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[Yosemite]

Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-28

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

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Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-28

Postby WanderingJim » Sun May 22, 2016 2:02 pm

So I have a wilderness permit for May 26th (Hidden Isles LYV pass through) and as the departure day grows closer I have to decide on what hike to take based on current conditions. Looks like the weather will start clearing up by Thursday or Friday.

Start May 26th, but I could start on the 27th or 28th if I can get a wilderness permit with changed date. Weather looks like it may be slightly better if I start Friday or Saturday.

I'm assuming the Half Dome Cables won't be put up until the weather clears a bit, so planning that at the end of my possible itineraries below.

I wasn't planning on needing to take my snowshoes, but can if you think I'd definitely need them for any of the itineraries below so please let me know. Kind of assuming if I take any of the routes that take me to Olmsted Point or Tuolumne Meadows I'd need them. What about Red Peak Pass during the current conditions? 5 extra pounds to carry, but even with 5 nights of food, I'm at 40 pounds pack weight. Taking only 2 liters of water and a 20oz Gatorade bottle to keep the weight down. Everything else needed will come from the streams/snow melt.

5 nights/6 days available. Probably can do 60-70 miles without killing myself. :)


Option A & B:
Yosemite Valley to Little Yosemite Valley
Camp somewhere beyond Moraine Dome
Hike To Merced Lake

Option A: Head south to Washburn Lake, Go through Red Peak Pass, return via Illilouette Creek

Option B: Head North via Flecher or Lewis Creek, loop through Tuolumne Meadows, return via JMT/Sunrise Lakes/Clouds Rest
(probably need snow shoes for this option)

At end, if cables are up, hike Half Dome and return to valley.


Option C & D:
Yosemite Valley to Illilouette Creek to Red Peak Pass, to Merced Lake

Option C: If time and trail conditions permit, head to Sunrise Lakes, South to Clouds Rest.

Option D: Hike to Little Yosemite Valley, then the Clouds Rest

At end, if cables are up, hike Half Dome and return to valley.


Option E & F:
(probably need snow shoes for these options)

Park at Tuolumne Meadows
Hike from Tuolumne Meadows to Vogelsang via Lyell Canyon or Rafferty Creek (options on which would be better view wise & current conditions)
Hike to Merced Lake

Use option C or D to hike to Clouds Rest.

If cables are up, hike Half Dome.

Option E: Hike to Yosemite Valley, take hiker’s bus back to car at Tuolumne Meadows (last bus at 1:30pm)

Option F: Hike North to Sunrise Lakes and end at Tuolumne Meadows


Option G, H, & I:

Get a ride or drive to Old Big Flat Road Trailhead
Hike to El Capitan (camp), Eagle Peak, Yosemite Falls, North Dome (camp).

Option G: Hike to Snow Creek and down to Yosemite Valley. (but this may only be 2-3 nights and is a lot shorter than I wanted to do this trip)

Option H: Hike to Olmsted Point, Sunrise Lakes, Clouds Rest.
(probably need snow shoes for this option)

If cables are up, hike Half Dome.

Option I: If time permits, hike to Merced Lake and back.

Return to Yosemite Valley.


--
So let me know which options might be best next weekend.

I am planning on calling the Wilderness Center tomorrow and get some info on trail conditions and possible routes, but wanted to get some advice from everyone here.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby Phil » Sun May 22, 2016 4:20 pm

Hey Jim,

Keep in mind that there's still a lot of snow above 9000 ft, and above 10,000 ( a good portion of many of the routes you're considering) there are multiple feet. In other words, full winter travel conditions. Snowshoes may be in order, but microspikes will be a must. I would avoid Red Peak and Vogelsang unless you really know your stuff. At most, I would try to minimize time spent at the higher altitudes as best you can and hang lower, for longer. Maybe consider keeping on or around the JMT say between your entry at Happy Isles and Tuolumne, taking in Cloud's Rest, Sunrise, and Cathedral Lakes.

I don't know your ability or experience level but, for most, 10-12 miles to day in snow and snowshoes is a little on the ambitious side, in my experience. We get a lot of people who don't know the routes or the terrain, and whose plans are bigger than what they're capable of, so if I'm wrong in your case, please let me know and we can adjust the advice. I want you to have a great trip, not have major issues and be unsuccessful because I made a bad assumption.

