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[Yosemite]

Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

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

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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:38 am

AlmostThere wrote:I had a head net - it somehow fell off the pack before we got up there. Found it in the trail as we returned to the car. A bear had torn it up a little. Probably liked the smell of the deet.


After my melting bear can incident, the bottle of DEET is the one and only thing I leave out at night. If a bear wants it, I want them to have it, with my blessings....who am I to stand in the way of such a glorious coming together or destructive forces?
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:50 am

Planogirl- I haven't had quite enough coffee to fully register your precise route, but if you can give us a slightly better idea of exactly how you plan to get from Point A to Point B, I'll at least see if I can give you a better idea of where you'll encounter standing or fast water that might be problematic. We'll see if you'll have any obvious issues and try to avoid surprises.

And I almost forgot, we can also talk about remaining snowpack. You're bound to run into some of that, too. Spikes probably aren't a bad idea, or you can leave them at home and just carry another Nalgene or two.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby robow8 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:06 am

I have a GP>Illilouette Permit starting July 3. My original plan was to go up over Red Peak Pass and around down to the Valley. I know that isn't going to happen, so here is what I'm hoping for: GP to Illilouette via Panorama Trail to be able to cross Illilouette creek. Camp somewhere along Illilouette night 1. Lower Ottoway Lake nights 2 and 3. Back out Illilouette for night 4, and night 5 LYV. Where might there be problem spots on this route?
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:19 am

You'll have snow up higher. Crossings in several places on Illilouette Creek that might be unpassable, Clark Fork likely the same. All said and done, you're going to have about half a dozen potentially wide, fast and serious crossings. If you can do it, you're going to want real-time info that's absolutely first-rate and up to the minute. Better than we can provide sitting here armchair quarterbacking. We can tell you where they are, not how they'll definitely be. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Or maybe just take a pass until later.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:41 am

Thanks for all the advice, although y'all are kinda scaring the crap outta me lol. We are flying in from the east coast, so yeah, I hate to change plans now. I'm reading on weather.com that Yosemite valley is in the mid 90's for the next few days. The 10 day forecast shows it dropping to the 80s when we get there. I think we are mostly going to be around 7-8000 ft, but sometimes at 10K. So, should we expect high 80s and 90s that high up? I think most days we are hiking about 8 miles with packs, but hubby does have a 12.8 day planned if we get last minute half dome permits.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:44 am

Phil, I'll speak with the hubby at lunch about the exact places we will be and get back to u. Thanks so much.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:40 am

If you're going to carry anything for traction btw, make it microspikes. You'll be able to pick up broken yaktrax along the trail as you hike that way. :wink:
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:03 am

I'll look into the micro spikes, thanks.

Ok, here's a detailed itinerary, first of July:
Day 1- getting a late start, starting at GP and hiking south on ilillouette trail 2-3 miles, camping there night 1.
Day 2- backtrack to the Panorama trail, pass Nevada falls, get on John Muir trail, camping there night 2.
Day 3- hike up half dome if we get permits (leaving packs on trail), then backpack to clouds rest trail. Camping night 3 somewhere on CR trail near Sunrise lakes junction.
Day 4- travel north to Tenaya lake, cross the road and take trail to Polly dome. Camp night 4 at Polly dome lakes.
Day 5- travel south past the May lake area, camp nigh 5 in snow creek area.
Day 6- take the trail that travels north of Indian rock (with a short stop at Indian rock) and then travel south to north dome. Night 6 camp at north dome.
Day 7- travel west and exit the trail at Yosemite falls.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:08 am

So you'll camp in LYV campsites or 2 miles beyond that on the second night, Sunrise Creek is the usual spot.

Leaving packs anywhere is a risk -- empty them out and put them in the tent out of sight. Bears know what a pack is on sight, they don't even have to smell anything in it. All smellables go in a bear canister parked away from the rest of the gear, my favorite place is a tree well -- that indentation left by a falling tree. You can't let the bear roll it off into water or off a cliff to break it but it should not be attached to anything that a bear can grab in its mouth. Ideally the bear knocks it around and leaves it when it can't break into the can.

There is a bear in the Snow Creek area in past years that throws canisters off granite cliffs. The ranger should tell you whether or not this is a problem and give you advice on whether camping there is allowed.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:35 am

Day 1- Self explanatory, no worries.

Day 2- For Half Dome, bypass LYV and camp up by Sunrise Creek just above the HD spur. Get an early start to beat the heat and crowds. Bears!

