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Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

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Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby EllenVakantie2 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:31 am

I've received a permit from Cathedral Lakes TH to Happy Isles with Half Dome permits on 07/28. But I am having second thoughts about Half Dome as my 13-year-old daughter slipped, fell and and injured her wrist while descending from a steep peak in the Sierra Nevada. So I've developed a new route, with the same entry TH but a different exit TH (is it correct that we can do this on the permit?) day 1: from Cathedral Lakes TH to Sunrise High Sierra Camp - day 2: hike to Sunrise Lakes - set up camp and day hike to CR - day 3: hike to May Lake, set up camp and hike to Mt Hoffmann - day 4: hike out. If we have enough energy after CR we could hike to May Lake on day 2 instead of camping near Sunrise Lakes. Another option would be to hike to Glen Aulin instead of summitting Mount Hoffmann.

I am travelling as a single mum with my son (15-years-old) and my daughter (13-years-old), we are from the Netherlands. We' ve hiked many day trips (it's our favourite holiday) but only one overnight trip with tent, last year in Yellowstone. The new route would give us an opportunity to summit both CR and Mt Hofmann and we would be able to restock our food when crossing Tioga Road (that's allowed on the permit, isn't it?). I would greatly appreciate any suggestions on this itinerary: what's a good site for our second night. A comparison with our original Half Dome route (overnighting at Sunrise High Sierra Camp - CR/JMT crossing below Half Dome and LYV after summitting HD) would also help greatly (number of people on route, bugs/mosquitos, scenery). It's also an option to decide after our first night, but in that case we would have to carry all the food (instead of restocking when crossing Tioga Road), gloves, swimming suits and probably make a reservation for the Yarts bus.
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Re: Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby balzaccom » Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:42 am

OK. Your new itinerary is fine, with one caveat. You are basically hiking the route of the High Sierra camps (Sunrise and May Lake are both High Sierra Camps) and that is quite a standard route in Yosemite.

And climbing Clouds Rest and Mt. Hoffman will give you stunning views--better than the views from Half Dome.

HOWEVER: if you leave the wilderness and restock your packs, you are required to get a new permit before re-entering the wilderness. So you can hike from Sunrise to May Lake without a new permit, UNLESS you stop and restock. That's the way the regulations read.

On final note...once you start on your hike, the park service doesn't really care where you decide to go, as long as you follow the regulations. People often decide a route is too difficult, dangerous, or easy and change it once they've camped the first night. Weather, fire or personal reasons often cause route changes, and the park service certainly doesn't want to police that...especially when the decisions are made with common sense.

When you get your permit, I would just tell them about your new route, to climb Clouds Rest and Hoffman, and visit the High Sierracamos at Sunrise and May Lake. They should be fine with that. It's only the first night they are specific...

And if they refuse...remember that you could easily hike out from Sunrise to Tenaya Lake, camp one night in the backpackers campground, and the do May Lake and Hoffman as a day hike!
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Re: Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby Justin-T » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:49 am

If there's any doubt about physical fitness I would strongly recommend not being tempted to do Half Dome. To get up the cables you have to rely on brute strength to pull yourself up, using your arms and upper-body - its too steep to be able to just climb using the grip on the smooth granite alone. A 13 year old girl with a questionable wrist would be very risky. People do occasionally fall off (one already this year), and most of those end abruptly after a rapid fall of several thousand feet. As mentioned, CR has a better view (full 360 degrees, unlike HD) and is certain to be less crowded. Stick with the new route ideas you suggested, you won't regret it.

As far as restocking, for a 3 night backpacking trip that really shouldn't be necessary. Backpackers in YNP are required to store all food and smelly items in an approved bear canister, which will easily hold one person's food for 5 or even 6 nights. Between 3 of you that would mean you'd need a total of two bear barrels (they rent them out, can get one when you pick up the permit, $10 a piece I think, google "Garcia bear canister" if you want to see what they're like, size, weight) to carry food for 3 for 3 nights plus all your toothpaste, etc. This requires having the right dried food though - what were your plans for that? I make my own breakfasts, lunches and dinners following the recipes here:
https://www.theyummylife.com/Backpacking_Food
Its cheaper and healthier (WAY less salt for example) than the Mountain House-style freeze dried packs you can buy.
We make the breakfasts and dinners before we leave home (East coast of US) and they've kept fine during the flight and 3 day acclimation period, they are made with freeze dried ingredients so they pack small and light, just add boiling water. You have time to practice these and figure out which ones you like etc.
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Re: Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby Phil » Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:30 am

Justin is absolutely right, Half Dome is very much about using the cables and relying on your hands to help you. Your call to reconsider this due to your daughter's injury is the right and responsible thing to do.

