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Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

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Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:57 pm

Hi everyone!

I've planned a 9 day hike starting from the Yosemite Valley, first week of Sept. 2018. The first day, we plan to start at the YV and go all the way up to the south of the Yosemite Creek Campground (we want to camp outside of the campground). Here would be our first day trail:
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/37.7428 ... e2!5m1!1e4

Any idea if we'll be able to find water in the Yosemite Creek river (I already know the Yosemite Falls is dry, as of - at least - August 16th, 2018)?
I understand the first 1/3 of the hike will be demanding so I'm afraid we'll be running out of water at the end of the day. The next day we plan to go from the location on the map all the way up to Lukens Lake and then up to the Ten Lakes. Yet... I figured it would be impossible to do this in one day (at least up to Lukens Lake) with heavy backpacks and starting our hike around 10am (can't start before).

Any thoughts about how much water we'll be able to find and filter along the Yosemite Creek trail / early in September?

Thanks a lot,
Jonathan.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:33 pm

You'll want to go heavy on water up to the top of the falls; at least 2-3L each. Yosemite Creek almost always has at least some flow, year-round. It may not cascade over the brink, but it's trickling and seeping. You just don't see it from below. On the very rare occasion that it does stop flowing, there are plenty of deep pools to filter from. You'll follow the creek up almost the whole way with only a short jog up for a couple miles just before the campground, so no worries on sources.

Why do you want to divert to Lukens, though? You can't camp there, and you add about 6 miles to your trip length up to Ten Lakes, and that trail aint no big shake that makes it worth the extra effort. And you have nothing worthwhile or with water in the way of sites until you hit the junction at the Ten Lakes Trail...where you would've ended up or passed by several better-spent hours ago if you hadn't gone the really long way.

I'm going to pretty confidently say that you'll be fried when you get to the top of the falls. It's not at all uncommon, and I have no idea what your stamina and fitness level is, but from your map, 2 hrs 50 min to get from the base of the falls to your marked endpoint is utterly delusional, and you'll be lucky to be at the top of the falls in that amount of time. Really lucky. Most "average" day hikers without full packs rigged for 9 days take 3-4+ hours, one-way. Google seems to have missed the fact that it's a 3000 ft climb and usually blazing hot on that trail in early Sept. :lol: You won't. Especially not getting going until 10am. :( But, there are lots of scattered sites up along the creek almost the entire length of the trail. On that trail, people have a tendency to duck out campsite locations, so if the sites aren't obvious, look for those. All you need to remember is that there's no camping within a 1/4 mile of the brink of the falls themselves.

Depending on how you fare and and where you end up the first night, if you fry out before getting up to Ten Lakes Basin, you can camp at that Ten Lakes x White Wolf/Lukens junction I mentioned above or the NW end of Half Moon Meadow at the base of the switchbacks up to the pass. Both should have water, but don't hold me to that. To be safe, grab a liter or two per person when you cross the road at Yosemite Creek, because you leave the creek immediately for the next couple miles, and be happy if you do have water above, but not too upset if you carried a couple extra pounds as an insurance policy.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:30 am

Hi Phil! Thanks for your reply.

The Google Maps link was just an easy way to share the trail we'll be taking for day 1, not the actual time! It's gonna be definitely a 6 to 9 hour hike on our first day, because we'll be super packed, heavy and the hike to get up there over the falls is a bit scary already as it seems ultra steep! ;) That's why I was worried about sucking all of our water stock during the ascent and then have nothing for the rest of our day :shock:

I did already planned my routes on Garmin Connect and Alltrails.com so I can evaluate where the trails are, the elevation gain in a day, the average vertical drop on each part of our day and also used the satellite images from Google along pictures from hikers in order to evaluate what kind of landscape we'll be encounter each day. Trust me, it has been a long process of planning.
I have also the topographic maps for each of the 4 sectors on the Yosemite National Park with highlights marked on it and important stuff, things to avoid, etc.

Our day 1 plan is to stop hopefully a few km on the south of the Yosemite Creek campsite.
Our day 2 will start from there, using the west trail that leads to Lukens lake and then we'll be heading East and will be sleeping hopefully near Ten Lakes. Then day 3 from there we'll be heading to Polly Dome Lakes to sleep nearby, etc.

