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[Yosemite]

First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

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

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First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby apieceofwork » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:31 am

After deciding not to hike Snow Creek due to the bear issue and the steep incline, my wife and I have decided to do Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley in mid or late October. My initial plan looks something like this - I would greatly appreciate any helpful comments.

-park at Yosemite Valley and take a shuttle to Glacier Point area.
-hike from Glacier Point to LYV, camping in LYV for the night.
-the next morning, hike from LYV to Merced Lake.
-hike from Merced Lake to LYV via the Jon Muir, camp in the LYV area again.
-the next morning hike back to our car at Yosemite Valley via the Mist Trail and John Muir Trail.


Questions:

--It's my understanding that there is dispersed camping near LYV. Based on the trail head map, it looks like dispersed camping is allowed on the Merced River Trail once you get near Bunnell Point, and on the JMT as well. Is that correct?

--I'm assuming a permit from Glacier Point to LYV allows us to hike to Merced Lake. Would I be correct in assuming that?

--From LYV, it looks like there are two ways to get to Merced Lake - the John Muir, and the trail that runs along Merced River just south of the JMT. We could hike the Merced River Trail to Merced Lake, and take the JMT on the way back to LYV. Any thoughts here?

--In the event we decide to camp at Merced Lake, it's my understanding that camping near Merced lake must be done at the 'official' campground. If so, I assume we could just hike back along the JMT until we were out of sight of Merced Lake and setup camp somewhere along the JMT.

--I would assume we can expect temperatures to dip into the 20's at night during October in this area. Of course we will be prepared for cold weather, but should we be expecting anything below 20 degrees at night?

Thank you again for your insight.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:20 am

There is dispersed camping 2 miles beyond the designated campsites in LYV. There will be a handy sign letting you know when you reach that boundary.

You will be writing your planned itinerary on the form - where you expect to camp. You can hike anywhere with the permit, even off itinerary, yes.

There was a fire in the area some years back that makes it difficult to camp in some places -- and the trees have also been dying off, in the drought. Where there are dead standing trees it's a bad place to camp. Be mindful of this -- would not want you to wake up with a fallen tree or branch in your tent with you....

The High Sierra Camp will be closed, but you can use the backpacker camp, and I do believe they expect you to camp there regardless. There will be bear lockers to use as well. There's usually a mile around a HSC in which you can't camp - there are maps in the Superintendant's Compendium, available in PDF on the Yosemite website, showing where these zones are. And the ranger will no doubt help you with that.

I would be prepared for low temperatures and snow, in October. It may not snow much, and you might be lucky and get the low 40s. But you should be prepared for subfreezing temps and weather.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby WanderingJim » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:41 am

Make sure to call 888.413.8869 to inquire about the hiker's bus to Glacier Point. I'm not sure if it'll be running in October.


I'd actually recommend hiking beyond LYV and camping somewhere along the Merced river. Same for Merced lake, there's some nice places to camp before the lake and even more beyond the lake on the trail that climbs up to Volgelsong. LYV is okay, but not really the same as being alone in the wilderness (it does have pit toilets, if that's important to you :) ). Merced Lake campground will likely not have open toilets that time of year (especially since the HSCamps aren't opening this year last I heard). Or was you plan to camp at LYV only and just do day hikes from there? That does save on carrying gear around.

If you climb the ridge from the Merced river valley to get to the JMT, you can also go up Clouds Rest. Very scenic view of the entire national park and beyond. It is a bit steep of a climb, but worth it if you can.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby Phil » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:44 am

You're going to need to stay well apprised of the shuttle schedules at that time of year. There's a good chance that, not only will the system be shut down for the season by then, but also that Glacier Point Rd may also be closed as well. In some years, your schedule also coincides with the beginning of Winter and the first snowfalls. Getting caught out unawares and unprepared isn't something to take lightly at all. It can turn you around, or it can kill you. Know the weather forecast.

Merced Lake isn't all that great. If you have the stamina to go beyond LYV the first day, spend your first night above Bunnell Cascade in the area of the footbridges, then make your way up to the sites along Sunrise Creek on the JMT for the second night. And everyone always wants to endure the Mist Trail on the way out. The river's flow will be so marginal by then that that route down is really only going to be a goat trail with shorter strides, lots of steps, and crowds...no "mist" involved at all, just trying to not fall or get pushed. Do yourselves a favor and take the JMT back down to the Valley.

With the permit, in order to go from Glacier Pt and beyond LYV, you'll want a "pass-through" for Merced Lake. Just a permit for GP>LYV and that's as far as your permit is valid for.

With the trail over to the JMT, take the first trail out of Echo Valley that goes up and over to Sunrise Creek, not the trail up to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp (HSC). With the latter, you'll climb quite a bit more and probably need to allow for an extra day beyond what you have planned.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby apieceofwork » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:05 am

AlmostThere wrote:There is dispersed camping 2 miles beyond the designated campsites in LYV. There will be a handy sign letting you know when you reach that boundary.

