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[Yosemite]

Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of hike?

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

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Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of hike?

Postby MNku » Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:09 pm

We have permit for Murphy Creek in July 2020. Plan on a loop back pack trip going to Glen Aulin, Tuolumne, Cathedral lakes, Sunrise Lakes, Cloud's Rest day hike, Sunrise, then back to Tenaya in a loop. Night one will be near Glen Aulin, night two in theory should be near Tuolumne. Can you stay there? I see regulation that says you must camp at least 4 miles from Tuolumne....not sure what best plan is for second night if you can't use back packers camp in middle of through hike?

Our goal is to get to Cloud's Rest. Doing this hike like this as we lost out on permits we wanted (Sunrise or Cathedral) for the time we have available in July so we got Murphy Creek as it was still open for our dates. I was told you can't go north from Tenaya for one night and then backtrack to Tenaya to Sunrise the next day- you must do a loop to be legal. Longer than we thought, but sounds fun. Just not sure about camp location on 2nd night after leaving Glen Aulin in the am and heading towards Tuolumne Meadows.

thanks for any advice!
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:33 pm

For the trip you describe, no. You would be outside the wilderness and the wilderness permit you have would terminate, as all of them do when you exit wilderness boundaries. You would need a second wilderness permit to continue on the itinerary. On a wilderness permit you would need to spend all nights inside the wilderness.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:38 pm

The simple answer is, no. You're allowed to spend one night prior to and one night after your hike in any backpacker's camp only. So, stay there, permitted trip over. If you were to try that and/or re-enter at the Cathedral Lakes TH, since it's probably one of the most highly patrolled trailheads in the entire park, you would be caught, and the ranger would escort you out and probably cite you about $300. People try to pull that all the time, and the wilderness rangers are on it. If they don't get you at the trailhead or somewhere on the trail, they'll get you up at the lakes.

What's your permit state as your first night's camping, and then your exit point? As you stand, Murphy Creek > Glen Aulin > TM, for that second night out of GA, you can go up to Young Lakes and then down to Tuolumne, but your permit will pretty much stop there unless you can get any pass-thrus cleared by the wilderness permitting office ahead of time, and most importantly, to where if you get asked for your permit, it makes logical and obvious sense to the ranger with the ticket book standing in front of you.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:49 pm

Call the permitting office, but you can try this:

Entry- Murphy Creek
First night- Raisin or May Lake
Exit- Cathedral Lakes

You'll most likely need to either modify what you have over the phone or re-permit entirely, and don't try to cheat and just walk down the road to Sunrise TH. If it flies, you do the trip in reverse, but you're golden. If not, they simply won't approve it and you stick with Plan A.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby MNku » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:09 am

Thanks for responses and help. Sorry about not mentioning exit trailhead (Sunrise). I got this permit by calling the Conservancy and getting assistance. Entry is Murphy Creek and exit is 6 days later at Sunrise. The person who gave me the permit said this was a fine way to get to Cloud's Rest as long as it is a big loop. He said we could go through TM area on our way. I didn't ask about staying at TM. Are you saying even just passing through invalidates the permit?(because that is not what I was told by the person giving out the permit). thanks again. We are experienced backpackers in other states but not familiar with the legal ins/outs of Yosemite specific issues.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby MNku » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:39 pm

If we have exit at Sunrise does that mean we have an approved thru- pass to go through TM? thanks
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:58 pm

Hiking across a road, hiking the trail through Tuolumne Meadows area and stopping for lunch at the store, no. Hitchhiking, walking the road, staying the night in the campground, yes, that is exiting the wilderness. Or so I interpret the rules...
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby MNku » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:48 pm

AlmostThere wrote:Hiking across a road, hiking the trail through Tuolumne Meadows area and stopping for lunch at the store, no. Hitchhiking, walking the road, staying the night in the campground, yes, that is exiting the wilderness. Or so I interpret the rules...


thanks- I think we are good then. I guess it is doable to go from Glen Aulin through TM and on to Upper Cathedral Lake for that night without worrying about stopping at TM.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:51 pm

If you want to save a couple of miles or more, take the use trail from Glen Aulin to Pothole Dome, and then the Cathedral Trailhead. It saves you going all the way up to TM and back to Cathedral trailhead.

