Yosemite North to South 2020

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by wildhiker » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:24 pm

Yes, the High Trail runs parallel to the Merced River trail, but up on the slope above to the east. The "mapbuilder" layer in Caltopo is based on OpenStreetMap data. Openstreetmap is a crowd-sourced map. Only trails that contributors have entered will show. In general, it seems to show trails more accurately than the old USGS topos, but as you found out, not all trails have been entered on OpenStreetMap. The High Trail does show correctly on the USGS topo layer in Caltopo and is a well-maintained trail.

You can get a flavor of the Lyell Fork Merced River by exploring just a half mile upstream cross-country from the High Trail. In fact, there are fabulous campsites just that far up. See my trip report from 2016: viewtopic.php?t=15812

-Phil








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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:46 am

Thank you, Phil, for the explanation. I'm enjoying your trip report immensely. It's helpful to know it's maintained so I can plan my daily mileage accordingly.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by sedersmith » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:47 am

potatopants wrote:
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!
Hi buddy, I even am planning to do something similar, but can you share the estimated cost that you feel is needed (Approx).

Regards,
Sloth Smith

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:40 am

Just a few notes:

1 The northern loop will take more than 10 days. If you rush down the GCT you will miss a lot.
2 The lower part of the trail was blocked by rockfall when I was there a few years ago.
3 Definitely camp near the top of Waterwheel Falls. Once you drop down the views are inferior.
4 Avoid camping in Pate Valley - it is horrible! Better camping about a mile up Piute Creek.
5 The trail from Pate Valley up to Pleasant Valley is horribly hot in the afternoon - do early AM.
6 From Pleasant Valley to Rancheria Creek water sources dry up early - mid summer on maybe no water
7 From Peeler Lake it is more scenic to drop down a bit and go back up via Robinson and Crown Lakes then over Mule Pass
8 Possible resupply at Twin Lakes if you drop down from Robinson Lake. A small store. Maybe they would hold a resupply box for you.
9 Take a side trip to Maltby and Ice Lakes view points.
10 Burro Pass and down Matterhorn Canyon is very nice. Best camping with views across the creek at about 10,000 before you drop down

Southern route - Why do the loop to Chiquito Lake? Not scenic at all.
I would go via Ottoway Lakes and pass then down the trail, taking the low trail along the Merced. You would take the high trail on the way in so no repeat miles

Resupply points are Tuolumne Meadows, Twin Lakes, Hetch-Hetchy, Yosemite Valley. Starting each trip from Tuolumne makes sense for transportation but then you do not utilize it as the best resupply point. May re-think where you plan to start or shorten each loop if needed to avoid resupply.

You need to do a detailed daily plan to see what is really feasible - daily mileages and elevation gains and consider the best campsites.

Long ago I did a similar northern loop and started at Twin Lakes- just carried 12 days food. Although I did not resupply I could have at Tuolumne Meadows.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by Lumbergh21 » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:38 pm

Have fun. I'm planning on exploring southern Yosemite in 2020 as well, starting out over Mono Pass and reentering over Donahue Pass. The plan right now is about 100 miles over 7 days, finishing at TM. Then I may try for another 5 day loop in Northern Yosemite on a walk up permit before going home. My hike is still up in the air as I may add in some off trail travel as well. Thinking about Skurka's Yosemite High Trail or parts of it, for instance.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:53 pm

Wandering Daisy, thank you for these detailed notes. I'm grateful for your help! I have a number of questions as I start filling in the details. Updated Caltopo is here: https://caltopo.com/m/6RP1 (Note: I haven't messed with the southern loop yet)

1. One of the things I'm hung up on is permits, and whether or not I'm going to need multiple permits to do this route--specifically between finishing the northern loop and starting the southern loop at Tuolumne. It appears that hikers cannot walk the road--this is considered exiting the wilderness and reentering the wilderness would require a second permit. At the very least, tough, I'm going to have to walk to the Tuolumne Meadows store to resupply after finishing the northern loop. So do I need a second permit to get back on trail and start the south loop? Planning to call the ranger station about this too but figured you probably know!

Northern Loop
2. I'm working out daily mileage/elevation this week, now that I have some time. I'm thinking the northern loop might take minimum 12 trail days, plus extra for resupply. Twin Lakes probably makes more sense. How does one resupply through Hetch Hetchy?

3. I'm actually looking at doing the northern loop counter clockwise, which seems potentially better in terms of elevation gain/loss. What do you think?

4. If water is a potential problem between Rancheria Creek and Pleasant Valley, what do you think about this: Follow the PCT south into Jack Main Canyon (which I'd really like to see), then backtrack a few miles to the junction and continue southeast, reconnect with the PCT, turn south through Bear Valley, then on through Pleasant Valley and Pate Valley and GCT. That would cut about 10 miles off the route, but creates a couple of really steep climbs. (See green route on caltopo)

5. Regarding Burro Pass, are you recommending camping north or south of the pass?

6. "The lower part of the trail was blocked by rockfall when I was there a few years ago." Hmm. Was it unpassable? What did you do?