I was "only'" worried by not finding any water once we're done hiking the waterfall trail, after a brutal hike with heavy backpacks and then be doomed for the next 24 hours without any water anywhere... I'm glad to read that we'll be finding water along the Yosemite Creek trail, not a river of course but probably water spots here and there... that's all we need to fill up on water stock that would have been gone on the Yosemite Fall ascent...
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:50 am

Okay. Taking the time element out of it with your Google map, a couple other things strike me. You note that very distinctive jog up on the Yosemite Creek Trail, and your stop point for the day is roughly at the junction of the Lukens Lake turnoff above it. It's been a few years, but I've never seen any established sites up there, and, that tributary creek will likely be dry when you go through, since it drains from low elevation. My opinion is that you would be better off remaining low, before the jog, along Yosemite Creek itself, where you will find adequate sites, with certain water. I base this off my own personal preference in not dry-camping in an improvised site if I can avoid it, and having to lug a lot of water in to make it work when I have an obvious resource for better of both so close at hand a relatively short distance back. For the extra effort and hassle, I'll gladly add a bit of distance the second day. Trust me, you will be exhausted after coming up the Falls Trail, and easy and obvious will be what's on your mind at the end of the day.

This leads me to my next questions: what is your physical condition, how used to altitudes and heat are you, and why are you rushing through the Ten Lakes Basin and beyond in order to just get to Polly Dome Lakes your third night? Are you trying to enjoy yourselves or intending it as a death march designed to test your physical limits? All said and done, you've put on roughly 8000 ft of of very hot and steep vertical in three days to follow your plan, on top of a lot of joint pounding downhills along the way, but it doesn't seem like you planned any time to make it worthwhile. With your route, the beginning and end points you've chosen are secondary in quality to what's in between that you'll be absolutely blowing through. Pain and exhaustion will be the operative words, and while doable, based on knowing every step of the trails you'll be on, by having actually been there many times, it doesn't seem like it's going to be pleasant at all. t's your hike though, so make it what you will.

I'm also curious, what do the next 6 days after this hold in store for you?
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:27 am

Thanks Phil for your feedback, that’s really appreciated! You seem to have a good knowledge of the park and that’s very precious!

My shape would be regular I’d say. I run and do triathlon but it has been a long time since I hike seriously. I did a few recently and it was exhausting (clearly not the same muscular fibres used!).

I think I’ll have to revise our trip because I feel it may be too ambitious...!

Our plan was to do the following 9 day program, just below. You will understand the kind of loop we wanted to do. I’m sure we’ll have to make it way shorter (the 8th and 9th day were optional and use as “buffer” in case we would have been late during our course). We need though to come back on the 9th day in the valley as we have bus tickets reserved to get back to Fresno in the evening (flying back to Canada the next morning).

Any kind of advice to share or suggestion for better trails to follow would be VERY appreciated!
Thanks again Phil.

Day 1
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734975

Day 2
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734977

Day 3
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734978

Day 4
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734979

Day 5
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734981

Day 6
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734984

Day 7
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734985

Day 8
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734987

Day 9
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/17734988
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:02 am

Um, WOW!

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to tear that itinerary to pieces. It's somewhat a wreck that ranges all the way from realistic, to maybe, to absolutely not. That'll take some time. That Garmin map has you all screwed up. Not just route-wise, but with brutal sustained daily mileage, gain/loss, going in circles, overlap, backtracking..... that either make no sense or are going to kill you when they go from theory to reality. For example(s): day-2 has you going well beyond Ten Lakes Basin, but day-3 has you starting back at Lake #2. Also, days 5-6 are all weird: you go up to Vogelsang, then down to Lyell Canyon on day-5, only to turn around and climb back up to Vogelsang and then head down to the Merced on day-6. You also do big loopy things around Cloud's Rest and the JMT that all I've been able to ascertain so far involve a lot of backtracking and time in Echo Valley. Yeah, let's see what we can do here to clean this up and make it work better. For your sake, I'll try to be somewhat cautious and real, but I'll also try to give you options that take into account all the things that make it worth doing to begin with, inclusive of pushing harder and further if you're up for it. What I can promise is a great 9 days, and that you'll live to tell about it.

