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Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:47 pm

You guys are amazing. I'm speechless!

AT, you exactly understand what we're looking for. I think we'll be saving this plan to another trip because it does sound amazing and closer to what we were looking for (quiet spaces and lots of lakes). Thanks for your tips and recommendations, I'm saving them.

For now, Phil you're right... it has been months now since we've starting working on that plan (thanks to the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour that just lit the flame in us). Our hearts and transportation planning are turning around Yosemite. If the plane tickets weren't booked, along hotels nights, bus tickets and co, then maybe we would reconsider it. But in 2 weeks we're leaving, so we need to work with our remaining options and get the best out of it. Phil, you've been an incredible help, taking the time to explain everything and suggest a plan B that seems to be far more realistic. Your knowledge of the field is a huge help. I have opened the 4 trails illustrated topographic maps of the Yosemite (306, 307, 308 & 309 of National Geo) and followed your proposition for each day and it does make totally sense. I believe we'll be able to appreciate more each day and still follow what we were planning to do, or at least a part of it.

Regarding the numbers of days we're staying, I just realized that our goal was to stay one day outside of the Yosemite National Park (in Fresno) - after our hiking trip, just to secure one day before we take our flight back home the morning of the 13th. Our exit permits are scheduled on Sept. 11th but I think we booked accidentally our bus tickets for a return on the 12th. I've sent an email to YARTS and hopefully they'll be able make the change.

So officially, we'll start our hike on Tuesday Sept. 4th and will end it on Tuesday Sept. 11th. That's a total of 8 days. We start around 10.15-10.30am the 4th (our bus arrives at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center at 9.47am) and we'll be leaving the Yosemite Valley around 4.30pm on the 11th (same place).

Thanks again, I look forward to reading your last suggestions!
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:02 am

Something has to give here unless you're willing to either keep your YARTS ride back to Fresno on the evening of the 12th, or give something up. I hate to just take you down from where we left off and basically dump you out in the Valley, but we're up against the wall with time and where you are. I had hoped to take it off the front end by eliminating the Falls Trail and Yosemite Creek, getting you on the 5pm Tuolumne YARTS bus on the 4th and dropping you up to the Ten Lakes trailhead, but, unfortunately, their schedule changes a few days before you come, with weekends only in Sept. I don't get that, because the reservations for most trailheads are slammed for the entire month due to pent up demand from the fire. Oh well, it is what it is. I doubt they're planning any changes to the schedule, but they did lose as much revenue as everyone else with the closures, and it seems adding a full Sept schedule would help offset those loses. I'm going to call them anyhow, just to make sure.

So, something has to give here, because you need the remaining two days just to get down and out. You're going to be tired and hurting, so those physical limits have to be respected and factored in. Oh, and exit trailhead dates are meaningless. Entry date is all they care about, not when you leave the wilderness. The former is just for basic tracking purposes. You're in, you're golden...until you decide you're not.

Sorry, no Cloud's Rest. It's nice, but it's also a crowded confluence of day hikers and backpackers from multiple trailheads. Great view (better than Half Dome), but you'll see better, IMO. You just don't have the time, and it's a whole other set of time and distance considerations logistically.

I would also like to buy you another day, and I'm torn here, because that logically (not being able to take it off the front end) has to be in the form of taking Young Lakes out. They're beautiful, but they're a fairly substantial diversion from your route and schedule. So you would end up going straight from the Glen Aulin area, through TM, then right up Rafferty Creek. My thoughts would be to either send you up to Bernice Lake, or down to Washburn Lake, and push you right past the crowded backpackers camp at Merced Lake or leaving you to camp in Echo Valley. I'm trying to keep your lake/tarn theme intact.

Right now, before I go on, I'm going to ask for other opinions on this (as well as the itinerary I've laid out so far) from others. Hopefully they come in quickly. If not, I'll propose several solutions, make my own case for each, and you can figure out what it is that you want to do/can do as the situation warrants.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:30 am

So, I'm not remembering if this was mentioned, but I'm guessing from the trip plan shenanigans that this is actually your first time in Yosemite. So I feel obligated, though I'm pretty sure that you'll reject the notion, to say that first timers MISS what makes Yosemite special by diving in to a long backpacking trip.

The BIG SIGHTS are the ones you see in Yosemite Valley, and in Tuolumne Meadows, and all along Tioga Road. Backpacking trips of more than a couple days inevitably become an ongoing view of... trees.

The other reason I go elsewhere for backpacking - there are places in the Sierra Nevada where the scenery on long backpacking trips is more continually spectacular.

First timers in Yosemite should be tourists. Just going out to walk in the valley floor you can manage 20+ miles on flat trail that give you all the awe and grandeur that millions miss, because they can't walk that far, or just don't want to. The roads are jammed up every afternoon. The walking trails not so much. One of the best hikes I planned for my hiking group last year was one where we met at day use parking near the village, and walked all day. Made it halfway around the southern end of the valley before we called it and returned to the cars.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:06 am

AlmostThere wrote:So, I'm not remembering if this was mentioned, but I'm guessing from the trip plan shenanigans that this is actually your first time in Yosemite. So I feel obligated, though I'm pretty sure that you'll reject the notion, to say that first timers MISS what makes Yosemite special by diving in to a long backpacking trip.