You will be writing your planned itinerary on the form - where you expect to camp. You can hike anywhere with the permit, even off itinerary, yes.


Phil wrote:With the permit, in order to go from Glacier Pt and beyond LYV, you'll want a "pass-through" for Merced Lake. Just a permit for GP>LYV and that's as far as your permit is valid for.


Edit: I just spoke with the reservation line. The Glacier point to LYV permit will allow us to hike all the way to Merced Lake and camp anywhere along the way, including the dispersed area beyond LYV and along the JMT.

The woman I spoke with was unsure of how far our permit would allow us to go, and she had to check with someone, but confirmed we could go beyond LYV. Phil, have you heard differently in the past?
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby WanderingJim » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:08 pm

apieceofwork wrote:Edit: I just spoke with the reservation line. The Glacier point to LYV permit will allow us to hike all the way to Merced Lake and camp anywhere along the way, including the dispersed area beyond LYV and along the JMT.

The woman I spoke with was unsure of how far our permit would allow us to go, and she had to check with someone, but confirmed we could go beyond LYV. Phil, have you heard differently in the past?


It's my understanding that the pass through permits mean that you CAN'T camp at the LYV campground. The ones that say "to LYV" mean you MUST stay at the LYV campground. I think they do that to avoid too many people trying to camp at LYV. There Glen Allen Permits like that too.


Edited to change the LYV info thanks to dgilman. I guess I shouldn't have relied on my memory and should have just double checked the website.
Last edited by WanderingJim on Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby dgilman » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:50 pm

From the source (Bolding mine)

If you have a wilderness permit for Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley or Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley, you must camp in Little Yosemite Valley campground on the first night (and may camp there on subsequent nights) of your hike. If you have a permit for another trailhead, you will have to camp elsewhere your first night, but you can stay in Little Yosemite Valley on subsequent nights. If you have a permit for Happy Isles to Merced Lake or Glacier Point to Illilouette, you can not camp in the Little Yosemite Valley area on the first night of your hike.

This paragraph was found at the link below, but is also mentioned in other places - don't let the Half Dome info on this page confuse you.
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/lyv.htm
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby Phil » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:43 pm

I'll leave it to the wilderness office to spell out the regulations. Just tell them what your itinerary is and they'll give you the correct permit for it. That whole area from GP, Happy Isles, LYV, and beyond is a maze of rules on where to start, stop, not go beyond, camp the first night, don't camp ever..... don't collect $200, but being mid-late October, whether you end up with a permit reservation or do it as a walk-up, the chances for you getting exactly what you want are far greater than not. One of the real pluses of going later in the season.

If you're wondering exactly where the 2 mile LYV camping restriction ends, it's nowhere before it, between the Valley/GP/ Panorama Trail, and ends on the other side of the camp right below Moraine Dome. As AT said, it's posted clearly along the trail, I mention it just for mapping reference ahead of time. But if you have the stamina to keep going a little more and higher, as I said, the area around the footbridges over the Merced above Bunnell Cascade is far better.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby dgilman » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:11 pm

Also, just to confirm - this is about where you camp the first night. After that, the wilderness is yours.
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Re: First Yosemite Trip: Glacier Point to LYV

Postby apieceofwork » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:15 pm

Thank you to everyone who provided tips. Our trip was really nice, except for the shuttle mishap. Construction was causing long delays in the shuttle service that we were unaware of, or at least unaware of how severe the delays could be. The shuttle that was supposed to hit each stop every 15-20 minutes was 45 minutes late to our stop, causing us to miss the tour bus leaving from the lodge that would have taken us up to Glacier Point where we were supposed to begin our hike. In hindsight it would have made more sense to park closer to the lodge so we didn't need to rely on the shuttle to connect to the tour bus.

Consequently, we either had to drive up to Glacier Point and leave our car with no way to get it when we exited at Happy Isles, or hike in from Happy Isles where we parked the car. We chose the latter, obviously, even though our permit called for us to enter at Glacier Point. I felt bad for entering at Happy Isles, but it was the best option to salvage our trip. We were preparing for a leisurely hike that would have been mostly downhill from Glacier Point to LYV, and instead ended up carrying four days worth of gear from Happy Isles to LYV (per my GPS it was 2,774 ft of elevation gain in 3.6 miles). The hike was far more difficult than the route we had planned, but we made it with plenty of rest stops along the way and soreness over the following days. The trip down was much easier.

LYV was virtually empty. During our last night there were only three tents in the entire campground, including ours.

One thing I observed - the communal campfire rings in LYV are only to be used from 5pm to 10pm per the signs, but the two fire rings were in use every morning. I guess during the fall nobody is there to enforce this rule, which was fine with us because it was below freezing almost every night and having a fire in the morning was really nice.
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