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[Yosemite]

September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

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

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September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby timberdog26 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:48 am

Hi all- new to this so bear with me!

I have 4 permits to hike out of Sunrise Lakes Trailhead in mid-September as well as Half Dome permits. We are planning 3 days and 2 nights, camping at a campground the night before we start for a bit of altitude adjustment. My group wants to hit Clouds Rest as well as Half Dome. Any suggestions on a particular route/ anticipated daily mileage/ best camping spots? I've been researching details extensively since February but would love to hear feedback and suggestions for anyone who has done this! :)

We also want to finish at the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead!
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby balzaccom » Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:38 am

This is an extremely popular hike, and there is a lot of flexibility in the route. I would suggest that you play it by ear, based on how you feel each day.

Day one you'll probably want to stay a Sunrise, of course. Day two go up to Clouds Rest, enjoy the spectacular view, and camp back lower down on the way to HD.

Day Three climbs Half Dome...early is better, and that will get you back to Sunrise for an easy hike out the next day.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby Phil » Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:56 am

Suggestions? First of all, add a day. As it stands (2 nights-3 days), hope that everyone has lots of stamina and there aren't any problems with pace and altitude. You're on a tight schedule.

Day 1- Camp on the north side of Cloud's Rest...about 7 miles and 1800 ft of elevation gain.

Day 2- Down to Sunrise Creek at the JMT x CR junction. Set up camp, start hiking up to HD immediately. Come back to camp, be exhausted, go to sleep.
Alternatively, come down CR and make your way cross country to HD, then back down to Sunrise. Carry all the water you need from the stream about 1.5 miles north of CR; with cooking the night before, breakfast the next morning, plus a day's worth of hiking, maybe 6 liters per person. So, to some extent or another, whatever distance that entails, 13-14 lbs of extra water weight per person from the source, and either hydration bladders galore or lots of Nalgenes.

Day 3- Back up the JMT to Sunrise HSC, then over to Sunrise Lakes and back down to the trailhead at Tenaya Lake.

I don't know your group's capabilities or experience level, but the best general advice I can give you for being realistic, not rushing through your trip, and actually getting some enjoyment out of the entire thing, is to add another day and night. So yeah.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby Justin-T » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:14 am

Echoing Phil, it would be good to know what your experience level is - hard to advise without knowing if you have never backpacked before and are moderately fit, vs experienced, off-trail backpackers who also do several Ironmans a year.

Also, the one night camping to acclimate to the elevation barely counts as acclimation, unless you live at a good elevation (5,000' plus). If you live close to sea level, I'd say you need a minimum of an extra day, beforehand, giving you a chance to do a day-hike at 8,000-10,000'. People react differently to altitude and you may be OK, but you could get a nasty surprise on day one on the climb up to Sunrise, which has a section about 2 miles in that is hard going (roughly 1,000' gain in less than half a mile).

If you have to stick to 2 nights I'd agree with Phil that one should be the Clouds Rest spot Phil mentioned because of its spectacular views down Tenaya Canyon into the valley and the easy opportunity to go the summit of CR for sunset. This is arguably one of the best single viewing points in Yosemite (full 360), and will likely be on your own at sunset; its a truly moving experience. The water issue has to be taken seriously though; me and my son calculated out exact amounts needed for the hiking, dinner and breakfast the next day and were fine starting with 4.5 liters each (YMMV) at the spot Phil mentions. We also camped a night at the spot he mentions as the first option for day 2, which had easy access to water at Sunrise Creek; this should still be flowing OK this year in September.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby dgilman » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:29 am

Does this have to be a loop? Can you exit Happy Isles?

Check out my post - "Trip Report - Mirror Lake -> Snow Creek -> CR -> HD -> Mist" for some thoughts that mostly mirror what has already been written. The track will also give you some ideas on where to camp north or CR and above the JMT/CR split.

For my money, I'd do

Day 1 - Sunrise TH to north of CR
Day 2 - CR to JMT/CR split (I'd say this is a pretty easy day)
Day 3 - HD and then down to the valley / shuttle back to Sunrise

Or park in the valley and do the shuttle before you start. Getting to HD early and avoiding the crowds is the key to enjoying it.

