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Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:18 pm
by mhinch
We received a Sept 14 Rafferty->Vogelsang permit (with Half Dome)!! Now I'd like to get some advice
about routes. Our group (4) has a route in mind, but I'd like to see what the combined wisdom here might
have to recommend for improvements. Our Plan A is:
TM -> Vogelsang -> Merced Lake -> LYV -> (up/down HD) LYV -> exit Happy Isles
Looks good, but I've been seeing unpleasant sounding things about crowds in the Mist
Trail. Also, I have a desire to get to Clouds Rest. So I've considering proposing...

Plan B:
TM -> Vogelsang -> Merced Lake -> LYV -> (up/down HD) Clouds Rest Area -> exit Sunrise Lakes
We would drop/hang packs to go up/down HD of course, then proceed to CR. I think I see a cross-country
route from HD to CR over towards Quarter Domes that avoids going down to LYV and back up.
Possible? I have good navigation skills and am not too worried about that. What's the terrain? I've
done some cross-country that were *very* difficult (and *very* slow) due to underbrush, natural
impediments, blowdowns, ... How about around Quarter Domes?
Form Sunrise Lakes TH we'd catch the shuttle back to a car at TM. Is the shuttle running at
all with the new concessionaire? Still running by Sept 19?

or Plan C:
TM-> Vogelsang -> Merced Lake -> CR area -> (up/down HD) LYV -> exit Happy Isles
That at least let's us score CR, though still exiting Happy Isles. The real problem with this
is that I don't see a route to CR from Merced Lakes (or Vogelsang) that does not look like a
death march (mucho uphill + a really long day). But I may be missing something. Thoughts?

Anything else I should be thinking about for routes?
Other considerations for any of these? Water? Crowds?
Any weather concerns by mid/late Sept?

Thanks in advance!!!!

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:39 pm
by Phil
OK, so here's what I would do...

Rafferty Creek trailhead, skip Vogelsang and head down the Fletcher Creek Trail from Tuolumne Pass, overnight at Babcock Lake. Next day, if you want to go short, Merced Lake, but if you want to keep going, head up Echo Creek from Echo Valley. From there, if you want to you can stop for the night just past the second footbridge on that trail (beautiful little valley with a few good sites and not much traffic), or if you're up for it, head all the way up to Sunrise HSC, or better yet, over to Sunrise Lakes for the second night. If you do end up stopping along Echo Creek, you could also head up to Sunrise Lakes for the third night making it a short day, as it's a nice place to make camp, and it sets you up nicely to take Cloud's Rest before lunch the next day. If you want to stay up higher and go cross country over to HD, while you can't camp on the CR summit, you can either backtrack a short distance and make camp along Tenaya Canyon on the north ascent of CR (somebody is going to have to go back to the creek you passed for more water), or you can try to find a site below Quarter Domes/Pinnacles if there's water in any of the creeks (doubtful in Sept). Whatever you do, if you do go cross country to HD, don't underestimate your group's water needs for the route. Alternatively, if you descend CR, don't bother going all the way down to LYV and then back up for HD the next day, find a site up along Sunrise Creek just above the HD spur and be in great position to save yourselves 2 extra miles of climbing, find much better private sites, better views, and get a good jump on the crowds if you get an early start. After HD, come back to camp, or make a new one at Sunrise. Final day: short trip out to Happy Isles.

Five things: All your plans have too much LYV in them. Scrap that...for lots of reasons. And don't drop down and have to re-climb back up to CR. That's silly, inefficient and painful. Instead, work it into your route and descend from there. Also, while the Mist Trail is nice, it not only won't be quite so misty in Sept, it's crowded and not user friendly for backpackers with all the tourists. Keep a close eye on the weather during shoulder season...we've been caught in blizzards and 60mph winds along the Upper Merced in mid Sept. And finally, don't hold me to it, but I think you're just going to miss the shuttles running regularly between the Valley and Tuolumne, but check YARTS first, or have just ONE person hitch a ride up and come back for everyone else.

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:27 pm
by Dave_Ayers
+1 on Phil's comments, especially on LYV. I don't get the focus on Merced Lake either. Its pretty but there are many more impressive places to camp at and see.

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:32 pm
by Phil
***One other thing***

To answer your question about the cross country route from CR to HD: it's primarily open ground, and an easy hike that's navigationally a no-brainer, but your big problem in Sept is going to be in there's not going to be any from about 1.5 miles north of CR, all the way to HD, and then all the way back down to Sunrise Creek.