Day 3- As mentioned in another thread, that's a lot of ambitious climbing for one day. You getting to Sunrise Lakes is going to be questionable. CR is at 9926, there may be snow there and on the Forsyth Trail over to Sunrise. There should be a spring on the way up to CR, but essentially treat it as a dry climb for practical purposes. Better yet, either go back down to Sunrise Creek and resign yourselves to another night there, getting an early start to CR, or keep your packs with you up to the the base of the cables and take off cross country toward Quarter Domes. You'll likely have water and sites in the vicinity, and certainly less distance and elevation to re-climb, but you can also go over the CR summit, then after you get out of the brush and hit the flats on the north side, turn left and look for good sites in the trees along the rim of the canyon. Nice! If you're out or short of water, hike about a mile and a half toward Sunrise Lakes to the creek to reload. Next good camping is the backside of the trailside tarn further along the trail. Go past that and you might as well head over to lower Sunrise Lake for the night. Bears!

Day 4- At the base of the Sunrise Trail (Tenaya Lake/Creek) you're going to have a really wide ford. Right now it could be 100 yds wide and who knows how deep? Knee-deep, waist...??? You will get wet, but the water isn't moving fast, so in spite of needing to stand there in awe for a few minutes (or until you get tired of the mosquitoes eating you alive), you should be fine. You aren't going to actually "cross the road", you're going to walk down it to the Murphy Creek Trail. Murphy Creek is going to have a lot of standing water on and around the trail. You WILL get wet. You're also going to have a couple crossings: one lower down across slabs that might be kind of sketchy, but usually wide enough to spread the flow out, and then one more that will be sketchy because the channel is narrower up closer to the top. On the second, you'll want to scout downstream for a better and safer crossing than at the trail. As for Polly Dome Lakes...absolutely swampy and mosquito infested beyond comprehension. If you're not already, get used to it.

Day 5- Okay, so now you're going to go up a little and hit the May Lake Trail. I was there that time last year (no comparison to this year...not even close) and we were postholing it through snow drifts all the way up to the ascent over to the pass to Raisin Lake. Lots of mud and runoff where there wasn't snow, not to mention snow bridges that dropped us to our waists more than a few times. The mosquitoes were especially vicious in this area as well. Raisin Lake also was pretty bad. Beyond that, we had one good creek crossing in the valley there and a few smaller one that you'll be able to pretty much just step over, and, more mosquitoes. The trail up and over to May Lake may also still be at least partially obscured by snow, so follow tracks or keep an eye out for what looks the most logical. If you do lose the trail, try to pick up a view and dead reckon Mt Hoffman, because May Lake is at it's base. If for some reason you don't think you can get to the next area for camping, based on your map and estimations of the next camping, the backpacker's camp just beyond the HSC is a good place to stop...better than some of the alternatives below on the way down to/but above Snow Creek. (See warning below)

I'll separate this part because it deals with May Lake to Snow Creek You might want to go ahead and walk the road down to Hwy 120 and cross to pick the trail back up on the other side. The road down is paved, but there are probably spots where the drainage across it is going to be fairly deep. No big deal, really. The road is likely easier than the trail because of some snow, but if you do take it instead of the trail, when you hit Tioga Rd, you need to turn LEFT, walk the shoulder a few hundred yards, then cross in the big turnout where you should see some bear lockers. If you do walk the road, whatever you do, DO NOT cross directly over there or you'll be bushwhacking uphill to pick the trail back up again. If you hike down on the trail, you simply cross the road at the same turnout wit hthe lockers and keep going. Whichever way you go, once you do cross, you'll go through a series of conditions ranging from flats to steep downhills with a few small crossings and lots of muck in places.
!!!WARNING!!! As of right now, there are camping restriction at Snow Creek because of bear activity: https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/management/closures.htm
You'll either need to camp above it or go up toward Porcupine Creek and head out toward North Dome. It sucks, I know, because Snow Creek is an incredible place to camp, but it is what it is.

Day 6- On the way to North Dome you'll cross on creek that shouldn't be too bad. Get your water for camp here. From there you can scrounge around for campsites up in the rocks above the dome or around the spur to Indian Rock, or you can drop into the saddle on the spur to North Dome itself and find a few sites down there.

