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[Yosemite]

Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

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

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Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby HikerJIB » Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:35 pm

Hello, and thank you so much in advance for all that respond. My wife and I were awarded in the lottery Half Dome permits for 6/5/21. As opposed to day hiking it as we have done before, we wanted to backpack and spend a night or two in the backcountry. As expected, all permits entering through Happy Isles are long gone, as well as permits entering through Glacier Point with 1st night at LYV. However, I was able to get a backcountry permit on 6/4/21 entering through Glacier Point to Illilouette, and then exiting Happy Isles/LYV. My wife and I are very experienced long distance hikers but not as experienced in backpacking, and have never backpacked Yosemite, so I had a couple questions and concerns about the route/plan and if this is even feasible or something people typically do in June.

The itinerary I am thinking is this: On 6/4/21 pick up our backpacking permits and park the car somewhere in the valley. As the shuttles are not running, we would likely have to walk to the 4 mile trial and hike up to glacier point. From there, we head towards Illilouette falls and then hike past the Buena Vista trail junction (which is wear we are allowed to camp the first night per our permits). Then the next day we hike to LYV, set up camp, climb up half dome, and then back down to LYV and spend the night. The next day exit down through Happy Isles/Mist trail and then back to wherever we parked the car in the valley.

My main concerns are these:
1) Is the snow likely going to be a major concern for safety and trial finding/etc? We have microspikes but are not experienced with ice axe/crampons and are not masters at trial navigation.
2) Distance/mileage wise, does the above plan sound feasible? I cant really get a good read on the approximate mileage for the first day (walk from our car to 4 mile trial/up the 4 mile trial/past Buena Vista Trial) and then the next day (Buena Vista Trail/LYV/Half Dome/LYV).
3) Is the route fairly straightforward or difficult to navigate?
4) Is there anywhere particular you would suggest camping for the first night past Buena Vista Trailhead?
5) Is there anything I am just completely overlooking or any other route that would be a better idea?

Again, thank you so much to everyone, and assistance would be greatly appreciated!!
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Re: Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:35 am

Your main concern should be having a day permit to hike Half Dome. Getting a permit for backpacking with a Half Dome permit is a separate process, you can't use a day permit. There's a box to tick when you get the backpacking permit. There are separate quotas for backpackers and day hikers.

As for the rest - I wouldn't anticipate snow at those elevations in June, as dry as it is. Staying on trails isn't hard, navigation isn't particularly awful unless you leave the trail - there are signs at junctions and maps are easy to get. The first place to legally camp is two miles up the creek (Illilouette), tho there are lots of illegal sites along the way. You can't camp along the Panorama or Mist Trail.

The miles sound feasible for some - if you're in good shape and backpack often, you have a better idea of what you are capable of doing than someone who rarely goes. Having heavy cheap gear and not a lot of experience would make it strenuous. Having lighter gear, broken-in boots, the stamina that comes with practice, and fair physical fitness would make it a moderately strenuous hike. Those first four miles are all uphill as is any hike from the valley floor.

There are also those who would say you're starting at the wrong trailhead - your permit is for Glacier Point, not the Four Mile trail. The only opinion that would matter is that of the LEO ranger you are likely to run into, and I've not got a real idea of what they would say, however, if there is any jurisdiction where I absolutely would never 'color outside the lines' it's Yosemite - they police their rules well and often, and they have a jail, a court and a judge, unlike the rest of the park system... the fines are outside my budget as well. Having the wrong permit is the same as having no permit to them. An acquaintance who managed to hike into the park from the national forest without a permit was once walked out for three days from the backcountry by a wilderness ranger, fined, and instructed to leave. Which also happens to those with dogs, or without bear canisters... I would check directly with Yosemite's wilderness office before doing as you plan, and remember that the rangers on the trails sometimes also disagree with the statements of people in the wilderness office.

Of course, it could all be avoided by parking at Glacier Point. Or being dropped off by a friend, or Uber. Hitchhiking is also sometimes done. I've also seen folks who advertise on Craigslist for some local person to help out with a ride.... I give no advice in this matter, simply relating what I have observed or heard about others successfully getting rides.
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Re: Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby snowcreek » Wed Apr 14, 2021 1:23 pm

kind of pointless to hike the four mile trail. Its as stated- four miles of all uphill trail with one water source (that I would not use). Permit wise I dont think it matters since its not in the wilderness but I could be wrong on that. Keep it light- Yosemite is at a decent altitude and you should be just fine. If you do start in the valley make sure you have plenty of water- its a long walk to the trailhead and it darn hot in June.
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Re: Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby balzaccom » Thu Apr 15, 2021 7:07 am

I would agree that it is a far better idea to figure out some kind of shuttle/hitch-hike to Glacier Point that using Four Mile Trail with a full pack. If you leave from Glacier Point, the other option is obviously to hike BACK from the Panorama Trail to Glacier Point...and take in the lower falls the next day from the backpackers campground in the Valley before you drive out. That's what I would do.