The BIG SIGHTS are the ones you see in Yosemite Valley, and in Tuolumne Meadows, and all along Tioga Road. Backpacking trips of more than a couple days inevitably become an ongoing view of... trees.

The other reason I go elsewhere for backpacking - there are places in the Sierra Nevada where the scenery on long backpacking trips is more continually spectacular.

First timers in Yosemite should be tourists. Just going out to walk in the valley floor you can manage 20+ miles on flat trail that give you all the awe and grandeur that millions miss, because they can't walk that far, or just don't want to. The roads are jammed up every afternoon. The walking trails not so much. One of the best hikes I planned for my hiking group last year was one where we met at day use parking near the village, and walked all day. Made it halfway around the southern end of the valley before we called it and returned to the cars.


There's a lot of truth in that. All of it.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:17 am

Well, with nine days, and a campsite in Hogdon or at Tamarack or at Porcupine Flat --

Day 1. Yosemite Valley.
Day 2. Hetch Hetchy in the early morning - hike to the falls and back
Day 3. Mariposa Grove of Sequoias
Day 4. Hike to North Dome
Day 5. Hike to Clouds Rest
Day 6. Hike up Tuolumne Meadows along Lyell Canyon, as far as you want to go - or hike the other direction to Waterwheel Falls
Day 7. Hike to Gaylor Lakes, or to the top of Mt Dana, the second highest Peak in the park. Or both - heck, Dana is a six mile round trip, and Gaylor Lakes basin only two. Start both from the Tioga gate (east entrance).
Day 8. Hike to Mt Hoffmann, the geographical center of the park
Day 9. Hike the Saddlebag Lakes loop - not technically Yosemite but equally awesome

You will be skipping... hours and hours in pine forests.

Course, there would have to be a rental car. But if I were taking newbies to Yosemite that is exactly what I would do. Literally everything worth seeing is a day hike from somewhere.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:58 am

There's a lot to be said in day hiking. I'm assuming the rental car is the killer, though.

I love Ten Lakes, but I hate the fact that you're going to to have to go up the Falls Trail to make it work on the day you have planned. Honestly, I find it harder than it's worth...an "ooh-aah" novelty for a lot of often rude tourists with shiney new water bottles and convertible pants...half of which won't even make it, but will do their damnedest to look official while trying. In a word, Eww! Sure, it's a nice view, but without water, it's basically a cliff where a waterfall used to be, and a shuttle bus or hike up the Four-Mile to Glacier Point gives you better. On top of that, I'm not convinced at all that you guys are going to either want to or be able to do what I laid out. I will finish out my suggested itinerary if you say the word, but I'm wondering if you wouldn't be better served (and consider) turning these eight days into a series of shorter trips, with rest days and the right to stay at campgrounds in between if you want and need them. In other words, flexible, not the mandatory "must-do", now only quasi death march, it has to be. You see, each of these segments are what I would usually think of as separately planned hikes that now have to be coupled together and transitioned to as one. You get the best of any one, then not so much to get to the next, and the next.....Hardly a miserable experience, but necessary evils. And yes, no shortage of trees.

I'm outlining my Yosemite, not necessarily yours. I'm sure it sounds great and exciting, but make no mistake, you're going to pay for the experience with a lot of hard work, having to be places at just the right time, and the potential for one thing to fall out of place (probably your stamina and sustainable physical endurance level) and force you to basically scrap or drastically modify everything else going forward. By breaking it down, you not only enjoy it more, you see more, and you travel lighter and more reasonably everywhere you go.

Everyone's thoughts, especially yours, Jonathan?
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:18 pm

AlmostThere wrote: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.


Just trying to keep an open mind on all of our options. We're landing in Fresno around 4pm on Sunday Sept. 2nd. I guess the only quick way to get to the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierra National Forest would be using the road from Fresno to Mammoth Lakes? I'm just trying to figure out what would be our options if we cancel 2 out of our 4 nights in hotel + bus and just rent car and go to the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:44 pm

Sorry Phil, I think we posted our messages at the same time. I’ll read yours shortly!
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:50 pm

The way to get to one of the trailheads on the west side is to use the forest service roads, yes. The Mammoth trailhead near Clover Meadow is at the end of a dirt road, on the rough side, something ideally you drive a high clearance vehicle instead of a nice car. To get to the town of Mammoth Lakes you'll drive over Tioga Pass. There are trailheads on that side as well but they are much more popular.

Another option, at the end of a paved road, is Maxson Trailhead out of Courtright Reservoir - the lake basins there are spectacular. Easier driving, for a rental. Or brave the narrow but paved road over Kaiser Pass, start at Florence Lake, and go over the park boundary into Evolution - that's part of the JMT, and there are loads of side trips to gorgeous places. Not unpopulated, but less people than Yosemite.