With the food, Justin is also right in that you really shouldn't need to carry more than the capacity of one of the Garcia cans that you can rent at the park, but, if you do decide that you want to store the food for the transition from Sunrise, across the road to May Lake, it is allowable under regulations, and it's done all the time. If you were to say go down to the store at Tuolumne Meadows for a "resupply", it would not be legal under permit regulations.

With your route, I'm finding myself somewhat torn on how to advise you. It's easy enough with what you're proposing, but a few tweaks wouldn't be out of the question, and they might make your trip more rewarding and enjoyable, although they might add a day in order to do it right. I'll just throw a few things out there for you to consider, and you can do with it what you will.

First, with entry at Cathedral Lakes, I would think that shortening the mileage that first day to only go up to Upper Cathedral Lake would be more enjoyable. There, not too far in at all, you do get a sense of the majesty of a granitic Alpine environment, but without a lot of work and distance involved with getting there. As an alternative, rather than only going as far as the Sunrise HSC, rather than stop there at the end of the first day's hike, just go ahead and go up and over the ridge to Sunrise Lakes that first night. On the other hand, if you were to go only to the HSC for night 1 and then only an hour or so over to the lakes the next morning, set up camp, then day hike to CR, that would work best for the plan you have now and your existing schedule. With either of these suggestions I've made, you would have to plan for an extra day out, but you'll have what I think is a better trip, just more time to do it. As a third alternative, stay at upper Cathedral on the first night, second day over toward CR and a campsite closer to the summit, then hike up in the evening for the summit itself. So, lots of alternative ways to do this.

With May Lake, I would spend the night at the backpacker's area for the proximity to Mt Hoffman. Set up camp there, hike to the top that evening or the next morning. Along with CR, this would also be a real highlight of your trip, so definitely plan for it. After leaving May Lake, you can either exit back down at Sunrise/Tenaya Lake and catch the Tuolumne Meadows shuttle back to the car from there, or you can also consider hiking on past May Lake to Murphy Creek and exiting there, just a mile down the road, also on the shuttle route. Consider this last alternative just a shorter partial hike to Glen Aulin...the part that's the nicest and has the best things to see. With hiking to Glen Aulin you add about 12-13 miles to your trip, but with just so-so reward. The latter part is the best on the May Lake>Glen Aulin section, but the rest is mostly just hiking in the forest and without the views. Beyond Glen Aulin, the trail along the Tuolumne River is nice, picturesque (and flat), but going to GA without taking the time to go down canyon for the falls, IMO, makes it somewhat pointless when that river trail could more easily be done as a day hike instead.
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Re: Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby balzaccom » Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:07 pm

One more thought. If you camp near the High Sierra Camps you have both free drinking water--no filtration teauired--and toilets. Your kids might prefer that.
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Re: Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby EllenVakantie2 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:14 am

Thanks for all the suggestions and the backup not to be tempted to go to HD. The idea is that we'll go for flexibility: depending on weather and energy levels, we will stay at Cathedral Lakes or SHSC for our first night, at Sunrise Lake for our second night and at May Lake for our 3rd night. I really like the suggestion of exiting via Murphy Creek; it looks great and we don't have to retrace our steps. It's tempting to add an extra night, but I think 3,5 days hiking is enough for the kids (and probably for me as well). We have 2 more nights in Upper Pines and tickets for the hiker's bus to Glacier Point on our last day (which can be cancelled if we're too tired for the Panorama Trail). Toilets will be appreciated by my daughter and potable water by all of us (as the water filter requires some work), that's a motivator to go to SHSC on our first day. If I understand correctly we can legally use the bear boxes (at Tenaya Lake trailhead?) to restock and we'll probably leave some great, non-backcountry food in it (cookies, juice, chips, …).
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Re: Cathedral - Lakes - CR - Mt Hoffmann (or Half Dome?)

Postby Phil » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:39 pm

Yes, leaving food in the lockers at Sunrise or any other trailhead is fine. What you want to do is exactly what they're for.

Treated running water and pit toilets at the HSCs sounds convenient and good, in theory, but those pits can get pretty ripe into July and their water is always heavily chlorinated. I'll pump my water and dig a cat hole over either, any day.

You have a lot of options with just about everything. Hard to go wrong. Enjoy your trip.
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