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[Yosemite]

Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

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

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Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby frostillicus » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:18 pm

My gf and I are heading to Yosemite next week, taking Happy Isles to Sunrise Creek for a couple nights. Our plan is to camp along the creek near the junctions with Half Dome/Clouds Rest, and wondering about water. Based on the current conditions given by Yosemite (link below), the creek is at a "very low flow." We're planning to lug in plenty of water, but wondering if anyone has been in the area recently and could give me an idea of just how low this flow is. Would love to be able to get some water along the way to lighten the load.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby WanderingJim » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:27 pm

Around July 4th there was plenty of water flowing through that area. Hopefully still is since I'll be headed up the JMT starting on the 1st.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:46 am

I have never seen Sunrise Creek run so dry that I couldn't pump out of it. It's a year-round creek for every intent and purpose. If it's "very low", find a low spot or a pool.

I wouldn't "lug in" more than you need for the hike itself; Happy Isles to Nevada Falls; reload there or at LYV on the Merced for the trail up to the CR junction. Base your needs on the temperature and maybe just a little more than what your own personal experience with your hydration requirements usually are just to err on the side of caution. LYV to Sunrise is a lug even without a bunch of excess water weight.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby frostillicus » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:55 am

Around July 4th there was plenty of water flowing through that area. Hopefully still is since I'll be headed up the JMT starting on the 1st.


I have never seen Sunrise Creek run so dry that I couldn't pump out of it. It's a year-round creek for every intent and purpose. If it's "very low", find a low spot or a pool.


Thanks, both. I figured there would have to be spots somewhere along Sunrise to fill up, but will plan to follow Phil's advice and draw from Merced just in case. At least that'll get me up the Mist Trail stairs without excess weight.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:13 am

Really though, don't go way heavy on the water for camp on the stretch up to the CR junction. Just what you need. Sunrise will have you covered. Besides, if there was no water in the creek, to make it up you would realistically need 30-40 lbs of water weight for 2-3 days for two people, and that's the kind of thing that'll just kill the trip right there.

Double check the open status on the Mist Trail. It's also not the best route for backpackers, for lots of reasons. It's just extra work and risk, but without the "mist" at this point.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:26 am

On maps, where creeks are marked, a broken blue line means seasonal, a solid blue line means year-round flow. Of course the drought can make some of the smaller ones more seasonal than usual... but generally you'll find water in some amount in the main streams in summer.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby frostillicus » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:35 am

Double check the open status on the Mist Trail. It's also not the best route for backpackers, for lots of reasons. It's just extra work and risk, but without the "mist" at this point.


Yeah, it's definitely going to be tough, but I don't think I have any other options. I was only able to get a permit for Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass Thru. Seems like that's really the only route to take, unless I'm missing something.

EDIT: Seems like Clark Point is probably the better option, both up and down, since descending Mist Trail has some restrictions: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... atrail.htm. Really appreciate the tips!
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:57 am

frostillicus wrote:Yeah, it's definitely going to be tough, but I don't think I have any other options. I was only able to get a permit for Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass Thru. Seems like that's really the only route to take, unless I'm missing something.


Somewhat. The Mist Trail is basically a side trail off the JMT (check your map). The JMT is the better route for those hauling full packs, because, while not necessarily as scenic, it's wider and you don't have the all-too-often rude dayhikers jostling for position on the stairs, which is risky for you....we've all been there and done that.

But yeah, the pass thru doesn't allow you to camp at LYV. Under permit, if you guys are looking for a better trip, views, etc over the course of a few days, and unless you've got an HD permit and/or want to do the big climb up to CR that you specifically want to be in position for, I would just go up the Merced past LYV and make my first night's camp at either Lost Valley, just past Moraine Dome, or the footbridges above Bunnell Cascade. From there, head upriver to Echo Valley, camp if you want to, then cut back up to the JMT from there and camp at Sunrise Creek the last night on the way back out...call it a loop rather than an in-and-out. That would be my trip, because it's just more to see, plenty of water on the full route, and gives you a lot more diversity in territory to see and experience.

