH Route, as in alpine, rock filled class 2-3 that can easily become class 4-5 if you aren't careful in some cases.

Get in the wrong place and you can spend time you didn't expect to use trying to navigate block talus bigger than your car, and some of them will wobble enough to make it plenty dangerous.

Doing it alone in shoulder season? Hmmm. No experience in navigating the high Sierra. Hmmmm.

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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Sax » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:27 pm

The bushwhacking bit was offered in jest...is there no humor in the Sierra?! :)

I appreciate your thoughts. You don't know me or my fitness and experience, so you're right to have your doubts. It's not my style to talk myself up, and there's no point in doing so anyway. Rest assured that by any objective measure this will not be among my most difficult solo trips.

At the same time I fully respect the fact that it's a unique range and that that will multiply the subjective difficulties. That's no small part of the allure. I hope and expect this trip leaves me whipped and thinking "the Sierras are the real deal".

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Ska-T
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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Ska-T » Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:32 am

Getting a permit for your trip in late Sept? No problem.

Regarding mileage and time ... as you say that section of the SHR is on trail considerably more than other sections. Your mileage estimate is probably reasonable. Further, the passes in that section of the SHR are not as technically challenging as some of the other sections, although the route finding has a challenging area (see below). I don't know your hiking speed, but 7-9 days is feasible for an experienced, conditioned person if problems don't arise.

If you need to save a little time (half a day) then hike on trail directly to Minaret Lake from Reds Meadow, i.e., bypass Nancy Pass. If you have to save a lot of time, then jump on the PCT/JMT and hike directly to Tuloumne Meadows (e.g., from Thousand Island Lake). The ranger may not like your route change but it is better than a search & rescue.

The potential problems are weather, route finding (especially between Lake Catherine and Bench Canyon, and getting injured (e.g., sprained ankle or worse). If you get lost or injured at that time of year there may not be anyone to help you out. Hopefully you have those problems covered as well as you can.

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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Sax » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:43 pm

Thanks Ska-T.

I'm planning to skip Nancy Pass...Minaret/Iceberg/Ediza looks like a place I want to have time to enjoy, so I'll just hurry up and get there! I'm hoping that Catherine-Bench Canyon stretch goes smoothly for me because the Blue Lake camp looks like another highlight. I've heard the descent from Lake Catherine in particular can be tricky to navigate. Have you found that to be the case?

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Ska-T
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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Ska-T » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:54 am

Sax wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:43 pm
I've heard the descent from Lake Catherine in particular can be tricky to navigate. Have you found that to be the case?
Yes, a little tricky, but not too bad. It took me about 5-10 min of searching to find a class 2+ way down past the 80 ft waterfall. I'll send you a private message in the next day or two with specific tips on that section. If you are the type that doesn't want to hear route details then throw the message away. :lol:

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Re: 7-day backup plan if SHR permit rejected

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:38 am

Logistics may also slow you down. Check to be sure the ferry is still running across Lake Edison. Sometimes the lake level gets so low that they drop you off only part way down the lake. By the way, the road to Lake Edison is really slow. Be sure to allow enough time. Also time leaving the Bay Area so you do not get stuck in traffic. Also, check to see if Reds Meadows will be open, if you plan to use it for resupply. I think they are doing some road construction so it may be closed. Occasionally, brief snow storms close Tioga Road for a day or so in September. Right now we have some road closures due to fires. Be sure to check CALTRANS road conditions to make sure your planned route to the trailhead is open.

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley is not part of the SHR. I am a bit confused when you say you are doing the SHR from Edison to Yosemite Valley. Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley will add at least a day to your route.

It is not that hard to do 10-15 miles off-trail, once. But do it day after day for 9 days is quite rigorous. One key to making full use of your daylight hours in the Fall, is to be very careful to choose a campsite that gets early AM sun. Deep in the valleys you may not get sunlight until 9-10 AM, in addition to being cold since the cold air settles in valleys. I find that my tent is wet from dew often in late season and simply getting up in below freezing temperatures and then packing a wet tent really slows me down.

Although your plan is optimistic, there are several short cuts along the SHR. Just be sure to calculate the mileage and estimated time to do these. Sometimes a "short cut" is anything but "short". There are many places where you can easily bail-out to the JMT. Even if brief, a snow storm can make much of the SHR slow and dangerous.

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