In the big scope of things, for someone with winter experience and the navigational skills to go with it, this recent/upcoming dusting shouldn't slow you down in your start date at all. Don't worry about how much water you're going to carry(no shortage of that!), worry about the rest of the gear you'll need to be loaded down with.

Also, as far outside of my concerns that it is, I'm hearing reliable rumblings that the HD cables are going up on the 27th. As usual for this time of year, like everything else opening, weather permitting.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby balzaccom » Sun May 22, 2016 5:07 pm

Yeah, I'm with Phil on this one. Those passes (Tuolumne Pass, Vogelsang, Red Peak, are going to be deep in snow. That's OK if you know how to navigate, and steep snow doesn't scare you.

But if you're looking for a summer-style trip, I'd keep below about 9,000 feet...
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby WanderingJim » Sun May 22, 2016 5:50 pm

Well, for long haul backpacking trips like this I usually try to keep my hiking mileage under 12 miles per day (and probably only push it that much if there's a particular destination I want to/need to reach), especially with elevation gain like you get in Yosemite. Snowshoe wise, I've done 8-10 mile snowshoe treks in a single day, but would probably want to minimize (or even do without) snowshoes if possible on this trip.

Already packed my strap on ice cleats to handle any icy trails (worked fine to get me all the way up the icy Nevada Falls switchbacks in January-snowshoes after that).

So not a complete newby to winter hiking, but hoped to not be doing it in May. :) Last year spoiled me, I guess.


If I stick to the JMT around Clouds Rest, Sunrise/Cathedral Lakes, and even get up to Tuolumne or do my idea of a quick loop up to Olmsted Point from North Dome to get down to Clouds Rest, do you think I'd need snowshoes?


Unfortunately, I can't wait till July for this hike, since I'm doing Mt Langley and Whitney in early July and doing the Japan Alps and MtFuji in August.

I only mentioned the water weight since I've had trouble trusting creek water sources and usually start my trips with way too much water/gatorade. So starting with 2liters+20 Oz is pretty minimal for me. :)
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby Phil » Sun May 22, 2016 8:05 pm

Okay. for the distances and routes you're looking at, I would probably go ahead and pack the snowshoes to be on the safe side.

Here's a link of snow depth as far as the model goes out- 05/25/16. Just enough depth to make it questionable. You can make a decision based on what you think and see from there.

http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/ ... &js=1&uc=0
Last edited by Phil on Sun May 22, 2016 8:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby balzaccom » Sun May 22, 2016 8:06 pm

I wouldn't take snowshoes this late in the spring, The snow won't be soft and fluffy. It will be crunchy in the morning and slushy in the afternoon. Microspikes are the way to go, IMHO.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby Phil » Sun May 22, 2016 8:17 pm

Yeah, it's a tough call. Spring conditions aside, there's still a lot of snow and I would hate to get caught out and stopped or find myself post holing long distances by trying to save a few pounds that might make all the difference.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby WanderingJim » Sun May 22, 2016 10:11 pm



Yup, Red Peak Pass isn't going to happen this trip. :) Rafferty Creek down to Merced Lake doesn't look too bad... but probably not. It'd be my first time down that way, so doing it in winter conditions might be too much.

I guess that narrows it down to these two:

Yosemite Valley to LYV to Merced Lake To Clouds Rest (either via LYV or Sunrise Lakes if conditions allow) to Half Dome and back to the Valley. That'd probably give me time to explore a little beyond Merced Lake without my full pack before swinging back to Clouds Rest.

Big Oak Road to El Capitan to Yosemite Falls to North Dome to Olmsted Point to Sunrise Lakes to Clouds Rest to Half Dome and back to the Valley.

Thanks for the info.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby Phil » Mon May 23, 2016 7:01 am

No problem. I have to thank AlmostThere for turning me on to that NOAA link...it's been well used for planning for myself and others.

The only reason at all I would have ever even considered snowshoes was that belt of color between CR and Upper Cathedral Lake, which still looks pretty deep and consistent in a lot of places, but otherwise, now that you're starting to pin down your route more, and you're not going so much through it as just slightly into it, I wouldn't bother. Too many miles of hiking and too few of having any use for them at all. Just bring your spikes, and if you have just a little bit of tough going where snowshoes might be nice, so what?

Have a good trip.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby WanderingJim » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:29 pm

Thanks for all the good advice here.

