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First timer. Permit Questions.

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First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby Nick851907 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:20 pm

I have quite a bit of experience backpacking, but I’ve never backpacked or applied for permits in Yosemite. I am going to try and secure a Happy Isles wilderness permit ahead of time for June and of course I would like to do HD.
1. I know the chances are pretty low to win the lottery, but if I get a wilderness permit and not Half Dome can I still stand in line at the wilderness permit office the day before and try to just get the half dome part?
2. Do they attach it to the wilderness permit if I already have it?
3. Also if I don’t get either and I show up the day before to stand in line super early for the Wilderness HD combo do I have to climb half dome the day my wilderness permit starts or can I camp at LYV and climb it the next morning?
4. If I get the Wilderness HD combo from the wilderness permit office the day before can I hike to clouds rest and camp on the north side with the same wilderness permit after descending HD, and then hike to Sunrise Lakes Trailhead to catch the bus coming back to Yosemite Valley? I am just confused about needing different wilderness permits for every trailhead.

Sorry so many questions I just don’t want to fly to Cali and make the drive to Yosemite and be unprepared.
Thanks for any information.
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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:35 pm

You need to go to the park website and read about Half Dome permits. There are separate procedures for day hikers and backpackers, those permits are not interchangeable. Backpackers do not enter the lottery.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

Standing in line super early means the day before you want to start hiking. But they frown upon people spending the night on the porch...

First-come, First-Served Wilderness Permits & Half Dome Permits
The process for receiving a first-come, first-served wilderness permit, beginning at 11 am one day prior to your backpacking trip's start date, is unchanged. When requesting a wilderness permit for a trip beginning in Yosemite using this method, be sure to request Half Dome permits, and you will receive them if they are available and Half Dome is reasonably part of your itinerary. Half Dome permits received this way will be valid for all dates your wilderness permit is valid.


To reserve wilderness permits you go to the page https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm
There is a link to the online form. You can reserve 168 days in advance. You'll be able to ask for the HD permit at the same time on the application.

I'm not sure I understand your confusion about permits and trailheads. You get a permit for a trailhead, that's where you start, on the date specified. Not the day before, not the day after, not from any other trailhead. The exit trailhead is rather more flexible - the quota for the start date and trailhead is the mandatory bit.
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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby balzaccom » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:14 am

To add to what AT has posted:

First come first serve wilderness permits are issued starting at 11am the day before your hike. Between 8 and 11 am is usually full of people seeking permits for THAT day, not the next. Thus the 11am start time for next day permits.

You apply (and get) a permit for a specific trailhead on a specific day. While the permit may include further notes on your itinerary, you are given wide leeway on those details. (Except Half Dome. You do need a specific permit to climb it--although that can be part of your basic wilderness permit.)

So you have to hit the trail when and where the permit specifies. Beyond that, you are allowed to adjust your route, timing and itinerary based on weather conditions, trail conditions,band your own physical conditions.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby Phil » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:15 pm

In the bigger scope of permitting, it's not so much that you'll have trouble getting a Half Dome attachment to your wilderness permit, but first and foremost, it's that the Happy Isles trailhead is going to be a tough ticket to get. That's like the single busiest entry point in the entire park. Competition is fierce, and the reservations are usually gone within hours or even minutes of them opening up for availability on that 168 day window. It's a little luck and a little strategy.

You not only have competition from the folks that are just bopping around in the immediate area, you'll have all the JMT thru-hikers that want to start out down in the valley. Like I said, tough. If you get it, be happy, if not, don't be surprised. I would find yourself several alternate entry trailheads to raise the odds of getting yourself in to begin with and let the HD permit hopefully take care of itself once you determine what you're going to end up with. If your permit reasonably takes you past or near HD, and it makes sense, you qualify. When you do the application, remember that you have to state your three choices and take what's available. Fill out the HD permit request, and it'll go with any entry that fits the criteria. Also remember that a solo slot is always going to be easier to get than a group, even if it's only a couple people. Planning for midweek travel also isn't a isn't a bad idea either.
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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:21 pm

It could be argued that Glacier Point as a starting place is easier on the knees - you add a few miles, but you skip the Mist trail entirely. All those $%@& steps. And rude tourists, that elbow you off of them...

Or Mono Meadow. Another of the trailheads on Glacier Point Road. Both connect to the JMT via the Panorama trail. Both are getting much busier, thanks to the incredible demand for the Happy Isles TH.
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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby Phil » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:47 pm

With a Glacier Point or Mono Meadow permit, they're savvy to people using them as backdoors to the JMT and HD, so you get restrictions on where you camp the first night. I believe there's one that says LYV on night-1 and another that puts you outside the restricted camping zone and up around Illilouette Creek. The thing is...June. You would have to drop down from GP and use the Panorama Trail's bridge to get across Illilouette Creek, because I can almost guarantee you that you're not going to be able/want to ford that creek at high water, which is exactly where it'll be that time of season.

Happy Isles is a definite crapshoot with low, low odds. Maybe wait until a little later in the season and come in from Mono. That's a much better and nicer place to backpack anyhow, not to mention, a far easier permit to get that will still allow HD access. Plans C&D would be Sunrise or Cathedral Lakes.
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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby dgilman » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:59 pm

Why not spend between now and June getting in shape and then do a permit for the Snow Creek Trail? I believe it's reputation as the steepest climb out of the Valley makes it easier to get a spot, and then you can loop around for HD and exit Happy Isles.

I did this in 4-days (not counting arrival and staying at the Backpacker's campground before Day 1), but I think you could reasonably do it in 3.

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Re: First timer. Permit Questions.

Postby MikeP » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:21 am

Lots of good info already posted here. Couple add ons:
The most important thing is that you submit your application for a reservation exactly 6 months in advance. When you fill out the permit reservation online form you can select multiple alternate itineraries and you can also indicate that you want HD included and you can specify that you do not want the permit if HD is not included. So you can say 1 - Happy isles for X people with HD included but do not issue without HD, 2- Glacier point....., 3 - Snow Creek......, 4 - Mono.... etc. IMO if you do this exactly 6 months in advance and with enough alternatives the odds of you getting a permit with HD are very good.
I suggest considering Tioga Road Sunrise which you can add Clouds Rest (which has an even better view than the top of HD). However, make note that you would rely on Tioga road being open and it did not fully open until the end of June this year, and there was a lot of snow there through July. Also you would need transportation to the trail head, which you can take the backpacker shuttle or hitch hike (legal in Yosemite).

Another note: The Snow Creek suggestion is valid, but as mentioned it's very hard, and you would have to pass through the Olhmstead point to loop around Tenaya Canyon and get on trail to HD. Olhmstead point is an avalanche zone and was heavily snow covered for all of June this year. But last year the snow was all gone in June. So who knows.
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