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[Yosemite]

GCT / 10 Lakes loop

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

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GCT / 10 Lakes loop

Postby drm » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:56 am

I'm thinking of coming down and doing this loop starting next week, like June 22 give or take. I'd actually like to do 10 Lakes first, so my tentative plan is to go in at Murphy Creek with camps at 10 Lakes Basin, Harden Lake/White Wolf, Pate Valley, and somewhere high in the GCT.

My questions:
1. Snowpack in 10 Lakes Basin? Patchy on the pass and north slopes okay, vast snowfields not.
2. Backpacker camping at Harden or White Wolf?
3. Camps high in GCT for the last night?
4. Are mosquitoes really that bad this early in the season? Any particular location? I will change plans rather than be followed by clouds of mosquitoes.

Looks like permits are available for midweek out of Murphy Creek so I hope I'm okay for getting that on arrival in the area. Fallback if this plan has problems is Hetch Hetchy. I'm driving down from northern Oregon. Any comments appreciated.
Last edited by drm on Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GCT / 10 Lakes loop

Postby drm » Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:24 am

Follow up re snow. I saw the page on official website that snow level was 9500 feet, maybe lower on north facing slopes, but just called WIC and they said snow level is 8000 feet and there will be 3-5 feet of snow in 10 Lakes. If I wanted to hike on snow, I would stay around here! Fallback is as I said Hetch Hetchy or maybe the North Rim. Enchanted by the idea of a route that takes in the various high points of El Cap, North Dome, etc. But what gives re the snow reports?
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Re: GCT / 10 Lakes loop

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:52 pm

There was a storm that dropped a few more inches of snow this last weekend. And snow reports vary a lot from North to South. Depending on your latitude, snow levels in the Sierra are between 7,000 and almost 10,000 feet, North to South. And south facing slopes will have far less snow than a protected north face....for obvious reasons. Ten Lakes is an a bowl protected from the sun.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: GCT / 10 Lakes loop

Postby Phil » Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:26 pm

Why not just do the GCT and add a route down to Hetch Hetchy via Smith Meadow/Peak since you're going to be up in that trail system anyhow? The elevations in that area work in your favor.

That hike along the North Rim is also nice. If it intrigues you, give it a whirl.

As far as Ten Lakes go, Balzaccom is right, being a basin, it's going to be colder and have deeper cover. We had this report a few weeks ago from some guys that did exactly what you're wanting to:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3572

So I was up there last weekend. What I saw from the road on the front side of the Ten Lakes trail roughly up to the pass looked clear of snow for the most part. I was at May Lake at ~9300 ft. It had a lot of deep cover, not full coverage, but enough to make it an issue on a few levels. Even looking up to Mt Hoffman above us at 10850, there was some snow, but it wasn't solid cover. Sure there might be SOME snow at 8000, but everything I saw except for deeply shaded and/or north aspects was nothing, and even in those locations, it was nothing to get hung up on or that would stop you in any way. We found no snow except intermittent patches below ~9100 in S/SW aspects. Although, what we did find was that in the heavily forested valley below the trail junction up to Tuolumne Peak @ 8750 (your exit from Ten Lakes) at the May Lake trail and down to the Murphy Creek trail junction, it was averaging maybe 3-4 feet deep over maybe 70% of the ground, obscuring a good part of the trail, and there was a lot of deep standing and flowing water from runoff on everything else, especially to the left of the trail. Murphy Creek was runoff hell, but it had been raining all day when we went through.

So, 9500 is too high, 8000 is too low, and it all boils down to aspect, if it's forested, whether it's soil or granite, if the weather cooperates, and if you have the skills and determination to get through all of it.
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Re: GCT / 10 Lakes loop

Postby drm » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:27 am

Thanks for the responses. I'm really not motivated to fight a lot of snow, particularly as it will be warm on this trip and so both high water levels and postholing could be a big issue.

So now I'm trying to decide between the North Rim and Hetch Hetchy.
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