David

PS - Everyone is different, but I basically live at sea level (171') and felt no effects from the altitude. I have felt effects when I have done higher hikes/climbs.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby Phil » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:31 pm

The killers for this itinerary are the time allowed with Half Dome thrown in. If it's down from Cloud's Rest and up to Half Dome on day 2, tough but doable...kind of. If it's day 2 down to the Sunrise Creek junction, then day 3 up HD and back out to Tenaya Lake, absolutely brutal. And this takes in no consideration at all for the weather being hot; slowing you down and putting yourselves at risk for overexertion or heat stroke injuries.

You could come back down HD and exit in the Valley at Happy Isles, as David suggests, but the problem then becomes one of transportation logistics back to the car at the trailhead. The hiker's shuttle stops running 09/10, and YARTS is weekends only. As a matter of fact, by the time you guys go up HD and come back down, assuming you don't find yourselves stuck in the Valley with no ride, you'll inevitably end up spending the night at the backpacker's camp, so you might as well plan for the extra day up higher and loop back to the car via the trail anyhow.

Sorry, I can't go beyond that. To do this right in every possible way, make it 3 nights and 4 days. You'll be doing yourselves the biggest favor of the entire trip in that alone.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby timberdog26 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:03 am

Awesome advice, thanks everyone. The current plan is try to get permits for the day before, and include an additional day of hiking. We are traveling from across the country so our schedule is tight due to work and flight schedules. Thanks again for the advice!
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby tsarles » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:10 pm

timberdog26 wrote:Awesome advice, thanks everyone. The current plan is try to get permits for the day before, and include an additional day of hiking. We are traveling from across the country so our schedule is tight due to work and flight schedules. Thanks again for the advice!


Did this trip ever happen? I'm planning a similar trip first weekend of October, instead going out the valley. If you could share your experiences, where you camped and how you dealt with water sources I'd greatly appreciate it!
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby tsarles » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:26 pm

Phil wrote:The killers for this itinerary are the time allowed with Half Dome thrown in. If it's down from Cloud's Rest and up to Half Dome on day 2, tough but doable...kind of. If it's day 2 down to the Sunrise Creek junction, then day 3 up HD and back out to Tenaya Lake, absolutely brutal. And this takes in no consideration at all for the weather being hot; slowing you down and putting yourselves at risk for overexertion or heat stroke injuries.

You could come back down HD and exit in the Valley at Happy Isles, as David suggests, but the problem then becomes one of transportation logistics back to the car at the trailhead. The hiker's shuttle stops running 09/10, and YARTS is weekends only. As a matter of fact, by the time you guys go up HD and come back down, assuming you don't find yourselves stuck in the Valley with no ride, you'll inevitably end up spending the night at the backpacker's camp, so you might as well plan for the extra day up higher and loop back to the car via the trail anyhow.

Sorry, I can't go beyond that. To do this right in every possible way, make it 3 nights and 4 days. You'll be doing yourselves the biggest favor of the entire trip in that alone.


Hi Phil, I'm planning on doing a similar trip the first weekend of October. We are two very physically fit young adults in our early 20's. We have minimal experience backpacking but I've done HD day hike in sub 8 hours and she runs marathons. Our tentative plan is to drive up from SF at 4 am to grab first come first serve passes from Tuolumne Friday morning. Our plan will depend on whether we get day of or day after hiking. We understand the risk of first come first serve permits, but I'm pretty confident if we go early enough this late in the season.

If we get Friday wilderness permits our plan will be:
Friday:
1. Begin ascent to Cloud's rest at 11AM, stopping by first Sunrise Lake on the way, filling up on water (at least 4L per person) from the last creek before the final ascent to the summit.
2. Camp north side of CR 0.5 miles before the summit as mentioned earlier.
Saturday:
3. Pack up camp early, begin descent to JMT/CR junction and set up camp by Sunrise Creek.
4. Immediately summit Half dome after setting up and then return to camp for the night.
Sunday:
5. Descend down to the valley and hitchhike back to our cars.

If we get day after wilderness permits our plan will be:
Saturday:
1. Begin ascent to Cloud's rest at 6AM
2. Spend an hour on CR summit descend to JMT/CR junction and camp overnight by Sunrise Creek.
Sunday:
4. Pack up camp early head to Half Dome, drop packs at Half dome/JMT junction and summit Half Dome
5. Pick up packs, descend down to the valley and hitchhike back to our cars.