I had a great 6 day trip. Here's the route I ended up taking:

Yosemite Valley to Vernal Falls via Mist Trail
To Nevada Falls
Thru Little Yosemite Vailley
Cascade Cliffs
Past Morain Dome
Camped overlooking east side of Little Yosemite Valley - Great view even with fire damage
9 miles 7 hours

Hiked thru Lost Valley
Burnell Cascades
Past Burnell Point
Thru Echo Valley
Merced Lake
Camped at Merced Lake/Half Dome Overlook
9.5 miles 9 hours

Hiked to Volgelsong Trails Junction
Hiked to Washburn Lake
Some rain.
Hiked back to Merced Lake
Hiked back to Echo Valley
Camped overlooking Echo Valley and Clouds Rest
Rain and thunder storm 2-3 hours, what fun! :)
9.6 miles 6 hours

Hiked up out of Echo Valley
Hiked along ridge overlooking Merced River
Hiked thru Meadows Fire Damage on way to John Muir Trail. Some more green than there was last year, but it's still pretty bleak.
Hiked to Half Dome Trail Junction
Camped at Half Dome Trail Junction
7.5 miles 6.5 hours

Hiked to top of Clouds Rest
Returned down to and camped at Clouds Rest Camp near the pinnacles.
5.5 miles 4.5 hours

Hiked down to HalfDome Trail Junction
Hiked/climbed/pulled my way to top of Half Dome
Returned to Yosemite Valley via John Muir Trail
Non-rehydrated PIZZA!
15 miles

That last day was a chore, but I didn't want to stay another night at LYV just to save a little exhaustion. :)

Once I sort through my photos (over 4000, at least 3500 non-blury ones :) ) I'll post a link if anyone is interested.

I pretty much had Merced Lake and Washburn lake to myself for a day and a half. Only met two people on the way out and one on the way back (until I hit the JMT. the JMT from TM was reportedly completely lost in the snow based on one hiker's report.
The trails up to Volgelaong didn't look snowed in, but I didn't go much further than the point where the two trails separate.

Kind of decided to save exploring up that way for a future hike later in the summer (probably next year) from TM to Volgelsang along the Cony Crags ridge, down to Red Peak Pass, and back to the valley via Illilouette Creek. Always nice to plan your next hike somewhere while still enjoying the current hike. :)


Well, Mt Langley and Mt Whitney from the west side is next up in July.
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby WanderingJim » Sun Jun 12, 2016 8:43 pm

After two weeks of sorting through 4500+ photos and videos, I managed to weed out the bad ones (blurry, pictures of the ground, bad attempts at night pictures) and get the count under 4000. :)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wandering ... 6959789013


For those who don’t want to see all of the fabulous pictures, I picked out the best 600 or so highlights.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wandering ... 8746315070
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby MadDiver » Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:43 am

Nice pics! I really like the marmot on a snowbank atop Clouds Rest surveying his kingdom :lol:
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby CarolE » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:26 pm

Great trip report!
Question- coming out of LYV towards Merced, do you recall where the first decent spot to camp would be (after the Fire damage)?
Is Moraine Dome campsite still there or burned?
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby WanderingJim » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:58 am

CarolE wrote:Great trip report!
Question- coming out of LYV towards Merced, do you recall where the first decent spot to camp would be (after the Fire damage)?
Is Moraine Dome campsite still there or burned?


Well, Moraine Dome is kind of the middle of the fire damage zone. The fire area starts to the west of Moraine Dome and goes east to about Burnell Point.

The campsite I stayed at was a little past Moraine Dome and was just a big flat slab of granite overlooking the east side of LYV below. Obviously been used as such, since there were big rocks setup to help secure tents to with ropes.
I did see someone with a campfire below that night, so someone was camping down in the burned out forest area.

So while the fire damage was bad, the site I used had a great view of the valley and Mt Starr King. I'd say it was the first good spot I saw past Moraine Dome, but there were good spots to the east too, but not as dramatic views.

lon="-119.479859" lat="37.737342"
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Re: Advice Needed-5 Night backpacking trip starting May 26-2

Postby Nykel » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:59 pm

WanderingJim wrote:After two weeks of sorting through 4500+ photos and videos, I managed to weed out the bad ones (blurry, pictures of long tail pro and of the ground, bad attempts at night pictures) and get the count under 4000. :)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wandering ... 6959789013


For those who don’t want to see all of the fabulous pictures, I picked out the best 600 or so highlights.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wandering ... 8746315070


Hi Jim, just wanted to say you took some great pics. I love the ones of the water falls and the rainbows.
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