You would acquire your wilderness permit from the office in Prather, or the one in Clovis.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:39 pm

Since we're now evolving, for good measure, I'll go ahead and wrap up the revised continuation of the original trip. As it stands, you're now at Boothe Lake and have two days to get down to the Valley.

Day-7: From Boothe Lake, head down the Fletcher Creek Trail. You'll initially hike a meadow, then drop down following Fletcher Creek itself, cross a footbridge at Lewis Creek, then you're going to have a big, steep descent to about a mile prior to the Merced Lake HSC. If you're inclined, you always have the option to camp there at the group backpackers area. If not, go through Echo Valley and descend along the river. You'll go up and down, but at the bottom, you're going to cross a pair of footbridges just above Bunnell Cascade. This is one area you should consider for spending the night in. Sites are to the left in between the two bridges and also uphill to the right, past the second. Beyond that, you're going down into an area called Lost Valley, where you'll eventually see Moraine Dome on your right. Trail left by the river, or trail right into the trees for sites. Beyond this, you're going to see a sign that marks the 2-mile no camping boundary for LYV. Keep going, and you have no more choice than to stay at LYV amongst the masses. I don't recommend it for any sort of solitude or "wilderness experience", in the least.

Day-8: You can base your remaining distance on where you camped on night-7, but your day is all about making that distance and pace it's going to require to get back to the Valley along the JMT, wherever you ended up. You will face the gauntlet of the thundering herds from LYV on ( a real people watcher's extravaganza). You may be tempted from reading or hearing about it to take the Mist Trail a portion of the way. Resist the temptation. It's not only not misty in September, its crowded and dangerous for people wearing full packs.

Do this hike, and you've done one hell of a big and hard loop. Shower at Half Dome Village, catch the shuttle back to the visitors center for your bus back to Fresno, or if need be, backpackers camp at North Pines.

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

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:08 pm

Yeah, the steps on the Mist Trail are no joke... only place I've been literally elbowed off the trail. Good thing I was at the time more sure footed than I am now or I would have been in the river.
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:12 pm

And one last thing while I'm thinking about it...

Wherever you end up: YNP, Ansel Adams, SEKI, swap out those NatGeo maps you have for Tom Harrison. They're more accurate, and while the scale is slightly smaller at 1:63,360 vs 1:40,000, they're all you need...and you'll save yourself having to carry multiple maps and the 1/2 lb of thick teslin it entails.

https://tomharrisonmaps.com/
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:17 pm

AlmostThere wrote:Yeah, the steps on the Mist Trail are no joke... only place I've been literally elbowed off the trail. Good thing I was at the time more sure footed than I am now or I would have been in the river.


HA! I'm just mean and perfectly willing to sacrifice small children.

"Youth and skill give way to age and treachery"
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby sh3phard » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:58 pm

I'm torn apart...!!

Thanks a lot Phil for finishing up the trip in the YNP. And thank you as well AT for being such helpful as well.

I'm now considering the following options:
1. reduce by half the hotel nights (2 instead of 4 - crossing fingers the backpack will be with our plane) and renting a car and traveling across the YNP instead of taking the bus.
2. same thing about the hotel nights and renting a car, but changing completely our plan and going to the Ansel Adams Wildnerness... starting maybe at Maxson Trailhead out of Courtright Reservoir.

AT, any (very quick) suggestion for a 9 days hike in this area? I don't want that you loose your time as I'm still not sure what to do yet but if AAW is much less crowded, as lots of water and lake and we're still climbing here and there (so we can have a view over the landscapes as we were supposed to at some place in the YNP),then it would be an excellent alternative...

Thanks for the tips about caltopo.com, very useful! And thanks Phil for tomharrisonmaps.com, I went on their Website and found the map of AAW - it may be an excellent option if we decide within the next 48 hours what we do and they ship fast (East Coast, Canada).

Aaaah, it's both very exciting and frustrating as well as I'm realizing our trip in the YNP doesn't seem as nice as planned - I thought in September, after labor day, everyone would be back at work or school and we would not be that much hikers on the trails... :|
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Re: Water along Yosemite Creek Trail in September?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:49 pm

I'm doing this six day trip in September: https://caltopo.com/m/1QK1

It's in John Muir Wilderness. However, there are stretches of it that I am not on trail, mostly the top half of the loop. Look at Hell for Sure Pass - it goes over into Goddard Canyon. A nine day trip with nice moderate days would be:
Maxson TH -> Post Corral
Post Corral -> Fleming or Rae Lake
Day 3 - explore Red Mountain Basin
Day 4 - over the pass into Goddard, go to Martha Lake
Day 5 - day hike down Goddard
Day 6 - return over Hell for Sure and head over to Devil's Punchbowl
Day 7 - hike down to Meadow Brook Cabin and camp along the North Fork of the Kings
Day 8 - hike to Hobler lake
Day 9 - hike to trailhead and head to Shaver Lake (the town) for a burger

If you were to go into Ansel Adams Wilderness - the road would be rougher out to Fernandez Trailhead or Clover Meadow, but a nice lake filled loop can be had out of either trailhead.
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