First things first, though: how are you permitted for this loop? It's not necessarily that I'm seeing any real problems with it, but on day-5, after you've left Young Lakes and cross Tuolumne Meadows to hit the Rafferty Creek Trail up to Vogelsang, you've technically exited the wilderness and could potentially trigger the need for another permit for what's considered a completely different trailhead, for a completely seperate trail system. If it's already approved, t's legitimate at face value, but if you do anything more than cross the road (stopping at the TM store or walk the road for any distance, for example) you've technically voided your permit. The rangers at the permitting office might give it their okay up front, but a wilderness ranger (the one with the ticket book and full discretionary power) may not see it in exactly the same light and either question you extensively or decide that a ticket and a turnaround is in order. Just be sure when you pick up your actual permit that it's very clearly stated as an approved route.

We'll get this sorted.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:53 am

Thanks for your (big) input Phil! It's very hard on "paper" to work on a such expedition and I would admit my lack of recent long hiking doesn't help (about 15 years ago!) / I'm 33.

Regarding being "off track", I actually didn't know that if we cross a main road, our permit becomes null and void... I might I have missed something!
When we applied for Wildnerness permits, they only ask the date and trail for our starting point and finish point (entry date and trail and exit trail and date), as is:
Entry Date: 09/04/2018. Entry Trailhead: Yosemite Falls
Exit Date: 09/11/2018. Exit Trailhead: Happy Isles->Little Yosemite Valley

I checked the regulations again and don't see where it says this:
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildregs.htm

No matter what, thanks again, it'll help us a lot. Can't wait to see what you would suggest. Days 5 and 6 were done like that because if we were late in our schedule, we could just choose a plan B and go directly to the Yosemite Valley - that's why I did these kind of loops. We would have only walk on our steps on the north part of Clark Canyon (cross Echo Creek) for about 1.5km. Day 9 was if we were able to extend for 1 day our hike.

We're arriving in the Yosemite Valley by bus from Fresno on Tuesday Sept. 4th (with YARTS) and exiting the valley by bus again on the next day, Sept. the 12th.

Thanks!
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:00 am

You can cross any road. What nullifies the permit is traveling down the road, instead of crossing it.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:23 am

AlmostThere wrote:You can cross any road. What nullifies the permit is traveling down the road, instead of crossing it.


Thanks! We don’t plan on traveling down the road. We’re trying to maximize our wilderness experience and see a minimum of humans! :)
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:25 am

sh3phard wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:You can cross any road. What nullifies the permit is traveling down the road, instead of crossing it.


Thanks! We don’t plan on traveling down the road. We’re trying to maximize our wilderness experience and see a minimum of humans! :)


If that's your primary goal, why are you going to Yosemite? All by itself, that fact diminishes the chances of a "minimum" of humans to nil. Plan a trip in John Muir Wilderness avoiding the JMT/PCT as much as possible and you won't see a soul for days.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:18 pm

sh3phard wrote:Regarding being "off track", I actually didn't know that if we cross a main road, our permit becomes null and void... I might I have missed something!
When we applied for Wildnerness permits, they only ask the date and trail for our starting point and finish point (entry date and trail and exit trail and date), as is:
Entry Date: 09/04/2018. Entry Trailhead: Yosemite Falls
Exit Date: 09/11/2018. Exit Trailhead: Happy Isles->Little Yosemite Valley

I checked the regulations again and don't see where it says this:


No, as Almost There says, it's not the crossing itself (perfectly legal), it's anything BUT just crossing. You are entering a different trailhead than the norm for any sort of entry at Rafferty Creek, so just make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid any misunderstandings....what you have permitted could be construed and routed in a lot of different ways. Yours is not out of the question or never done (I've done it), just not the most common. For a start at the falls, the most prevalent and commonly understood loop would be walking the North Rim towards North Dome, past Olmstead Point, up Sunrise, down to the Valley. You heading up Rafferty Creek and being stopped and asked for your permit isn't going to get you in any trouble at all, as long as you can clarify how you got there and are where you should be on the trails, but it will get a potentially skeptical set of questions from any ranger. I'm sorry if I caused you any confusion or worry, but now you know exactly what your limitations and requirements are. Just a technicality that I wanted to make sure we were both clear on. There's a lot of permit enforcement in and around Tuolumne Meadows, because there are also a lot of system cheaters there as well. Better safe than sorry, as well as a few hundred dollars lighter because of an otherwise innocent mistake.