Southern Loop
7. Why Chiquito? Well, I had this thing about touching both the northern and southern border of the park. Seemed like a cool thing to do, lol. Not worth it? I could probably let it go. Thank you for letting me know. What would you think about Tuolumne--Vogelsvang--High Trail--Ottoway Lakes--Merced Pass Lakes--Panorama Trail--JMT--Tuolumne? That seems like a loop I can do without a resupply, too.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:56 pm

I will answer the questions I can now- will have to think about your proposed southern loop route.

Resupply is always a hard decision for me. Such a distraction that I most often just carry a heavier pack. Some of my suggestions below may not be totally "legal". The backpacker's campground at Hetch Hetchy has bear boxes. I think there also are bear boxes at the parking lot at the dam. People who backpack put their "car camping" food in those bear boxes for several days. Same for the bear boxes up at the Tuolumne backpackers kiosk. I have pre-stashed my resupply in those bear boxes, in a Styrofoam cooler wrapped in duct tape. I also put a piece of dry ice in the cooler. I label the food with my name and the date I will "be back" to pick it up. Then when I got the food, I ripped up the Styrofoam cooler and put it in the garbage can. If you packed your food in a cardboard box or bag, it would be less garbage. I do not think your supply package would raise eyebrows as long as it is only in the bear box for a week or less, although technically, the rangers could pull your package.

If you are going down to Rancheria Creek, it is feasible to day-hike out and back to pick up your food at the trailhead in one day. When I did the SHR, I put my resupply in the bear box at Tuolumne, drove on to Twin Lakes to start, and did the first 4 days quickly, picked up my food and left the same day and camped minimum legal distance (4 mi) up the Rafferty trail. Not sure if there are new rules, but you did not need a new permit as long as you do not spend a night out of the wilderness. An overnight stay was considered "leaving the wilderness"; just walking out and down some roads was no problem as long as you camped within the wilderness. Your permit allows camping at the backpackers campgrounds, but then you have to get a new permit. Only PCT permits allow staying out one night without a new permit.

At Twin Lakes there is a private campground/café, store, boat dock, paid parking. You would have to call them and see if they would allow you to mail them the package or drop it off yourself. I suspect they would charge a fee. Another idea would be to start (parking fee about $10 per week) and end at Twin Lakes on the northern loop and then resupply at Tuolumne. I think there are showers at Twin Lakes (you need to check on this). Also the lodge up at Tuolumne used to have public showers. When I picked up my food, walked over and took a shower before I continued up the trail.

I do not think lack of water should make you avoid the trail from Pleasant Valley to Rancheria Creek. You can do that downhill easily in one day; a bit more effort uphill. Just be sure you do not depend on water in between. I have never been on the trail through Bear Valley.

There is camping on both sides of Burro Pass as well as Mule Pass. Both sides of Burro Pass are very scenic. On the north side you have to get above about 9700 feet before you get good campsites and water. At about 9800 feet, the trail leaves the creek and no water may be an issue. On the south side camping is off the trail about a quarter mile, across the creek, above the 10,000 ft contour. I think this area is wonderful!

I did not cross the rockfall in GCT since I did an in-and-out from Tuolumne. I just turned around. It was moderate to large sized talus blocks. I do not know how much of the trail was covered-may not be a lot. Honestly, just before I got to the rockfall, I was startled by many rattlesnakes along the trail so did not spend a lot of time looking around! You really have to watch for rattlesnakes. I've also encountered rattlesnakes in the middle of the trail above Pleasant Valley; rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the Pate Valley Bridge. They are quite common. They will rattle to warn you- only attack if you accidently step on them or get too close.
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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by xiainx » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:26 am

Re: rockfall, I hiked through the GCT from Tuolumne Meadows to Pate Valley and then up to Pleasant Valley (the light blue and green routes on your map) in August of this year and didn't observe any rockfall. The trail through the GCT is in fine condition. The trail through Pleasant Valley and Bear Valley was faint in places, but they were actively reconstructing it in Pleasant Valley when I was there last summer. Just pay attention when you're going through those places and you'll be fine.

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:48 am

Very possible I missed the trail when I encountered the rockfall. It was early season (June) and there was a lot of flooding on sections of the trail. The trails between Pate Valley and Rancheria Creek easily become overgrown with brush. Good to hear that trails are being maintained. Has anyone heard if the Pate Valley Bridge is going to be fixed/replaced?

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Re: Yosemite North to South 2020

Post by potatopants » Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:10 am

I came across a rattlesnake in Kern Valley this summer and we both jumped away in terror, LOL.

On Monday I'm going to make a phone call to the ranger station to find out the latest permit rules (last year I talked to a ranger who wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be walking on Tioga to continue my route south, which is what raised the question for me here).

Hopefully I can reach someone at Mono Village since they're closed for the season. Twin Lakes Resort is just a few miles further and might be an option too. With that area as a resupply I wonder if going clockwise does make more sense than going counter clockwise. The idea of a shower, meal, and ice cream will be much more rewarding 8 days in rather than 3 days in.

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