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[Yosemite]

Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

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

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Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:15 am

This is for anyone coming to ask questions that everyone asks, and for those questions people never ask.

This year, we are facing a lot of snow. You can get wilderness permits reserved but you may find snow even in early August in the high country, and there will be plenty of snowmelt in the streams in May, June and even July. Which makes the number one risk to you that rushing, flooding water -- do not use ropes! if the water is deep, fast, you can't see the bottom, above your knees -- TURN AROUND. Beware skinny or unstable logs and rocks! The safest way to cross is WITH BOOTS ON when you can't see the bottom.

Do not use ropes. Do not use ropes. DO NOT USE ROPES. You think it's a good idea to fasten yourself to something so you can pull yourself out. The rushing water is much stronger than you are. You will be pulled under the water, faced with the choice of staying there pushed under by the incredible force that is flowing water or letting go and dying as you are swept downstream and smashed into rocks. Ropes increase risk. Do not use ropes that are tied across the stream, either. Same problem. Don't even think about it. Your backpacking trip is not worth dying for.

http://sectionhiker.com/safety-tips-for ... d-streams/

BEWARE snow bridges. Snow in the melt process will be melting out from the underside -- what looks like a five foot drift might be a foot of snow with a lot of airspace under it, and falling through into icy cold melted snow is likely. If you hear but can't see running water, you're probably walking over the water. Walking on snow over a stream is VERY DANGEROUS. You will become hypothermic in minutes in very cold water.

The top killers in Yosemite are water, and rocks. Be careful of them. Your own health issues are another top killer. Stay hydrated and warm and dry.

Read the food storage pages on the website, nps.gov/yose and follow the rules regarding bears. Bear spray is illegal here. You do not need it. Animals aren't killing people here. Watch where you walk (rattlesnakes are easy to avoid that way) and keep your distance/scare away the furry creatures, from chipmunks to bears, regardless of how unafraid they are of you do them the favor of driving them away. Your food is bad for them. Don't feed or encourage them. Rodents carry hantavirus, ticks (Lyme and other diseases are tick borne) and fleas. Bears will steal food, in some areas of the park they are brave enough to run out and grab something when you turn your back on it -- follow the rules and that won't happen.

Don't trust your life to electronic devices. Leave an itinerary with someone at home. reconn.org is a great template. There are lots of rescues thanks to SPOT, but there are also lots of occasions you never hear about where the device failed to work as advertised -- rangers in national parks and forests will tell you to always leave an itinerary and carry a map because GPS and PLB type devices WILL FAIL for various reasons. User error, device malfunction, dead batteries, glitches in the satellite system, poor signal, or having the device vanish into a boulder field when you drop it or get left on a rock in camp one morning -- these things happen. ALWAYS leave a detailed itinerary regardless of how far you go or what you have with you.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:44 am

Sound advice.

I'll add two other factors for water crossings: don't cross anything with your hip belt secured. That pack will drag you down like lead, and you need to be able to get out of it quickly. Secondly, be patient. If you leave the trail to look for a better place to cross, be willing to keep looking for a spot that's even better than the one you thought was better. A few hundred yards of extra walking might just keep your trip going forward, or at least let you know for sure that your best bet is turning around. Dying is the ultimate failure, and there's no shame in admitting that Nature won this time.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby Justin-T » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:06 pm

AT and Phil, some great tips, thanks for posting.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby idiotwind » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:02 am

1st time Yosemite trip coming up in August from White Wolf to Glen Aulin; There's a river crossing in there, right? With the snow melt, do you think it's going to be anything as crazy as what's described above?
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:57 am

By August generally the melt is done; however, there is in the high Sierra right now up to 75 feet of snow, and no way to know how fast the melt will go. It's a very unusual year for snow.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby Phil » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:09 am

No, except for the Tuolumne River, which is bridged in Pate Valley, there are no river crossings on that route. There is Morrison Creek, but it's a smaller, lower altitude drainage. And then there's Register Creek, which is an in-water crossing no matter what time of year it is, be that through it, rock hopping, over a log... Early season or high-water, it can stop you cold, so it's good to know the trail conditions before you head out if you think there might be any issues at all. But, to set your mind somewhat at ease, by mid August, you shouldn't have to worry about it to the point of having to change your plans. However, this isn't a typical year by any stretch, and predictions are only best guesses.
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Postby idiotwind » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:00 pm

Phil wrote:No, except for the Tuolumne River, which is bridged in Pate Valley, there are no river crossings on that route. There is Morrison Creek, but it's a smaller, lower altitude drainage. And then there's Register Creek, which is an in-water crossing no matter what time of year it is, be that through it, rock hopping, over a log... Early season or high-water, it can stop you cold, so it's good to know the trail conditions before you head out if you think there might be any issues at all. But, to set your mind somewhat at ease, by mid August, you shouldn't have to worry about it to the point of having to change your plans. However, this isn't a typical year by any stretch, and predictions are only best guesses.