However, if you do need a rest after coming down from Young Lakes and want to layover at some place like the backpacker's camp at TM for the night (which my alternate plan would probably entail anyway) you will need a new permit to continue on. As it stands, if you do come down and can't push on to where it's again legal to camp in designated wilderness, with adequate water, in September, too bad, your only option is to keep going. I may be wrong, but I happen to think that you might just need a contingency plan for at least a short reprieve. That'll be your call when you get there, but now you know how that works too.

15 years is a long time to go without a heavy pack on at altitude. No matter what kind of shape you're in, if you're not used to it, a few days straight of big 4000+ ft gains and 15+ mile days on rocky trails and at 7-10k altitudes is going to wipe you out and hurt...a lot.

**Oh, and you're going to see A LOT of other people. These are not unpopular and remote trails by any stretch of the imagination. You're prime time, and with the fires, postponement of trips is going to put the crunch that usually takes place earlier right into September. I hate to say it, but that Lukens Lake Trail is probably going to be the least crowded of anywhere you'll be.

Jeez, I hadn't planned my day around being such a killjoy, but I do want you to be happy and successful.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:57 pm

just looked at some of the segments planned -- holey cow. You are either a total beast, ultramarathoner, or possibly used to military rucks... 15 miles with 3000+ feet of gain and most people's feet would be hamburger.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:50 pm

Lol! You guys are hilarious.

Ok ok, I might have been really ambitious with our program planned.
Phil, thanks for your thorough explanations, sharing your experience and advices.
“AlmostThere”, thanks to you too for jumping in as well.

Any suggestions for amazing trails would be more than welcome, knowing that...:
- Our entry permit is Yosemite Falls on Sept. 4th and our exit is on the 11th from Happy Isles to the Little Yosemite Valley trail.
- We’d like to have nearby water source, especially at camp time in the evening. Ending the day close to a lake would be fantastic.
- Ideally, we would like to get to Clouds Rest at some point, for the view and the challenge (with a reasonable mileage of course...!)
- At the very end, we just want to enjoy our trip, respect the nature and all that comes around, camp in secluded sites in the wild if possible and enjoy the beauty of the park.

Thanks for your advices and upcoming suggestions! We’ll surely be mostly grateful and we’ll be sharing stunning pictures with you!
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:29 pm

If minimal people and maximum wilderness is the goal, and plenty of lakes, I'd ignore the permit and go out into Sierra National Forest to do a nine day loop in Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Not what you wanted to hear, but how to avoid 5000+ foot elevation gains and 15 mile days, and find good camping near water without tourists gawking at you. Also how to avoid issues getting permits in the first place.

I started to map out a route on Caltopo starting at your trailhead - there literally is no way to do a nice people-free trip from Yosemite Falls. You will be elbow to shoulder with people alllllllllll the way. Day hikers galore. Everywhere. Going to North Dome, going to May Lake, going to Ten Lakes, going to Lukens Lake - hundreds of day hikers per day. Not a lot of lakes either.

I am doing a six day trip in John Muir Wilderness to fish in lakes - we will be fishing from a minimum of four lakes per day, sometimes more, and I anticipate we'll see maybe a handful of people on the first day... once we're in the lake basins we'll have the place to ourselves. I used to be in Yosemite a lot and the uptick in visitation over just the past five years has driven me into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and even there, solitude is becoming hard to find.

What I do know is that for the five years I was search and rescue, itineraries like yours were what was handed out at the start of a lot of searches. So whether you dial it way back and just hike the north rim up to Tenaya Lake and then head over to Clouds Rest and out Happy Isles (recognizing that this is tourist central and there is never going to be any point on the trail where you are finding that solitude, and you will be one of hundreds on the Big Scenic Points) or pick a different wilderness, I wholeheartedly recommend shorter miles and light packs, and being willing to reverse course if you feel like it's just too much instead of death-marching.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:29 pm

Alright, let's at least start this...

