5 day trip to Yosemite, 3 days of which are backpacking.
It took a couple attempts, but I was able to secure 6 permits ($5 per person) to backpack in Yosemite this fall and I already can’t wait.
Backpacking distance is approximately 31 miles.
Drive to Yosemite (~ 5 hours)
Pick up permits (most likely at Tuolumne Wilderness Station).
Overnight @ Yosemite Backpackers Camp ($6 per person) (most likely at Tuolumne Meadows)
We will need to leave one vehicle in Yosemite Valley for the end of the hike*
*There is a shuttle that runs between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, but in 2016 it stopped running Sept 11th. We’ll have to see if it is running a bit later in 2017, as this would mean that we could leave all vehicles in Yosemite Valley and not worry about having to drive back to Tuolumne to get our other car.
September 14th: Day 1 ~ 6 miles+ (depends on where we sleep)
Catch morning 8am shuttle to the trail head near Tenaya Lake.
Our permits are for May Lake trail head- which makes this hike approx. 6 miles RT from trail head.
Hike to May Lake (camp location; high alpine lake at 9,329’)
Summit Mount Hoffman (10,850′). Decent description here: http://www.exploretheusa.com/May_Lake_and_Mt_Hoffmann_Yosemite_National_Park
TBD: We can camp at May Lake or (I think) continue on towards Clouds Rest. It’s a little unclear but we can confirm when we get our permits.
September 15th: Day 2 ~ 15.5 miles
Rough estimation at this time is approximately 8.5 miles from May Lake to Clouds Rest at 9,926’. Great views of all of Yosemite! Hike down 5 miles to Sunrise Creek for camping.
It’s approximately 7.8 miles from Clouds Rest to Half Dome, so we might want to keep going towards Half Dome after we summit Clouds Rest. We have to camp before the Half Dome/John Muir Trail junction. Recommendation is the Sunrise Creek area.
September 16th: Day 3 ~ 10 miles
Early morning start to summit Half Dome (plan to summit at sunrise?? Group decision)
Approximately 2.5 to top of Half Dome at 8,836’ (drop packs before summit).
Sunrise at the top??
Approximately another 7-8 miles to get from Half Dome to Happy Isles trail head (distance varies based on route we take back).
Permits for Half Dome are $8 per person, we have five (5) at this time. We will need to enter the daily lotto Thursday before departing Tuolumne Meadows to try for one last permit so the whole group can go up. Worst case, if we don’t get another permit I can volunteer tribute and not go up the cables. I might be too scared anyways since I don’t like heights!
We are allowed to stay at the backpackers campground the night after you finish a backpacking trip, so if people want to spend another night versus heading straight home, that is an option. There are backpacker campgrounds in the Valley as well (see links and costs above).
To acquire Permit:
Submit by fax
Apply March 27th for September 12
Saw as a 5 day trip. Can it be done quicker? I think yes. May Lake is a high alpine lake at 9,329’. The designated backpackers campsites are along the south shore of the lake, and there are seasonally operating flush toilets and a fresh water tap here.
Hike back to Tenaya Lake (3.3. miles) and continue to Sunrise Lakes (camp location; 9200′)
(Additional 3.2 – 4.4 miles) [6.5 – 7.7 miles]
Drop packs and hike approximately 3.5 miles to the summit of Clouds Rest at 9,926’. Great views of all of Yosemite! Lunch on top, and hike down 5 miles to Sunrise Creek for camping.