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Rafferty Creek campsites

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Rafferty Creek campsites

Postby jtmann » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:29 pm

Doing a loop trip starting up Rafferty Creek next week with my 72 year old father and 10 & 12 year old sons. Not sure we’ll make it over Tuolumne Pass on the first day. Are there good campsites bear Rafferty Creek about the 5 mile mark? Thanks!
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Re: Rafferty Creek campsites

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:21 pm

Overall, I can't honestly tell you with absolute certainty, because it's always been sort of a Tuolumne Pass or bust type thing for us....so we've never even really bothered to scout it out. It also depends on whether you want to break it down in terms of 5 miles being measured from the trailhead at Tuolumne or 5 miles from when you actually begin the ascent up from the Rafferty Creek/JMT junction. So, that said, 5 miles of that climb does actually put you at the pass, and there is no camping there, but the best bet prior to that is going to likely be to duck out to trail left somewhere short of the long meadow where you first see Fletcher Peak, better described as being where you get a break from the climb and things sort of level off through the trees. Once you hit that meadow, to the best of my knowledge, since the meadow is delicate, any sites you find would be along the perimeter, up in the talus. You'll undoubtedly find something, but it will likely be a situation wherein you're scroungIng a site in that area where others before you have also run out of steam and had to make do. You are legal in there though: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf . This is also assuming that Rafferty Creek still has some flow for camp water, which is not normally the case in mid August.

Since you mention that your trip is a loop, am I correct in assuming that you'll then be headed back down along the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne on the way out? If so, with the makeup of your party, I would strongly suggest that you reverse that loop and start from the Lyell Canyon end, assuming there are permits available for four of you. Easy enough to abandon one permit and switch right at the permit office if the quota allows. That trail has a substantially less rigorous elevation gain that runs essentially from almost flat to a slight, almost imperceptible, grade along its entire length. At roughly 6 miles in, you also hit Ireland Creek, with plenty of guaranteed water and considerably superior campsites. From there, I have very little doubt that any of you guys would have a huge problem with the remainder of the climb up, and if so, there are multiple options (camping/water) for stopping short between there and Vogelsang, if need be. It also gives you a better chance to acclimatize to the elevation, which is going to probably hit your dad the hardest unless he's had a couple/few days to get used to it before your hike. Seriously, consider it. Why have to plan for potential failure when you can just turn it around and make it work with as much certainty as you're going to get on your way to 10,000 ft?
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Re: Rafferty Creek campsites

Postby jtmann » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:20 pm

Hey Phil,

Thanks so much for your input. I will definitely try and switch the permit. We're heading up Sunday to acclimatize and we start the trip Tuesday. We're going to make sure my dad travels light. My boys can carry a little more weight now and I will go Sherpa mode. Excited because the weather is looking good and I feel like maybe the bugs are going to start to mellow - maybe?

Thanks again,

Jason
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Re: Rafferty Creek campsites

Postby Phil » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:28 am

No problem, Jason. That being up there an extra couple days in advance should be good for everyone. On Monday morning go and make that permit change at the Tuolumne wilderness office sometime just after 11am (when permits first open up for the next day) for your Tuesday departure. Lyell Canyon is popular and can go fast on a first-come, first-served basis.

Yeah, the bugs should be lightening up pretty nicely by now. With weather, even if the forecast is good, there's still a chance for afternoon thunderstorms, so you might want to carry at least rain shells and pack covers.

When you do get up to Vogelsang, rather than the backpacker's area of the HSC, check out Boothe Lake or somewhere just south of Tuolumne Pass along the Fletcher Creek Trail for sites. Back down Rafferty, if your dad has any trouble with his knees and uses any kind of brace, make sure he wears it. It's not too bad a descent, but if you're booking it, it can get a little hard on the joints.

You guys have a fantastic time!
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Re: Rafferty Creek campsites

Postby balzaccom » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:01 am

last time we were hiking up there, years ago, we were told about a few sites below Tuolumne Pass on the far side of the creek, up in the woods. That would mean crossing the creek, of course, but in those drought years that wasn't considered a problem...
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