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[Yosemite]

Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

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

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Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby PHGNYC1 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 7:39 pm

Heading to TM on 6/20 for 3 nights with 11 and 13 y.o. kids -- their first time backpacking. Entry trailhead is Glen Aulin (pass through) and exit is Cathedral Lakes (does exit trailhead matter?).

Would like some advice on route and camping locations. Thinking of one of the following:

A. Night 1 at McGee lake. Day 2: day hike in direction of Waterwheel Falls (or as far as we decide to go) and return for night 2 again at McGee Lake. Day 3: Hike to Polly Dome Lake and spend night 3 there. Day 4 walk out to Tioga Road at Murphy Creek or (more ambitious) out via May Lake to Tioga Road.

B. Night 1 at McGee Lake. Day 2: Hike up to Polly Dome Lakes and spend night 2 there. Day 3: Hike Polly Dome to May Lake. Night 3 at May Lake. Day 4: Day hike w/o packs up Mt. Hoffman. Pick up gear at May Lake and exit at May Lake trail head.

Any thoughts / advice appreciated. Want to make it fun for the kids and not overdo it.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Grzldvt » Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:28 pm

This is a trip I have done many, many times. I am torn a bit as McGee Lake is a true back country experience, but going the rest of the way to Glen Aulin with kids doing this for the first time is not bad, It is more of a campground experience, BUT at that point the outhouses will be open and working, the High Sierra camp should be open, making water much easier to obtain from a faucet, and bear boxes for food storage.
This way the kids get to setup the tent, eat and cook dinner in the dirt and get an outdoor sleeping experience. If for any reason there is an issue you have some civilization to help. It is a good climb out there to May Lake with packs, but if you take your time and take picture breaks it won't be to bad. Although I will present Raisin Lake as an option to Polly Dome Lakes. Makes the trip to May Lake a bit shorter and is less known, therefore less populated.
At May Lake you will have to stay in the High Sierra camp area, much of the lake is off limits to camping.
Steve
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Phil » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:26 am

I get the Glen Aulin pass-thru, but I'm not clear on how your exit is Cathedral Lakes. Be that as it may, with kids that age, on their first trip, don't fry them or they'll never want to go backpacking ever again. In other words: Plan A is the best bet. You can turn that 3-nights and 4-days into a slightly vigorous stroll. They'll easily be able to handle it, like it, and be proud of themselves for doing it.

Be absolutely sure to bring long pants and shirts, head nets, and mosquito repellent or they're going to be cranky and miserable, no matter how easy they find the hike or love camping out.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby MadDiver » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:21 am

hey All,

Is McGee Lake allowed on GA pass-through? (I don't remember any great campsites near there anyhow...) On the trailhead map it shows continuing towards Waterwheel or Cold Canyon NOT towards May Lake. Perhaps someone could recommend a nice spot in Glen Aulin proper or near LaConte Falls? Don't want to see this person and kids getting escorted out...
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby PHGNYC1 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:54 pm

Thanks for the responses. I did just call the # on my permit and was told:(a) I can't stay at GA HSC since my permit is "pass-through", and (b) it is OK to turn south at GA and camp at or near McGee. He didn't have much advice on good places to spend the night there, however. Any suggestions appreciated.

MadDiver, thanks for your reply. My original post wasn't clear: the permit is to exit at Cathedral Lakes, but not planning to exit there (unless someone tells me that that's going to be an issue).
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:00 pm

I'm not even sure why you would get that exit point, if you aren't crossing the road at all. Why not just tell them where you are actually leaving the trail system? It is completely immaterial (unless you are exiting Donahue Pass, which you won't) where you exit. No quota for that on most trails.

You'll have to be a mile beyond the HSC I think - there is a campsite or two near Waterwheel but not a lot of options down that canyon. McGee might be the better option. Never stayed there myself so not sure how to direct you, but as there have likely been a lot of people in the same situation there will be some spots.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Phil » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:28 pm

An exit at at Cathedral Lakes would require you to go up Sunrise and then back down to Tuolumne...there is no other way that could be made to work. Let's just call that irrelevant, because it is, and you can exit in better places that have some sense of reality to them.

So staying at the HSC is off the table. With the permit you have, that leaves you with Mcgee or with ducking off the trail into the trees past GA and finding one of the sites from just above California Falls down the Return Creek...there aren't many, but the ones that there are are better than the HSC by far.

Let's rejigger this and make it better- scrap your existing permit. Instead, reverse your route and either enter at Murphy Creek or May Lake if you think the kids are up for it. You can then either camp at Polly Dome Lakes, May Lake itself, or even Raisin Lake the first night, depending on what route you decide on. It's no big deal logistically, and your date is open for Murphy Creek, but you'll have to get in on a walk-up for May Lake on the 20th. If the latter doesn't work, revert to the former, because you now have options. You then also have even more options: you can find a site by Cathedral Creek, or you can go down to Mcgee and poke around for a good site, or, you can now go ahead and actually, legitimately, officially camp at Glen Aulin, even for a couple nights if the kids prefer it. Plan B on that would be to stay at the HSC campground the second night, and since you're going to want to hike down to the falls anyhow, haul your packs and spend that 3rd and last night at one of the sites along the river back in the trees anywhere from just above California Falls down to Return Creek (see map). Hike out on day-4 as planned, but now exiting at Tuloumne for burgers.