Are either of these plans too ambitious? Is camping north of CR a significantly better campsite than by Sunrise creek in terms of aesthetics? How hard would it be to hitchike from the Valley to Tuolomne? Should we plan our 3 day option as a loop back to our cars in Tenaya via Sunrise HSC? Our back up plan would to be bring another group of 2 with another car and leave it at the valley, this would obviously make getting permits harder. I know this logistically sounds like a stretch but I think if we execute it right it can work out. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby Phil » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:20 pm

The Friday entry sounds good. 11 am should be about right if you're coming up from the Bay early. Get your permit at the Big Oak Flat office. They'll call down to Tuolumne if it looks like it might be impacted. You're right though, normally this late in the season and things get easier for walk-ups. Going up from Tenaya to Sunrise can get hot if it's nice out, so earlier is always better.

Lower Sunrise Lake isn't quite on the way, it's left at the junction instead of right toward CR. But, it's not far, and it's a nice little lake. Be sure to ask the ranger if he/she knows if that creek is still flowing. It's usually about year-round, but if not, there's a small pond just north of it on the right side of the trail. Can't miss it. If you're starting late, might as well stay north of CR for the night. Duck out right into the trees and skirt the edge of Tenaya Canyon. Aesthetically, oh yeah, it's a pretty profound view, and likely to be much less crowded than down by the JMT junction at Sunrise Creek. Just remember that the area up by CR is dry past that creek, so make sure you have enough for meals AND for hiking the next morning. With HD, sure, if you get down to camp early enough, go for it the same day. If it's hot, think about the next day and an early start in order to beat the heat and the crowds.

Saturday sounds solid, too.

General stuff/answers:

When going up to HD, I wouldn't bother dropping your packs at the spur trail up, just leave them at camp...it's closer than you might think, and it's safer in a site. Leave the tent pitched and put all your gear in there, but be sure to do all the bear safety stuff first. Food, scented items...just toss the can in the rocks or a tree well.

A second car is nice, if you can. Hitching is usually not bad, but one person is better than two for getting quicker rides. If you'll be exiting in the valley over a weekend and get down early enough, I think the YARTS shuttle is still running back to Tioga Rd at 5pm from the visitor's center. Be sure to check that though. A loop would work, too, but you're going to have to climb for it if you go all the way up to the HSC. The second loop alternative is to cut back up on the Forsyth Trail and retrace a part of your original route up and over CR (you'll pass that junction where it returns to the upper trail on your way into CR). Neither way has much going on for scenery or views though, so if the valley is easier, just do that.

Again, aesthetically, north of CR is better, but there are some nice sites scattered around down by Sunrise Creek, some with good views of the back of HD. And water. But you have to work with the logistics you have with where you camp sometimes, and I doubt you'll be disappointed either way. Whatever works.

With your fitness profiles, if there aren't any weird altitude issues, you'll be fine. Being new-ish though, if you don't have a lot of experience with bears and food storage/protocols, your whole route is either a good place to really pay close attention to your skills, or learn lessons on the subject the hard way. The bears aren't "aggressive" or dangerous, just really good at what they do in that area because they get so much practice from people that aren't diligent.

Keep an eye on the weather forecasts. This is strange stuff lately.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby tsarles » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:04 pm

Thank you so much for the info Phil!! This is all really helpful to plan our trip. I just want to clarify a few more things if you don't mind:

Phil wrote:The Friday entry sounds good. 11 am should be about right if you're coming up from the Bay early. Get your permit at the Big Oak Flat office. They'll call down to Tuolumne if it looks like it might be impacted. You're right though, normally this late in the season and things get easier for walk-ups. Going up from Tenaya to Sunrise can get hot if it's nice out, so earlier is always better.


Any reason for getting the permit at Big Oak Flat? I understand that it's a lot closer to the city and we'd get there faster but I was under the impression they gave first priority to wilderness center closest to the trailhead at 11 AM. So if we were at Big Oak Flat at 8 AM would they have to wait until 11 AM to see if there's anyone at Tuolomne who want Sunrise TH before giving it to us? Would it help if we just went straight for Tuolomne and start lining up at 9 AM? Another plan we had was to drive up Thursday night and stay in Yosemite Valley, and go up to Tuolomne Wilderness even earlier to line up to get a pass.

