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[Yosemite]

Yosemite Falls Overnight

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

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Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby crqpilot » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:57 pm

So I have searched around this site and still have a few questions about a trip I am trying to plan.

I plan on proposing to my girlfriend at Yosemite Point above Upper Yosemite Falls in the coming months and camping overnight at the grounds by the junction at the top. We are both experienced hikers who have hiked this particular trail before as a day hike so I am not worried about the hike. However, I leave for Navy OCS sometime soon, I am still waiting on my class date, so the sooner I can plan the trip and go the better.

We don't quite have the equipment for winter backpacking, although I wouldn't mind getting it for the occasion, so I was wondering when the earliest time to hike that trail and have decent weather at the top overnight would be.

If we went the first or second week in May should we expect snow on that side of the valley? Should we expect a frozen night?

Thank you all for your help with this.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:48 pm

The trail can close due to rockfall, which coincides with freezing nights as moisture freezing and melting within cracks and loosening large chunks of granite that avalanche into the trail. It's quite likely there will be patchy snow at that elevation - we're 100% plus of average, for snow, and a few more feet of it just fell. Which doesn't mean you can't go, just that it's likely to be cold, a little wet/snowy, and potentially the trail may be closed for good reasons. So have a backup plan. The John Muir Trail is always open and you can get to the top of Nevada Falls. Sunset on Sentinel Dome is also nice - hiking the JMT to Panorama and up to Sentinel is a strenuous hike, but so is Upper Yosemite Falls. Overnight would mean going to Little Yosemite Valley or to Illouette Creek, as there's no camping at the top of Nevada or on Sentinel Dome....

Three season gear for me is 20 degree gear -- it can snow any time, all year, even in July, so I would have a 20 degree comfort rated setup in the first place. I never go at all without expecting a frozen night, as I have had plenty of them, in June, July, August and September. Even with melting snow on the ground. So sure, it can be below freezing, and it'll probably feel chilly regardless due to the presence of melting snow. Another backup plan might be just day hiking and getting a nice room in the valley at the lodge or Curry.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby balzaccom » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:03 pm

AT gave you some good advice, as she usually does.

It's really too soon to tell what conditions will be like at the top of the Falls in May. You might also consider an overnight to Rancheria Falls, out of Hetch-hetchy. That's a lower elevation hike.

But I suspect that this location has special meaning for you...and if that's the case, then just make sure you take along a good tent, a warm sleeping bag, and at least one really good sleeping pad. You'll only be there for one night, so you can carry a bit more weight to make sure you are comfortable. On the other hand, my wife LOVES backpacking but would chose a romantic proposal at the top of the falls, followed by a romantic dinner and evening in a hotel if there's two feet of snow on the ground.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:35 pm

First of all, congratulations on both your pending engagement and being accepted to OCS. My own son ships in August.

AT and Balzaccom make excellent points and alternate suggestions...we can hope, but solid planning this early is tough. One other big consideration besides trail conditions, weather and snowpack is that it's illegal to camp overnight within 1/4 mile of the top of Yosemite Falls. On the linked trailhead map, find the points of the blue arrows at the top, and beyond that is where it's allowed. You'll be looking at trailhead #6.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf,
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:39 pm

I want to add a few more thoughts:

I like recon, so here's a link to the webcams you might want to use remotely in order to keep tabs on the real-time conditions as your dates get closer. Yeah, it's pretty snowy.

http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/webc ... aQod01ILJg

I also have a couple more suggestions on where to propose. The first is the Snow Creek trail. Same aspect, elevation, and rough climb up, but camping is right at the top of the trail on the flats, and the view from where you're legally allowed to camp is phenomenal, as opposed to where you're going to need to be at the top of Yosemite Falls. You'll likely have more privacy too. It's also a primary cross-country ski route up from the Valley to Tuolumne Meadows and high country destinations, so the trail should be fairly well broken unless there's fresh snowfall. She'll never forget, I promise.

Another is, if you can't do the top of the falls, what about the bridge below it? You'll have more people, but it's close to being an almost equally profound spot, and you'll probably not only make her day, but the days of lots of others. That's kind of cool in and of itself. I doubt she'll forget that either.

If you do get to the top of the falls, please stay out of that channel for getting water anywhere near the brink. It's slick, it's narrow, it's roaring, and, it's certain death if you go in. Yosemite is incredible, but joy quickly becomes tragedy for too many every year where water is concerned. You're in the process of making life changing decisions, this shouldn't be one of them.

As far as winter gear goes- don't buy a ton of it, get only what's absolutely necessary and layer up with what you have, and bring a change. If your bags aren't rated to the conditions, supplement them with a couple cheap fleece blankets and maybe 4-season ground pads. If you have a good tent, bring the guy lines for it and use them if it might snow or you get winds. If not, get yourself a slightly heavier little bomber of a 3-season tent with good geometry for around $200 and you'll be surprised by how functional and cozy it can be.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:10 pm

camping along the snow Creek Trail is prohibited since there has been a bear pushing canisters off cliffs. Doesn't matter what brand it is, no bear canister can stand up to gravity and granite. unless the Rangers have figured out a way to get the bear to move along somewhere else. I'm sure they would tell you when you try to reserve the permit whether the prohibition on camping there has been lifted.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:51 pm

From what I've managed to find out, that bear is on a short list, and euthanizing it might be a serious consideration. They've swapped out the radio telemetry collar and replaced it with a GPS collar so that they can track it more accurately. Really? If it's a problem, and it's persistent enough to warrant camping restrictions, given the nature of her transgressions, the underlying purpose of that tracking needs to take on an entirely different objective than knowing what, when and where she's still doing it. We know that bears learn from other bears and by trial and error, and remember what they've seen or what's worked before. In this case, from what I understand, it's gone beyond careless campers and other human factors; it's a serious risk of undermining the entire concept of canisters being a viably safe food storage option for Yosemite, because when one figures it out, others are sure to follow suit. This happened a couple years ago in the same general area, and now it's happening again with a different animal altogether.

