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boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

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boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby sculpin » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:42 pm

I'm planning a backpacking trip for our Boyscout troop this summer and am worried about permitting. Last year we packed in from Agnew Meadows, but I'd like to start in Yosemite this year.

I've identified a few possible routes - one starts at White Wolf, one at Tuolumne and one at Hetch Hetchy. I'm hoping for White Wolf. Would like to reserve for 12 people, but maybe 10.

Can anyone give me an idea of the likelihood of pulling this off in early August on a Saturday or Sunday start? I have no experience trying to get a permit in Yosemite.

Thank you!
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby balzaccom » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:22 pm

Very tough to get that many people on a permit on a weekend. Too many other people want to do the same thing. if there is any way you could start on a weekday, your odds will go up .

Then again, Hetch-hetchy in August? I doubt many people will want that kind of heat and lower elevation in August. Are you thinking of Rancheria Falls, Tilltill Valley, and back through Vernon?
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby markskor » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:36 pm

Another option -
Possible start at Saddlebag Lake (as no permit quotas) and over Shepherds Crest, back-way into into Yosemite. From Upper McCabe - Cold Canyon - Glen Aulin and into Tuolumne.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:24 am

Off hand, I'm not sure what the quotas are for the multiple trails coming out of White Wolf, but I think you're on the right track with the entry point. Generally WW is one of the few entry points wherein the demand tends to stay low throughout the season. You have two choices on how to do a relatively comfortable 6-7 day loop from there: drop down to Pate Valley > Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne > Glen Aulin > May Lake Trail > Ten Lakes > back to your starting point, or, you can completely reverse that and go the opposite way, taking in Ten Lakes first. Nice route, beautiful scenery for most of it.

That time of year, forget anything out of Hetch Hetchy if you don't want a bunch of heat injuries (Pate will be hot enough as it is), and forget anything out of Tuolumne with a group that size...aint gonna happen without divine intervention.

Permitting-wise, make your reservation early in the season, right when the dates open up, and yes, as everyone will tell you, weekday permits are always easier to come by. Know one thing though, over the years the two routes out of White Wolf that I mentioned are the places where I've seen the highest concentrations of Scouts in large groups on a regular basis, so if they can pull it off, you can too.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:06 am

The quota for White Wolf to Pate is 18. If you are the very first person to request and the ranger lets you hog the quota it works. But some of the campsites are not going to work along the section between Muir Gorge and GA.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:19 am

AlmostThere wrote:But some of the campsites are not going to work along the section between Muir Gorge and GA.


Yep, that's a big factor too. To find sites big enough, you'll need to absolutely dominate the top of the hill at Morrison Creek, invade Pate Valley, and then make sure everyone is up for getting to at least the area around Waterwheel Falls for the next night. Past that, it's then the HSC campground at Glen Aulin, then a couple spots along the May Lake Trail that hopefully have water. All in all, you'll need to really be realistic about daily mileage and reasonable expectations, and, there's a good chance your numbers are going to require spreading out over multiple established sites in any given area.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby sturdyoak2012 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:09 pm

@sculpin

I organize a lot of the backpacking trips for my boy scout troop, and it's definitely difficult trying to get a permit for more than 10 people, especially in Yosemite. Last year, I sent three or four separate permit applications (my troop is pretty big, so we have to have several crews) and I managed to get exactly one permit for an 11 person crew. I think I got pretty lucky, since it was a permit for Labor Day weekend. To be fair, it was for entering the wilderness at the Snow Creek Falls trailhead, which isn't a very popular trailhead. For a popular trailhead like Happy Isles, there would've been zero chance of getting the permit.

I still remember faxing all the permits at midnight the day the lottery opened, just to get ahead...
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:19 pm

One way for both of you to do it might be to split the group and stagger trailhead departure dates by a day. Maybe take the slower group out on day-one, give them an overnight rest not too far out, then have the second group rendezvous at that location, then everyone move together. I know you guys usually bring at least a couple/few adults, so two "trip leaders", two permits with the correct number of people on each. If you stay kosher, there's no rule that says you can't all walk together, as long as the paperwork is in order.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:20 pm

Phil wrote:One way for both of you to do it might be to split the group and stagger trailhead departure dates by a day. Maybe take the slower group out on day-one, give them an overnight rest not too far out, then have the second group rendezvous at that location, then everyone move together. I know you guys usually bring at least a couple/few adults, so two "trip leaders", two permits with the correct number of people on each. If you stay kosher, there's no rule that says you can't all walk together, as long as the paperwork is in order.


