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[Yosemite]

TR - Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Aug 17-20 2020

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

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TR - Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Aug 17-20 2020

Postby jartelt » Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:55 pm

I backpacked the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne route in Yosemite NP this past week (Aug 17-20, 2020). We started at White Wolf Road and ended the route at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. From there, we took the YARTS shuttle back to White Wolf to get our car. We stayed at the Tuolumne Meadows backpackers campground the for 1 night before and after our trip, which was great because the main campground is closed and Tuolumne is not very crowded at all.

The overall trip was great. We start hiking during the heat wave, so we got a 6am start hiking up White Wolf Road. The original plan was to take the YARTS shuttle to White Wolf the morning we started, but we decided to get an earlier start by driving there ourselves. I think this was the right call because it was super hot by the time we reached the exposed switchbacks that lead into the Grand Canyon. By the time we reached Pate Valley it was really, really hot, but we were able to sit in the Tuolumne River to cool down. We saw a pair of bears and a rattlesnake in Pate Valley so be vigilant in that area! We ended up camping in Pate Valley and I think there were maybe 5 or 6 other groups that eventually made camp there as well. It did not feel crowded, but was not exactly private either.

Temps started to cool as we worked our way up the canyon to Tuolumne. We ended up camping across from Grand Mountain for our 2nd night and near the base of California Falls for our 3rd night. We had a ton of privacy at each camp and had private swimming holes. I was able to catch trout with my fly rod near each camp, which was a lot of fun. By the last night, the smoke had started to move in so the canyon views started to get obscured. It was not too bad, but was unnerving since we had no idea how far or close the fires were. Once we got out to Tuolumne Meadows, the haze wasn't quite as bad. After spending an extra night at the backpackers camp, the sky actually cleared a bit so we did an extra day hike around the meadows. The drive out of Yosemite was a different story as it felt like we were driving into the apocalypse with all the smoke near Groveland and further west.

The Tuolumne river is fairly low, but most of the falls are still flowing nicely. There are also still plenty of swimming/fishing holes along the way. Morrison Creek and Register Creek were essentially dry, so do not plan on getting flowing water from there. Return creek still had flow. There were various places along the trail that seemed like creek/stream crossings, but all of them were dry. We really never got close to getting our feet wet unless we wanted to! Overall I thought it was a really great route and was not nearly as crowded and many other Yosemite trails are.

Here is a report I wrote up that has more details and all my pictures: https://backpackers-review.com/trip-rep ... -yosemite/

A few highlight pics below:

Lembert Dome the night before our trek
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Hetch Hetchy
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Pate Valley bears
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Falls and swimming hole
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Muir Gorge
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Colby Mountain
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Fishing with a view
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Sunrise
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Waterwheel Falls
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LeConte Falls
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California Falls swimming hole
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Glen Aulin
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Falls at end of Glen Aulin
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Tuolumne Falls
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Tuolumne Meadows
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Re: TR - Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Aug 17-20 2020

Postby ryanjadhav » Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:42 pm

Hey @jartelt, awesome photos and story. I had a question, my wife and I were planning on doing this backpacking trip in September. We also wanted to take the YARTs but on website (https://yarts.com/routes-and-schedules/mammoth-lakes-tuolumne-meadows-yosemite-valley/) it doesn't seem to have a stop for White Wolf. Did y'all have to make a special request in order to get off at White Wolf?
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Re: TR - Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Aug 17-20 2020

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:59 pm

Nice pictures. You can trust that any other year, you would have had plenty of competition along the trail for campsites....

I guess they finally fixed the bridges in Pate - good news.
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Re: TR - Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Aug 17-20 2020

Postby jartelt » Sat Aug 29, 2020 3:01 pm

Yea, to reserve ahead of time you just have to buy tickets to Crane flat for like $10 each. Then when you get on the bus, ask the driver to drop you are White Wolf. Our driver said it was no problem but noted that he could not stop in the middle of the road. We ended up going maybe a quarter mile past White Wolf to a large turn out area and he dropped us off there.

For parking, there are some spots right by White Wolf road and there are a few turn out areas on 120 nearby. For food storage, we used the bear chests at the nearby Lukens Lake Trailhead.

Hope you have a great trip! Let me know if you have any other questions.
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