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Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

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Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby akhila1008 » Thu May 24, 2018 11:36 am

I'm so grateful to find this forum!

My specific question is this: Can we enter the backcountry a day later than the permit states, but still within the range that the permit is for?

Scenario:
We have a long coveted and precious permit to enter Happy Isles>Sunrise/Merced Lake on 5/26 and exit Happy Isles>Little Yosemite Valley on 5/28, with a Half Dome cables permit. The current weather forecast is 40-60% chance of rain, snow, and T-storms on 5/25 and 5/26, clearing to 30% chance of rain 5/27 and clear and sunny on 5/28. We are game to hike in rain, but clearly want to stay safe, avoid obvious T-storms if possible, and are super cautious about the Half Dome cables especially after Monday's sad news.
Could we enter the backcountry a day later on 5/27 for just a 1-night overnight, and do Half Dome on 5/28 assuming it is actually clear and sunny?
I've tried calling the backcountry ranger office several times over the past few hours and both numbers are continuously busy- perhaps off the hook.

Also open to other ideas and recommendations! Thanks!!
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby Justin-T » Thu May 24, 2018 2:00 pm

I'm not sure what your planned route was for the three days of hiking, but it seems like you could arrange a schedule that kept to your original 5/26 entry and do HD on 5/28. Hiking in Yosemite in the backcountry involves a risk of thunderstorms almost whatever the forecast, and I certainly wouldn't change plans based on the difference between "40-60%" versus "30%". Meteorology isn't that precise and the weather is just very changeable there, and storms can be very localized. Just be smart if it looks like a T-storm is approaching.

Also, I don't think the wilderness office will give you a different permit day unless there's space (highly unlikely for those trailheads unless you want to try for the walk-ups), so if you get one for 5/26 entry but don't actually leave until 5/27 you run the risk of a ranger stopping you and finding you in the wrong place. Your first night campsite has to be beyond the red arrowheads, so if they find you in the area before that heading east on 5.27 they will probably revoke your permit. Trip over, maybe a fine. I've been through that area twice and both times there were rangers on the trail.

So, I'd say stick to your original dates and do the ascent of HD in the morning, but DON'T go up if there are storm clouds approaching. When you pick up your permit ask the ranger about precautions if there's lightning in the area (i.e., not at HD), where/how to position yourself etc.
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu May 24, 2018 8:30 pm

Yes, there has to be space on the day you want to reschedule to, for them to allow you to move the permit. No, you're not legal to just go the next day without officially getting the permit shifted. The permits are enforcing daily quotas that are the park's way of balancing access with preservation -- restricting the number of folks going each day is their only real way of doing that. The fines are pretty stiff and they will walk you back out again if you've not followed the regulations.

Someone just died trying to go up Half Dome in the rain. Definitely don't go up on top of anything open and taller than everything else around, if it's stormy, but the rest of the trip you'll be fine.
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby Phil » Thu May 24, 2018 8:47 pm

You also have to remember that the wilderness rangers charged with enforcing permit compliance have the right to ask you to produce that permit on-demand. I think it's a $300 fine now. They like to hangout at trailheads, especially the popular ones, major trail junctions and other strategic places, anywhere they happen to run into you on the trail, definitely LYV, either in the campground or just toward the HD trail....You have a backpack, you're going to get stopped. That area from Happy Isles up is loaded with scofflaws and idiots, and the rangers know it.

So, the moral of the story is: you better know you've got it handled by making your date work, or you better hope you can somehow swing a new permit for what's undoubtedly the single most popular and heavily impacted trailhead in the entire park. You might get lucky, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby Phil » Thu May 24, 2018 9:00 pm

I feel like such a buzzkill, but would you like to roughly see what you're going to be walking through on your way up to and around Sunrise, Merced Lake, and a lot of ground in between on 05/26-28?

Lower left of center you'll see Tenaya Lake. To the right of that is the area you'll be in. You can use the depth legend and pick your favorite shade of purple or blue, but you will be in snow at some of those altitudes, maybe up to six feet of it in places, and you really should consider this wisely. If I was going at all, I would be bringing my spikes, and more than likely, my snowshoes.

On top of that, you have a few creek crossings to contend with: Depending on your exact route, either/or/and, Long Meadow Creek up by Sunrise (twice), a couple little, comparatively easy ones along Sunrise Creek, then all that swampy runoff from Echo Creek down in Echo Valley on your way to Merced Lake. It's off peak flow, but the creeks are still going to be high, cold, and charged, and Echo Valley promises to be a half mile or so of sheer joy. It'll be..."interesting".

https://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive ... &js=1&uc=0
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby Phil » Fri May 25, 2018 7:48 am

One other thing I just came across to currently consider is a trail closure on the JMT from Clark Point up to the top of Nevada Falls due to damage. Clark Point is where the JMT and Mist Trail diverge above Vernal Falls. The Mist Trail is its own animal when you consider the crowds and navigating them and the terrain with a backpack on. Lots of people do it with varying takes on their experience, but to do this trip, it's the Mist Trail for you, both up and down.
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri May 25, 2018 7:49 am

Ugh, those steps. My knees hurt thinking about it...

I'd start at 5 am and go as slowly as necessary to avoid people and excessive gimpy wobbling.
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Re: Entering backcountry a day later than permit states?

Postby balzaccom » Fri May 25, 2018 9:12 pm

Up isn't so bad. Down is another story.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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