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TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:37 pm
by Wandering Daisy
I am still processing photos so will add later. This is the first trip using my new camera! I just did all on "automatic" setting just to see what it did since I have plenty of photos along this route from previous trips.

Day 1. 7 miles, 1185 gain, 2235 loss, 4.5 hours (plus 3 hour drive to Big Oak Entrance)

Everyone seemed to have the same idea- backpack the trails out of Yosemite Valley to avoid the snow. Plus, Half Dome cables were to open. I reached Big Oak entrance shortly before 11AM and scored the last same-day permit from Glacier Point to LYV. I do not particularly like LYV, but it is logistically handy. The drive up to Glacier Point went well until the last 2 miles where the line of cars crept downward only advancing as a parked car left the lot. I ate lunch while I crept down the road and managed to leave at 1PM.

Clouds were building so I hurried along as a few raindrops fell. It cleared a bit when I arrived to the campground at 4:20. I set up and walked upstream along Sunrise Creek to take a chilly bucket bath. There were a few mosquitos, mostly down by the flooded Merced River. Sunrise Creek was fairly small, Merced River was high but I have seen it higher. Clouds again built and I cooked dinner and retired to the tent. I took two Advil, put in my ear plugs, used a sleep mask, and dozed off. I was tired, as this was my first backpack of the season. High flows on Tenaya Creek made accessing the backpacker’s campground a 1.5 mile walk so it was logistically easier to simply take the food for both sections of the trip, but this did make my pack heavier. The day’s hike was crowded, which I expected. LYV was full.

Day 2. 10.3 miles, 2600 gain, 2230 loss, 8.5 hours

I left LYV at 7AM and quickly ascended to the Half Dome trail junction where I stashed my pack, walked up to the saddle and dropped to a bench where there are several established (but likely illegal) campsites with good views up Tenaya Canyon. Unfortunately the lighting was poor for up-valley shots. There were plenty of little snow-melt dribbles across the trail but no snow. This was the day before the Half Dome cables went up, so several people who had camped at LYV were up there checking it out, hoping for a next day opening.

Back at my pack I continued on the JMT, walked a log across the creek from Clouds Rest, and continued up the trail. From this point on, I did not see anyone for a while. There was NO snow! I was surprised. The cross trail to Merced Lake was harder to follow because it went through the recent burned area and is not used much. I had to wade one creek. The trail became more distinct as I neared a small unnamed lake where I met a fellow with a service dog. I said “hi” and then went off the trail up onto the slab southwest of the lake to poke around. I had planned to camp up here, but it was early so I just took photos and ate lunch. There are really nice campsites, even some protected among trees.

I left at 12:45, continued over a ridge, and dropped towards Echo Valley. About half way down it began to hail and rain. I again met the fellow at the north bridge. We did not say anything as it was now raining pretty hard. I continued on, he hunkered down. I had planned on a side trip towards Merced Lake but skies were black, lightening flashed, thunder boomed, hail fell, then rain, then sunshine. Down valley looked better, so I tried to out-run the storm. I dipped under trees often. The trail was flooded in a few places but I managed to get around the water. The water was well below the bridge and the entry and exit ramps were dry. Previous years I had to wade through water which was right at the bottom of the bridge. I think the Merced River has not yet peaked.

My second plan was to camp on the slabs about half a mile beyond the bridge. I passed a couple who were day-hiking. So far the rain was fairly light and intermittent, so I had not put on my rain jacket. Many little streams ran down the slab and I had to wade across two. There were no dry campsites so I would have to drop to the small unnamed valley where there is another bridge.

I did NOT out-run the storm! The sky opened up and I got soaked. Too late to put on my rain jacket! By the time I crossed the foot bridge and found a nice established campsite, rain let up a bit. There was no dry ground here either, but it was a nice flat spot with trees and log benches around a campfire ring. I put my wet clothes out to dry and within 15 minutes it started to rain again, so I gave up and went in the tent, hanging wet clothing in the corners. By 6PM it let up enough to cook dinner. I then saw the fellow with the dog a short distance away sitting under a nice tree. He had found a better campsite than I did! We did not greet, however I did talk to him the next day when he also camped at the backpacker’s campground. I went down to the bridge to take few photos, when it began raining again. I gave up and went into the tent. Moisture had crept through the floor of my old tent but I had a big sleeping pad so I was dry.

