I think I'd like to bag Johnson Peak, and was thinking of spending my last night at the small lakes southwest of the peak, but I read on here camping is not allowed there. I'm having a hard time getting that from the official Yosemite wilderness rules webpage:
It seems to me that these Johnson Lakes are more than 4 trail miles from Tuolumne. They are beyond the orange arrow on Rafferty, or about 4 miles combining the Elizabeth Lake trail with xc. They are not in the Budd Creek watershed explicitly listed as prohibited. They are obviously over 1 air mile from a road.No Camping Zones
Camping in the Half Dome and Little Yosemite Valley area is permitted only in the Little Yosemite Valley Campground. Camping is not permitted between Yosemite Valley and Little Yosemite Valley. If you would like to camp in a dispersed Wilderness setting, you must be at least two miles beyond the Little Yosemite Valley campground (at or beyond Moraine Dome or beyond the Half Dome/John Muir Trail junction). Camping is not permitted on top of Half Dome or at Lost Lake.
Camping is permitted at backpackers' campgrounds near Glen Aulin, May Lake, Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang High Sierra Camps. Each campground contains food lockers and group fire rings (fires are not permitted at Vogelsang). When the High Sierra Camps are open, composting toilets and potable water are also available. All other camping should be away from each HSC.
You must camp at least four trail miles from Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Hetch Hetchy, and Wawona, and at least one air mile from any road. The trailheads map (1.5 mb PDF) shows minimum legal camping distances for each trail (beyond the arrows).
Camping is also not permitted in the:
- Parker Pass Creek watershed
- Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River watershed
- Gaylor Creek watershed
- Lukens Lake
- Budd Creek watershed
- The top of Half Dome
- Within 100 feet of a trail, flowing stream, river or any body of water, unless designated,and as follows:
- Camping is permitted within 100 feet of a stream, trail or body of water provided that a well established campsite exists and terrain permits no other options. In no case will camping be permitted within 25 feet of a stream, trail or body of water.
- Below the high water line at both Lake Eleanor and Hetch Hetchy
I also would love any advice you have about the best route up from Rafferty to the saddle south of Johnson. I see a few reasonable-looking options from looking at maps and satellite imagery, but of course first hand reports and advice are better! Could contour north from (what I think is called) Tuolumne Pass, or follow Rafferty farther north before cutting west and up towards the Reymann saddle, then north, or follow Rafferty even farther and head west along one of the creeks draining from Johnson, or...? I'd prefer a route that has minimal bushwhacking and dense vegetation.
I guess also I could skip Johnson Peak and instead head to Reymann / Nelson, and up Echo to exit to Elizabeth that way, spending my last night somewhere south of the crest. Or maybe if the weather is nice I can find a slab and a snowmelt trickle near the saddle....
What would you do? I've been lower in the Echo drainage a couple times, and through Rafferty to Emeric and south, but not higher up / farther north.