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Backpacking Advice

Mesa, Arizona
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48 posts
12 reviews
5 helpful votes
Backpacking Advice
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We are going to be backpacking in Yosemite from June 15th-17th. We currently have permits for the Pohono Trail and are planning to do Pohono (tunnel view)->Panorama->Mist Trail route over 2 nights/3days. We were drawn to this route because we thought it would be nice to see glacier point without the hoards of people.

Alternatively, we were considering trying to grab walk up permits (we know about the current process and feel optimistic that we can get an alternative permit 7 days in advance if we want to) that would allow us to do Half Dome and Clouds Rest (either Sunrise Lakes, Cathedral Lakes, or Happy Isle past LYV). Most recently, we have been looking at Rafferty->Valkenburg->Yosemite Valley route, but I'm a little worried about the mosquito's up there.

We are avid backpackers and are more interested in a route that offers beautiful scenery than something that simply checks off bucket list items. This is our first time in Yosemite, so we would love to get some classic views, but don't have our hearts set on anything specific. We really want a hike with the most bang for the buck.

My question- should we stick with the itinerary we have? Try to grab one of the aforementioned permits? Or is there an entirely different route that would best fit our style? We are in great shape and can handle lots of mileage and elevation gain each day (just finished the Grand Canyon rim to rim in a day with ease) so that shouldn't be an issue.

Thanks for any guidance! It is greatly appreciated.

4 replies to this topic
Atlanta area
Level Contributor
1,314 posts
21 reviews
81 helpful votes
1. Re: Backpacking Advice
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The route you have a permit for pretty much dictates your campsite locations -- first night would be Dewey Point, then next legal camping near the trail is about 4 miles upstream Illilouette Creek from Glacier Point. No camping on the Panorama. You could go off-trail to camp but need to be a mile-plus from the trail.

As for which itinerary -- it's a candy store, and you get to pick your treat. There is no "best," it's what you want to do. Keep in mind that to go up the Half Dome cables on a backpacker's permit requires a special add-on HD permit just for backpackers, this is different from the permit HD dayhikers need.

EDIT: "Valkenburg" = Vogelsang.

Edited: 22 May 2022, 21:33
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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94,757 posts
216 reviews
175 helpful votes
2. Re: Backpacking Advice
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Hi

I always defer to JR's backpacking advice. He knows his stuff!

I don't think the Pohono Trail is as high on the "beautiful scenery" as it is on the "classic views." You'll see fantastic views of Yosemite Valley, and I think this is a good choice for mid June. Note that you will see folks on the trail. Many are doing 4 Mile Trail up, taking in Glacier Point views, then 4 Mile Trail down. And no word yet from the NPS to learn if they're making the Mist Trail one-way up during the day. If they do, just head down after the scheduled time or use the John Muir Trail. It's the steps alongside Vernal Fall (the narrow slippery section) that can back up when hikers are going up and hikers are going down.

Rafferty Creek up to Vogelsang is good. We tried a loop past Vogelsang one year, but the snow crossings made us so slow that we altered our route. It was late July or early August (can't remember), but it was a high snowpack year. We don't try in June as high water crossings and snowfield crossings are to be expected; we prefer hiking later in the season. I have no idea what the trail conditions will be in mid-June this year, but I'd certainly expect those high water crossings, snow/slush, and mosquitos. (On that trip, I hid in our tent to eat my oatmeal. I could not pull up my head net to get a single spoonful of breakfast before six mozzies tried to have their breakfast on my chin. I am a mosquito magnet.)

Mesa, Arizona
Level Contributor
48 posts
12 reviews
5 helpful votes
3. Re: Backpacking Advice
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Thanks for this feedback. Candy store is right, we're having the hardest time choosing an itinerary. We have the campsites planned out for Pohono exactly as you mentioned above (Dewey or Bridalveil and Illilouette).

We just keep going back and forth about whether to try for a walk-up for one of the more

popular THs 7 days in advance.

Mesa, Arizona
Level Contributor
48 posts
12 reviews
5 helpful votes
4. Re: Backpacking Advice
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Thanks for your feedback. Sounds like Rafferty and Vogelsang will be better left for a late season trip.

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