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Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

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Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby btroncal » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:37 pm

Hi. Has anyone hiked the Rancheria Falls trail lately to Pate Valley? Our group is considering this alternate route since the bridge is out at Pate so we end up on the north side of the river. I've been trying to contact the ranger stations at Hetch Hetchy and also the main station but haven't had luck in connecting. We have a permit to head out August 29th. Exit at at TM. Appreciate any feedback about this trail.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:29 pm

26 miles of ups and downs, 6000+ feet of gain, half of it below 6000 feet. There's some nice country but - oy. I'd have to hike at night to avoid heat stroke.Hope no one is allergic to poison oak. That 4.5 miles down Piute Creek to Pate looks like a knee killer. 4000 feet of elevation loss in about 5 miles, with a ton of little switchbacks.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby btroncal » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:09 am

Appreciate your feedback, AlmostThere. Going towards Ten Lakes is probably better as far as shade. Or 5am start to avoid heat. We wanted more scenery so was opting for Rancheria. No doubt that downhill to Pate is going to be tough, but it would be good practice for JMT's 99 switchbacks. As for poison oak, hope the trail is somewhat maintained and cleared. We do have Tecnu and hope we don't have to use it.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:53 am

The PO does not grow above 6000 feet, Ten Lakes would not have that issue at all.

At least there is a backpacker camp at Hetch Hetchy - I won't start there unless I can get the permit on the way in the day before, camp overnight, and get a pre-dawn start. Those miles around the lake are hot after 10 am, and absolutely scorching after noon. The road closes at sunset so you aren't going to be able to get in there any time at night, have to show up early enough to talk to the ranger at the gate for the permit anyway.

Don't forget to leave space in the pack for bear cans.... You will need them.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:24 am

You also have a fairly radical shift in both topography and geology throughout that route. Besides the major ups and downs, it's also extremely hot and open, almost like hiking through chaparral instead of mountains. And then you have the climb back out of the extremely hot gorge from Pate. The trails throughout there are also generally low priorities for clearing and maintenance, so do expect poison oak and brush. Pate is also loaded with bears and rattlesnakes, if that sways your decision at all.

I think you'll have a much greater experience via Ten Lakes. It's more of what people come to expect from Yosemite in terms of granite, beautiful lakes, and soaring vistas.

Also consider that getting back to the camp at Hetch Hetchy is a drag without a second vehicle, as there is no shuttle or other reliable transportation from anywhere, TM included.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:26 am

Yeah, thanks for mentioning the shuttle - sometimes I forget that part. Yosemite is pretty awesome for shuttles for many trailheads, but Hetch Hetchy is that redheaded stepchild... no easy way in or out, restricted hours because they don't want folks driving in at night.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby btroncal » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:54 am

We have a permit entry for the 29th and first night would be at Rancheria campground for a slow day. Then up early to Pleasant Valley. I don't mind bears, but rattlesnakes scare me. As for transport back to Hetch Hetchy, a friend of ours will be picking us up at TM. Guess my group will have to figure out what we want to do.

Thank you both for the input. Truly appreciate the knowledge you shared.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:01 pm

Expanding a bit on shuttles and backpacker's camps:

White Wolf has a backpacker's camp, and if you get to TM on foot or even want to leave the car there the night before, the evening YARTS bus will drop you right off at the WW Lodge in either case. You can even dump everyone and their gear up there, one person take the car down to TM, and save both hassle and money instead of everyone having to ride the bus or rely on a rendezvous with 60 miles or so to go back to HH. Just make sure that someone in the group you drop off has the wilderness permit on them.

That extra five or so miles between WW and the Yosemite Creek trail up to Ten Lakes isn't exactly the prettiest, but it is fully shaded.
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby balzaccom » Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:43 pm

Note that there is a trail crew right now working on the Pate Valley bridge. ETA is mid-September, for those who are planning....
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Rancheria Falls Trail to Pate Valley

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:42 am

balzaccom wrote:Note that there is a trail crew right now working on the Pate Valley bridge. ETA is mid-September, for those who are planning....


Too late for waterfalls tho. September is still nasty-hot for low elevation hiking too.

They must have replaced the damaged materials - good, coz leaving stuff down there over the winter would be a waste of money. P'raps next spring won't be delayed til late July and folks will be able to hike the route again as before.
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