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[Yosemite]

Overland from Ostrander Lake?

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

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Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby jgaffney » Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:15 pm

I have been planning a trip from Bridalveil Campground on Glacier Point Road south to Buena Vista Lake, then down the Buena Vista trail to Illilouette Falls, then down the JMT to Happy Isles. I wanted to do this trip in 2020 but, between the fires and the COVID, I didn't get in any backpacking. This trip is planned for August 2021.

I started doing this trip in 2015 but that was a very dry year. I hiked out of the campground south to Deer Camp and found a bone dry stream. Since I hadn't planned on it, I had to turn around and head back to Glacier Point Road. I ended up doing a tour of the South Rim, camping near Dewey Point and Taft Point. Bridalveil Creek was the only reliable source of water.

Next year, I'm planning on hiking to Ostrander Lake for my first night. Then, I would contour east to pick up the Buena Vista trail near Edson Lake. Then, I would hike south on the BV trail to Buena Vista Lake for my second night. After bagging Buena Vista Peak, I'd head north on the BV trail, camping somewhere around IllIlouette Creek for my third night.

Has anyone else tried this cross country route from Ostrander Lake to the BV trail? On CalTopo's aerial photos, it looks like a big sheet of granite, easily traversed. The little bit of forest along the way doesn't look too thick. Any thoughts?
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:41 pm

I have not done that route, but in looking at the map, I think I would prefer to contour more directly over to Hart Lakes, and then down the Edson from there.

That granite my look flat, but there are plenty of contour lines on it, and creeks can always be tricky. And all it takes is one 15-foot ledge to leave you cliffed out. On the other hand, if the Hart Lakes route weren't so obviously appealing I would certainly be willing try the route to Edson. But I'd also be willing to run around if it didn't pan out.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby WanderingJim » Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:28 am

Keep in mind that they are starting to rebuild the Glacier Point Road next year. So you probably won't be able to drive to Bridalveil Campground.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby balzaccom » Mon Nov 16, 2020 8:23 am

Good point, Jim. OP could still tackle this route by starting in Wawona up the Chilnualna Falls trail and continue from there....
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Nov 16, 2020 9:44 am

jgaffney wrote:
Has anyone else tried this cross country route from Ostrander Lake to the BV trail? On CalTopo's aerial photos, it looks like a big sheet of granite, easily traversed. The little bit of forest along the way doesn't look too thick. Any thoughts?


It's not a big sheet of granite easily traversed.

If you stay on the north side of Horse Ridge, you'll end up traveling along the bottom of the granite in the trees to Hart Lake. It's easiest to stay in the trees. You'll avoid cliffing out that way. At the outlet of Hart you have a choice between bushwhacking straight down the very steep hill along the stream or following less steep slopes to the north. We did the latter and connected with the trail on a switchback after a lot of wading in brush and climbing over fallen trees, which are legion. If you climb the ridge at Ostrander around the end of the steep steep face on the east side of the lake, you'll find the back side of the ridge to be sloped sand for the most part, difficult to walk in, and continuing toward the BV trail involves moving farther to the south and never seeing Hart Lake except from the top of the ridge. We've also split the difference on the north side of the ridge -- walked on the granite until we found a spot at the top to climb up without climbing gear, walked the top of the ridge then bouldered down to Hart, but we weren't wearing backpacks then. On that trip we returned to Ostrander in the woods which was the easier experience.

Walking down to Edson shouldn't be all that hard aside from the brush here and there. The lower you go, the more deadfall and brush. We didn't go all the way down that drainage, as we were bound for Buena Vista Lake for the night.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:43 pm

That's about as comprehensive an answer as anyone has a right to expect! Thank you, AT.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:09 am

balzaccom wrote:That's about as comprehensive an answer as anyone has a right to expect! Thank you, AT.


We used to go there every Fourth of July. Haven't done over the past couple years. There was a fire there this year, as well, and I haven't been there to see what the damage looks like. Hopefully it didn't burn the hut.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby jgaffney » Thu Nov 19, 2020 7:05 pm

AlmostThere wrote:If you stay on the north side of Horse Ridge, you'll end up traveling along the bottom of the granite in the trees to Hart Lake. It's easiest to stay in the trees. You'll avoid cliffing out that way. At the outlet of Hart you have a choice between bushwhacking straight down the very steep hill along the stream or following less steep slopes to the north. We did the latter and connected with the trail on a switchback after a lot of wading in brush and climbing over fallen trees, which are legion.


Thanks, AT. This looks like the route I'll take. According to Topo!, it's only 1.8 miles so, even if I have to do a lot of bushwhacking, it won't be bad. And, it's only 2 miles south to Buena Vista Lake. I'll get there in time for the afternoon bite!

Tell me more about the work on GPR. I was planning on riding the Glacier Point tour bus from the valley to Bridalveil campground. I guess I'll call the Wilderness Office and see if that will still be on.

My wife and I spend a week at the Yosemite Lodge every year. She doesn't backpack, so I plan a trip that starts and ends in the valley, and time it so that I come back the same day that she arrives. This has worked several times for us in the past, and I like having only 1 car while we're there. I live in Sonoma County, and I can ride Amtrak and Yarts into the valley. She'll drive up later. But, that precludes starting my trip at Wawona. The Yarts bus to Fresno gets to Wawona at 12:15, so I lose a half a day of hiking.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Nov 19, 2020 7:11 pm

The road is being worked on so no cars, no buses. AND, unless Covid is under control by next year, no bets on that, they won't have public transportation for that reason, even if the road were open.

You could go from the Tunnel View trailhead. I would use Chilnualna trailhead as an alternate - so you can be dropped off at Wawona, pick up the permit, walk the mile to the trailhead from the wilderness office and hike through over Buena Vista Pass, hike down to Edson Lake, climb up the hill to Hart, to go right and see Ostrander then come out via Glacier Point down the Four Mile trail.
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Re: Overland from Ostrander Lake?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:51 pm

Hol up!

The website now says the road project is postponed. Probably due to covid.

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

Prolly still no bus service, but you can likely hitch...
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