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[Yosemite]

Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

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

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Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby KevinH76 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:02 pm

I have a permit for June 20-24. My original plan was to enter Lyell Canyon, spend the first night at Ireland Lake, cross over to Vogelsang at Evelyn Lake, spend second night at Emeric Lake, then to Merced Lake for 3rd night and then the try to camp as close to Half Dome as possible without being in LYV the last night ( 4th ), summit Half Dome early and exit down the JMT on June 24.

Does anyone know if there is any chance of making it over from Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang or is there still too much snow?

If we just hang out in the Lyell Canyon / Rafferty Creek area for a few days, could we exit out and use our HD permits for a one day summit? What would be the chances of changing our permits for entrance at Happy Isles on a walk up basis? I didn't want the more strenuous hike up from the Valley, but I'd rather do that than scrap the trip.

Any other suggestions that could get us from Tuolumne Meadows to HD to the valley without crossing through snow or high rivers?

4 years of drought fooled me into thinking early summer would be a good time for this, I know better now.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby Phil » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:26 pm

Not a chance unless you are seriously equipped for and skilled in winter travel. There's a lot of snow up there still...many feet, and it looked like 100% coverage last weekend.

From what I understand, if you have to change permits, you lose your HD permit. I may be wrong though. If someone here can't give you an answer, call the wilderness office and ask.

Without dealing with snow pack in some form or another, from all I've heard so far, getting from Tuolumne to Happy Isles is going to take a while before it happens. In any case, there are no high rivers to cross..maybe a couple swollen creeks and a lot of wet ground, but nothing major.

Why don't you do the North Rim of the Valley or go in at Happy Isles and then up the Merced and loop back on the JMT? Since you're not going on a weekend, you'll probably have a good chance of getting a walk-up permit for either.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby KevinH76 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:52 pm

Thanks Phil. I appreciate the info and advice.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby KevinH76 » Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:47 am

It's clear my original plan is not doable with the current snow cover.

Is it legal for us to use our wilderness permit to go out Lyell Canyon more than 4 miles the first night, then backtrack along the trail that parrellels hiway 120 to Cathedral Lakes and proceed down to the valley from there? We wouldn't be exiting the wilderness or actually going to the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead.

Thanks.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby MadDiver » Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:11 am

KevinH76 wrote:It's clear my original plan is not doable with the current snow cover.

Is it legal for us to use our wilderness permit to go out Lyell Canyon more than 4 miles the first night, then backtrack along the trail that parrellels hiway 120 to Cathedral Lakes and proceed down to the valley from there? We wouldn't be exiting the wilderness or actually going to the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead.

Thanks.


I believe some of the local experts are out hiking this weekend and your trip is tomorrow so I'll give you my less educated opinion: No, it wouldn't be legal. You are actually talking about backtracking to the Cathedral Trailhead which is not allowed. If you were to hike over from the east on the JMT from Lyell and turn south to Cathedral Lakes you would see this sign:

Image

and one like this (this is actually Glen Aulin but they're very similar) which indicates you are now entering the Wilderness: Really hard to argue this isn't the trailhead. The last 100 feet to Tioga Rd. to the north is pretty immaterial. Keep checking back here, maybe someone will post favorable trip conditions later today (check here too: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/list.php?17). Have a good trip wherever you end up!

Image
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:25 pm

The John Muir Trail does exactly this. It goes from Cathedral Lakes through Tuolumne Meadows to Lyell Canyon. And your JMT permit is valid for that trip.

As long as you stay on the trail, and don't leave the trail, you are legal to hike. If you wander into the TM store and buy food, your permit is no longer valid...Bit it would be legal for to hike up Lyell Canyon the first night, then down Rafferty towards Tuolumne Meadows and through to Cathedral Lakes, and onward from there==basically doing the JMT at that point.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby Phil » Sun Jun 19, 2016 8:15 pm

As Balzaccom says, it is part of the JMT. So yeah, it's legal enough from the standpoint of not technically exiting the wilderness, but if your permit was for Lyell Canyon, and you were stopped and asked to show your permit not too far above the Cathedral Lake's trailhead, you might get some grief. You probably wouldn't be cited because of the ambiguity and just enough uncertainty, but since you're going exactly the opposite direction than your permit indicates you should be, at exactly the opposite side of where the JMT passes through Tuolumne Meadows, on what would generally be construed as a completely different designated trailhead, you might have to do some fast talking for them to let you proceed. Cathedral is popular, and it's patrolled regularly. It's kind of a cheat, and if it was me, that's exactly what I would think you were doing unless you proved to me otherwise. Ask when you pick up your permit. They'll likely shoot you down right then and there if it's going to be problematic.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby mebgardner » Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:29 am

^^^ What Phil said. I think they're already departed, but I also believe there's another point, for future readers.