Yes, there are rules that say otherwise -- the general rule is that the groups hike and camp at least 1/4 mile apart. Some jurisdictions require more than 1/4 mile.

I asked about this one while getting a permit in a national forest. The rangers get really, really pissed when boy scout troops get two separate permits and hike huge groups through the wilderness.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:25 pm

Really? Even with the separate permits? In the compendium? How would that work if it was basically completely unrelated permits? We've both seen crowded trails and even more crowded camping areas where pace and space don't/can't work out that way.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:30 pm

Yes, really. The compendium does say that the subgroups have to be 1/2 miles apart at all times. No more than 15 in a campsite. It's all there in black and white. Separate trailheads or separate dates, travel and camp at least 1/2 mile apart. Very plainly stated.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:35 pm

It does make sense that there would be a rule, and I have no direct experience with groups that large, but aren't we really talking about trailhead quotas and compliance with the wilderness regulations? I can definitely get the campsite limits though...even 15 would be brutal.

For example: If you have a daily quota of 18 people one day, and 18 people the next, they're all going to walk the trail anyway, so why would the rangers be so pissed if the impact would be the same, no matter how it was broken down?

But, sorry, I stand corrected.

I guess the best advice then is to not try to get a permit on a major holiday weekend.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:44 pm

Cross country groups are limited to 8, by the way. And the expectation is that you not walk all in a line, you spread out and disperse the damage and minimize it so as to hopefully avoid creating a use trail.

Think about a handful of people walking through a meadow - and then another, and then another. If a hundred people all walk through on the same trackway you have plants that won't recover, and that's a use trail that more people will use. A group of 15 people spreading out in a well used campsite where there are normally a handful of people spreads the impact wider than would normally happen. A group of 30 results in even more damage by tents, people walking around them, people trying to find places to dig catholes, and people wandering around exploring the local area or collecting firewood. A dozen small groups over the course of a week do less damage than a single huge group because the plants have time in between to recover before the next assault.

Going out on trail crew events with the Forest Service, I've had groups of three rangers and four volunteers - the first task is to dig a potty pit, way out in the woods away from camp and the trail and the water source. Centralized and avoiding the dozen or so catholes we'd be digging over the three days we were there.

There is something behind the way the rangers do things - it isn't just being mean. In Kaiser Wilderness last year, they actually did a sound study - had volunteers sit for a while and listen. Too many big groups is exactly the problem in Kaiser - it's eventually going to lead to a reduction in legal group sizes, just like happened in Desolation.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:52 pm

Wilderness
 The public use limits for overnight wilderness use are managed by a system of
trailhead quotas and daily overnight entries will not exceed the established quota.
 This restriction is necessary to provide for public use while protecting natural and
cultural resources.
 The following group size limits are in effect:
 Thirty-five (35) person limit per group for day-use travel on established trails.
 Fifteen (15) person limit per group for overnight travel on established trails.
 Fifteen (15) person limit on use of a campsite overnight.
 Eight (8) person limit per group for all off trail travel (more the ¼ mile off
established trails or roads) whether day or overnight use.
 Twenty-five (25) head of pack stock and saddle stock per party on designated
trails.
 Twelve (12) head of pack stock and saddle stock on authorized cross-country
routes.
 Any group exceeding size limitation must split into sub-groups providing:
 Adherence to the above size limitations.
 Trips that begin in the park must start from separate trailheads or on
separate dates.
 The group travels and camps at least ½ mile apart at all times

Maybe I'm misinterpreting this, but what I'm seeing are two things that would apply:

1) the 15 person limit on campsites
2) groups that exceed that 15 person limit for overnight wilderness hiking would have to break down and maintain that 1/2 mile separation.

It would seem that if you fell at or below that maximum limit, the separation regs wouldn't kick in, and the staggered day would fulfill the "or on separate dates" clause.

No doubt though....a group that large would be an "assault" in every sense of the concept. And maybe I'm being too generous in thinking that everyone would be responsible and aware of their LNT principles. IMO, Boy Scouts should know this stuff like second nature.
Last edited by Phil on Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: boyscout 6-7 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:53 pm

You didn't read far enough, Phil. Keep reading.

The two groups, if they are both groups of 7 more more, the rule will still apply. Max of 15, period. Otherwise you hike and camp separately.
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