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Northern Rim trip planning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:15 pm
by wmclemore01
Starting early research for a multi-day trip and hoping to get some insight from those that know.
Hoping to submit for the permit lottery next year for late July to early August departure.

First, looking for overall thoughts on my route plan.
Second, recommendations for camping (place to stay the night) based on my daily planned route
Water refilling possibilities along my planned route
And finally could I cache some supplies about half way to lighten my load around Sunrise Lake trailhead.

My itinerary hopes would include –
• Day before – Gather Permits (hopefully) and stay at Valley Backpackers Camp
• Day 1 – Start at Big Oak Flates Trail head to El captain Junction
• Day 2 – El captain Junction to Lehamite falls
• Day 3 – Lehamite falls or creek crossing to Snow creek Footbridge
• Day 4 – Snow Creek Footbridge to Tenaya Lake
• Day 5- Tenaya Lake to Half Dome Junction
• Day 6- Half Dome Junction to Half Dome (if I get the permit) and to Little Yosemite Valley Campground (If possible). If not able to say at the Little Yosemite valley campground than back to Half dome junction.
• Day 7. Hike out

Attached is the link to my route consideration:

I appreciate anyone’s help with my trip planning

Re: Northern Rim trip planning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:17 pm
by Phil
Hey. Overall, looks good, but a few tweaks are in order.

Day before- good plan

Day 1- by the time you plan on going, dependent on what kind of year it is, you may have to carry your water from Cascade Creek. Ribbon Creek might be a closer option, but it's usually dried up by then, although you might find some small pools to filter from. If water is short or you don't want to carry it, you can always go forward and camp up along Yosemite Creek.

Day 2- you won't really be able to stay at Lehamite Falls, nor will it even be visible or worthwhile to visit, but you should find both campsites and water at the junction of the trail up to Purcupine Creek x North Dome on Lehamite Creek. The big thing to watch out for in that area is lots of rotten snags above your head in some of the sites.

Day 3- Camping at the flats above Snow Creek Falls is gorgeous. At the footbridge, either keep going straight about 100 yards and on the left to go to the actual flats, or cross the bridge and head off the trail to the right for more plentiful and secluded spots. The only thing to keep track of in this area is whether or not it's actually open to camping because of bear problems (it's been closed off and on the past few seasons for this reason). The website will indicate this in advance or the rangers will let you know when you pick up your permit.

Day 4 is a problem. while a food drop there is a great idea, you absolutely aren't allowed to camp anywhere near Tenaya Lake. Instead, you have to go up the Sunrise Trail and either find a site at one of the Sunrise Lakes (Lower is closest, but Middle and Upper are better and less crowded), or you can head over toward Cloud's Rest, find sites with water either at the trail side tarn you pass or on the actual north slope of the summit itself (if you carry water from the creek you crossed about 1.5 miles back). By far, this will be your hardest day, as there's a lot of climbing involved between Snow Creek and Sunrise Lakes.

Day 5- forget going all the way to LYV and hiking all the way back up if you get your HD permit. Instead, for less miles and an infinitely better camping experience, spend the night above the HD junction along Sunrise Creek.

Day and night 6/Day 7- after descending HD, camp again at Sunrise and still stay on schedule to hike out to Happy Isles on Day 7.

Most water sources I mentioned are pretty much givens, but you'll want to check with the rangers for ultimate availability, especially on that first day.

Re: Northern Rim trip planning

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:27 am
by wmclemore01
Wow, what an amazing membership participation and an awesome response. I thank you sooo much for taking the time and effort for such a detailed answer.

A couple follow-up questions based on your recommendations –

* Day 1 - Any camping sites around El Capitan Junction?
• Day 4 – Tenaya Lake, I assume you are not allowed to camp on the north eastern side of the lake. I understand that would have me heading north about a mile or so but thought it would be closer and less total daily miles than heading to Sunrise Lake.
• Day 4 – Do you have any idea how far from Sunrise Lake Junction to lower Sunrise Lake? Sounds like a good water and camping location, so I will be updating my plans to continue to lower Sunrise Lake for camping and water re-supply. Will have to plan an early start and “eat my Wheaties” for a long day hiking. :D
• Day 5 – Assuming I am lucky enough to get the HD Permit, plans are to camp at Half Dome Junction the night before ascending HD. Is there any water around HD Junction camping area or only what I bring down from Sunrise Lake?
• Day 5 – Assuming I was able to ascend HD, on the way out that evening I was originally thinking about hiking to Little Yosemite valley campground mostly for water re-supply. If there is water around HD junction I would just camp there, but not sure what’s the best plan, thoughts.

