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White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2022 11:30 pm
by levyj414
Four of us are planning a trip the week of August 21, looking for 4-5 nights out. Short hiking distances are better than insane ones, but 5-8 miles/day is ideal.

We'll have only one car, so we're thinking of parking at Tuolumne Meadows and taking YARTS to White Wolf (I called YARTS, and as long as WW is open, they said they'd stop there, and the Yosemite website says it'll be open.)

I've read about the potential heat in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, but if it's not awful that particular week, we'd probably like to do that, maybe with a spare night just to stay and enjoy the scenery (swimming?). Assuming the heat's bad, we figure we'll go to Ten Lakes (probably with a second night up there so we can roam around the basin for a day), then past Tuolumne Peak and out via Glen Aulin. I've read lots of posts here about that route, so thanks for all the great info!

My questions mostly revolve around permit strategy; we'll enter the lottery the week of March 6.

Looking at the trailheads map, it seems like our best bet is White Wolf Campground, with a first night out to the east past the junction with the Lukens Lake trail. If we then wanted to do the canyon, we'd just backtrack, camping the second night at Morrison Creek or going all the way to Pate Valley, and the onward the rest of the nights. If the heat's bad, which seems the more likely outcome, we'd keep going toward Ten Lakes.

Does that make sense? I'm having a hard time finding an online map with distances. Do the arrows on the trailhead map represent 4 trail miles? Also, what would the crossing the Middle Tuolumne to the east of WW be like at that time of year?

If we can't get that trailhead, does WW to Pate Valley work as a backup? I'm wondering about camping the first night at Morrison Creek, then coming back up and heading to Ten Lakes.

Same question for Lukens Lake trailhead, although I don't really know how we'd get to it.

Finally, what elevation are the bugs at by August? I know they go higher later in the year, but don't have a sense for probabilities at the elevation of either the canyon or Ten Lakes.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. Should we punt on all of that and do a loop from wherever we park? If so, what would you recommend for easy water access, lower crowds, and spectacular scenery (I know, no one else wants that combo! :D )? I know Glacier Point Road is closed.

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2022 7:49 am
by balzaccom
Wow, Lots of questions. Let's start with the easy ones first. By mid- August, bugs aren't going to be much of a problem, so you can cross that off your list.

Second easy question is where the Yarts bus will stop. The answer is anywhere it is safe to do so, if you tell the drive in advance. So if you want to stop at the Lukens Lake or Murphy Creek trailhead, the bus makes that possible.

All of your suggested hikes involve getting down into the Tuolumne Canyon, and it can be very hot in August. That trip is normally suggested for earlier in the year, when the waterfalls are roaring. It is still beautiful, (I did part of that trip last year in September and it was lovely--but also cooler then.) And I do want to raise the issue that the Tuolumne Meadows Campground will be closed next year, so there will be no place to camp there on the the night before your hike. That's not a huge issue, but I just want to make sure you're aware of that. It may make catching that Yarts bus more difficult...

OK. With that out of the way, I have a suggestion for you that might work better. Since you want to get a permit now, and won't know the weather until a week before your trip, I would suggest you look at the Murphy Creek Trailhead. Even with a late start, that would enable you to camp at either Polly Dome Lakes or McGee lakes. The next day you could decided whether you go down into the GCT via Glen Aulin, up over to Ten Lakes, or even head back towards May Lake for a day or two. Or you could even head up Cold Canyon to MCCabe Lakes and then an easy cross country over to Young Lakes and back to Tuolumne Meadows. Lots of options. And the Murphy Creek trailhead doesn't get the same kind of demand as White Wolf or Glen Aulin, so you just might get the permit you want.

Meanwhile, you will find that there are lots of people hiking from one High Sierra Camp to another, even if the camps are closed. This was true last September, where most of the people I met were on their way from one HSC to another...once you get off that cycle, you see fewer people.

Other loops in Yosemite? Too many to count. But your goal of a nice easy, short mileage loop in Yosemite is what so many other people also want. That's why those trailheads book up early. You might try getting a permit now for any trailhead that will get you close...and then turn that back in if you can get a walk-up permit that you really want when you arrive...

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2022 9:52 am
by levyj414
Thanks for all that great info!

