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Pate Valley bridge

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Pate Valley bridge

Postby Phil » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:11 pm

According to the NPS, the bridge at Pate Valley is now out completely. That makes crossing the Tuolumne River and through-hiking to or from White Wolf or Glen Aulin along the GCT impossible without seriously risking your life.

The crossing to the GA HSC at Conness Creek is currently running "moderately swift" and at about 2.5 feet deep, as are McCabe, Return, and Register Creeks.

NPS-

"The bridge to Glen Aulin High Sierra camp is out and will not be installed for the 2018 hiking season. Please be prepared for an unbridged creek crossing."

"The bridge over the Tuolumne River in Pate Valley is out and will not be installed for the 2018 hiking season. The crossing is over a major river and attempting to wade across is strongly discouraged. Perhaps in late summer or fall, when the water level is much lower, wading across could be possible at an alternate site."
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby Justin-T » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:37 am

Good to know, thanks for posting, Phil
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby sierranomad » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:29 am

Bummer. But thanks for the information. Guess I'll do an out and back from tm.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby Justin-T » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:45 am

They just posted a newer wilderness update and this is in there:

Conness Creek must be crossed to access the Glen Aulin backpacker's camp- it is currently 1' at its deepest with moderate flow. The Tuolumne River must be crossed to access Pate Valley from the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne- this is not recommended.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby rmats » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:13 pm

Was just there a few days ago (7/11/2018). Bridge is passable, but the beams do bounce a bit when you walk over. The river is also fordable downstream.

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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:13 pm

Yeah, someone else can walk that one... ain't touching that. Living to hike for decades to come is my goal.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby grimm0614 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:49 am

Hi all,

Anyone have any updated information on the fording potential near Pate Valley Bridge? I agree that I would not risk that bridge, but would be open to a ford. NPS said possible later in the season. Wondered if anyone knew current water levels or had a good idea of where to cross.

Would be attempting ford late 9/13/18 or early 9/14/18. Hoping the water level is lower and the current isn't as strong by then, but would appreciate any insight.

My wife is 5'2" and I'm concerned the water level will be too high for her even if we ford together.

Thanks for the info in advance! Really hoping this will work out!
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby balzaccom » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:29 am

There are reports of a likely ford somewhat upstream from the bridge. Water levels are lower now than they were a month ago. YMMV.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:13 am

rmats wrote:The river is also fordable downstream.


That was over a month ago, and you're a month from now.

I heard downstream, which is where I would do it anyway. At the curve there, it widens, is shallow, slows, lot's of clear, safe, shallow runout with no strainers downstream, and the bottom gravel is smaller and more stable under foot. You'll see both options when you're there if you scout it out. Whatever she's most comfortable with, but as for what's left of the "bridge" based in those photos, as they are, those beams aren't going to fail under the weight of a woman that's 5'-2", if that's really her best option and her balance is good. Either way, if you don't already know it, unbuckle everything but shoulder straps, face upstream and lean into the current, third point of contact with a trekking pole or branch, don't go barefoot or in sandals. <50 ft.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby grimm0614 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:35 pm

Awesome information. Thanks for the help and the knowledge. I scoped out some potential ford points on satellite images, but appreciate the input of someone who's been there before. Seems like we'll be alright barring some major changes.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:45 pm

grimm0614 wrote: Seems like we'll be alright barring some major changes.


The only potential "major changes" likely to occur would be weather. Safely assuming that sustained storms that entail snow and melt aren't going to set in for the season up higher, this would only come in the form of rain, not just where you are, but up the entire Tuolumne River drainage. As a general rule of thumb, crossings in the early morning usually are better because of lower flows when snow melt is involved, and for at least several hours afterwards when it's rain. If you have to, be willing to adjust to conditions.

Also, I don't know if your direction is Glen Aulin --> White Wolf, or White Wolf --> Glen Aulin, but if you're headed up to WW, get that ascent up the switchbacks to Morrison Creek started as early as possible to beat the notorious heat on that stretch, even if that means spending the night in Pate Valley when you otherwise had planned to hike through later in the day.

Have fun. Be safe.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby grimm0614 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:46 am

Thanks, we'll keep our eyes on the weather and change if we need to. Good info about rain throughout the entire Tuolumne watershed.

We're planning 3 days/2 nights from Tuolumne Meadows to White Wolf. 1st night camp somewhere between Waterwheel and Register Creek, 2nd night camp around Pate Valley or slightly further up the ascent if we have it in us to keep going. If needed, we can camp in Pate Valley before the crossing to wait to cross in the morning.

I feel pretty good after discussing on here. This information really helped me out to understand what to expect. We'll be smart and I'm sure we'll have a great time!
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby Phil » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:09 am

No problem at all. Glad to help.

I'll give you some insights into camping;

Plenty of nice sites on both sides of the river in Pate Valley. It's not a huge deal, but you'll want to stay alert for rattlesnakes and bears.

After crossing the river, you'll go up a rather long and steady incline on the trail. While you won't see them from the trail, there are quite a few nice sites down towards the river in the trees along that stretch.

Quite a ways up, you'll come to a crossing of Morrison Creek. There are a few scattered sites downstream, but past that about a 1/4 mile, you'll see an open area to your right that goes back. There are quite a few sites there as well, but you will need to bring water in with you.

From there up, the trail becomes very steep. No sites that I've ever seen or even bothered to look for.

After that steep section and the switchbacks, you'll level off a bit and notice a very distinctive rock wall next to you on the right. Above that rock are some sites, but slightly further over the rise and towards the the cliff overlooking Hetch Hetchy, there are some more private sites tucked into the rocks. Very nice. Spectacular views of the reservoir. Also just past that same trailside rock face, to the left, are a couple sites creekside.

It's not so much a matter of when to cross the river, it's the time of day for tackling that hot, long, miserable ascent. With the crossing, I'm fairly sure that your wife will face nothing more than strolling across and getting her feet and part of her shins wet.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby Pete K » Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:19 pm

Hey everyone, I was just at the Pate Valley bridge on Fri 8/24/18.

In advance of the hike I called the permit office and asked about the crossing -
Permit office wasn't going to tell me to scrap the hike, wasn't going to tell me there's no danger at all, just said "use your best judgment."

Those beams in the pictures above are still across the river but they look pretty dicey - permit office also said definitely don't use what's left of the bridge.
We crossed the river easily about 10 yards downstream of the bridge where it's shallow and slow. Water depth is about mid-calf. I'm 5'7" and I don't think my shorts touched the water.

Bring some kind of river shoes though because barefoot might be slippery or tough on the feet (Tevas, Crocs, Neoprene booties, something like that). Hiking poles are super helpful too.



Also: the other bridge that's out by Glen Aulin, the Conness Creek crossing - we walked across stones in the creek next to the missing bridge without getting our hiking boots wet.
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Re: Pate Valley bridge

Postby balzaccom » Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:58 am

One of the ironies of this itinerary is that when it is completely safe to cross the river without the bridge, the waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne will not longer be anywhere near their peak. So you can be safe, or you can be amazed by the falls. Not both.

Hope they get that bridge repaired soon!
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