Day 3. 8.2 miles, 315 gain, 2500 loss, 7.5 hours

With old knees, all downhill did not mean going any faster than uphill. But this was to be my sight-seeing day. By morning the tent was dry and I just put on damp clothing and left at 7:45. Bunnell Falls was amazing, as were the braided waterfalls coming down the cliffs to the north. All that water had ravaged the trail in Lost Valley. I found a downstream log to cross the main creek, but the soon trail bumped up against a rock leaving a mid-thigh wade. There was a detour, but it looked nasty; I rather wade than bash through brush and walk slippery logs. The trail through Little Yosemite Valley was quite wet too. The black burned tree trunks with lush greenery below, flood ponds and a back drop of granite walls weeping with waterfalls was quite unique.

I went down the Mist Trail. Nevada Falls was roaring and I had to go slowly. I felt as if I were swimming upstream against a flow of humanity although I was going down a rock staircase. I took a short break at the top of Vernal Falls and then went down through more than a “mist”, rather a raging rainstorm! I got soaked with more water than I ever have on this trail. The rock staircase was literally a creek, with flooded sections to slosh through. Again, most were going up, including some screaming small children carried in the arms of parents. Few were enjoying the “mist”. I arrived at Happy Isles, with rubbery legs since my downhill muscles are in much poorer shape than my uphill muscles.

I walked to the backpacker’s campground via Mirror Lake TH and took the farthest uphill site as it was mid-afternoon and the water, which had flooded the lower campsites, was still rising. There were not many there yet, so I found a spot behind some bushes and took a bucket bath. Later the fellow with the dog arrived and we had a good chat. Then I took a stroll over to the Awahnee Hotel to check when the first shuttle started for the next day. I had planned on getting a permit earlier but was just too tired then to get to the Wilderness Office and now it would be closed. I cooked my backpack food and retired into the tent at dark. Again, earplugs and the eye mask saved the day (or should I say night). By late evening the campground was packed and loud.

Day 4. 6.7 miles, 3170 gain, 450 loss, 5.5 hours, plus shuttle rides to El Cap Meadow

Waiting for the shuttles and standing in line for the permit took a bit over 2 hours. I got off the bus at El Cap Meadows at 9:15 and headed west on the South Valley Trail to Bridalveil Falls where I then walked up the road for a short distance to intersect the old Glacier Point Road (not very obvious, but I had been there before). Artist and Meadow creeks had washed out the road; I waded Artist Creek. The pavement is now about half gone and numerous dead trees blocked the road; fortunately there were easy detours. I reached Inspiration Point at 11:45 and had a snack, observing that someone had set up a huge red tent right there in full sight! At least I hide when I camp illegally. The trail was in good shape and there were plenty of little trickles for drinking water; no snow in sight. Higher up, Artist Creek and Meadow Creek were flowing high but easy to cross. All went well until the trail became a tangle of downed timber on the buttress that ends in Stanford Point. I am not even sure I was on the main trail. I lost track of a group of four fellows behind me. They had stood in line ahead of me this morning and Pohono from Tunnel View was the only trail permit left for that size group. They were good sports about not getting their first choice.

It was only 2:30 when I reached Stanford Point, and contemplated continuing, but came to my senses, and found a nice campsite, out of view, across the small unnamed creek to the east. Here I had a wonderful grassy meadow for my bucket bath. I found a nearby established campsite with a good view of El Cap and Ribbon Falls. Then I went back to Stanford Point and poked around photographing. I am surprised at the number of hikers who miss the real “point”, which is just a narrow pile of rocks from which you can see Bridalveil Falls. Birds dive-bombed me at amazing speeds. I had a wonderful restful afternoon of solitude with a nice cool breeze and no bugs. I even had cell reception to chat with my husband.

Day 5. 10 miles, 2540 gain, 2190 loss, 7.8 hours, (plus 1.5 mile walk to backpacker campground)

A couple came walking by as I started back to the trail. They had missed the trail coming west and I too missed the trail going east! But it was not hard cross-country and I soon ran into the trail near Dewey Point, where there were a slew of backpackers camped. There is so much water now that you can camp nearly anywhere (not counting the ambiguous rules regarding legality).

As I dropped to Bridalveil Creek, the first snow patches appeared but had solid footing and mostly the trail had melted out on the edges. I had to wade across one major creek. The real problem was the huge tangles of deadfall that blocked the trail. Detours were not easy. In spite of that I made good time. I ate lunch at the bridge, and then quickly hiked uphill, trying to get ahead of a loud, obnoxious group behind me; luckily I succeeded! The deadfall continued, as well as a few snow patches. The forest here is lush and provided welcome shade. I reached Taft Point at noon, and entered the zone of tourists, amazed that with the recent news of “death by selfie”, most were obliviously standing on the edge taking selfies. The Taft Point Trail was a total mess to the junction where there were tons of signs. I headed east on the Pohono Trail down to Sentinel Creek where there were three nice logs to cross on. Again, there were plenty of deadfall and a few snow patches. On the point looking right down where Sentinel Creek plunges down the cliff, I met a family. The teenage boys were on their bellies, looking down the overhanging cliff while parents were gasping.

