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[Yosemite]

Clouds Rest - Half Dome

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

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Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby jgaffney » Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:10 pm

I'm planning a trip for August 2017, for 4 nights in Yosemite right before my wife shows up for 3 nights at the Lodge. I've done this a couple of times before, where I go backpacking and show up in the valley as she's arriving at the Lodge for our vacation.

My plan for 2017 is to arrive in the Valley on the Amtrak bus and stay in the backpackers' campground. The next morning, I'll ride the bus up to Tuolumne Meadows, then hike down to Cathedral Lakes. The next day, I'll hike to Sunrise Camp, and turn northwest to Sunrise Lake. The next day, I'll take off from Sunrise Lake and hike over Cloud's Rest (I hope it's clear), then down to the JMT. The next day, I'll hike up Half Dome, then down to the Valley where I'll meet my wife.

I've read the Wilderness Press book about the JMT, and it describes many good campsites in the area where the trail down from Cloud's Rest meets the JMT. I've heard that bear activity is pretty high in Little Yosemite - is it better here? Of course, my whole campsite will be bear safe, but I don't fancy meeting up with one during the day. Also, I got caught south of Glacier Point Road on a trip where I found all of the streams were dry (August 2015), which seriously messed with my plans. Does Sunrise Creek run pretty reliably? The alternative is that I hike down 2 miles to the Merced River, tank up, then hike 2 miles back up to the area I want to camp. I want to stay up high so that, in the morning, I can get an early jump for the Half Dome Trail.

Any feedback?
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby balzaccom » Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:30 pm

This is an extremely popular route, and given the rainfall so far this year, you won't have any trouble finding water along the way. Sunrise Creek should be running, and there is another source of water in the small, rather stagnant ponds northeast of CR.

Bears? Can't make any promises there, but there are more in LYV than there are up by Clouds Rest.

Remember that you'll need a separate permit to climb Half Dome...and yes, there will be a ranger there to check!
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby Phil » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:28 am

Happy New Year everyone.

First off, you won't have any problem finding water in Sunrise Creek in August. Sites are to be found at and above the trail junction itself, below it in the area above the HD spur on both upper slope, and in the rocks to the left. Earlier arrival is better, because August is busy for crowds.

Bears are a bigger problem in LYV just because of all the people and smells, but it would be almost as likely that you would have an encounter at Sunrise. As long as your gear and food is tight, nothing to worry about. To that bear, you're just there, not the target of their ambitions. Even if one comes into your camp, you can usually just watch it, knowing that it's more apprehensive of your presence than you need to be over its.
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby Peasy » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:57 am

We did this same trek in August 2016. Sunrise was still running strong. We camped in-between LYV and Cloud's rest, a short ways up the Cloud's rest trail from the JMT. There are quite a few established sites tucked in there. There are also quite a few down by the creek, a bit off the trail going back towards Sunrise on the JMT. The only place we saw a bear (and her cubs) was on the Cloud's Rest trail, a bit before we set up camp for the night. She didn't want to have anything to do with us and left us alone entirely.

And yes, we were checked for permits and bear cans 3 times!
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby idiotwind » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:19 pm

About how many miles is this trip? I assume I'll have to hitchhike back up to my car at Tuolumne Meadows...
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:51 pm

Or ride the YARTS bus, or the hiker bus if the new concessionaire continues that service.

It depends on which trails you use and the side trips you take - 20-30 miles or so, give or take. Very busy area of the park, and some areas burned in fires and should be avoided for camping due to the extreme hazard of dead trees/branches falling. Never park a tent under a dead tree.
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby Dave_Ayers » Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:22 pm

idiotwind wrote:About how many miles is this trip? I assume I'll have to hitchhike back up to my car at Tuolumne Meadows...


If you go to the Yosemite Trailhead Information page at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trailheads.htm and scroll down, you will see a link for a PDF at the top of each section. If you click on those links they open up documents that give mileages for some of the popular destinations from each trailhead which can be very helpful for trip planning. For example, if you click on the Tuolumne Meadows document link and look at the Cathedral Lakes entries on page 2 you'll see YV is listed at 21.2 miles. This is the shortest distance. As AT said, the side trips to Half Dome, Cloud's Rest, etc., will be extra.

The YARTS website is at http://yarts.com/ . The Hiker's Bus site is at http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to ... bus-tours/ .
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby idiotwind » Thu Mar 02, 2017 7:09 pm

Dave_Ayers wrote:
idiotwind wrote:About how many miles is this trip? I assume I'll have to hitchhike back up to my car at Tuolumne Meadows...


If you go to the Yosemite Trailhead Information page at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trailheads.htm and scroll down, you will see a link for a PDF at the top of each section. If you click on those links they open up documents that give mileages for some of the popular destinations from each trailhead which can be very helpful for trip planning. For example, if you click on the Tuolumne Meadows document link and look at the Cathedral Lakes entries on page 2 you'll see YV is listed at 21.2 miles. This is the shortest distance. As AT said, the side trips to Half Dome, Cloud's Rest, etc., will be extra.

The YARTS website is at http://yarts.com/ . The Hiker's Bus site is at http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to ... bus-tours/ .


Thanks for the info, Dave! I'm giving up on the HD permit and going to try and plan a 4 day trip around clouds rest.
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby Phil » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:36 am

idiotwind wrote:Thanks for the info, Dave! I'm giving up on the HD permit and going to try and plan a 4 day trip around clouds rest.