Catch the trail coming up from Glen Aulin right at the bridge across the river. Instead of crossing the river, stay on the right/south side and follow that trail...
Check out our website and blog at: https://www.backpackthesierra.com/home
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby MNku » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:46 am

balzaccom wrote:If you want to save a couple of miles or more, take the use trail from Glen Aulin to Pothole Dome, and then the Cathedral Trailhead. It saves you going all the way up to TM and back to Cathedral trailhead.

Catch the trail coming up from Glen Aulin right at the bridge across the river. Instead of crossing the river, stay on the right/south side and follow that trail...


Thanks for this info/tip! This is the kind of info I needed. I appreciate it.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby balzaccom » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:32 pm

Just heard from someone who knows the exact policy at Yosemite. It clearly states that the ONE exception to the rule about never leaving and then entering the wilderness again with the same permit is if you stay one night at the Tuolumne Meadows Backpacking campground as part of your itinerary.

Can't argue with the rangers, who provided this info. Otherwise, you are only allowed to leave the wilderness if you immediately re-enter and continue on your way.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby balzaccom » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:46 pm

Here is the official language from the Wilderness Office in Yosemite:

"Continuous travel is a condition of a wilderness itinerary in which the user travels from a Yosemite National Park entry trailhead to the exit trailhead during the dates specified in the permit. Exiting the wilderness at any time during a wilderness itinerary invalidates the wilderness permit. In order to continue backpacking, you would need a new wilderness permit. There are two exceptions:
Crossing a road by means of traditional wilderness travel (by foot or with stock) in continuation of a wilderness itinerary
A one-night stop in the Tuolumne Meadows Backpackers Campground as part of an ongoing and continuous long-distance hiking permit. Travel by vehicle or bus at any time during a wilderness itinerary invalidates the wilderness permit. There is no such exception for Yosemite Valley. Any travel through Yosemite Valley invalidates the permit."
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby Phil » Mon Feb 03, 2020 7:50 am

No kidding? That's a massive loophole that's going to allow the very thing they're trying to prevent in people jumping trailheads, and voiding the intent of the Wilderness Act quota system. That term, "ongoing and continuous long-distance hiking permit" is obviously not designed for "cheating" the system from within the park boundaries (as is arguably the case here), but I would think that it clearly refers to an intention for providing for JMT/PCT hikers with trips commencing outside the park itself to do more of a simple pass-thru, stopping at the TM backpacker's camp en-route, then continuing on. I don't doubt that being what's meant, in the least. I would think that the Murphy Creek entry and exit TH being stated and approved of Sunrise would hold more validity. Murphy Creek > GA > Cathedral > Sunrise by no means constitutes a "long-distance"; how is the term, long-distance, even defined? Really, you have two very distinct and separated trailheads, and a stop at TM would normally terminate travel under one permit and require another to continue. I would fully expect a citation trying to pull off a stunt like that, on the basis of many, many years of knowing and making every effort to follow the rules.

But hey, if it's written that way and, more importantly, would be interpreted as valid during a permit check, so be it. Somebody screwed up in either the verbiage or in how the exception is being applied in cases like this. Anything else, and any kind of creative manipulation and willingness to hike a few more miles would result in a free-for-all that would end up crashing and burning the effective enforcement of the quota system completely. This strikes me as a gross reinterpretation or simple misconstrual of the rules as they exist.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby Phil » Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:24 am

This is directly from the Superintendent's Compendium (page 16):

• Wilderness permit holders may stay in a backpackers’ campground the night prior to
their hiking start date and the night after returning from each overnight Wilderness
trip, but not between the start and end date.
• Backpackers entering or leaving Yosemite and hiking through Tuolumne
Meadows (e.g.., John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail through hikers) may stay
in the backpackers’ campground at Tuolumne Meadows for one night during their
wilderness trip when the campground is open. If the Tuolumne Meadows Post
Office is closed, such backpackers may stay for one night in the backpackers’
campground in Yosemite Valley if resupplying in Yosemite Valley. Continuation
of the wilderness trip must be on the specified conditions of the wilderness
permit.

If there's something I'm missing, please provide a link.
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Re: Can you stay at Tuolumne backpackers camp in middle of h

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:41 am

The ranger may have been thinking of thru hikers. The thrus have always played by different rules than the backpackers. And their rules are changing too, as the PCT and JMT become more and more crowded.

I'm going to stick with the original text in the compendium - I've had enough instances in the parks where the wilderness rangers have a totally different read on things, and no one agrees. At least if you stick to the written regs and someone decides the rules are different, YOU are backed up by something in writing. Hiking for a week in the park is not a thru hike. Which is why I didn't mention the exception.
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