Phil wrote:Lower Sunrise Lake isn't quite on the way, it's left at the junction instead of right toward CR. But, it's not far, and it's a nice little lake. Be sure to ask the ranger if he/she knows if that creek is still flowing. It's usually about year-round, but if not, there's a small pond just north of it on the right side of the trail. Can't miss it.


I know it's a little out of the way but I heard its beautiful and we were going to dip our feet or maybe go for a quick swim. Do you think seeing Sunrise Lake is worth the (90 minute long?) detour on the way up to CR or should we save time and energy and go straight for the summit? Also what're the chances Phil's creek won't be running?

Phil wrote: If you're starting late, might as well stay north of CR for the night. Duck out right into the trees and skirt the edge of Tenaya Canyon. Aesthetically, oh yeah, it's a pretty profound view, and likely to be much less crowded than down by the JMT junction at Sunrise Creek. Just remember that the area up by CR is dry past that creek, so make sure you have enough for meals AND for hiking the next morning.


How far north are the sites from the summit? Our bucket list item for this trip is to camp on or as close to the summit as possible so we can have panoramic views of the milkway and a killer sunset and sunrise, do you think this site will satisfy that?

If we don't manage to get Friday permits and have to start the hike on Saturday we were considering camping north of CR anyways because of aesthetics. Would camping north of CR instead of the JMT/CR junction make the Sunday way too long? (descend CR, climb half dome, and exit through Happy Isles)

Phil wrote:A second car is nice, if you can. Hitching is usually not bad, but one person is better than two for getting quicker rides. If you'll be exiting in the valley over a weekend and get down early enough, I think the YARTS shuttle is still running back to Tioga Rd at 5pm from the visitor's center. Be sure to check that though. A loop would work, too, but you're going to have to climb for it if you go all the way up to the HSC. The second loop alternative is to cut back up on the Forsyth Trail and retrace a part of your original route up and over CR (you'll pass that junction where it returns to the upper trail on your way into CR). Neither way has much going on for scenery or views though, so if the valley is easier, just do that.


So we do have another plan. We have 3 other friends who want to do Yosemite too but not something as strenuous or ambitious as our route. They want to kind of do a hybrid backpack dayhike scenario where they can set up camp close and use that as a base for nice day hikes away from crowds in the valley. If we can figure out something for them in Tuolomne, we would leave our first car at Happy Isles TH, and we would go to Tuolomne together while we started at Sunrise TH and they did their own thing. Any recommendations for them? Maybe they could even do Sunrise Lakes? I heard HSC was a good one around the area, which TH permit would we need for that?

Sorry for bombarding you with questions, I really do appreciate the help.

Thanks Phil!!
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby Phil » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 pm

Permit stuff:

Yes, because it is on the way/closer, and you can. You'll get cancellations and no-shows freeing up at 10 am, and next day permits starting at 11am, but if it's crowded and you're in a tight competition, it will go to the person at the Tuolumne counter at that point. Anything else (if walk-ups are available, they'll be available right when they open at 8am). If you're out there anyhow, might as well go to Tuolumne. Reserved spots are all booked for the first 12 days of Oct: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.htm .For convenience, stop at Big Oak Flat and see what's up. They'll call over to Tuolumne to verify availability. If they can issue it, they will, and you'll be ahead of the game.

If you're going to come up Thursday night and stay in the Valley, no matter if it's a site, tent cabin, or a hotel room, book in advance.

Water and Sunrise Lakes stuff:

Well, it's Phil's Creek...I've never seen it not running, but ask.The tarn along the trail is for sure and not far north of the creek, so even if you want creek water (cooler/fresher), but the creek ends up being dry, it's no big deal to backtrack if you have to.

You'll be tired when you get to the junction at the top of the Sunrise Trail. If it's hot out, even more so. See how you feel about the extra effort. Lower Sunrise Lake is nice and worth seeing, but if all you've got left is going to get you to camp, that's the way it is. It's not quite 90 minutes, more like 45 minutes, tops, round trip.

CR stuff:

Maybe half a mile. You can walk to the summit from your site within about 30 minutes. Not having to lug a full pack is awesome. From camp, you can hit the summit for the sunrise and the sunset, easily. What you're going to see on your map and in person is that you'll come into some flats with a trail junction (Forsyth Trail). From there, you climb a gentle rise until you come to another flat where the trail starts curving left. That's where you'll head to the right into the trees and start site hunting. Standing there, you'll see the trail narrow into the manzanita scrub and ascend more steeply. If you go past that, you won't find any sites that aren't cramped either on the approach to or at the summit. It's tighter the higher you go, and the summit isn't really legal, and it's tighter still, and windy sometimes.