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:00 pm
by mhinch
Phil, Dave

Great ideas! I was a little stuck on all the great pictures of Vogelsang, but that
does not mean we need to stay there. Good thought!! And I had not really
thought about minimizing LYV time - I can see the benefits.

You mentioned the Mist Trail is not backpacker friendly -- I was afraid of that.
Any good options for exiting from LYV that do not include Mist Trail and do not
add a bunch of miles/elevation (although I suppose that is actually a short day...)?

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:55 am
by robow8
mhinch wrote:
You mentioned the Mist Trail is not backpacker friendly -- I was afraid of that.
Any good options for exiting from LYV that do not include Mist Trail and do not
add a bunch of miles/elevation (although I suppose that is actually a short day...)?

The John Muir Trail will take you from Neveda Fall to Happy Isles. It's a little longer, but doesn't include the endless steps and people of the Mist Trail. It rejoins the Mist Trail not far from the bridge over the Merced. ... ng-map.jpg

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:33 am
by mhinch
Some follow on questions as we get closer here...

I like Phil's ideas of bypassing Vogelsang HSC in favor of Boothe Lake. While I've seen mosquito horror stories around Boothe, I assume they'll be gone by mid-Sept, right?

Is there a "back door" out of Boothe to the southwest or do we backtrack towards Tuolumne Pass?

If we have a bit more energy and can get past Boothe, but don't quite want to pound all the way to Emeric Lake, are there good spots in between? I see a few small lakes that seem to overlook the Fletcher Creek "Valley", but really can't tell for sure...

Later on we're planning on heading up Echo Creek from Merced Lake and staying in the vicinity of Clouds Rest. I see water at Sunrise Creek (near the junction with JMT), then nothing until we cross it again after Clouds Rest (and, for us, Half Dome). Any water in between those two? That will be 24+ hours for us...
We would cross-country from the switchbacks off the SW side of Clouds Rest to Quarter Dome and then to HD. I do see a little unnamed stream off the back of Quarter Dome - anything really there?

I *really* don't want to carry packs up Half Dome. Can we safely(and meticulously!) hang them somewhere between Quarter Dome and the Half Dome Trail? Good hang trees back in there?

Thanks again for the additional info! We'll probably be back for one or two more bits...

Re: Rafferty/Vogelsang to ???

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:53 am
by Phil
Not really a "backdoor", but a continuation of the trail in from Boothe. Leave the lake, go right on the trail and it puts you back on the Fletcher Creek Trail. With the little lakes, I'm assuming you're talking about the ponds/tarns. That's a good alternative, but since I now know that you can camp at Boothe, stay there. Emeric is so-so, IMO. The sites are on the west side. Go around from the north end, and don't even bother to try to find a way to the other side from the south end. The talus and boulders will get you hurt, and the outlet is going to be impassable and falls off quickly. By mid Sept, the mosquitoes should be pretty well gone, hopefully.

At Echo Valley, when you get to the trail junction in the trees on the other side, don't go all the way up Echo Creek in the direction of Sunrise HSC, go up the trail over to the JMT. I don't remember how the sign is posted, but it should say something about CR and climb almost straight up. On your map it should show that it's running above Bunnell Cascade and be about 3 miles long to the JMT.

Hard to say without being there myself, but don't plan on finding really close water on the north side of CR. Haul it up from Sunrise Creek. If you run short or want an alternative, there's the creek that shows as feeding Pywiack Cascade on the map back toward Sunrise Lakes that should be fine then. On the other side, again, I can't say for certain without seeing it myself, but I would bet that the creek you see below Quarter Domes (yes, it's really there) is viable now, but Sept is highly questionable. Consider it dry. Don't know what to say except to either haul it from the other side or resign yourselves to rerouting down to Sunrise Creek.

If you do go the cross country high route over to HD, just drop your packs below the cables. Pull the cans, wedge them into some rocks, open the packs up fully so that the rodents can run amok without gnawing too much. I don't leave my pack anywhere, so since you're already up there, just wear them. You'll not only have more peace of mind, you'll look totally official and impressively tough and outdoorsy.

The Mist Trail for backpackers is never a good idea, IMO. In Sept, it won't exactly be "misty" either, just like a goat trail with shorter strides and more people.