Here's the trailhead map that shows you how far past the HSC and various trailheads you need to be in order to camp legally. Anywhere beyond the colored arrows is good.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby PHGNYC1 » Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:31 pm

Thanks for the replies. Planning to head out on Monday morning and changed my permit per Phil's suggestion to leave from Murphy Creek and exit at TM. Was hoping to go to Raisin Lake (first choice) or Polly Dome (second choice) for a night or two and then head down toward GA. Should I be concerned about snow levels at both / either of those locations?
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Phil » Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:43 pm

That's a good plan. Murphy Creek has some drainage going on, but it was raining when we went through last Sunday, so it should've subsided enough by now to not be more than a bit of standing water and runoff coming across the trail in a few places. No big deal navigationally or in conditions. No snow at all.

You might want to think about making Polly Dome Lakes your first choice though. When we hit the end of the Murphy Creek trail at the junction of the May Lake trail, we were in snow. It wasn't too bad, but it was there and a few deep for about a half mile of the trail up toward May Lake. If you do go either up to Raisin Lake or toward Glen Aulin and lose the trail for a little way, just stop, take stock, scout slightly ahead, and it'll show up pretty quickly, assuming there aren't previous tracks for you to follow. Also very wet back there, so make sure everyone has at least extra socks. Once out of the trees in that area, the snow cover will all but disappear.

Raisin Lake has no snow at all. Beautiful little lake, with the majority of the campsites off the trail in the trees on the northwest shore, some with fire rings. We're actually going back up there next week, but for your purposes, if TM is your final destination, going to Raisin takes you about 2-3 miles in the opposite direction, toward May Lake. Nice, very wildernessy, but I would think that Polly Dome should fulfill that too, especially if it's the kids' first time out.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby PHGNYC1 » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:29 am

Phil, thx for your quick and helpful advice!
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Beel » Sun Jul 03, 2016 4:26 pm

Hi Phil...my son and I are considering doing the same route you described in this thread. I'm wondering if you have yet made it back there and if so, any comments or thoughts you might have....conditions, lakes, camp areas, waterfalls, etc. This will be our third hike together and are both looking forward to backpacking Yosemite for the first time. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Phil » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:17 pm

Yeah, we're back.

Murphy Creek is one entry trailhead option, but May Lake is the better one, if you can get a walk-up permit.

I guess the first questions are, how far do you want to walk per day, how long do you want to be out, and when do you want to go?

Raisin Lake was our first night, but there's not much going on, and there's several, but only really a couple good campsites worth bothering with (I have GPS coordinates on both). It's also only about 3-ish miles from the May Lake trailhead. Conditions were fine...no snow, tolerable mosquitoes. The camp at May Lake itself is also another option, but with more people.

The trail to Glen Aulin from there is also fine, just more mosquitoes, but no big deal. A few sites here and there, but nothing to write home about, or where you would want to use as a base for day-hikes or exploring. If you're in there and want to camp, you might as well go over and stay at Polly Dome Lakes.

Camping options at McGee Lake suck. The trail is right next to the shore, and the only sites that wouldn't be scrounged up and made to work just feet away from the trail are uphill in the rocks and sparse, and a couple places on the opposite shore along the north end of the lake that you can work with. If you gotta, you gotta, but it's not really what I would call a "destination".

The campground at Glen Aulin HSC is the easiest, but it's going to be crowded. Downriver, there are some sites below the first set of falls that are established and the rangers have left stand for some reason, but they're technically illegal. Really limited below that until below La Conte Falls. The falls complex (California, La Conte, Waterwheel) were awesome. The further down canyon we went, the hotter it got. Pate Valley was disgustingly so.

We went all over the place. Depending on when you're going, you might want to think about Ten Lakes instead. We found very little snow, and in only a couple shaded areas. If it's not gone by now, it will be soon. Much more beautiful area, with much more camping and things to do and see. I would consider it a much better intro to backpacking and enjoying some the incredible beauty that Yosemite has to offer than the trip above. Less people than the overcrowded core of the JMT, too. Honestly, the only reasons we bothered with that May Lake-Glen Aulin part of the trip again this last time was that it shut us out a few weeks before because of conditions (I hate that!!), and because we needed to warm up at reasonably low altitudes for bigger and better segments of the trip to come. It was also really just a better way to acclimate to altitude than hanging out at Tuolumne...we had to start the trip somewhere, and this just gave us a good place get a big area to access legally on one permit without even having to think about anything but walking almost wherever we wanted to.

If you need more on this route, or on alternatives, ask.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Beel » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:25 pm

Sorry for the delay in this reply. First off, thanks for the comprehensive reply. I really appreciate it. Considering your experience and suggestions, I am considering the ten lakes hike that you talked about. First off, to answer your questions. I'd say that we are in for about 10 ish miles per day. More wouldn't phase us, just trying to be conservative so we aren't in a rush. Secondly, we are looking at going for 3 nights. Thirdly, not yet sure on when. July or August for sure. We are into the smaller crowds, enjoying the beauty of Yosemite and exploring. With all of that in mind, do you have anything to add regarding the ten lakes hike? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Phil » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:42 pm

Beel,

I typed up this page long reply with detailed instructions, lost my log in, didn't save it, couldn't get it back. I don't have it in me to write it all up again. If you want to, you can call me. I'll PM you my phone number.
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Re: Route Advice from Glen Aulin TM 3 Nights

Postby Beel » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:47 pm

I've definitely done that before. Timing out sucks! Thanks for the try. I'll send you a pm.
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