CR/Sunrise Creek/HD stuff:

Again, aesthetically, the JMT at Sunrise Creek isn't as nice as north of CR. How you feel depends on you. I wouldn't want to descend CR and then climb HD from the JMT back to back. If that was my day, I would head off cross country from higher up on CR past Quarter Domes and come out somewhere around 7500 ft on the trail over to HD, saving a lot of re-climbing (hate re-climbing!), then drop down to camp when I'm done. The one thing to remember about the trail down to Sunrise from CR is that it's a fairly steep and continuous downhill. It kind of beats up your feet and knees, so you may not feel up to carrying on. But also have to keep in mind that the later you get down to Sunrise, the lower your chances of getting a good site if it's crowded. Down and back up in a day is realistic enough, but it's not the best way to go. A fresh start when it's cooler and less crowded is always the best way to tackle HD.


Lazy and difficult, but they do have another car, friend stuff:

Wow! Where to begin? In order to get the second car to the Valley, follow them down, leaving your car there, then all shuttle back up together and drop off everyone at their designated trailhead. They could go up to May Lake and hike Mt Hoffman, go to North Dome, Cathedral Lakes, Glen Aulin, Young Lakes as overnight in-and-outs or multiple days without going too far or the hike being too hard for the most part. All these places also have lots of views and places to explore with day hikes. By name, the trailheads are by the destinations I just mentioned, so pick one and see what's available. Check your topo to see what they might be interested in. Check the full trailhead report I linked for what's likely easy to get and by name. Trailhead maps and descriptions: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf.

tsarles wrote:Sorry for bombarding you with questions, I really do appreciate the help.


Glad to help. Don't worry about it at all. Ask away if you need anything else.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby tsarles » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:09 pm

Phil wrote:If you're going to come up Thursday night and stay in the Valley, no matter if it's a site, tent cabin, or a hotel room, book in advance.


We have a reservation at Lower pines Thursday night, gonna go check for day-off permits at 8 AM at Tuolomne and if not, wait till 11 for the day after ones.

Phil wrote:You'll be tired when you get to the junction at the top of the Sunrise Trail. If it's hot out, even more so. See how you feel about the extra effort. Lower Sunrise Lake is nice and worth seeing, but if all you've got left is going to get you to camp, that's the way it is. It's not quite 90 minutes, more like 45 minutes, tops, round trip.


If it's only 45 minutes I think we'll make the trip especially if we get Friday passes and camping north of CR, thanks for the tip.

Phil wrote:Again, aesthetically, the JMT at Sunrise Creek isn't as nice as north of CR. How you feel depends on you. I wouldn't want to descend CR and then climb HD from the JMT back to back. If that was my day, I would head off cross country from higher up on CR past Quarter Domes and come out somewhere around 7500 ft on the trail over to HD, saving a lot of re-climbing (hate re-climbing!), then drop down to camp when I'm done. The one thing to remember about the trail down to Sunrise from CR is that it's a fairly steep and continuous downhill. It kind of beats up your feet and knees, so you may not feel up to carrying on. But also have to keep in mind that the later you get down to Sunrise, the lower your chances of getting a good site if it's crowded. Down and back up in a day is realistic enough, but it's not the best way to go. A fresh start when it's cooler and less crowded is always the best way to tackle HD.


What I meant by this is, if we have to start our hike on Saturday and not Friday, we were thinking of camping north of CR instead of Sunrise Creek and doing HD and back down to the valley all of Sunday (all for the priviledge of getting sunset and sunrise on the summit). Would this be worth the extra work on Sunday or is it even possible?

Also in regards to bushwhacking past Quarter dome - this sounds like an awesome detour that I would love to hear more about. Do we just stay on the edge of Tenaya Canyon all the way to HD Trail? Does this route save a lot of time? Is it easy to find or do we run of the risk of getting lost and having to backtrack? Also how difficult is it compared to just taking the trail? We would obviously like to save time and energy and this does seem like a great route but just scared of getting lost/being to scary to continue. Do we have to summit QD or can we go around it? If you could provide any details regarding this I would love to hear more.

