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[Yosemite]

Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

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

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Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby DaleDoge » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:11 am

We are looking at coming to Yosemite at some point in the coming year. We are looking at spending 4 nights and 5 days in the park.

Our goal is to summit Half-Dome. From what I have gathered, we would like to take the Mist Trail to Half Dome... My understanding was that Half Dome permits are rewarded in April, but that wilderness permits are already being rewarded. In other words, we may already be too late assuming that permits are already at fully issued for specific month. Is this true?

Also, is there any preference of time of year? Are bugs more common at some point? How about the waterfalls, do they dry out?

Thanks
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby Phil » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:53 am

Kinda, sorta. It's a little convoluted.

There are 300 people allowed up Half Dome per day. 75 of those slots are going to be available only to wilderness permit holders that checked the Half Dome box on their application and whose itinerary reasonably includes it. Still a lottery though. The whole first-come, first served theory can be somewhat sketchy if you're trying to plan and counting on it. I quit caring about Half Dome a long time ago, so in case you haven't seen this, it'll explain the process better than I ever could:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

If you're coming up the Mist Trail, you're more or less going to be day hiking, and without that wilderness permit in hand you're going to get into that whole lottery system for the other 225 permits available to the thundering herds. I'll tell you though, while Half Dome is iconic and all that, Cloud's Rest is higher, has better views, and is more of a backpacking achievement, and with 4-5 days, you have lots of choices in how you get there via the backcountry. Some less crowded and more picturesque than others.

Avoiding mosquitoes and seeing waterfalls at their best don't really coincide seasonally. Peak flows are May through June, with the water tapering off substantially by mid-July, then usually being not more than trickles for many of them August through October. On the other hand, while the falls are at their best, the mosquitoes are at their worst in most of the park. If you're in the Valley or the lower elevations, it's not so bad, but it can get pretty gnarly up higher. For people that make avoiding bugs a big part of their criteria, August is the month they usually shoot for, but, so much for the falls.
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby DaleDoge » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:23 pm

Thanks, Phil. That makes things more clear, question though...

Our goal is to hike to Little Yosemite campground via the Mist Trail, spend the night, and then wake up early and hit Half Dome. The thing is - according to this trail reservation report (http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf) I do not see the Mist Trail to Little Yosemite listed anywhere. Is that because they are not issuing permits?

Thanks for the info on Cloud's Rest, will certainly look into that.
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby Phil » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:48 pm

It's not Mist Trail, it's entry at trailhead 1B- Happy Isles-> LYV with the Half Dome box checked. Popular gig...tough to get. 24 week in advance reservations are booked solid as of today, although you could try to get a reservation when the time comes or take your chances and try to get a permit on a walk-up basis.

Here's your trailhead map:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf

And here's the full trailheads report: (top of page 3)

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf

There are two routes up the hill from Happy Isles. They overlap for about a mile to not much past the footbridge, but to the right beyond that is the JMT proper, and to the left is the Mist Trail. They don't really recommend backpackers on the Mist Trail for a few good reasons, although it is about 1.5 miles shorter, but that one is up to you.

This might come in handy for you too (maps explaining the two routes as well):

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/v ... atrail.htm
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby DaleDoge » Mon Jan 25, 2016 8:17 am

Thanks again for the clarification.

After looking it over this weekend, our plan is as follows
1. Enter the backcountry at Sunrise Lakes (Lake Tenaya) hike about 4 miles southwest and set up camp.
2. Climb Clouds Rest the following day and come back down before setting up camp again.
3. Wake up the next day and make our way to Half Dome, and then turn back around and loop back to Sunrise Lakes via the JMT, stopping half way for camp.
4. Waking up the final day and closing out the loop and arriving back at Lake Tenaya.

All in all, we are looking at it being a 4 day / 3 night trip. Permits were submitted this AM and we are hopeful we can land the dates we opted for.

How reliable are the creeks/lakes around June and July? We are coming from TX where water is usually scarce and we find ourselves carrying +6 liters to compensate. Would be nice if we could depend on some of the streams I see looking at the topo of the park.
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:28 am

Water depends on the weather between now and then, but very few of those creeks go dry in July.

When I look at your itinerary, I think you might be surprised how much time you have. A lot of people (most, in fact) day hike Clouds Rest from the Sunrise trailhead. My guess is that you'll be finished hiking each day before lunch. That isn't a criticisn-- rather an invitation to do some exploring, maybe off trail, in the afternoons...
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:03 am

Plenty of water at good intervals all along your planned route. If you're ever carrying more than 2L apiece, you're carrying too much. The only time you might have a slight issue is up and over Cloud's Rest if you're overnighting near the summit and need dinner and breakfast, which it doesn't sound like you're planning on anyhow.

If you got your permit for Half Dome, and you're comfortable with it, seriously consider leaving the trail down from Cloud's Rest and striking out cross-country over to HD. You'll save yourselves a lot of climbing and have a nice adventure in the process.
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Re: Backpacking Trip (Half-Dome)

Postby najatuw4646 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:22 am

but very few of those creeks go dry in July.
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