The hardest part is going to be getting your permit, be that via Cathedral Lakes or Sunrise. It's very likely that you won't be able to get a reservation and will have to wing it with a walk-up.

From Cathedral-

First night- Upper Cathedral Lake

Second night- either Sunrise Lakes or the north slope of Cloud's Rest itself. The latter gives you the opportunity to walk up, sans pack, and enjoy the sunset, and then the sunrise on day-3.

Third night- Preferably camp along Sunrise Creek at the JMT x Cloud's Rest Junction, or you can go to LYV (not preferable).

Fourth day- Out to the Valley at Happy Isles, then catch the YARTs shuttle at 5pm back to the car in Tuolumne. Go home or stay at the backpacker's camp up there.

Total Trip mileage: ~23 miles
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby idiotwind » Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:46 pm

Phil wrote:
idiotwind wrote:Thanks for the info, Dave! I'm giving up on the HD permit and going to try and plan a 4 day trip around clouds rest.


The hardest part is going to be getting your permit, be that via Cathedral Lakes or Sunrise. It's very likely that you won't be able to get a reservation and will have to wing it with a walk-up.

From Cathedral-

First night- Upper Cathedral Lake

Second night- either Sunrise Lakes or the north slope of Cloud's Rest itself. The latter gives you the opportunity to walk up, sans pack, and enjoy the sunset, and then the sunrise on day-3.

Third night- Preferably camp along Sunrise Creek at the JMT x Cloud's Rest Junction, or you can go to LYV (not preferable).

Fourth day- Out to the Valley at Happy Isles, then catch the YARTs shuttle at 5pm back to the car in Tuolumne. Go home or stay at the backpacker's camp up there.

Total Trip mileage: ~23 miles


My trip changed again. I was able to reserve permits for Aug 2 - Saturday the 8th for White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows. Looking forward to being away from the massive crowds (hopefully). I'm looking at the YARTS and see the available trip that saturday is at 10AM. Guess I need to make sure I can make it to TM visitors center before 10am. No problemo!
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby Dave_Ayers » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:29 pm

I'm not sure if you mean (1) going down to Pate Valley and up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne or (2) going to Ten Lakes, Tuolumne Peak, May Lake and Mt Hoffman, Cloud's Rest, possibly Half Dome, and Cathedral Lakes. Both are fine trips. You can get a five more minutes for YARTS if you meet it at the TM Visitor Center vs. at the TM store. Plus it's over a mile shorter if you are hiking down from Cathedral Lakes making it easy to get there by 10:20 a.m. (if they have the same schedule as last year).

As far as crowds, if you are doing trip (2) May Lake is busy. One possible option is finding a camp spot near Raisin Lake instead. And of course Cathedral Lakes is busy. There are some lesser used camp sites on the south and west shores of the upper lake, especially for solos or small groups.
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby idiotwind » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:09 am

Dave_Ayers wrote:I'm not sure if you mean (1) going down to Pate Valley and up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne or (2) going to Ten Lakes, Tuolumne Peak, May Lake and Mt Hoffman, Cloud's Rest, possibly Half Dome, and Cathedral Lakes. Both are fine trips. You can get a five more minutes for YARTS if you meet it at the TM Visitor Center vs. at the TM store. Plus it's over a mile shorter if you are hiking down from Cathedral Lakes making it easy to get there by 10:20 a.m. (if they have the same schedule as last year).

As far as crowds, if you are doing trip (2) May Lake is busy. One possible option is finding a camp spot near Raisin Lake instead. And of course Cathedral Lakes is busy. There are some lesser used camp sites on the south and west shores of the upper lake, especially for solos or small groups.


Option 1 along the river to Glen Aulin. I'm hoping the views will be as good as some of the other more famous peaks around Yosemite.
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:42 am

Views of what? There are waterfalls.... Meadows... lots of trees. There will be nice views on the long, exposed hot climb out of Pate - which I nearly dehydrated and heat stroke'd myself by doing it during the day, so remember the part after camping near Morrison creek better than the hiking. The canyon is nice.

Don't camp near dead trees...
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:18 am

I don't know. Both options are nice, but I think you'll be happier with heading out of WW and going via Ten Lakes.

The way things are laid out with the descent from Morrison Creek, then Pate Valley, then up the GCT, and definitely with the heat that AlmostThere is talking about during the time of day you'll end up passing through, you would be better off going short the first day and camping at the top of Morrison Creek (best views along the route), then hitting that descent early in the morning, coming into Pate Valley a little later in the day (where it's also going to be sweltering), camp there, then get another early start and spend your third night up by La Conte/Waterwheel Falls, then either go ahead and exit to Tuolumne or again hold up at the Glen Aulin backpacker's camp and exit the next morning.

DO NOT underestimate how hot that canyon can get in August! Gorgeous, but it can be really brutal with the combo of high temperatures, trapped air, humidity from the river, and plenty of reflected heat coming off the granite.

So yeah, I think you'll be much happier and fulfilled in your trip to Yosemite by going over Ten Lakes.
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Re: Clouds Rest - Half Dome

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:31 am

Muir Gorge was pretty dramatic -- however, that would be another section where the afternoon sun can be brutal. I wonder if I still have a picture of the gigantic rattlesnake that blocked the trail? Rattlers are everywhere, but they really congregate in river and stream canyons. Trekking poles were our saving grace -- we were able to extend one and shove the snake off into the rocks. He didn't like it much but everyone survived whole and unharmed.

Pate can also be swampy during the snowmelt. It was pretty darn buggy when we went through it.
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