Phil wrote:Wow! Where to begin? In order to get the second car to the Valley, follow them down, leaving your car there, then all shuttle back up together and drop off everyone at their designated trailhead. They could go up to May Lake and hike Mt Hoffman, go to North Dome, Cathedral Lakes, Glen Aulin, Young Lakes as overnight in-and-outs or multiple days without going too far or the hike being too hard for the most part. All these places also have lots of views and places to explore with day hikes. By name, the trailheads are by the destinations I just mentioned, so pick one and see what's available. Check your topo to see what they might be interested in. Check the full trailhead report I linked for what's likely easy to get and by name. Trailhead maps and descriptions: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf.


I think what were going to do is have them do CR with us as a day hike and have them return to camp and us carry on camp north of summit and carry on to HD the next day. It isn't that theyre particularly lazy or difficult, its that they're driving up from LA and have no backpacking gear (me and my girlfriend are renting everything).

Thanks again Phil!!
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby Phil » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:22 pm

Dependent on when you get to the Valley on Thursday, you can also pick up permits at the wilderness office there, which closes at 5. At that point, if they're available, that would be for Friday entry. If not, either spend the time hanging out down there until 11 or use it to make your way up to Tuolumne. Also consider that driving in from the Bay Area on Thursday, earlier, is better than Friday. You'll not only avoid the weekend rush and potentially long lines at Big Oak Flat, and have a better shot at getting your permit, late afternoon/evening traffic from the Bay Bridge to Oakdale is hellacious. If it's looking like you won't make it to the Valley before the office closes, go ahead and swing by the permit office at Big Oak Flat for the best chance of hiking on Friday happening.

tsarles wrote:What I meant by this is, if we have to start our hike on Saturday and not Friday, we were thinking of camping north of CR instead of Sunrise Creek and doing HD and back down to the valley all of Sunday (all for the priviledge of getting sunset and sunrise on the summit). Would this be worth the extra work on Sunday or is it even possible?


You kind of still lost me here. Are you wanting to see the sunrise/sunset from the summit of HD or CR? Sunrise is easy. But sunset from CR isn't going to get you down to Sunrise Creek the same day, and sunset from HD isn't going to get you down to the Valley, the exception being, hiking and making camp by headlamp. It's doable, but it's not the most pleasant and relaxing way to spend your evening...more a mission than an outing. Either Friday or Saturday, camp north of CR. Take in the sunset from there that night. Honestly, while HD is bucket list, "iconic", I don't consider it worth the time or work at all anymore. Anybody that's here regularly will tell you that CR is the superior experience. Be that as it may, if you're at Sunrise Creek, it's a long day to go up to HD and back to the Valley on the same day, but millions do it. If you're north of CR, consider the cross country route, although I'm hesitant to recommend it if you're lacking the experience and have any personal uncertainty at all (more on this next).

tsarles wrote:Also in regards to bushwhacking past Quarter dome - this sounds like an awesome detour that I would love to hear more about. Do we just stay on the edge of Tenaya Canyon all the way to HD Trail? Does this route save a lot of time? Is it easy to find or do we run of the risk of getting lost and having to backtrack? Also how difficult is it compared to just taking the trail? We would obviously like to save time and energy and this does seem like a great route but just scared of getting lost/being to scary to continue. Do we have to summit QD or can we go around it? If you could provide any details regarding this I would love to hear more.


I take it you have a topo map and can read it to some extent? Look at the trails and the contour intervals. You're not going to climb anything or whack any bushes, you're going to leave the trail and walk through the forest on a gentle descent, in basically in a straight line. You're also not going to get "lost". You might get momentarily disoriented, but you're completely boxed in by trails that are in close proximity, as well as a really big drop if you go too far right ( which, yes, you can follow if you need to). What that route does is cut you across the big trail loop, a 1200 foot descent, and another 1200 foot re-climb that you would otherwise have to take on-trail. If you have any reservations at all, don't do it. It's easier than you might think though, and you will hit the HD trail eventually, somewhere along it, but my perspective is one where, besides having experience and solid navigational skills, I'm perfectly willing to wander around until I figure it out, and don't consider myself lost until I run out of food and water so, YMMV. If you do it, and if you have a GPS receiver, bring it. Even if it's not life and death, I'm not big on sending people out to get into things that put them too far out of the comfort levels of their ability.