The NPS is also responsible for find your ass if you don't show up at the end of your permit time, and they find your car. Well, where would you expect them to start looking?? Along your stated route, right?

Think they're gonna be upset at your fast-talking? Just wait until you get an earful from being found (late exiting) along a route you're not supposed to be on, *and they're looking for you*.

One more and I'll let this go: How about the grief from your loved ones, who are waiting for you to show, and they can't find you, and you *never* show... because you're not on your stated route.

Think about *that* next time you wanna game it.

Me I care about the folks I love, and I *want* to be found if I screw up.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:01 am

Gardener and Phil, I think this is a bit bogus. The permit is issued by the NPS, and they care where you spend the first night. After that, they are absolutely prepared to recognize that your trip may change for all sorts of reasons, from blisters or a sore knee to weather conditions and ALS. They are very strict about the first night, Donahue Pass, and Half Dome. But they don't view your permit as a one-way non refundable ticket to a series of specific campsites, or even trails.

So if you get a permit for Lyell Canyon, and you spend the first night up Lyell Canyon as is indicated on your permit, and then decide to head back down via Rafferty Creek, Cathedral Lakes, and Happy Isles, the rangers won't give it a second thought. After all, you'll be hiking there a day AFTER you departure date...I can't remember the last time we took a backpacking trip that started, continued, and ended exactly the way we had planned it from the beginning.

Your concern about getting lost, and consequently found, is not really the basis of a permit. In fact, the rangers will tell you that you should leave a trip plan with someone OTHER THAN THE RANGERS if you want to get found. And that trip can certainly include a couple of options based on conditions. And it should if you are considering alternate routes.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby Phil » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:10 am

That's a great point, Meb.

Entry trailhead quotas are for Wilderness Act compliance and resource management. For the most part, proposed routes and exit points are for SAR purposes. Everyone should know that, and if you become lost and/or are overdue, you're not tracked, and it doesn't automatically trigger a search. Unless you have the ability to send out a distress signal or make a 911 call, they don't come looking for you until they get a phone call from a concerned party that knows your itinerary. Bottom line: If you don't leave a copy of your plan with someone at home, or you don't stick to your stated route, they have no idea where you are, and spending time searching where you should be is going to burn up what might be valuable and precious time getting you the help you need, not to mention wild goose chases that tie up valuable resources. Without knowing where to begin, you're nothing but a very, very small needle in a very, very large haystack. And yes, having their time wasted and recovering bodies tends to upset people. Assuming you don't fall into the latter category, you were a fool from the get-go, and there won't be any shortage of people involved that are more than happy to bring that to your attention.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby Phil » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:09 am

Balzaccom:

I hear what you're saying, and I agree, but this is Tuolumne Meadows we're talking about here. Probably second only to LYV for permit checks and violations.

Yes, you haven't left the trail system, and you're on the same side of the road, camping where you were legally supposed to the first night, but you are now going in the opposite direction, at a different entry trailhead. If he backtracks and skirts Tuolumne Meadows, and he gets stopped and permitted, it would raise eyebrows. In another scenario: If I couldn't get a permit for Lyell Canyon, and that was what I wanted to do, but Cathedral Lakes was what was available, what would be stopping me from simply deciding that I didn't like what I got and just because I happened to able to be able to go a couple miles out of my way in order to do it, I would? I'm legal, technically, because I'm still on the dirt of the trail system, but I had every intention of cheating the system. I could even go so far as to blow my permitted entry date off by a day, stay at the backpacker's camp (probably not even having anyone check my permit that night, and nobody in communication with the wilderness ranger at all), claim I did indeed stay the first night up Lyell, and then go where I wanted to. It's still the JMT, but it's the non-wilderness proximity issue that would at least raise a few flags for a ranger. You know from being here longer than I have that we get plenty of people that either misconstrue the entry rules, or want a workaround to what they wanted to do, but couldn't. I would say, "Hey, wait a minute, what's the deal with your permit? What happened? Why does your permit say Lyell Canyon and you're now 100 yards away from Tioga Rd at Cathedral Lakes going in the opposite direction?" Satisfied, I let you go on your way. Unsatisfied, I turn you around and get to the bottom of it, or leave you to sort it out with the permitting office. That's all I was saying. You might be legal, have every good intention of staying within regulations, and be allowed to proceed when it's all sorted out, but you're also going to have to do some serious explaining to make that happen. For every x number of people doing it right, there are y number of people who aren't, and that's why they check permits. Their job is to figure out if you're an x or a y.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:59 am

