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Progressive Upper Yosemite Conditions Updates 8/15-10/1

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:35 pm
by CliffKingston
Fellow Yosemite Backpackers,

My intent is to create a forum post for input and continuous update on conditions in Upper Yosemite areas. As we all know, the snow fall this year and resulting snow pack has pushed back and amplified many of the conditions we encounter to a new timeline. I’m getting ready for my annual Upper Yosemite 5 night trip in one week, (I was able to push back my permit date – to accommodate or get past as much as possible; mosquitoes, river crossing, snow, mud, etc..) and hoping that backpackers who have just returned can provide accurate, first hand and continuous input for the remainder of 2017 season.

Suggested Guidelines; Please only provide details if you are returning from within the time frame above, or very reliable first-hand information from a returnee. No opinions or previous year’s experiences, they may not be applicable here. This year is unique from the last several.

Focus points; Water crossings, trail conditions, mud, impassable areas, and for sure – mosquitoes. Maybe even a mosquito report for each lake area. (?) In general, seeking information that is not available from weather reports, Yosemite National Park website or other sources.

Focus Areas: Feel free to add or expand: Really looking for details on Lyell Canyon, Vogelsang HSC area, Fletcher, Lake Bernice Area, Merced Lake and HSC area, Lewis Creek trail, Echo Valley and the trails up to Cathedral, Sunrise HSC areas, Cathedral and trails from these points. The areas are open to all Upper Yosemite so Ostrander areas, and Glen Aulin, May Lake and Canyon trails. I’ve heard that the bear condition is different this year on account of the shorter summer and their Hyper Phagia period. Are we seeing more bears in Upper Yosemite than normal?

The reason for this is to provide a running and up-to-date and informative post. Last I looked YNP published a brief report on 8/11, and was mostly for water crossings and felled trees. So let’s add to this and create a valuable inventory of conditions. Things are changing fast, and my understanding is that every few days the conditions enter a different phase.

I Hope this will help all backpackers planning and getting ready to go. Thank you all in advance for your input. Be well, be safe and go adventure!


Re: Progressive Upper Yosemite Conditions Updates 8/15-10/1

PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:09 pm
by Phil
We'll look forward to your trip report, Clifford. No doubt it'll be both informative and timely, although somewhat of a reinvention of the wheel as the areas you've mentioned have all been discussed at length multiple times, be that in the form of current reports, or general route advice. With all due respect, again for the areas you mentioned, and assuming those are the areas you wish to focus on for your own information needs, I believe you're overthinking the specifics. At this time, while conditions will be what conditions will be (as always), go out, be well, be safe, go adventure, rest assured that it's roughly the same as it ever is at the end of August. When you're there, deal with it in whatever way that your experience tells you is best, knowing that thousands of others have already taken those relatively easy and run-of-the-mill routes this year.

Re: Progressive Upper Yosemite Conditions Updates 8/15-10/1

PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:11 pm
by CliffKingston

Thanks for your post and positive message. Please note I have already through many posts and did find some trip reports with reported conditions. However, many of these posts were back in July, and I did find one post, see link below, where the hiker indicated they felt Vogelsang Pass was not comfortably passable due to snow. I’m sure it has changed now, but to counter your idea that things are the same; last mid-July when I crossed over that pass, there was no snow.

I have a friend who works at Yosemite Conservancy and lives up there full time and got some input from that Lyell Canyon had significant standing water early in the season, and the Merced was higher than his 8 years up there. So, in all kindness, things are not the same up there as usual.


I mentioned wasn’t looking for route advice, more so route conditions. I was also going to be heading out towards Isberg Peak and taking the high route back to Merced Lake. So again, hoping this post would generate input from returning backpackers and provide the most recent information that could be of help to us all.

So let’s see if we can’t get some actual, current updates this weekend and next weekend. I haven’t been able to find any trip reports specific to conditions for mid to late August. If I have missed any, please direct me there. (And not to the YNP field reports - high water,,trails cleared of trees,,, etc etc…

Again, many thanks in advance.


Re: Progressive Upper Yosemite Conditions Updates 8/15-10/1

PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:18 pm
by Phil
We had a report from Taradactyl44 on 08/07/17 on the conditions up around Ottoway Lakes and Red Peak Pass. Being a trip I'm planning for soon, she was kind enough to send me some photos via email. Being close enough to be relevant to your Isberg Pass plans, it might also interest you. She reported heavy mosquitoes around Lower Ottoway and Triple Peak Fork, and the pictures showed a substantial snowfield on the northern descent of Red Peak that was melting quickly in her opinion. They made it with no traction devices, and in trail shoes, only slowing down for the sake of being abundantly cautious. Based on the pics, I would say that conditions have currently progressed to the point of being mostly normal, highly desirable, and prime in the most of the high country. Certainly in the area you'll be passing through.

I also spent the last several days slightly north of the area at an altitude of 9,000 -11,000 ft. All in all, I found the conditions perfect; the delayed melt has now created a situation wherein creeks that would normally be dry this time of year still have good flow, with the dangerously high water having subsided, meadows either dry or well into the process of drying out, wildflowers abundant, snowpack intermittent and entirely passable for the most part (packed spikes, never even took them out), and mosquitoes finally running their course. In short, along with the lower temperatures this last week, what I would consider perfect conditions for backpacking. You're welcome to take this as a reliable conditions report or not, but I think you're still basing your major concerns on a static moment that's, in fact, dynamic and rapidly normalizing to a typical August with more positives evolving out of what was than residual negatives because of it.

As for bears; it's not something I ever worry about. Be there few or many, I'm there, they're there, we all do our thing. It's up to me to be aware and take the necessary precautions to avoid confrontations that might otherwise end poorly.

Re: Progressive Upper Yosemite Conditions Updates 8/15-10/1

PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:29 pm
by AlmostThere
Conditions? They're fine. It's gorgeous out there right now. Follow the food storage rules and the campfire rules, get a permit, have a great time.

The closer you get to mid October the colder it gets. Remember not to park overnight on Tioga Road after Oct 15, rangers are grumpy if you get your car stranded out there after the snow starts falling. We start throwing in the car chains around September, by the way.

As for trees in the trails - expect it. The summer was so short trail crews barely got started. They certainly aren't going to be out after September. Mine might be, but we don't operate in the parks and won't be subjected to the same stringent expectations of keeping the sawyers safe from winter conditions.

Re: Progressive Upper Yosemite Conditions Updates 8/15-10/1

PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:19 pm
by Phil
AlmostThere wrote:Remember not to park overnight on Tioga Road after Oct 15, rangers are grumpy if you get your car stranded out there after the snow starts falling.

Yep, grumpy and with a tow truck is a bad combo...