Yes, not having gear is a problem all it's own. Didn't mean to insult your friends, just assumed they weren't up for it. Speaking of which, pay close attention to what works and what doesn't gear-wise. If you guys have a good time, be prepared to start throwing down a lot of money, because you won't be able to get enough and will want your own.
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Re: September Sunrise Lakes TH + Half Dome, 3 days/ 2 nights

Postby tsarles » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:47 pm

Phil wrote:Dependent on when you get to the Valley on Thursday, you can also pick up permits at the wilderness office there, which closes at 5. At that point, if they're available, that would be for Friday entry. If not, either spend the time hanging out down there until 11 or use it to make your way up to Tuolumne. Also consider that driving in from the Bay Area on Thursday, earlier, is better than Friday. You'll not only avoid the weekend rush and potentially long lines at Big Oak Flat, and have a better shot at getting your permit, late afternoon/evening traffic from the Bay Bridge to Oakdale is hellacious. If it's looking like you won't make it to the Valley before the office closes, go ahead and swing by the permit office at Big Oak Flat for the best chance of hiking on Friday happening.


Won't be getting to the Valley till Thursday night, but plan is to wake up early and get to Tuolomne Meadows Wilderness Center to get walk ups at 8 am or cancellations/day after at 11 am.


Phil wrote:You kind of still lost me here. Are you wanting to see the sunrise/sunset from the summit of HD or CR? Sunrise is easy. But sunset from CR isn't going to get you down to Sunrise Creek the same day, and sunset from HD isn't going to get you down to the Valley, the exception being, hiking and making camp by headlamp. It's doable, but it's not the most pleasant and relaxing way to spend your evening...more a mission than an outing. Either Friday or Saturday, camp north of CR. Take in the sunset from there that night. Honestly, while HD is bucket list, "iconic", I don't consider it worth the time or work at all anymore. Anybody that's here regularly will tell you that CR is the superior experience. Be that as it may, if you're at Sunrise Creek, it's a long day to go up to HD and back to the Valley on the same day, but millions do it. If you're north of CR, consider the cross country route, although I'm hesitant to recommend it if you're lacking the experience and have any personal uncertainty at all (more on this next).


Sorry I probably didn't explain that in the best way. We want to see both sunrise/sunset from the summit of CR only. We won't be doing any hiking in the dark. What I meant by this is, if we get Friday passes we can easily camp North of CR, then at JMT/Sunrise next day and be back down to the valley on Sunday. However, if we get Saturday passes we only have 2 days and will have to camp either at north of CR or JMT/Sunrise trail (JMT Sunrise trail being the easier option further down the trail but obviously missing the CR sunrise/sunset experience) My question was meant to ask if camping north of CR if we only had 2 days make the 2nd day too long but sounds like the cross country route saves a lot of effort (more on that next)


Phil wrote:I take it you have a topo map and can read it to some extent? Look at the trails and the contour intervals. You're not going to climb anything or whack any bushes, you're going to leave the trail and walk through the forest on a gentle descent, in basically in a straight line. You're also not going to get "lost". You might get momentarily disoriented, but you're completely boxed in by trails that are in close proximity, as well as a really big drop if you go too far right ( which, yes, you can follow if you need to). What that route does is cut you across the big trail loop, a 1200 foot descent, and another 1200 foot re-climb that you would otherwise have to take on-trail. If you have any reservations at all, don't do it. It's easier than you might think though, and you will hit the HD trail eventually, somewhere along it, but my perspective is one where, besides having experience and solid navigational skills, I'm perfectly willing to wander around until I figure it out, and don't consider myself lost until I run out of food and water so, YMMV. If you do it, and if you have a GPS receiver, bring it. Even if it's not life and death, I'm not big on sending people out to get into things that put them too far out of the comfort levels of their ability.


Thanks for the explanation, this route sounds doable for us. We like to explore and go off trail but was worried we'd lose track of where were going, but it sounds like we have a line of sight and just need to walk directly towards HD to find our way. My question is how much time/effort does this save compared to the loop down to the JMT? How long does it take? Would it make a day of North CR camp -> HD -> the Valley doable? Also another concern is water, if we did the loop we could fill up at sunrise creek before HD but sounds like this path is dry which means we'd still be going off what we filled up before summitting CR all the way back at Phil's Creek, would this be an issue?

Thanks again, really interested in the detour...
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