Phil

I just don't think it would be an issue. Permits (with the exceptions noted for Donahue and Half Dome) are for ENTRY points. They are NOT for where you go after you get there. For example, I have received permits many times when I explained that I was going to camp in a certain area the first night, and then play it by ear from there--might go up the canyon, might go over the ridge...all depends on weather and how I am feeling. No problem, permit issued.

The point is that the OPs permit is for an entry point. it is not a permit for the whole route---as if you have to keep going to where you say you are going. Half the time, I am going off trail anyway, and there is no requirement for mileage covered, destinations reached, etc. If you wanted to, you could hike up Lyell Canyon and camp in that same spot for three days, the hike down Rafferty to Cathedral Lakes...would that be any different?

Rangers are far more concerned with people who don't have permits. Someone who has a permit, and is hiking along the JMT with a valid permit to hike in the park, is not going to get much grief, IMHO.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby MadDiver » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:09 pm

It clearly states on the trailheads map: "Hikers may not backtrack from one trailhead to another trailhead on any night of their trip (either partially or fully) unless exiting at their entry trailhead to end their wilderness trip." This is exactly what the OP asked about doing and whether it was legal. The only way I can read that is No. It is not.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby Phil » Mon Jun 20, 2016 3:05 pm

Thanks for clarifying that MadDiver. That is absolutely what it says. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf

I see Balzaccom's point with it being the JMT taken as a whole, but as I said, it's Tuolumne Meadows and a proximity issue...making it ripe for exploitation and abuse, so you would get called on it if stopped. Rightfully so, if for no other reason than because it would be an anomoly. But, that being said, and I know you traveled extensively in that whole area, I do know that one CAN go from Lyell Canyon to Cathedral Lakes, staying on trails that never technically ever actually pass out of or that require backtracking through entry trailheads proper at any time. IMHO, we're in a gray area of semantics, exact coordinates, signage, and interpretation of all those factors combined with what one ranger might see as a clear violation and another might see as just you not sticking to your route, but otherwise being in substantial compliance under the intent of regulations with where you started out, where you are now, slept the night before, etc.... It wouldn't be something I would think of offhand as being legal, and for safety's sake (my wallet's and my trip's), I would get a new permit in order to facilitate my new plan. Potentially expensive lessons learned aren't things I like to be the crash test dummy for.
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Re: Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:15 am

The wilderness rangers interpret things one way. The front country rangers who don't go out on trails sometimes have different ideas -- I have argued with them before, on some points, because I have heard them setting people up for a fine. And Yosemite rangers have walked people all the way back out of the wilderness after issuing the slap-on-the-hand fine for having no permit -- which is what you have, if your permit is for some other place doing some other thing than you are on, or entering a day early or a day later than is on the permit.

I say this only because I know there are umpty-zillion people who use a permit for a different trailhead or different day and say "what's the big deal" - they do it allllllll the time. It's only a big deal because so freakin' many people do it, over and over, and that kinda makes it rough because if you are an uber-hiker who hikes 25 miles/day you can appear to be off route. When you are off route by a ranger's estimation you put yourself at risk of a ranger interpreting that differently than is the case, perhaps, and therefore at risk of being asked to exit the park because from where they are sitting, you must have come in some other trailhead -- they are accustomed to out-of-shape tourists, not athletes. When giving my first night out at times I get the hairy eyeball -- rangers aren't used to people who hike more than ten miles a day.

So KISS - Keep It Simple, Silly. Stay on the route on your permit or get a new one. Sure, you might not meet a ranger at all and get away with it. Bully for you. Kudos. Take your chances and win the game of being a rule breaking twit who makes it worse for the rest of us. You and all the people who are super lucky not using a bear canister earn my scorn. You're not the only one trying to do something in the wilderness, and the more rules are broken, the more like a police state it can get. I see rangers all the time - one fine morning, my permit was checked THREE TIMES. The more you game it, the more likely you get caught, the more they crack down on the rest of us. STOP IT.
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