Yosemite North to South 2020

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potatopants
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Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:47 pm

Hi all, I'm looking into a 2020 trip that criss-crosses Yosemite north to south, and I've loosely sketched out a possible figure-eight route that's around 200 miles.

2020 will mark 10 years since my first visit, a trip that was a pivotal moment for me. So Yosemite has a special place in my heart, and I'd like to use this trip as a fundraiser to give back, supporting conservation work and youth programs in the park. Any thoughts you might be able to share to help me plan an enjoyable and successful trip would be very much appreciated.

A few details about my experience:
  • Solo travel
    Level 2 to 3 backpacker
    A handful of Sierra trips under my belt ranging from 3 to 16 days in length; familiar with terrain and potential hazards
    Some unmaintained trail experience (Colby Pass Trail)
    Prefer to stay on trail
    Good to go with river crossings, high elevation, exposures, and sketchy passes
    Usual pace is 10-13 miles per day on average on maintained trails
Map and route details:
https://caltopo.com/m/6RP1
I can complete this route anytime between July and mid September, depending on permits.
Tuolumne seems like a logical start/end point so I can resupply there midway.

The northern loop is about 120 miles and travels clockwise through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, joins up with the PCT, leaves Yosemite and cuts over to the West Walker River Trail, heading southeast and reentering Yosemite on the Buckeye Canyon Trail. Rejoin the PCT and end back at Tuolumne. Resupplying is an issue, since I'd anticipate wanting as many as 10 days to complete this loop. If I can't work out a resupply, I'd consider a lollipop, entering at Sonora Pass and following the PCT to Tuolumne, which would be around 70 miles and maybe 6 days.

The southern loop is about 80 miles. It follows the JMT from Tuolumne to the Panorama Trail, south over Buena Vista Pass and then turning north near Quartz Mtn toward Merced, then Vogelsvang, and back to Tuolumne. I anticipate as many as 7 days and will be able to manage with one food carry for this loop.

Any thoughts on this potential route? Potential challenges aside from resupply that I should consider? Areas to avoid? Places I shouldn't miss?

Thank you in advance for any insights you might be able to share!








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c9h13no3
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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:42 pm

I'm not sure what you've done already, so hard to make recommendations (like, the biggies to me are clouds rest, and the whole east side of the crest). And it seems to me that you've kinda chosen the trail not for where it goes, but because it makes a big loop. What destinations do you have in mind?

Like, your path doesn't show you going down to the lower Cathedral lake. Maybe you've seen it already, but it's on trail and quite nice.
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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:22 pm

Yeah, in this case, my main goal is to touch the north and south borders of the park. I have done Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Lower Cathedral, Panorama, and the JMT starting from Lyell Canyon, all of which are certainly worth repeating! Staying on trail narrows the options, but there are a few variables to consider, so if I can avoid hellish climbs that don't have much of a payoff or trade a mediocre pass for something better, that's kind of what I'm hunting for.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by stephen_sd » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:43 am

I was in the northern section of Yosemite this summer and enjoyed the area. For your part of the route " heading southeast and reentering Yosemite on the Buckeye Canyon Trail. Rejoin the PCT and end back at Tuolumne" I would suggest an alternative that heads east once you reenter the park to Burro Pass and then head south to rejoin the PCT. The distance would be similar but you would have views of Sawtooth Ridge instead of a less interesting segment of the PCT.
-Stephen

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:47 am

stephen_sd wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:43 am
I was in the northern section of Yosemite this summer and enjoyed the area. For your part of the route " heading southeast and reentering Yosemite on the Buckeye Canyon Trail. Rejoin the PCT and end back at Tuolumne" I would suggest an alternative that heads east once you reenter the park to Burro Pass and then head south to rejoin the PCT. The distance would be similar but you would have views of Sawtooth Ridge instead of a less interesting segment of the PCT.
-Stephen
I was going to post the same suggestion, the Sawtooth ridge is pretty impressive and others here have remarked that it's a great hike up Matterhorn Canyon. The Slide is something I've also wanted to see up close, since I've only seen it from various summits. It's not too far off trail.

I really like the area around Twin Lakes too. Barney Lake is a postcard, and Little slide canyon is super rugged. It has a climber's usetrail heading up to the Incredible Hulk if you're willing to do some pseudo cross country.

Then there's the easy cross country trips that you're bypassing, places I'd really like to see if I were passing through (Maclure Lake, Conness Lakes, Lyell Fork of the Merced Lakes). But it isn't my trip :P
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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:23 pm

Ah, yes, I see what you mean about heading to Burro Pass--thank you! That makes me wonder if I can send a resupply box to Annett's Mono Village at Twin Lakes. That would be pretty convenient. I'll have to call and enquire.

The area around Conness Lakes is awesome! One of my favorite spots. Definitely want to go back some time.

Lyell Fork of the Merced looks.. wow. Like a LOT of fun. Thanks for planting that seed.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by wildhiker » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:44 pm

Yes, instead of dropping down to Merced Lake from Lewis Creek and then following the Merced River upstream towards Isberg Pass, I would definitely take the "High Trail" for the views and the chance to explore a bit up the Lyell Fork of the Merced River. I've done both trails and find the High Trail more scenic.
-Phil

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by stephen_sd » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:20 pm

c9h13no3 wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:47 am
I was going to post the same suggestion, the Sawtooth ridge is pretty impressive and others here have remarked that it's a great hike up Matterhorn Canyon. The Slide is something I've also wanted to see up close, since I've only seen it from various summits. It's not too far off trail.
The Slide is impressive up close when you see the size of the boulders and how far they rolled up the far side of the canyon. I hiked up Slide Canyon/Piute Creek this summer from the PCT to get to Sawtooth ridge but there is no trail going that way. That said, walking down to the Slide from Burro Trail would be an easy excursion through meadows and open trees.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by jhfowler » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:23 pm

Let me second Lyell Fork. Just did it this year, and will definitely be back, probably more than once more....

https://jimmyjamhikingclub.com/2019/08/27/lyell-fork/

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:59 pm

wildhiker wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:44 pm
Yes, instead of dropping down to Merced Lake from Lewis Creek and then following the Merced River upstream towards Isberg Pass, I would definitely take the "High Trail" for the views and the chance to explore a bit up the Lyell Fork of the Merced River. I've done both trails and find the High Trail more scenic.
-Phil
Ah, yes, does this "high trail" run pretty much parallel to the one I marked? I see it on my Nat Geo Yosemite map and on the USFS map layer on caltopo. For some reason it's not included in the mapbuilder layer so I overlooked it when marking out the route. This seems like a much better option--thanks for pointing it out!

If I weren't going solo I'd be more inclined to go x-country and explore Lyell Fork. Maybe I can con someone into joining me for that section. ;)

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