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how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half Dome

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how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half Dome

Postby Tyler200 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:01 pm

Hello NEW HERE TRYING TO PLAN FIRST TRIP (AUG, 13-19)
Two of my friends and I are talking about making a pop trip to Yosemite i'm trying to see if it'll work out. I have a couple questions

1. How fast are first come first serve wilderness permits taken for half dome Early Week (mon-wed). We are talking about flying from ohio to LAX renting a car and driving up to backpack for 5 nights.
If i get there at 6pm and i stand in front of the permit station would i have a shot at getting 3 of the 25 walk up permits for half dome?
and would that permit allow me to camp 2 nights if need be??
How early would you recomend

2. What trails would we good to backpack on weather 1 loop or several trails camping on different ones each day. Getting confused on all the lottery's and reservations

MY FEAR, we go through all the effort to get up there and we don't have any place to camp. is there always "something" to camp on preferable on the trail with a wilderness permit

Sorry for the stupid questions
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Phil » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:10 am

"Stupid" is not asking questions when you need to.

First, getting there at 6pm, the wilderness office will have been already closed for an hour. It opens at 8am. To get a wilderness permit on a walk-up basis, it's best to go at/after 11am the day before you plan to be on-trail. Half Dome is by no means the be-all, end-all of what five days of backpacking will give you. It's iconic "bucket list" stuff, but there's better. For example: close by, there's Cloud's Rest. Be flexible in your itinerary and open to alternative suggestions, be they from here, from the permitting ranger...from anywhere. Mid-August is prime time for the thundering herds, and Yosemite Valley is their mothership. You will get a permit, but don't go in expecting that what you want is always going to be what you get. It's good to know ahead of time what those acceptable alternatives for you are. Do a little advance research on them so that a ranger that does 30 mile day hikes doesn't tell you that Snow Creek sounds like your best bet. They're always helpful and a wealth of knowledge, but it's all a matter of perspective, so you should have some idea what you're getting into. The rule of thumb for the Valley is, you don't get out of it without climbing.

I think you're also a little confused at how this works in terms of permitting. For Half Dome and wilderness permits, you don't attach a wilderness permit to your Half Dome permit, you attach a Half Dome permit to your wilderness permit. Big demand for that, limited availability. Tough gig to get on-the-fly, but you never know until you try. Also, with that 25 number, I believe those are day permits only (one day, up and back out), and you will absolutely not be able to spend the night; They will catch you, they will give you a ticket, and they will escort you out, so make sure you have the right permit for what you want. And don't forget your bear can if you're camping anywhere but LYV, where they have usually quite crowded food lockers.

With camping, it's important to know that it's illegal to camp on Half Dome or the sub-dome. I doubt you'll have to worry about not finding a site for three people. You have Little Yosemite Valley (LYV), and Sunrise Creek just below the spur trail up to the dome. Lot's of places, but know the regulations. Dispersed camping is one thing, but LYV is like a big cram fest, asses to elbows in August, like a big apartment complex without walls and neighbors wearing nylon stuff. To stay at LYV, you need an LYV permit (with a HD add-on, if you can get it). To camp at Sunrise Creek, you need an LYV pass-thru permit. Pay attention, it matters.

Also keep in mind with camping that, with a wilderness permit in your hand, you get one night before and one night after your trip in the backpacker's camps. In your case, that'll likely be the one next to North Pines campground down in the Valley.

Okay, so let's say you now have 3 days of Half Dome accounted for in your 5 day wilderness trip. What else do you want to do?
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Phil » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:08 am

I just looked, and the statistical odds of getting a Half Dome permit without a prior reservation are 56% on weekdays and 31% on weekends.

Half Dome no longer being on my own radar at all (not for years, and certainly not since they initiated daily quotas), here's the link for more info on the specifics of the process than I can give you:

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

If you guys have 5 days, go up Cloud's Rest instead...higher, better views, no cables, no crowds.
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Tyler200 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:23 am

Thanks so much for the reply Phil,

When I said getting there at 6pm was talking about getting in line and standing there till the "first come, First serve" permits are handed out the following morning at 11am. I'm not sure if thats crazy or people do that all the time but I figure if I got there and stud there overnight that would really better my chances of getting a permit.

Clouds rest I would like to do, I thought you had to do it as part of the the half dome hike. Where you you start and finish if you wanted to do clouds rest?

I think id also like to do Glacier point ---> tunnel view
Panorama looked neat as well, I know you cant cant camp on that stretch but i'm not sure where to go.