Knowing YARTS will drop us anywhere brings me great relief and definitely opens up the possibilities. I really like your Murphy Creek trailhead suggestion and how it gives us so many options. I hadn't even looked at something like McCabe Lakes, and the idea of going cross-country to Young Lakes is really intriguing. I'll look for more info on that.

The YARTS drop-offs also lets us identify other trailheads as our second and third choice for the permit application.

Thanks, too, for letting me know about the bugs at that time of year!

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2022 1:48 pm
by balzaccom
Here's a trip report (from much earlier in the summer) which includes notes on how to get from Roosevelt Lake to Youngs's in day three of the report. And that would be the 2nd half of your xc from McCabe. ... inyosemite

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2022 4:38 pm
by levyj414
Thanks once more.

I also found this set of blog posts covering a 5-day round trip: TM->Glen Aulin->McCabe Lakes->Roosevelt Lake->Young Lakes->TM. Each segment is one post, and sensibly enough, each successive segment is linked via a "newer post" link. There's a post before this one about getting to Glen Aulin, but I thought the hike up to McCabe Lakes was the best place to start: ... -lake.html

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2022 7:56 am
by Phil
Unless everyone has figured it out, the trail from WW to Ten Lakes is not generally so imacted that I've ever found it to the point of needing a's one of the true "backdoors" for the overall route up to the lakes. Boring as hell and a bit of an uneventful slog on that first 5-mile stretch, but it works. You can also get an easy shuttle drop-off and an easier permit by using the Lukens Lake trailhead, and it does shorten the first leg by a mile+ or so. Your plan for the car is solid.

Doin' well...incredibly well!!

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2022 11:37 pm
by levyj414
Following up: we got permits for the Ten Lakes TH for this coming Friday and plan to spend two nights.

We’ll have only one car, and we’re staying at White Wolf Thu night. We’d planned to day hike on Sat, then come back out the same way on Sunday, but we’re wondering about going up past Tuolumne Peak.

However, looking at YARTS, I haven’t figured out a way to hike that way and come out at either Murphy Creek or May Lake TH, other than trying to hitch back. Am I missing anything?

Also, are mosquitoes usually done by now?

Thanks! So excited for this trip. We’d planned to do it in Sept. 2020, but it was the week that fire closed the park entirely.

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2022 6:50 am
by balzaccom
Mosquitoes are done. You may see a few. but nothing to worry about,

If you come out on Murphy Creek, you may be able to hitch back to the Yosemite Creek/Ten lakes trailhead. Same for May Lake, but my experience is that there are usually more people at May more chances that you'll be able to talk yourself into a ride there. But that's more than double the mileage of your route in--a long day!

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2022 10:53 am
by levyj414
Thanks once more!

You’ve been incredibly helpful on this and other discussions. I’m keeping your recommendations for longer hikes in mind for other years. Living near DC, I just can’t get out to Yosemite nearly as much as I’d like!

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2022 8:04 pm
by balzaccom
Happy to help. When my daughter lived in DC we went hiking up at Harper's Ferry---beautiful area, and I really enjoyed the history.

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2022 10:31 am
by levyj414
It was glorious!

Boy, was I happy to get to Ten Lakes Pass. :) We waited two years to see that view!

Thanks to all I learned here, I knew not to stay at the lake on the trail (#2?). We went right as soon as we could and had an isolated spot about halfway down that lake (a little SW of 2, maybe #3?). Swimming the next day, there was no on else in sight! That whole day was spent relaxing. About 5, we came up with the energy to walk around lake 2. There were more than a dozen people scattered across multiple campsites, reinforcing our joy at staying at the other lake.

We checked out the slope up to the lake n of 2, which might be 1, but didn’t go up there.

The hike out the next day went smoothly; I was happy to get back to the pass in an hour, and we went out to the point a little west of there for the views.

Thanks again!

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2022 6:34 pm
by balzaccom
Great! So glad to hear you had a great time---and good weather. any photos? grin

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2022 11:14 am
by levyj414
balzaccom any photos? grin

Whoops - missed this.

As it so happens, yes. :)

Here are some of the best:

Re: White Wolf to GCT or Ten Lakes

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2022 7:03 am
by balzaccom
Love that shot of lake 3! Looks like you had some great weather...