Sounds good. Thanks, Phil!
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby PSS » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:31 pm

Was hoping to get some info on river crossings for the following route:

Murphy Creek trailhead to Glen Aulin; Glen Aulin to Cathedral Lakes trailhead, past Cathedral Lakes, to Sunrise Lakes, up and over Cloud's Rest, then JMT/Mist Trail to Happy Isles.

We have a permit for this trip July 1-4 (assuming Tioga is open).

Thanks!
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby Dave_Ayers » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:01 pm

I doubt you'll have any problem with those routes early July. There are one or two crossings from Murphy to Glen Aulin that sometimes require wading early season, but they are not serious or dangerous.

From Glen Aulin to Cathedral TH the shortest route is the use path starting from the south side before bridge over the river above Tuolumne Falls and heading to Pothole Dome and hwy 120. There are no stream crossings on that route. If you take the PCT instead, there are a couple side streams you may have to rock hop or easily wade.

I don't recall any problem stream crossings from Cathedral TH to HI.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby Phil » Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:44 pm

I agree with Dave that it's no big deal on any of those trails. It depends on the timing of the melt, but there's nothing to really hold you back, even under some pretty bad conditions.

Murphy Creek has 2 crossings. One's an area over some open granite where the water spreads out and sheets across it, and the other is up higher and is a wade or a hop that might require you to head off trail a little way to find a better spot to cross. If there's still a lot of water draining from above, you might get some water running or standing on the trail, but really nothing to worry about other than how to keep your feet as dry as possible going through it. Once you hit the May Lake > Glen Aulin Trail from there, there are a couple little crossing of minor tributaries, but no big deal. The only thing you might have to "cross" is Cathedral Creek, which drains a lot of area and can get going pretty fast, but is generally narrow and can be easily rock hopped by going just a couple hundred feet upstream at most. Again, no biggie, just a little bigger.

Glen Aulin to TM is no big deal either. Any real problems are usually much earlier in the season and involve a little overflow at the bridges and their approaches down by GA, but the only crossings are up at Dingley and Delaney Creeks, which are really only about not getting your feet wet and will have been sorted and solved by tons of people already by the time you come through.

Cathedral to the Valley is easy. You'll have your minor standard draining issues heading up to the lakes, then a couple things here and there, but your first crossing is going to be Big Meadow Creek up by Sunrise. It's really only a hop or log (usually just walking through on the trail). In other words, nothing. Then you just have a couple spots where you step over or hop descending Sunrise Creek if you take the JMT, or the few little hops over the tributary to Pywiack Cascade if you go the CR route.

So yeah, that's about it. If it's still wet and draining like crazy by then, just be aware of what you're doing and bring good boots and some neoprene kayaking socks and you'll be just fine. A pain sometimes, but no real danger to speak of.

Just be aware that, by far, your biggest drag is going to be the mosquitoes along your entire route. Head nets and DEET are musts!
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby PSS » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:34 pm

Dave, Phil, thanks very much! Bottom line seems to be, we may get wet, but as long as we take reasonable care, nothing dangerous.

The mosquitoes are anticipated and I just invested in a new set of treated clothing.

One more question on this route for the first week of July. Given current snow levels, should we be concerned with dangerous snow/ice conditions at, say, Cathedral Pass or Cloud's Rest? We weren't planning on bringing any snow equipment, nor do we have much experience in snow (mostly east coast backpackers). While I know this will depend on how the rest of Spring goes, figured it wouldnt hurt to ask if we should be reconsidering our plan.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:35 pm

You can expect quite a bit of snow above 8-9000 feet depending on whether the area is north or south facing. Just turn around when you hit solid snowdrifts.
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Re: Yosemite considerations for backpacking in 2017

Postby Phil » Mon Apr 03, 2017 11:33 am

As AlmostThere mentions, you're still going to probably have a lot of snow at those elevations the first week of July. Maybe enough to stop you in some places, but definitely enough to make it good idea to think about bringing some microspikes for extra traction in lots of places. If you're not equipped and experienced in snow travel and navigation, best to err on the side of caution, no matter what you encounter. With mosquitoes, the treated clothing is great and all, but it's not ever so much being bitten, because repellent and clothing work well enough for that, it's the relentless swarming in your face that gets to you. The head nets are what make the difference between annoyance and madness. It's a really psychological thing.
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