Like could you start at glacier point and go down Pohono to taft point then follow the next trail up to sentinel dome, back to glacier point and then head west to tunnel view????? and make that a multi night trip? What Wilderness trail head permits would i need?

this might be easier, what would you recommend that would be a good multi night trail that we would have a shot at getting walk up permits for

I talked to a ranger on the phone and he had told me that there were 5 spots open on the Glacier point--->Tunnel view trail the other day. if everything is done by a lottery does that mean peoples permits from months ago still have chance to go through or since they are still opened no-one has summit any yet

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Tyler200 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:26 am

ah okay so hit or miss on weekdays, good to know thanks for finding the stats.

How would you plan a multi day cloud rest trip, where would you start and end if I couldn't get a half dome trail permit
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Phil » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:02 pm

Hey Tyler.

They won't let you spend the night outside the wilderness office down in the Valley. They'll boot you right out, and that leaves you with absolutely no place to legally spend the night when they do.

With the other ones, they may, they may not. Bring a chair if you do, because the moment you lay down, you're camping and violating the law. No sleeping in the car either. They check.

Still, the best way is to do it by getting there at 11am the day before and then spending the night at one of the backpacker's camps (you have both a better chance at your desired permit and a guaranteed place to camp).

Half Dome and Cloud's Rest aren't associated other than being on the same basic ridgeline and being made out of granite. Two entirely different destinations and permitting requirements (no quotas on CR). Out of the Valley, you want a Happy Isles entry with an LYV pass-thru for anywhere beyond that point, including CR. For convenience, you can go up from Happy Isles, hit CR, go to Sunrise Lakes, then back down the JMT and exit at HI too. One-way hikes always leave you with having to get to or from the car.

From the north end, you can come in through Sunrise trailhead, or you can go up to Tuolumne Meadows and do the section of the JMT beginning at Cathedral Lakes, especially since you have 5 days. Also, your chances for a first-come, first-served permit go way up during weekdays, no matter where you go. And any way you do it, if your route can reasonably take you past it, you can attach the HD permit to that wilderness permit, if it's available.

I'll call it like I see it; Tunnel View is a crappy overnight hike in and of itself. It's a bad entry point and not much more than a downhill way out when you're done with the South Rim. And anything out of Glacier Point comes with limits like minimum legal distances for camping, and in the case of the Pohono, only one place with reliable water, Bridalveil Creek. Don't get me wrong, it's worth it for the views, but it's a better day hike. If you can manage to spend 5 days doing it, you're lost, or you enjoy sitting in one place for long periods of time. At best, it's 2 days and one night.

Here's this: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.htm

What you have to remember is, wilderness permits aren't entirely selected by a lottery, they're only 60% reserved and 40% left available by walk-up. So, in other words, taking out popularity, you have a 40% chance of getting what you want, but that day before at 11am, weekday, and overnight in a backpacker's camp the night before are all important things to remember in adding to those chances.

For you guys, with 5 days, the first choice for what you probably want to see and do should be entry at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead, a diversion over to Sunrise Lakes and CR (HD if you can get it), then exit in the Valley at Happy Isles. Either leave the car in the valley and catch the YARTS shuttle up to Tuolumne Meadows at the start or back up there from the valley when you're done. Check the YARTS schedule online (you want the Hwy 120 schedule), but they generally have two departures from the valley per day, one in the morning around 8am, and another at about 5pm.
Last edited by Phil on Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Paddy » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:03 pm

Hi,

Last year I got the office about 8AM (Thursday 6-29) and I was the 7th group (not person) in line for walk in permit. They got our names down and told us to report back about 10 AM (or 10:30AM ???). Mean while they processed those who already had permits.

At 10 AM (or 10:30AM) they called out names and did an orientation class right outside the office (rules on wilderness camping like toilet, cooking, washing, bear canister, etc). Afterward, they would call out names to start to process us. Those who missed, got the names crossed out.

I got my permit for the next day hike about 11:50 AM or so (base on time stamp on pictures I took after). Good luck.

Paddy.
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Paddy » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:39 pm

For Toulomne area trails it seemed a bit different to me. I had already reserved permit online, so all I had to do was to pick it up. I think I got there about 10AM and there was already a line of people waiting. Here everyone had to get in line, not like in the valley where they came and asked who had permits and who did not. Or maybe the had already did that before I got there ?

I waited in line and finally picked up the permit after standard orientation about rules of backpacking.

I noticed that some people wanted a permit but confused about what trail heads they needed. So the ranger had to walk them through the map to make sure these backpackers got the trail head they needed. To save time for you, try to figure out which trail you want most, then 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Tyler200 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:45 pm

Paddy, thanks for the reply

yeah that's me right now, I want a permit or will be asking for one but not sure which ones Id need. I'm confused one the end points and what I would be allowed to camp on if I got wilderness permit
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Phil » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:47 pm

Paddy wrote:To save time for you, try to figure out which trail you want most, then 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.


