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1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:19 pm
by Staceyjenkins1
Hi All! Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this. Any and all help is appreciated!my husband and I will be backpacking in Yosemite later this month, but have never been to Yosemite. It has been quite confusing trying to coordinate logistics, even with the helpful online resources. We plan to stay at the backpackers camp the night prior to picking up our permit. Our permit begins on 8/31 and ends on 9/2. I kind of wish I would have requested one more day. I am not sure if they are typically willing to extend a day or if they are strict on end dates. Both our entry and exit trailhead are Glacier Point. Knowing what I know (or think I know) now, I would have chosen a different exit trailhead. This trip all started with wanting to do Half Dome. Per the NPS website it advises selecting Happy Isles or Glacier Point. I chose Happy Isles first, but got the second choice of Glacier Point. Also for awareness, we do have to stay at Little Yosemite Valley campground our first night. As I have done more research, I still want to do half done (we have permits for cables) but I really want to go to clouds rest and camp the second night at sunrise lakes. I just do not know how feasible this is, especially with our permit exit trailhead being Glacier Point. Not sure if I could get that changed. I did call a park ranger today, not to ask to change the trailhead but just to get his advice. He said it was doable but for us to check the mileage. I was hoping to get advice and assistance with my itinerary, but I only received direct yes or no answers and had to ask direct questions. So the first day we will take the panorama to LYV and set up camp and possibly do half done same day - if not , we will do it next morning. Should we leave camp set up while we go? Not sure what our other options would be if we don't want to carry our stuff to the top, but it looks like we would have to backtrack to LYV then proceed towards Sunrise Lakes. I've had a difficult time finding the best route to sunrise lakes. Is it by going Over Clouds rest? Also once we are at Sunrise Lakes and have spent the night is it feasible/ realistic to go back to Glacier Point in one day? Or should we try and get the extra day to camp somewhere else before exiting or exit a different trailhead and try to get a shuttle? I apologize if my questions are naive or ignorant. Never have been it is hard to get a good grasp on distances and how strenuous a particular trail is. My husband and I are in pretty good hiking shape and in our 30s. We are newer backpackers though. Thank you again for your assistance and help with our trip! We are very excited!

Re: 1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 4:57 am
by Phil
Okay, I think I followed that. If I miss anything, speak up.

You can add a day(s) without a problem. It's the entry date only that's absolute. Make the changes to your trip dates at the time you pick up your permit. Changing exit trailheads isn't generally a problem either, but they've made a few changes to that policy this year with regards to Happy Isles and I believe a couple others in that core area of the JMT, so also ask about that when you pick up the permit. Just be sure that the logistics of getting back to your car at Glacier Point are going to work out.

What are the dates on your GP entry permit and on your HD permit? That's kind of a big deal logistically. but, if possible, it's going to be better to tackle HD the second morning out of LYV when you're fresh. Hauling your gear with you or backtracking to LYV is a tough call, but if you guys want CR to Sunrise Lakes hauling it's the way to go. From up on the HD trail, you can head off cross country and pick up the the trail up to CR, summit, continue on to Sunrise Lakes. You'll save a lot of re-climbing, but be sure you have plenty of water. Have a look at your map, and we can discuss mileages and strategies.

If you do end up going back to LYV after Half Dome, stay another night and make your way over to Sunrise Lakes the next day. The summit of CR is a long, hot slog up from LYV of about 5 miles. No water except for Sunrise Creek at the junction of the JMT, maybe a spring along the trail. Sunrise Lakes is about another 4.5 miles past the summit. Your alternates, I guess easier routes are: 1) The JMT up to Sunrise HSC, then over to the lakes, or 2) the JMT up to the Forsyth Trail, then across to the lakes. From there, you can get back to GP in a long day, but it's going to hurt a bit.

We can parse this itinerary all kinds of ways, but if I were you, I would try my best to scrap the Glacier Point permit and try to get in on a walk-up from Cathedral Lakes, take in both Sunrise Lakes and CR, do HD, then exit Happy Isles and take the shuttle back to the car. If you're going to be in the Valley, at the backpacker's camp, you can try to make that change anytime after 11am the day before your planned departure. This way, all the prizes line up without you having to do much more than start walking from Point A to Point B, with a night of camping at Upper Cathedral Lake thrown in.

Re: 1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 8:58 am
by Staceyjenkins1
Hi Phil!
You are awesome! Thank you SO much for your willingness to help and detailed response! My husband and I GREATLY appreciate it!