Day 7- I'm going to assume you're not planning to backtrack, so you'll come out downhill of North Dome. From here to the top of Yosemite Falls you'll have a a few crossings: Royal Arch, Lehamite, and Indian Canyon Creeks. They're generally narrow, but reports are saying they're running fast. Make do.

At the top of Yosemite Falls, load up on water. Stay safe and realize where you are and get it in a safe place upstream. The Falls Trail is a bitch to descend Cobbles from hell at the top, hot, switchbacks make it seem much longer than it is. Keep that in mind.

This might come in handy for a basic overview, eve nthough it's now slightly outdated: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm

Happy Trails!
Last edited by Phil on Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:38 am

Oh yeah, I'll reiterate that about food and packs! You'll have lots of bears throughout your entire route. Some of them extremely talented. They'll leave you alone, just not your stuff.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:07 pm

Thanks almostthere and Phil for all the help.

We planned to camp as close to half dome the second night as possible, but outside the exclusion zone. Then, we'd be ready to summit early day 3. I'll look at the map and see about the changes you mention. We never planned to specifically camp at sunrise lake, but rather just on the trails near that area. We are thinking now we may skip may lake and the Polly dome area, because of all the snow you've mentioned and since camping there is restricted. So, once we get to tenaya lake, we need to change our plans. We still need to come out that last day at Yosemite falls.

I'm surprised how much you mention bears. My husband didn't see any when he backpacked there 2 years ago.
I really do appreciate all the help!
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:23 pm

Yes, people will say they don't see bears. That doesn't mean you take them for granted. They steal packs, and the ranger will tell you never to turn your back on stuff in LYV, as they dart out from behind trees to grab your dinner right in front of you.

I have had bears attempt to sneak up on me in that area. They always walk off again if you stand tall and talk loud.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:40 pm

Pianogirl wrote:We planned to camp as close to half dome the second night as possible, but outside the exclusion zone.


Yes, that would be Sunrise Creek. Good water, lots of good sites, just uphill above the spur trail up to HD and just below the trail up to CR.

Pianogirl wrote: We never planned to specifically camp at sunrise lake, but rather just on the trails near that area.


That would be the flats just after the north side of CR, with maybe having to go down to the creek toward Sunrise Lakes for water, as I mentioned, or it's going to be that tarn (you'll see both the split creek and tarn on your map if it's any good). Most people, including me, would strongly recommend the first choice on the north side of CR. It's right along the cliffs of Tenaya Canyon, and it's incredible. And as I also said, if you do pass that tarn, you might as well go on to lower Sunrise Lake, because that's the next place where water and flat sites are. Besides, it's a nice little lake, but it is past the Sunrise Trail junction down to Tenaya.

Pianogirl wrote:We are thinking now we may skip may lake and the Polly dome area, because of all the snow you've mentioned and since camping there is restricted. So, once we get to tenaya lake, we need to change our plans.


That's a nice area. Get a current trail report from the rangers when you pick up your permit. I wouldn't necessarily skip it, but I would rethink Polly Domes. If you have it in you, I think you would like Raisin Lake better. Not sure what restrictions you're talking about, but all camping has to be at least a mile off Tioga Rd anywhere you go. After you cross Tenaya Creek, you do have two other options for getting over to the North Rim and the top of Yosemite Falls. First is to parallel the road, cross, then head up to the May Lake parking lot, then back down. The second is to also skirt the road, pass through/just below Olmstead Point and then head back up and into the trees over to Snow Creek. The second way will be boggier in more places, and sorry, no matter where you go, there will be lots of mosquitoes. Again, check your map.

The fact that your husband didn't see any bears means that he must have been doing it right. Don't doubt that they're there though. Illilouette is heavy, LYV and Sunrise are intensely heavy, CR to Sunrise Lakes is very heavy, May Lake is heavy, and Snow Creek is closed because of them. They want your food, and they persist when they want something. Persistence is a form of conditioned aggression. They don't want you, so don't worry about that, just know proper food storage protocols and what to do if they enter camp or you see them on the trail. They scare off pretty easy in most cases, but they will work it repeatedly, and they will snatch your lunch from right next to you if they can get away with it. Just something to keep in mind.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:55 pm

Thanks again for all the help. I've been sitting here looking at the map and making cliff notes on your suggestions. I still think we may travel west when we hit tenaya lake, rather than heading up to May lake, but we will check with the ranger first about conditions. By restrictions, I was talking about the camping around snow creek, or the fact that it currently is closed to overnight camping.

im going to feel like a badass if I survive this. :lol:
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