Thank again for all your help and suggestions

Re: Northern Rim trip planning

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:02 am
by AlmostThere
You aren't allowed to camp ANYWHERE near Tenaya Lake. You have to be more than a mile from the road, which is ON the edge of the lake. The rangers will tell you where the no camping zones are -- that may include lower Sunrise Lake. when areas have been hammered year after year, they are often closed to camping to give them a chance to recover. This entire area you're planning to hike through is the busiest in the park, so the area will be chock full of illegal fire rings and campsites too close to water. This is all information rangers provide when you pick up the permit.

In some areas rangers want you to camp Leave No Trace style, in others they want everyone to use the same old hammered-flat tent sites to concentrate damage to the same old places minimizing the impact of the traffic the region gets. They'll tell you that too. Worrying about campsites is moot -- most of the time you go, you pick your spot, you set up. Under no circumstances in Yosemite do they ever want you to build another fire ring -- if you want a fire you pick one that's already there. No fires above 9600 feet, and no fires below 6000.

Don't forget to leave room in the pack for the bear can. Absolutely use a bear can as instructed.

There was a spring on the way to Half Dome along the trail. But you should depend on the water you know about -- Sunset Creek, which is marked on the map, is probably the last source coming down from Clouds Rest. You will camp a mile beyond Little Yosemite Valley or in the designated sites within LYV -- that is a big no camping zone. These zones are marked on the National Geographic maps.

Re: Northern Rim trip planning

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:09 am
by Phil
Okay, let me see if I can clarify for you.

Camping is nowhere at all around Tenaya Lake and then no closer than 1 trail-mile away from Tioga Rd. On your route, that mile puts you in the vicinity of Olmstead Point, which is too close to the road. Aside from Snow Creek, your next reasonable possibility for a legal campsite with water (maybe) is near the trail junction to the north of Mt Watkins. If it's not closed to camping because of the bear issues, Snow Creek and a long and hard next day are the better way to go for views, sites, water...

From the Sunrise trailhead at Tenaya Lake, Lower Sunrise Lake is +/- 2.8 miles away. The trail to it is all uphill, and not only is there no place to camp along the way, it's illegal, and there's no water. Lower Sunrise is the closest you can camp and find water. Besides lots of bears at Lower Sunrise, there are few sites and lots of people that time of year. You may get lucky, but Middle and Upper aren't too far uptrail, so it's usually best to just accept it and work it into your plan from the start.

I don't quite know if Cloud's Rest is in your plan or if you intend to drop back down to the JMT before that on the Forsyth Trail. With CR, you'll need to carry some water. Along the JMT you'll parallel Sunrise Creek for most of the way to where you'll want to find camp. Sunrise is year-round water, and the place you'll want to start looking for camping is at/near the JMT X Cloud's Rest trail junction, which is only about a couple hundred yards uptrail from the HD spur. This works better either before HD or after than LYV does.

With staying at LYV, you not only have to re-climb just under 2 miles to get back to the HD spur, it'll be a longer day, and a later start to it, so it'll be both hotter and much more crowded the longer you take to get there. The other downside of LYV is that it's crowded, loud and too often, generally obnoxious. It's a place where those of us that have been there before try to avoid unless we don't have much choice. With planning, you do.

Here's a trail map of Yosemite. It obviously shows the trails but, more importantly, if you look at the series of colored lines and arrowheads beginning from the trailheads, it shows you where you can and can't camp on the basis of distances and regulations. It's a good thing to keep in mind for some of the areas you'll be hiking through. ... lheads.pdf

Re: Northern Rim trip planning

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:41 am
by wmclemore01
I appreciates everyone’s insight and am well familiar with the importance of following all regulations closely. This is the primary reason I start my planning usually a year in advance.

This March I was lucky enough to get permits to Phanton Ranch and Havasupai falls. I understand that many considerations cannot be planned until the final week, but I have found that these forums, The national Parks web sites and spending a lot of time preparing can help to make a trip of a lifetime.

Thank again for everyone taking the time to help with my early planning questions :D