I saw a trail that was on the valley rim side and started traversing.. I suspected it was not the main trail as it was quite narrow and on an exceedingly steep hillside, where if one were to fall one would tumble down to the Four Mile Trail. But what views of Yosemite Falls! It finally intersected the main trail at an obscure location. More deadfall tangles and muddy trail, but little snow as I descended to Glacier Point, back to my car. I spent about half an hour out on Glacier Point.

In my opinion, best views from the “points” along the Pohono Trail are; 1) Glacier Point, 2) Stanford Point, 3) Taft Point, and 4) a draw between Dewey an Crocker Point for last place.

Then began the 2+ hour traffic nightmare to Curry Village where I parked. Thankfully with the windows open I could even snap photos and enjoy the scenery creeping along slower than one could walk. I even made several calls to family. It was nearly after 6PM when I caught the shuttle to Mirror Lake TH and then walked to the backpacker’s campground. This time a bath was out of the question with a full campground. I did bring a few beers and stuck them in the river to cool. My “dinner” was an odd ball soup of left-over FD eggs, Miso soup, sunflower seeds, FD tomatoes, a bit of Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese powder, and butter. But with the beer, it was fine. Uneaten trail food provided desert.

Day 6. 5 miles, 2.5 hours walking Valley trails and drive home

I got up early so I could move my car down to El Cap Meadow to get ahead of the Sunday afternoon traffic out of the valley. Breakfast was another odd mix- dried chocolate peanut butter mixed with butter, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, another chunk of cheese and my last cup of coffee! I had pretty much eaten all my backpack food. I walked back to my car and then from El Cap Meadow, I walked to Swinging Bridge (not flooded at this time), and then took the shuttle back to El Cap Meadow. The drive out was crowded but amazingly went well with everyone going the speed limit. I was also surprised at the traffic on the road to Sonora Pass, which had just opened.

Unpleasant Aftermath of the Trip.

Monday, I turned on the air conditioner in my car and got knocked back by the smell of a rotting animal. Two rats were found in the blower motor; they joined me either at Glacier Point or Curry Village. A few hundred dollars later, rats were extracted but I am still disinfecting everything. The last time I came back to Glacier Point my car had a dead battery. I think Glacier Point is jinxed!

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:05 pm
by Wandering Daisy
I just got my car back. Here are the two dead animals - looks like the chipmunks or squirrels that run around Glacier Point, that they found inside my air conditioning system. They were so rotten that they crumbled when taken out. So far the car smells MUCH better! $150 paid for their removal.
01 CAMRY 1 OF 2.jpg
Well, here is a more scenic subject - the view from Stanford Point

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:25 pm
by maiathebee
Cool report! Interesting to hear how much more crowded and soggy you had it than I did three weeks ago. I agree about Stanford. I was also surprised by the only people there not even being out at the point where you can see Bridalveil. And my lord, those squirrels, what a nightmare!

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:28 pm
by wildhiker
Wandering Daisy, I am always impressed by your stamina! Over 40 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation gain and loss in 5 days on your "first backpack of the season". Great report, even without the photos.

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:27 am
by mckee80
Great report, it amazes me the difference in conditions and crowds a few weeks (or days) makes!

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:55 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Here are some photos:

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:05 pm
by Wandering Daisy
More photos:

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:58 pm
by SSSdave
Thanks for the photo tour. I'd bet many of us have taken those same icon valley shots. Always nicest and greenest to this person in May.

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:03 pm
by grampy
Wandering Daisy -
I love the photos - especially the b&w of El Capitan !

Re: TR: Loop from Glaceir Point 6/4 - 6/9

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:34 pm
by Wandering Daisy
This is a trip I usually do early May and it is as much to do with being in the Valley as backpacking. I use the backpacking as a means to camp at the Backpacker's Campground (plus any backpack here is a good work-out for early season conditioning). Maybe I am just not a good enough photographer, but for me, it is easier to get good photos from the Valley floor than from above at the viewpoints. I wish the dogwood were still in bloom, but I was a bit late for that. The higher elevation flowers are just starting to bloom.

So far I am pleased with my new camera. The only issue is that the default white-balance is a bit off for scenery shots. I had to color correct many photos. I am also not used to the large file sizes. My old camera was only 10 megapixel. My computer is a bit under powered to process the larger files, especially when I merge several photos. I shot 270 photos and the battery was OK; battery life is one aspect of this camera that is not the greatest. It is the Canon GX9, the version without the built in UV filter. Now I need to actually read the manual and figure out how stuff works. It is similar to my old Canon (which I lost last year), so it should be fairly easy to learn the new features.