When you stop to think about it, if a hard-sided canister isn't going to cut it, it really does make a case for Ursacks being re-approved, as problematic as they may be in their own right. As a matter of fact, when I look back on countless trips throughout my life, we never had any problems with hanging our food either...when it was done properly. I'm sorry, but this, so far, unique situation calls for wildlife management wherein the rangers get over it and this particular bear is removed from the equation for the sake of everyone involved, people and bears alike. It's not as though cliffs in YNP can only be found at Snow Creek.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:48 am

I will never agree that Ursacks should be approved. They would kill trees. Habituated bears have torn into them in Yosemite and along the JMT, repeatedly, because there is no fabric in the world that can stand up to a really determined bear, and rangers have told me that they have had to hike in with bolt cutters to remove an Ursack that a bear has pulled on for hours, so much that the knot could not be undone by hand. NOT APPROPRIATE.

The Snow Creek bear may or may not be at Snow Creek - like the bear in Kings Canyon that sometimes comes to Paradise Valley, to do CPR on Bear Vaults, he is an example of a bear that went above and beyond to get food repeatedly. The rangers micromanage bears in these parks because they need to be micromanaged, so they can co-exist with careless people. Bears are euthanized when they become so assertive in getting food from people that they show no fear at all, before they can start hurting people - which is why there have been no deaths and few injuries related to bears in the parks. All the injuries are about careless food storage.

Selection of a place to put a bear canister should always include risk assessment - will the bear be able to roll the canister away into water or off a cliff of any distance? I try to find tree wells -- depressions where a tree has toppled over, leaving a small crater behind where the root ball used to be -- so that the canister can neither be wedged in between rocks nor rolled away into water or off a high place onto rocks.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:54 am

Sure, I agree, I'm not a fan of Ursacks either, for not only the issues you cite, but because a tested and approved hard-sided container represents what's probably the best solution to food storage...as much as we might all hate the weight and bulk, they're necessary evils, and I consider them to be, with proper use and diligence that falls solely on me, the best I can do. With thousands of bears and millions of people, interaction is inevitable, and yes, most problems are caused by human error. No doubt whatsoever! But in this case we have a situation where the bear that's allegedly the singular culprit (which nobody has supposedly ever seen rolling canisters off cliffs) is a sow, we run the risk that she teaches her cubs the same tricks. That takes one bear that's learned to essentially use a tool to at least possibly two or more bears that know the same routine, and eventually require the same outcome for controlling their behavior. People are going to go to the park, period. Taking away the only really reliable element of "keeping bears wild" by removing people from their habitat is going to lead to bigger problems, like no admission revenue, and less awareness and appreciation for our National Parks and nature in general (because it becomes a foreign concept), leading inevitably to perhaps even unwillingness on the part of taxpayers to subsidize something they aren't getting any tangible benefit from, to protect the bears in the first place.

This situation is an exception. This is not a stupid people trick or one where we can simply scapegoat an animal because it's merely become a nuisance of our own wrong-doing, or even because we just happen to be where we want to be and have every right to be there. This is a bear that's learned to go above and beyond, and if it's rolling otherwise properly secured food, in lawfully and otherwise completely vetted and approved containers, over cliffs, it needs to be removed...and we all know how the vast majority of relocations go about 3-4 days after the bear is supposedly dealt with, as required by keeping it within the park boundaries.

If I'm doing my part, and bears are merely following their instincts, but canisters become ineffective deterrents, and there are always going to be bears and people having to coexist, what's the alternative? I respect your feelings, but I don't believe for one second that one bear and the law of unintended consequences should be allowed to potentially undo something that so many of us hold so dear.
Last edited by Phil on Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:57 am

If I don't camp at Snow Creek for a couple of years and we are "forced" to go somewhere else until the bear moves on to easier pickings, I won't be too upset about it. Plenty of other places to go and have a great time. All such things are handled on a case by case basis, which is as it should be - it doesn't end all backpacking in the entire Sierra to have one nuisance bear for a few years. Perhaps they will airlift in a bear locker, as they have at regular intervals along the JMT, and put an end to the problem.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:17 am

I don't want anything killed unnecessarily or without a vigorous process involved in making such a grave decision. But it really comes down to what works and what doesn't as as matter of official policy. There are definitely more places to go in the Sierras and elsewhere, and the bear in question could be left to its own. I'll adjust. But, if we look at where the biggest bear problem is, Yosemite Valley, by the same reasoning we can conclude that 99% of the 4 million people per year that visit can just go somewhere else.

Who's to say that Snow Creek isn't otherwise perfectly abundant habitat for the bear's needs, and the occasional rewards of a bear canister aren't just a supplemental bonus?
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:30 pm

With a phone call just a few minutes ago, I'm told that the ban on camping at the top of Snow Creek has been, and will remain for the foreseeable future, lifted...No bears died in the making of this decision.
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby mebgardner » Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:28 pm

I had not expected to learn something about bear canisters and their placement, in this thread.

Now I'm glad I paid attention!

I also managed to glean something about how to protect bears, and my park. All in one thread about a proposal!

How cool is that?
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Re: Yosemite Falls Overnight

Postby Phil » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:45 pm

LOL!!

And now, a lesson on navigation..........this thread went south.
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