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[Yosemite]

Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy Isles

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy Isles

Postby Whitebomb » Sun Jul 05, 2015 10:47 pm

Hey there!

Buddies and I decided to do some backpacking in Yosemite for the first time July 20-23 (4 days, 3 nights). There are going to be 4-5 of us and we are all beginners, as in buying-our-back-packs-this-week beginners. So, I'm kind of just beginning my research as to how we should go about this. We're all in good shape, and want to make the most of our experience. I was thinking Cathedral Lakes down JMT to Sunrise Camp, and then over Clouds Rest (because JMT to the east is all burned up from what I've read). I would like to then go to Little Yosemite Valley and maybe take the Mist Trail to Happy Isles.

I have a few dilemmas: first and foremost we don't have permits yet and my guess is we will be screwed trying to get them last minute. Secondly, I have no idea how long this will take, and what else to plan (before or after) to continue filling up the remaining time. So at this point I am open to your suggestions, and any experience is highly appreciated. What would you recommend we do during this busy season, so last minute? Thanks in advance.

-Ross
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Re: Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy I

Postby Grzldvt » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:20 am

First thing you do is go herehttp://www.nps.gov/featurecontent/yose/upload/rptFullTrailheadDates.htm and see if a date is open for the trail head you want. If it is open, then get your reservation in, going here - http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm
For first timers, I would recommend an overnight practice trip before you go out on a multi day trip. Jumping into this and going into the area you are citing, is ripe for trouble for anyone who has never gone out before. While it sounds easy, even us of those that do this all the time, have some issues on the first trip of the year.
For instance May Lake is open on July 23rd. While it is not a mongo hike, it is a place that is easy to get to, allows you to get used to an overnight setup and has facilities(High Sierra Camp) in case you run into trouble and gets you "acclimated" to cooking and setting up a camp. It is also a very easy get out in case something goes wrong.
Many of us could go into a Phd dissertation on a multi-day trip. Even with 3 overnighters prior to our very first multi-day trip, we had several issues on the longer one.
Food was the biggest problem. What seems to work at sea level, might not be so good at altitude. I would hate to see you go out and then realize what you picked for food is more gag material than food.
You need to do more research and I strongly recommend a practice trip or two before you go blasting out.
I could go on and on... but hopefully you get the point.
Steve
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Re: Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy I

Postby CarolE » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:17 am

Whitebomb, did you get your permits and how did your trip go? I'm curious as this is a similar route to what I'd like to do and I'm also a new hiker but quite fit. For me the only concern might be knees and altitude and of course carrying a pack but that's why I want to try shorter/slower first.

Whitebomb and others:
I'm guessing Tuolomne to Yosemite Valley is a smarter direction for a beginner than YV to Tuolomne? Both permitwise and effort? What are the trailheads you would need to apply for to do this route? I find the application confusing: is it Entry Trailhead 22a Glen Aulin for Tuolomne or, if that is really tough to get did you just go 21 Cathedral Peaks? and is the exit 1A Happy Isles to sunrise pass thru or does it matter which HI you indicate when going that direction?

Thanks for any info

Carol
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Re: Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy I

Postby Phil » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:53 am

Hi Carol,

All you need is a permit for trail head 21, Cathedral Lakes. Your exit is Happy Isles. It's the JMT. Tuolumne to the Valley is easier than the reverse from the Valley. For August, there are a few open dates in the reservation system from what I see, then September is pretty much wide open. For the permit application, you need to state your beginning and ending trail heads and the entry/exit dates. You can walk anywhere within the area as long as it's accessed from your trail head, including up and over from Sunrise. Reservations are 60% of the quota, walk-up is the other 40%. It's a very popular and impacted trail where permits go fast. It's typically done over 3 nights (4 days) and it should be easy enough, not so much because of distance (23-ish miles total) but for the enjoyment and camping opportunities. First night Upper Cathedral Lake, 2nd night somewhere up around Sunrise Camp, Sunrise Lakes (upper lake is nicest, IMO), or Sunrise Creek on the descent to LYV (more better than Sunrise backpacker's camp, also IMO), 3rd night, LYV if you want to deal with the masses. If you go up to Sunrise Lakes and want to head over towards Clouds Rest, there's a spur trail that leads back down to the JMT at Sunrise Creek. If knees might be an issue for you, try not to descend from the top of Clouds Rest, but if you decide to, carry more water because it's dry up there. Fit or not, don't discount the fact that you're going to be at close to 10,000 ft for about a day of it.
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Re: Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy I

Postby Grzldvt » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:32 pm

CarolE wrote:Whitebomb, did you get your permits and how did your trip go? I'm curious as this is a similar route to what I'd like to do and I'm also a new hiker but quite fit. For me the only concern might be knees and altitude and of course carrying a pack but that's why I want to try shorter/slower first.

Whitebomb and others:
I'm guessing Tuolomne to Yosemite Valley is a smarter direction for a beginner than YV to Tuolomne? Both permitwise and effort? What are the trailheads you would need to apply for to do this route? I find the application confusing: is it Entry Trailhead 22a Glen Aulin for Tuolomne or, if that is really tough to get did you just go 21 Cathedral Peaks? and is the exit 1A Happy Isles to sunrise pass thru or does it matter which HI you indicate when going that direction?

Thanks for any info

Carol

Why T-Meadows to Yosemite Valley? There are so many other , and much better hikes in the park, I have to ask.
Steve
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Re: Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy I

Postby CarolE » Sun Aug 09, 2015 8:25 pm

Why T Meadows? Because I've done the classic Happy Isles/Mist to Vernal Falls hike I thought Tulomne down might be a nice direction to go and maybe easier on the knees and easier to get a permit? I'm open to suggestions though as I really have no clue on the pros and cons of each. I want to try to get the Half Dome permit as well and would like to go somewhere with 1-2 nights camping and I'll be solo. In other words, yes, the whole probably tacky camping/hiking tourist route thing. I get that's what it is, to some degree, as I used to live in Banff National Parks and work for Parks Canada Trail Crew. One day I'd like to have more time/experience to do more but I'm not there yet. I did fly into Fresno from Canada mid-June and did a bunch of great day hikes (Vernal Falls was one of them). I got up early and I'm fairly fit/fast so really didn't have a crowded experience.

Where I live in British Columbia you're not even allowed to hike solo in some spots due to Grizzlies and Black Bears so a Yosemite experience has its positives.
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Re: Beginners looking for advice! Cathedral Lakes to Happy I

Postby jgaffney » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:32 am

Last year, I was successful in getting a JMT - Lyle Canyon permit the day before my departure date. I got to the Tuolumne Meadows wilderness office around 7:30 am and sat in line with folks who had spent the night there. Everybody who wanted a Lyle Canyon or Cathedral Lakes permit got one. The rangers always save some permits for the walk-up campers. It's risky but, if you didn't get one in advance and you're flexible about your route, it's worth a try.
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