Thanks for putting in, Paddy. That goes right back to the idea of doing your alternate route research ahead of time. You'll not only save time, you'll know what will work for you. The rangers are usually pretty helpful and patient, and they're always good about making alternate suggestions if your first choice trailheads is full, but still, it's good for everyone to be on the same page.

And Paddy, I'm wondering if your original plan was to get a permit for that same day? Was the next day what you ended up with, or was that the plan was all along? At 10am, that same day's permits that haven't been picked up or that have been cancelled become available. That's usually not so lucky if you're trying to be specific. At 11, that's when the next day's permits open up for application. Just so you know, in a lot of years or doing this, I have never not gotten the permit I was after, especially if I was willing to take it for the next day, which is always the way I do it anyhow...always during the week, never the weekend.

Lines are just a fact of life in Yosemite. It's up to over 5 million visitors a year now, and more and more of them are starting to backpack.
Last edited by Phil on Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Phil » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:08 pm

Tyler, you need a good map. That should help you figure things out better. Tom Harrison, "Yosemite High Country", but the one on YNP's website should at least get you going, if you haven't seen it already. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf

I can give you 4-5 day routes all over the place that range anywhere from a stroll in the woods to a death march from Hell. What kind of shape are you in and experience do you guys have?
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Paddy » Sun Jun 24, 2018 10:19 pm

Phil wrote:
And Paddy, I'm wondering if your original plan was to get a permit for that same day? Was the next day what you ended up with, or was that the plan was all along? At 10am, that same day's permits that haven't been picked up or that have been cancelled become available. That's usually not so lucky if you're trying to be specific. At 11, that's when the next day's permits open up for application. Just so you know, in a lot of years or doing this, I have never not gotten the permit I was after, especially if I was willing to take it for the next day, which is always the way I do it anyhow...always during the week, never the weekend.

Lines are just a fact of life in Yosemite. It's up to over 5 million visitors a year now, and more and more of them are starting to backpack.



Phil,
It was my plan to get the next day permit. Hiking up Yosemite Falls, taking pictures then finding a good camp site would take me whole day. That was the reason.

Paddy.
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Tyler200 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:24 pm

Phil wrote:Tyler, you need a good map. That should help you figure things out better. Tom Harrison, "Yosemite High Country", but the one on YNP's website should at least get you going, if you haven't seen it already. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf

I can give you 4-5 day routes all over the place that range anywhere from a stroll in the woods to a death march from Hell. What kind of shape are you in and experience do you guys have?



Hmmm I wouldn't say that my group is ready for death march from hell haha I'd go with moderate-great shape and low-moderate experience level with only a few backpacking trips done together in the past. I feel like we would be able to push through most things but not looking to kill ourselves.

Id prefer a trail that follows the ridge lines at higher altitudes rather than be down on the valley floor even though that means more climbing i'd be okay if it.

Trails/locations that looked cool to me that i wrote down were
Glacier point ---> Tunnel View
Clouds rest
panorama trail
Pohono Trail

But I am open to anything with amazing views preferable at high elevations
Thanks!
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Tyler200 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:34 pm

we are all young my two friends are 20 and I will be 21 the time of the trip
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Re: how fast are First come first serve permits taken, Half

Postby Phil » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:02 pm

Okay.

Like I said, the Pohono is what I would consider a day hike or, at best, an overnight...and I'm old. That is the name of the trail from Glacier Point -->Tunnel View.

The trail down from Glacier Point and the actual Panorama Trail are a total of 4 miles long down to Nevada Falls. Camping is prohibited on all of it.

For Cloud's Rest and Half Dome, your most logical trailhead entries are either up from Yosemite Valley starting at Happy Isles, or you need to come in from the Tuolumne Meadows end at Cathedral Lakes or the Sunrise trailheads. From that full trailhead report I linked, you're going to have to get a walk-up permit for any of these, because your dates (08/13, right?) are all full on reservable quotas. I'm still thinking that you guys should shoot for Cathedral Lakes.

Other trailheads/trails to consider would be:
Rafferty Creek-->Vogelsang-->Merced Lake-->Yosemite Valley
Young Lakes via either the Glen Aulin trail or Dog Lake
Ten Lakes basin thru-hike to either May Lake or Glen Aulin
Yosemite Creek-->Lehamite Creek-->North Dome-->Snow Creek-->Mirror Lake ( the north rim of the valley)

Check those out. Your altitudes are going to range from about 7,500 to over 10,000. I'm assuming that you want the altitude for the ability to look down on things, but altitude also comes with its own set of issues that usually take some time to get used to, even, and sometimes even more so, for younger hikers. Nobody is immune to altitude sickness, it happens, and the only ways to deal with it are either less of it or taking the time to acclimate.
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