Jan 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm #1254708
I'm going to Yosemite for the first time at the beginning of June. I want to go from Tolumne to Happy isles via Vogelsang. In planning I found some people talking about snow, but for last year or 2003 or whatever. There was a link somewhere that had line graphs and according to that the snowpack is avg this year.
One prob… Never been… what IS the avg?
Well, I guess a more concise question would be, 'Will the trail be reasonably obvious to the seasoned hiker?'
I am aware of the conditions willingness to change at a moments notice and will be properly prepared… I'm just wondering, from the people who frequent this spot, Piece o' cake, or be ready to use all my navi skills? (undoubtedly, somewhere in between)
ThanksJan 31, 2010 at 5:29 pm #1568338
I've hiked that area south of Tuolumne Meadows and past Vogelsang, and I would never attempt to go as early as June 1. It may be a little snowy at July 1.
The high point would be Vogelsang Pass, and I have hit snow there before at almost August 1. By that late, the remaining snow is tracked up. Actually, past Vogelsang Pass you are on the Lewis Creek Trail, and it does not normally get any early season trail maintenance. In fact, get in there and break your leg, and you may not be found for a week. Also, NPS budget cutbacks may limit trail maintenance to a minimum. That trail is one way to cover the High Sierra Camps, so that is the only thing that may open it earlier.
Right now we are still in mid-winter, and it is difficult to predict what the full effect of winter snowpack will be. At present, it is running around 120% of normal. That means that persisting snow drifts will be there in July.
–B.G.–Jan 31, 2010 at 5:39 pm #1568342
Any alternate suggestions?
2 15- 20 mile days, 1 night?
Don't have much time:(
I want to see what Yo has but would like to avoid crowds as much as possible.
I'm afraid that our trip may be too early in the season to get to the 'good' spotsJan 31, 2010 at 5:48 pm #1568346
Yes, right before you get to Vogelsang Camp, there is a trail junction. Two trails lead off away from Vogelsang Pass and toward Merced Lake, if that is your plan.
One trail is along Fletcher Creek, and it is quite nice for wildflowers, but around July. The other trail is along Emeric Creek, and it kind of joins with Fletcher later on down canyon. If you go by either of these ways, you will simply miss the top 500 or 1000 feet of your original route, plus I am guessing it'll be a few miles shorter.
But, hey, what do I know?
–B.G.–Jan 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm #1568352
I think I see what you're saying…
So, if I understand, the only real problem area should be the Vogelsang camp, but not necessarily the whole route?
So If I come up Rafferty creek and take a right before Vogelsang camp I can get back on the Fletcher creek and bypass the highest point?
My intent was to camp at Merced lake anyway. This has the best possibility of being passable?
Thanks for the infoJan 31, 2010 at 6:35 pm #1568364
Yes, the area just above Vogelsang Camp has bushes and rocks which can hold snow late in the season. Once you get up to Vogelsang Lake, it opens up a bit. Then you have to get up and over the pass and down on the other side. There is normally some snow getting up to the pass.
By turning right at the trail junction, you will stay a bit lower. And, it is shorter and quicker.
The only advantage of going up and over Vogelsang Pass is for the view, which is pretty good up there.
–B.G.–Jan 31, 2010 at 7:52 pm #1568403
I have done the trip you are proposing as well as many of the alternates. To answer your question, yes the route will be obvious, though you will have snow likely above 10k from the weather reports so far this year. The Fletcher Creek trail is nice but I am 100% sure you will also see snow on that trail as well. But rather than worry about the snow, go with it. prepare yourself and either route will be an incredible trip. Just make sure that you are prepared for the mosquitos. That is the real problem. Also, there is a stream crossing a couple of miles after Vogelsang Pass (Florence Creek) that could be nasty early in the season.Jan 31, 2010 at 8:25 pm #1568410
"I want to see what Yo has but would like to avoid crowds as much as possible."
I understand. In Yosemite, the trails are overrun with hikers for the first 8-10 miles from any road, but then the population thins out (except on the JMT or PCT). Hiking the loop around the High Sierra Camps can be busy if you hit the season for little old ladies to be on it. So, getting the season right and getting on some of those obscure trails will pay off. One year, I had left T.M. and passed Vogelsang at 10 a.m. By sundown, I was at Isberg Pass, and then headed back toward Merced Lake. Finally, on the second day, I passed one other backpacker before I got back to T.M.
–B.G.–Feb 1, 2010 at 8:16 am #1568507
Another thing to watch is Tioga Road Opening Date. This will vary year to year. See http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm for historic data on opening date. (july 1st is the latest opening and that was in 1998.)
There is a forum that speculates and monitors the plowing every year. http://yosemitenews.info/forum/list.php?3Feb 1, 2010 at 9:11 am #1568523
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
"Wait and see" is about the only option you have for now. By April 1 we'll have all the significant snow we''ll be getting and the main variable becomes the heat.
In the meantime here's some data to pore over while you plan your trip. I've been up there, but in August so have nothing useful to add to what's already been said, other than it's a worthy area–quite beautiful.
RickFeb 1, 2010 at 11:23 am #1568560
Thanks for your collective input guys!
I know I'm asking a question only The Big Bang can answer. I'm just trying to get a baseline idea of what can be expected.
ThanksFeb 1, 2010 at 11:32 am #1568565
@snusmumrikenLocale: SF Bay Area
Here is an early June trip report with photos from 2008.
http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3006&p=18047&hilit=vogelsang#p18047Feb 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm #1568602
Right now, it is way too early to predict the snowpack or when it will melt. On an average year, the snowpack continues to deepen until about March 20. After then, there still might be some snow showers, but it will be melting faster than it accumulates. So, around March 20 is about the earliest time that any Californian tries to predict the summer backpacking season. Unfortunately, March 20 is far too late to get into some of the various trail reservation quotas. Right now, the winter snow is running at around 120% of normal, so one would expect the summer snow to last a bit longer than normal.
–B.G.–Feb 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm #1572233
@bookLocale: Northern California
I've done this trip a million times(albeit usually at the end of June) and agree with Greg–go for it. There will be snow but nothing technical. Actually the lower "shortcut" will present greater route-finding problems than going up and over Vogelsang. Don't go over the pass if you want to avoid snow–drop straight down (on a trail!) from the camp towards Emeric lake. When you reach the steep south-facing sun exposed 2000 foot down section to Merced lake you'll be golden–the snow will be gone. Trust me here–I go up to Merced and to Emeric every year in April or May. Of course, all bets are off if this is a monster snow year. You can always bail and do the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne from the same trailhead. This DROPS 1000 feet or more and should be snow free for sure.Feb 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm #1572238
Man, Those pics are sumpin else!
I think because of our short trip duration, and the fact that my folks will be with us we're just gonna stick to all the obligatory dayhikes. More family time…
But we're definitely gonna go back and I'm gonna be salivating until we get there.
Stupid rent and bills… (throwing my hands up in the air emoticon)
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