Day-1: No water over the falls, but you're in the Valley and a big climb is all you've got to work with. Not my favorite. Get to the top, be happy that you did. Rest up, get used to some altitude (slowly), save something for later. Get as far as you can along the Creek, (at least at or just beyond Eagle Peak junction, camp wherever you feel like it in a lovely creekside site). Yay!

Day-2: You have a long day today. Don't make it any longer than it needs to be by bothering with that Lukens Lake Trail. Just go right on up Yosemite Creek and across the road to the Ten Lakes Trail. If you do happen to burn out, follow the suggestions I posted previously for alternate sites with water. If you want a really nice overnight side-trip with usually less people, right when you get to Half Moon Meadow, head slightly SE across the meadow itself and climb the steep slope up to Lower Grant Lake (+/- 1/2 mile, to the right of the slabs, and you'll stop out on the trail itself, then go right), then do the easy mile long trail back up to Ten Lakes Pass the next morning. If not, go up and over the pass and into the basin. When you get to Lake #2 there, go left to find sites above that lake or go over the rise and to Lake #1 for hopefully more privacy and great views.

Day-3: Depending on how you feel from the previous 2 days, and how you fare when going way down the switchbacks to south fork of Cathedral Creek, then way up the switchbacks to Tuolumne Peak, you have three choices. For distance and enough gas in the tank, go ahead and hit Polly Dome Lakes. If you want to just get up and over, there are two tarns on the opposite side of the pass that are beautiful, but they also tend to get crowded. If you get there, go to the uppermost of the two. If you don't have it in you to make Polly Dome, and don't want to risk the tarns on the other side being crowded and getting a lousy site, or if you hit the wall on the way up, there are two tarns on the west side of the pass that offer the best chance at seclusion, as well as subliminal views. I don't tell many people about them, and if he chimes in, Wandering Jim will testify, and if I'm on that trail and not trying to just make distance, that's where I'll always go because they're so nice. You'll see the first one on the left side of the trail, go past it, see the other that was largely a secret until now. You'll see them on your sat images, but probably not on your map.

Day-4 This day is kind of tricky logistically. You're going towards Glen Aulin, but you don't necessarily want to stay at Glen Aulin. Have a fair amount of water when you start your day. It's a mostly forested trail, but the next water will be Cathedral Creek (probably...hopefully...likely to have enough to pump from). Further along, you'll pass by McGee Lake, or whatever's left of it in Sept. In order to avoid coming into the restricted camping area around Glen Aulin and inevitably then staying there, find a site at McGee if it has water in it (it'll be low, but it should). Wherever you came from that morning, be it the other side of Tuolumne Peak or Polly Dome Lakes, this is easy, and honestly, I seriously doubt that you can or will want to go up to Young Lakes. Save that for tomorrow.

Day-5: Young Lakes. Amazing how that works, isn't it? Most sites at the lower lake back in the trees, some sites at the smaller middle lake, a few tighter but incredible sites at the upper.

Day-6: Leave Young Lakes and head down to Tuolumne via the Dog Lake Trail. Take the time to go to the lake for lunch. Get down to Tuolumne Meadows and evaluate how you're feeling. If you're beat, hit the close by permit office and grab a Rafferty Creek/Vogelsang --> Happy Isles (LYV) permit for the next day if one is available, then rest up at the backpacker's camp for the night and drink beer and eat ice cream. If you can't get a second permit, get back on the trail and climb. Have 2L of water each. When you get up to Tuolumne Pass, skip going up to the backpackers area of Vogelsang HSC. Instead, go right over to Boothe Lake.

I'm done for now, but it's not over yet.

*And wait a minute. To clarify, do you have 7 days or 9 available? If it's 9, take them. If it's 7, we need to eliminate some things, and I need to know right away, before I go on. AT is also absolutely right (thanks AT!!), but I'm figuring that your hearts and transportation planning are already set on YNP, so we're going to make this the best we can with what we have. You'll see plenty of people, but you also won't regret any of it.
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