Meanwhile. your specifics:

1) Is the snow likely going to be a major concern for safety and trial finding/etc? We have microspikes but are not experienced with ice axe/crampons and are not masters at trial navigation.

With this being a very low snow year, you probably won't have an issue--but even a few inches of snow can hided the trail. And it can snow just about any time of the year in Yosemite...at least at 8,000 feet and above.

2) Distance/mileage wise, does the above plan sound feasible? I cant really get a good read on the approximate mileage for the first day (walk from our car to 4 mile trial/up the 4 mile trial/past Buena Vista Trial) and then the next day (Buena Vista Trail/LYV/Half Dome/LYV).

Forget this first day. Leave from Glacier Point. Hiking up the 4-Mile trail with a full backpack is not worth it. Other than that, you mileage sounds fine, based on your notes about experience etc.

3) Is the route fairly straightforward or difficult to navigate?

It is straightforward and not difficult to navigate. That said, i once met two people well up Illilouette Canyon who were dayhiking from Happy Isles to Half Dome...

4) Is there anywhere particular you would suggest camping for the first night past Buena Vista Trailhead?

There is a large camping area right where the trails meet at Illilouatte Creek. Lots of room, and good views of Mt. Starr King. If you want more solitude, work your way further up Illilouette Creek.

5) Is there anything I am just completely overlooking or any other route that would be a better idea?

Looks good to me. As AT suggested, you will need a separate permit to hike Half Dome--either it's included in your backpacking permit, or you need a day-hike permit for Half Dome. If you don't/can't get one of those, you can always divert to Cloud's Rest, which has better views than Half Dome...
Check out our website and blog at: https://www.backpackthesierra.com/home
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Re: Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Apr 15, 2021 7:10 am

The day hike Half Done permit does not work for backpackers. The wilderness permit needs Half Dome on it - two different quotas. Says so one the Half Dome permit page.
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Re: Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby WanderingJim » Thu Apr 15, 2021 8:59 am

As others have mentioned, the day hike permit for Half Dome is not the same as having a overnight wilderness permit WITH Half Dome indicated.

BUT if you climb Half Dome on the day of your Half Dome day permit, it should be fine. The ranger below the sub dome won't know, care, or ask where you started hiking from that morning.

If I could suggest this:
1) Drive to Glacier Point and park your car there at the far end of the parking lot (overnight parking is fine for people with wilderness permits).
2) Camp down along Illilouette Creek somewhere nice.
3) Hike to Little Yosemite Valley and leave you gear in a bear box there.
4) Climb Half Dome
5) Grab you gear and descend to the valley. (or spend some more time out in the wilderness if you like)
6) Stay in the valley (backpackers camp or the regular lodging).
7) The next morning, leave your gear in a bear box and climb up the 4 mile trail to Glacier Point to get your car back.
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Re: Assistance needed for 3 day backpacking trip

Postby Phil » Mon Apr 19, 2021 6:01 pm

It sounds like you're trying to have the car handy on your exit. There are a couple things you could reconsider here.

Yep, 4 Mile is a rugged climb with a full pack on. You can do it if you're pretty tough or absolutely have to, but if you're not actually as up for the climb and the heat and the extra water weight as you might think, try to avoid it. You run the risk of frying before you get to where you have to to be legal (Buena Vista/Illilouette Creek). If you do want the car down by Happy Isles/ Curry Village, one option would be to run the gear up to GP and leave one of you there to watch it, then the other, stronger hiker just bringing the car back down and doing the 4 Mile as an unloaded day hike. Maybe half a day with the drive and hike. From GP to where you can legally camp is cake beyond that, so that'll be easy and fast.

Another way you can do it is to use Mono Meadow as your entry trailhead. It's about 3.5 miles to sites at Illilouette from there. It's possible to have the car in the Valley with this option too, but it's a situation where hiking thru from GP isn't really the best way to plan to do it, so you end up having to hitch a ride from the end of the 4 Mile at GP. That can be tough and take a long time (YMMV) because it's more tourists up there than empathetic fellow backpackers. We'll usually leave the car there or use the shuttle (alas, not this year) and figure it out when we're done, even if one of us hikes up the 4 Mile and hitches to go get it, but we're also generally going up toward Red Peak when we use this trailhead, so we don't mind investing a little more than we would otherwise with using it as a backdoor to HD. Best way to go for most hitchhiking situations is to hit people up in the parking lots rather than thumb it on the side of the road...and there aren't a lot of convenient turnouts much past the parking area. One person hitching without much gear is always faster than two people fully loaded.

A couple other things you might want to also keep in mind this year in particular is that you probably want to go ahead and load up on water before you leave camp at Illilouette on your way down to the JMT x Panorama junction. The usual seasonal creeks are going to be dry, so don't count on it until you hit the Merced above Nevada Falls on the way up to LYV. The other is that last descent from your junction at the Panorama/Illilouette trails is fairly steep and annoyingly ongoing and will beat your toes badly if your boots aren't broken in or fitted right, and it's hot enough to be unpleasant if you have no water.
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