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[Yosemite]

Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

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

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Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby CarolE » Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:27 am

Ok, I know it’s hard to predict snowpack this early but how early is it usually somewhat safe on counting on being able to hike the GC of the Tuolomne? I do like it when there’s snow up high and I like going through some snow but I’m assuming snow in the canyon isn’t a safe thing? I also don’t like the heat so am trying to find a balance between going too early and having too much water for crossings vs. too hot.

Is mid-June usually doable and will the water crossings be relatively safe for a Solo hiker or is this just not a good hike for that? or is mid-June generally really hot in there?

Thanks for any info and if the advice is “depends” then I’ll look at getting a permit and then see what happens.

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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:22 pm

The big question will be when the Tioga Road opens. Until it opens you won't really be able to get to White Wolf...or the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Problem solved. The road usually opens in June, but has been known to open in May and sometimes as late as mid-July.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby ChrisA » Tue Mar 02, 2021 12:31 pm

Once the road is open you might be able to walk on the trail but BE PREPARED to turn back. I have come across sections of ice covered trail that are suicidal, I can think of a few sections where if the trail were snow covered you'd be nuts to attempt it as a fall would be fatal. So you turn back, camp on the snow for the night then make other plans. There are only a few trails in the park that are 100% safe when snow covered and none of these are carved into the side of a steep canyon wall.

The best plan is to go to the park with a wide range of routes in mind and asses conditions when you get there. Permits are self-signup and available. You can always do Snow Creek or just walk up the snow covered Glacier Point road. There will be something do-able. One thing. If it snows hard on the second day of hiking you can be trapped in a canyon. Don't walk past a place you could not walk over after heavy snow if there is a chance of snow. Again who knows now or even a month in advance.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:24 pm

ChrisA wrote:Once the road is open you might be able to walk on the trail but BE PREPARED to turn back. I have come across sections of ice covered trail that are suicidal, I can think of a few sections where if the trail were snow covered you'd be nuts to attempt it as a fall would be fatal. So you turn back, camp on the snow for the night then make other plans. There are only a few trails in the park that are 100% safe when snow covered and none of these are carved into the side of a steep canyon wall.

The best plan is to go to the park with a wide range of routes in mind and asses conditions when you get there. Permits are self-signup and available. You can always do Snow Creek or just walk up the snow covered Glacier Point road. There will be something do-able. One thing. If it snows hard on the second day of hiking you can be trapped in a canyon. Don't walk past a place you could not walk over after heavy snow if there is a chance of snow. Again who knows now or even a month in advance.


Mid June, this year, will have none of those problems. And the permits are NOT self sign up in June. I'd be surprised if there were any permits left to reserve. Yosemite permits are online only, just like SEKI and Inyo, and have been for a while.

June will indeed be hot down low in the valley. It can be worked around - not hiking much past midday, taking a siesta in the afternoon and hiking in the morning and evening, can help. If you're going up the switchbacks to Morrison Creek from Pate, definitely don't hike midday. Hellish granite in the sun.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby Phil » Wed Mar 03, 2021 5:06 am

In June, it's generally not snow you need to worry about, it's the snow melt. That's up to and including the entire Tuolumne River drainage from every bit of surface runoff to every tributary up canyon, side canyon, and beyond, and it's a big, big drainage. On the trail, you can get stopped out in multiple locations by trail flooding and impassable creeks. Three major problem areas are Glen Aulin proper above California Falls, and then Register Creek, and then again down in Pate Valley. In fact, Register Creek has been known to take lives when its charged up, and I've been personally confronted with chest-deep fords down in Pate that left me saying no friggin' way.

But, assuming you can get to the trailhead, that the trail isn't closed to hikers by the NPS, and that you're entering from Tuolumne Meadows, if you can make it down to the falls complex around Water Wheel, June is amazing, and in and of itself, worth an in-and-out, without doing the entire route.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:35 am

It's too dry - we're way behind on precipitation. If there's a Miracle March and more snow falls, the melt will be going through May and potentially into June. If not... It's gonna be a hot dry summer.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne

Postby Phil » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:50 pm

AlmostThere wrote:It's too dry - we're way behind on precipitation. If there's a Miracle March and more snow falls, the melt will be going through May and potentially into June. If not... It's gonna be a hot dry summer.


Yeah, I was thinking about how bad it is so far this year as I was typing...but, never say never, right?


Anyhow, normal-ish years, those are the problems and where they're at. This is really bad....drought, more fires, probably some serious rationing if things don't get better. I'm not looking forward to summer much, although we seem to be having it already. Right now, even a "Miracle" March seems sort of anticlimactic on the basis of need when you consider where we are and where we should be.

Hope you're well, AT.
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