Below is our current permit information:
Entry Date: 08/31/2016
Entry Trailhead: Glacier Point->Little Yosemite Valley
Exit Date: 09/02/2016
Exit Trailhead: Glacier Point->Little Yosemite Valley
Number in Party: 2
Number hiking Half Dome: 2

Your response definitely captured what I would like/try to do. I do like your idea of trying to get the permit changed to enter Cathedral Lakes and exit via happy Isles. So to make sure I understand - to try and get a walk up permit - we would do that after 11 AM on the day before entry which in my case would be the 30th? If we did get the change - I assume there is parking near cathedral lakes for overnight then what shuttle would we take from Happy Isles back to the car?

Now, I don't want to count on being able to change it, so I still want to make sure I have a solid itinerary for the permit that I do have. My husband and I live just over 4 hours from Yosemite (crazy that we have never been), so we can always plan on sunrise lakes and clouds rest next year if needed since I am doing this kind of backwards. I do agree with it being best for us to tackle half dome the next morning when we are fresh (definitely preferred) and have noted the advice about staying in LYV another night. I still would really like to get over sunrise lakes (would have to extend at least 1 night) , maybe with the alternate, easier routes as suggested and then do clouds rest another time. Then do the long day of walking back to GP unless I exit another trailhead and can coordinate getting back to GP to the car. As of right now I am not really sure what my options would be as far as that is concerned.

Thank you again for your suggestions, patience and help!


Re: 1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:31 am
by Staceyjenkins1
Update - I spoke to a really helpful park ranger this morning. Although he was not able to change my route at this time, he did extend my permit to exit on the 3rd. he also helped to clarify some things and mentioned that he thinks we will be able to change our permit to Cathedral Lakes -->exiting Happy Isles if we are in line by 6am on the 30th. Of course I still need to discuss this with my husband as well.

Re: 1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:18 pm
by Phil
Good, sounds like it's going to work out then. Just tell your husband that Cathedral> Happy Isles is a better trip and that it would make you infinitely happy. Upper Cathedral Lake is also a nice place to camp on the first night, and it's while it's 1200 ft of light to moderate climbing, it's only about 3.6 miles from the trailhead. With Half Dome, you'll definitely want to add another night or two to your trip if you include Sunrise Lakes and maybe a layover at LYV if you're not inclined to go back out Happy Isles just yet.

Exiting anytime from the 2nd to the 4th you have the hiker's shuttle at 8am, or with YARTS over the weekend (3rd-4th), at 5pm to get you back to the car at the trailhead. Absolutely plenty of parking and bear lockers at the Cathedral trailhead.

Here's how I would do it:

Night 1- Upper Cathedral Lake
Night 2- one of the Sunrise Lakes
Night 3- Sunrise Creek at or near the JMT/Cloud's Rest junction

Day 4- Half Dome, either spending the night at LYV after your climb or exiting out at Happy Isles and staying at the Valley backpacker's camp

It might be more time than you planned, but it'll make it easier and a more enjoyable trip. Don't discount the altitude or underestimate the climb up to HD. Stay hydrated!

Re: 1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:15 pm
by Staceyjenkins1
Thank you SO much Phil! So my husband is on board. We plan to get there before 6 to give ourselves a good shot at the wall up permit. The info and suggested itinerary is great!

One more question- on the day we do half dome would there be somewhere we could leave our stuff so we wouldn't have to summit with iT?

Thank you again SO much for helping us!!

Stacey and Daniel

Re: 1st time backpacking Yosemite - glacier point entry

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:59 pm
by Phil
Sounds great!

So this is where you might get a lot of others chiming in with varying opinions...

I personally don't leave my pack anywhere. Others don't either. We all have lots of reasons. Half Dome is definitely not an exception, probably even more so...more marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, people... If you do decide to leave your packs, leave them roughly at the base of the cables off to the side in a secure location. Open them up so that all the little rodents that want to check things out can do so without gnawing everything, and be sure to remove your bear canister(s) and wedge it between some rocks or behind a log or tree well so that it doesn't get rolled over the cliff. If there's a ranger hanging around checking permits, try to leave it close by. Better yet, bite the bullet and just carry your packs up. It's more weight, but it's really no big deal.

What's probably better still is to leave your gear in camp down by Sunrise Creek where you stayed the night before, then walk the little bit of extra distance back up after the hike. Either leave camp partially set up and spend another night in a place that's better than LYV and stash your packs, again, with them open and with the canisters and any scented items in the can removed (not in the tent!), or just reload your packs and hike out. There are a lot of bears in that area, and they will rip your gear apart if anything piques their curiosity and they can't get at it any other way. Become basically familiar with food storage and bear protocols here: ... isters.htm

Nothing to worry about in terms of personal safety under all normal circumstances, but they do want your food and will get it if you give them the opportunity, so don't. Ask the ranger for any helpful tips or if you have any questions at all when you pick up your permit, although I'm sure you'll get the spiel without having to prompt them.

Enjoy your trip!