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ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route ideas

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ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route ideas

Postby Linda » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:20 pm

Hi everyone,

I’ll be dropping my mom and aunt off at Curry Village for a few days, mid-week, at the end of May. If you had 3 days to head into the backcountry from the Valley, where would you go?

The Happy Isles > LYV permits for those dates are all taken, of course, but I prefer more solitary places anyway. I’m a fairly experienced solo backpacker and have done several trips over the years out of Tuolumne Meadows, but I’m not very familiar with the trail heads out of the Valley. I like to cover 8-10 miles a day and being either by a creek/river or up high with majestic views would be lovely.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby WanderingJim » Thu Mar 05, 2020 7:43 pm

A good short hike out of the Valley is to do the North Rim.

You can start at Snow Creak TH go up to North Dome (camping near the top of the dome is a great experience), over to Yosemite Falls, Eagle Peak (some nice camping spots there near the top), and of course El Capitan (again, great places to camp at the top). You can exit at Yosemite Falls TH or Old Big Oak Flat Road TH.

You can also start at Old Big Oak Flat Road TH and exit at Snow Creek TH.

In only 3 days, it might be hard to go all the way from Snow Creek to Old Big Oak Flat, but that would depend on your speed.

Snow Creek to Yosemite Falls TH is doable by most in 3 days. Maybe camp at the top of North Dome and Eagle Peak, then do a quick day hike over to El Capitan.
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby Linda » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:03 pm

Thanks so much, WanderingJim! That sounds perfect. With such low snowpack this year, I’m assuming flooding / difficult creek crossings won’t be too much of an issue there in late May. Do you agree?
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:25 am

It's true that it has been a very low snow year, but that is not the same as saying creek crossings won't be an issue in May. If creek crossings are ever an issue in the Sierra, a nice warm May day is when that will be true. And if you get a snowstorm a week or two before your trip, you will have some issues.
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby Linda » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:29 pm

Thanks, Balzaccom. Just to clarify, since I’m not familiar with that route and I don’t know the size and number of streams it normally crosses, would you be concerned that it might not be safely doable at the end May? Or just that I might have some water to cross?
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:43 pm

Hi Linda

The biggest creek you cross would be Yosemite Creek, and there is a bridge for that. There are a couple of smaller creeks (Lehamite, for example) but these will probably not be an issue. still, May is early, and the weather two weeks before your hike will really determine what conditions you will find. We had six inches of snow over Memorial Day a few years ago...
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby Linda » Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:08 am

Thank you both for your help! I’ll definitely keep an eye on the weather in the weeks before the trip.
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Re: ISO late May, 2-3 day, starting in the Valley route idea

Postby Phil » Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:44 pm

The North Rim is the standard, safe, generally doable in May trip. You would have a nice time and encounter little-no snow on the trails, with no sketchy creek crossings. But, there's a chance that finding much isolation could be problem...not the typical summer throngs, but it's just that that's where everyone is likely to be at that time.

Another trip that might also work as an in-and-out would be to go up from Happy Isles and head toward Illilouette Creek. If you cut up from the JMT, pick up the lower portion of the Panorama Trail and follow the Illilouette drainage, you're not going to have the crossings down lower, and you can find lots of beautiful creekside sites along most of the way. You'll also find your incredible views. Depending on snowpack, the few crossings you do encounter much higher up if you keep going should hopefully be not too bad, and you can easily cut bait and hold or drop back down if you hit either snow or something you're not comfortable with, without losing anything in the overall quality and point of the hike. Conditions dependent, you could conceivably even make it up as far as the Merced Pass Lakes and/or maybe even Lower Ottoway Lake. The altitudes aren't particularly high (lower Merced Pass +/-8800 - lower Ottoway ~9600). Definitely be a unique hike that's outside of the norm, but doable until it's your call that it isn't.
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