Either way, the best source of info on water and conditions is always to be had from people with multi-day backpacks on that are obviously coming down. The lower down toward the Valley you hit them up, the sooner you'll know what's up in terms of your water carry.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby frostillicus » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:17 am

Thanks! We did manage to snag HD permits, and I'd really like to do CR again. My gf hasn't done either, and I've probably already talked them up too much to change it up. Your suggested route sounds amazing, though! Will definitely keep it in mind for the next trip. Really appreciate the help.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:31 am

You're welcome.

Even with my route, you can still hit up the two summits. Go upriver, cut over to the JMT in the same spot from Echo Valley, hit Sunrise Creek up higher, take the Forsyth Trail up to the north side of CR, drop your pack at the junction of the Sunrise Trail and bounce right toward Sunrise Lakes (my other left) to the creek close enough by for the night and next day's water (get plenty...maybe 6-8 liters), camp along the edge of Tenaya Canyon on the flats below the last push to the summit (that's the money camping!). Then hit the CR summit early the next morning, and use your elevation to skirt the edge of the canyon with an easy enough cross country to get over to HD without a re-climb. Do your HD thing, then drop down to Sunrise. Plans A, B, and C, all in one. Mayb add a day to the itinerary.

If she's new to it all, in a 3 day stretch, with your initial climb up on the first day, from Sunrise Creek, to do both summits back-to-back on consecutive days, you better hope she's either very fit and tough, or she loves you a whole lot....probably both. Mucho trabajo!!
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby frostillicus » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:00 am

One idea I'm considering is doing both HD and CR on Day 2... HD would be early in the morning, followed by a return to camp to rest for a bit, then up to CR and back to camp. Is that insane?
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:01 pm

frostillicus wrote:One idea I'm considering is doing both HD and CR on Day 2... HD would be early in the morning, followed by a return to camp to rest for a bit, then up to CR and back to camp. Is that insane?


Possibly. But I know people who go from Roads End over the Sierra crest in one day, swapping keys with buddies going the other direction, in a single day. (Not one of them myself.) Wandering around from base camp for a dozen or so miles is fairly straightforward sounding after you see people hiking 35-40 miles with 8000+ feet of gain. Do what you are comfortable with. It's not really worth dying over....
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:12 pm

Insane? Maybe. Depends on your physical conditions and how you handle elevation and climbs at it. HD and CR in a day is not something I would either recommend or reasonably expect from too many people at all. You will not have fun, and it's more than likely that you won't even come close to wanting to do CR. More like a mission-critical forced march than a pleasant outing.

I'll run some numbers for you:

To go from Happy Isles to Sunrise, it's ~4000' to 7200'; a gain of over 3200'. You're guaranteed to at least to pull this with your route under your permit.

LYV ~6100'
Lost Valley/Bunnell Cascade footbridges ~ 6200-6300'
Echo Valley ~7000'
Echo Valley where you pick up the cut off to the JMT and Forsyth Trail ~7500'
Forsyth at the JMT ~8000'
Forsyth x Sunrise junction ~9100'
Camping on north CR approach ~9300'
CR summit ~9900'
** back down to Sunrise Creek at CR x JMT junction ~7200 ( a loss of ~2700')
HD ~8800' (reclimbed because you went back to camp; gain of ~1600')

** CR summit done first then XC to HD: loss of ~1100'/ HD, with no reclimbing, or, back to camp at Sunrise, then up to CR: incl. first day's required hiking, total climbing of ~7500' to meet your goals in 2 days....hot climbing... un fun climbing.

My Plan A/B/C combo is longer in miles, but it gets you to all, and more, places, not only in smaller elev gain increments, but with efficiency of movement, time to enjoy yourselves and relax, take in more sights, available water, great campsites, more time to acclimate and, maybe most importantly, not be slaughtered by the time you're done.
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Re: Sunrise Creek: How dry is it?

Postby WanderingJim » Sat Aug 01, 2020 6:17 pm

I can confirm there is plenty of water available at where the Clouds Rest Trail joins the JMT. A half mile East of the Half Dome Junction.

Day 1 of my JMT hike. 8.5 miles from the trailhead parking. My legs hate me.

And I have a cell signal. :D go figure...
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