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July 4th week hike

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

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July 4th week hike

Postby WanderingJim » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:47 pm

So I have a wilderness permit around the 4th of July starting from Rafferty Creek. Exiting 9 days later via Cathedral Lakes. I don't particularly plan on doing a full 9 days, but figured a Sat to Sun permit window gave me plenty of options.

The plan is to start from TM, head down to Vogelsang, over Vogelsang Pass, down along the ridge overlooking Merced Lake, loop around and go over Red Peak Pass, down along Illilouette Creek, up the JMT past Nevada Falls and to Half Dome, climb the cables, then head up and over Clouds Rest, past Sunrise Lakes, past Cathedral Lakes, and return to Tuolumne Meadows.

There's a good chance I'll abort to the valley depending on how I'm feeling after coming down Illilouette Creek, but having the option to abort if my body insists seems to be logical. I could go to Half Dome before aborting to the valley as well. If make it to Clouds Rest... then I might as way continue towards TM (or even the shorter Tenya Lake exit).

So I show that as approx 72 miles. (don't tell my feet).


How many days do you think that full loop would take an older hiker? I'm thinking 6-7 days if I can average 10-12 miles per day with my full pack.

Any good side trips or peaks to hike/scramble up along the way (I think I'll do Red Peak, at least).

I image my first stop would be near Vogelsang, but not at the backpackers camp. Any recommendations? Boothe Lake or Vogelsang Lake seem to be outside the no camping zone around Vogelsang, but are they nice places to camp with some great views?

Any other good camping spots along this route that I could look out for?

Would Fletcher Creek be a better scenic route after going through the Vogelsang area? I figured going over Vogelsang pass and then along the ridge instead of dropping down to the Merced Lake ranger station and going down the valley would be more scenic.

Anyone want to pack a resupply package to the Little Yosemite Valley camp for me? :)

At the very least, it seems I won't have problems finding water on this route.
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Re: July 4th week hike

Postby Phil » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:21 pm

Hey Jim,

That's an ambitious plan.

It's not just the daily mileage, it's where you're able/want to make camp, acclimatizing, and maybe even taking a rest day or two.

I would think the first night at Boothe Lake for the next day's trail proximity and convenience. Then head up the hill to Vogelsang and take the higher trail up and over to Lewis Creek. Make day 2 shorter and find a site along Lewis Creek the second night in order to rest up and position for the next push. Stay high. It would be a shame to burn all that altitude by heading down to the Merced, although you could camp at Washburn Lake on the third night if you did. Maybe instead spend that third night above the junction of Triple Peak Fork, then do Red Peak Pass (side trip to the peak itself) and spend that fourth night at Lower Ottoway...because you just have to. Head on down the Illilouette to wherever you decide to, spend the night there (no shortage of sites to choose from). Head on down to LYV the next day or bail if that's the better choice. If you feel alright at LYV, go on up to Sunrise Creek. If you get the HD permit, good deal, go up. If not, hit CR the next day and either camp on the north side of the summit (remember, no water though), or head over to Sunrise Lakes for the night. Next day, up and over to Upper Cathedral. Spend the last night there, exit to TM the next morning.

So yeah, you're about 7 or 8 days. I know you're tough and could probably push it longer and harder than the schedule/itinerary I laid out calls for, but I think that's pretty realistic when all things are considered. 10-12 miles per day would be ideal, but why turn it into a "must do" death march? You also have to work with/fully consider what makes sense strategically in terms of where you stay, enjoying yourself along the way, and not getting too beat up in the process.
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Re: July 4th week hike

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:59 am

We generally average about 8 miles a day on long backpacking trips... Although that goes up a bit on the last day as our packs are light and showers await. But we also usually include a short day in the middle of a long trip...and sort of half-day off.

So we would take about 9 days to hike this...and we're mid-sixties.
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Re: July 4th week hike

Postby WanderingJim » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:13 pm

Well, I'm back and alive!

Full trip report and pictures will follow, but I did pretty well.

Started at Tuolume Meadows and headed to Volgelsang. Got a late start due to it taking a bit of time to get the permit.
Made it over Vogelsang Pass on the 2nd day (skipped trying to climb Vogelsang Peak). Camped along Lewis Creek with a view of Mt Clark.
Then I started up the Isberg Pass trail. Obviously not a very used trail, it was hard to see at times and saw no one on day 3 at all.
I made it a short day when I found a gorgeous camp overlooking Merced Lake, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and the entire Clark Range.
Day 4 was a long one... maybe 12 miles (plus a horrible 1000 foot climb up the switchbacks from hell). Only 2 people passed me. Did get a chance to wash some clothes and myself crossing over Lydell Creek (crotch deep crossing).
Day 5 had me headed towards Red Peak Pass for a 2000 foot climb, but at least it was a gentle slope most of the time. Absolutely gorgeous views all along the way. This was my favorite day of the trip, I think.
I thought I'd end up staying at one of the lakes or tarns and do the pass the next morning, but I was making great progress so went for it. Gorgeous views from both sides of the pass.
But there was a very strong wind blowing across the ridge and it almost ripped me off the rocks several times when I tried to clamber over to the actual Red Peak summit. Decided not to chance it and headed down to the lakes to camp.
Day 6 was mostly spent headed down Illilouette Creek until I found a great camping spot in front of Mt Star King.
Day 7 should have had me going to Half Dome, but since i was 1-2 days behind my original itinerary already, running low on food, and I've already done HD and Clouds Rest many times, my legs forced me to abort to the valley for some hot pizza.

About 57 miles altogether. A fun, but exhausting, 7 day trek.
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Re: July 4th week hike

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:20 pm

Sounds like a good trip to me!
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