FKT: Jason Hardrath - Trans Yosemite (CA) - 2020-10-11

Athletes
Gender category
Male
Route variation
Standard route
Multi-sport
No
Style
Unsupported
Start date
Finish date
Total time
21h 55m 11s
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Photos in Strava

Follow my Journey to 100 FKTs at Jason Hardrath (Follow on IG or FB)

Pull quotes (the short version):

 

"It's a long and lovely day in Yosemite high country."

 

“Epic is something I can get behind.”

 

"I didn't fully expect to find myself bushwhacking around a gated property complete with barking dogs during the dark hours of morning. My brains said this is how you get shot."

 

"...whole lot of dirt road miles to get from Mono Lake to the trail at Walker Lake. It did make me wonder if starting by summiting Mt. Dana at 13k' would be a classic alternative start."

 

"I started at 2:14 am, I didn't set foot in Yosemite until first light at 6:30 am at Mono Pass, Ben writes about how climbing the whole pass from Mono Lake seemed more epic."

 

"Loved being deep in the back country from Vogelsang High Camp to Merced Lake, but did ponder how traversing over Cloud's Rest then down into Yosemite Valley would be a cool variation that would take you through Tuolumne Meadows and past Tenaya Lake."

 

"Merced Lake is beautiful!"

 

"Sad to see the burn remnants of the fires that burned Little Yosemite Valley. Made me wonder what it looked like before."

 

"Always love an excuse to pass under El Capitan, even though the Old Big Oak Flat Road was heinously overgrown and decimated by landslides intermittently, I did appreciate the aesthetics of this choice...to have taken the maintained Yosemite Falls Trail and missed this iconic and awe-inspiring view would have taken away from the route"

 

"Continuing on the road, the final run down in the dark was an intermittently intense forest bushwack-steeplechasing oddly juxtaposed by remnants of asphalt beneath your feet."

 

"With 18 miles to go you can expect crawling, ducking, scrambling, jumping, wading, and asphalt."

 

The Route:

 

Ben Mitchell writes,

“This route crosses Yosemite National Park laterally from Mono Lake to Hodgdon Meadows (east to west), or more exactly, from Mono Basin Visitor Center to Upper Carlon Day Use Area. 

If starting from Mono Lake (counter-intuitively, Mono Lake & Lee Vining are actually at higher altitude than Hodgdon Meadows), begin at the Mono Basin Visitor Center on Lee Vining Creek Tr. From here it's Hwy 395 to Tioga Rd/Hwy 120 to Vista Point Dr. Then you'll jump on a gravel/dirt rd before cutting the corner (to avoid a residence) to Horse Meadows Rd. Then take a hard left onto Aqueduct Rd, continue onto Forest Rd 1N17, and then onto Forest Rd 1N19 to Walker Lake. This is where the route turns to single-track. You'll soon connect with Bloody Canyon Tr, which makes a long, steep ascent to Mono Pass, just before entering Yosemite (amazing views). Once in the park you'll stay right for about 3.5 mi. Then you'll take a left on a little-used & hard to spot trail (not on most maps) that parallels Dana Fork to the PCT (joins with batter defined trail about half way). Go left on PCT, Left on JMT, & another right toward Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Follow signs to Vogelsang HSC, to Merced Lake, and then Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, & finally Yosemite Valley via the Mist Trail. The valley can be a bit confusing if you're not familiar. Follow the GPX route on your device (as is always recommended). After El Capitan Meadow, you'll connect with Old Big Oak Flat Rd, which you'll follow for the remaining ~20 miles (except for the last .6). Though for the most part a gradual climb, this is not as straight forward as it sounds. The first 4 miles or so consist of broken, intermittent asphalt, overgrowth, numerous rock slide zones, & one particularly challenging washout. Most are fairly easily navigable (watch for worn paths & cairns), but the washout zone is preceded by pretty bad overgrowth, and following the cairns and previous (& therefore expected) steady incline of the road grade will mislead you to an improvised trail in the side of a sheer rock face. To avoid this, when the thick overgrowth section begins, attempt to take a steeper angle uphill to follow approximately where the rd should have been (using GPS) in order to make it above the coming sheer rock face. (If you miss this & reach the washout, look uphill and you'll see some of the remaining rock retaining wall of the old rd.) After this ~4 mi section, you'll join with El Capitan Tr, a welcomed maintained section. Then it's Tamarack Flat Campground & a paved rd stretch to the Tioga Rd/Hwy 120 crossing. After another unmaintained section with some downhill, the old rd joins with Hwy 120 for a short bit. There's not much shoulder here and it is advised that you take the high ground, following deer trails when available, to reach Tuolumne Grove. Follow Old Big Oak Flat thru Tuolumne Grove and another 4 mi to Hodgdon Meadows. After joining with Tuolumne Grove Rd you'll take a right onto an unmarked rd (GPS) for a final .6 to Upper Carlon Day Use Area, just outside the national park boundary. There is a pit toilet and parking area here for 10 or so vehicles.

Please note that though the above route description is detailed, GPX data should always be used to more precisely follow routes.

CalTopo map: https://caltopo.com/m/DTGV

GPX file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-oNSTAVrz2vJ-Vzl70U32PCyiofsPsZL

AllTrails map: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/map/map-44228bc5-3fed-4fbf-938b-62641a91ddf8

 

I recommend having conversations with Ben Mitchell directly about his route.

 

My Experience: 

 

Trans-Yosemite is a long and lovely day in Yosemite high country. It takes you through some excellent backcountry that is usually reserved for intrepid backpacker types due to the elevation, distances, and rough trails.

 

I will admit that from the outset I had my reservations about a route named Trans-Yosemite starting miles outside of the park boundary, but when I questioned him about his starting choice Ben describes his intentions with the following,

 

“It was just so much more epic to climb Mono Pass all the way from Mono Lake.” 

 

Epic is something I can get behind. 

 

This being said, I didn't fully expect to find myself bushwhacking around a gated property complete with barking dogs during the dark hours of morning. My brain said this is how you get shot. This Mono Lake start does allow for a whole lot of dirt road miles to get from Mono Lake to the trail at Walker Lake. I started at 2:14 am, I didn't set foot in Yosemite until after the first light at 6:30 am at Mono Pass. It did make me wonder if starting by summiting Mt. Dana at 13k' would be a classic alternative start without these outside-of-the-park road miles. I may yet propose this alternative variation with a 13'er start for a day spent crossing one of the nation’s most beloved parks.

 

Upon entering Yosemite proper, I loved being deep in the back country from Vogelsang High Camp to Merced Lake, but did ponder how traversing over Cloud's Rest then down into Yosemite Valley would be a cool variation that would take you through Tuolumne Meadows and past Tenaya Lake and upon mapping it, it is about the same distance. 

 

Let me tell you, Merced Lake is beautiful though!

 

As you drop from 10,400’ at the top of Mono Pass all the way down to the Valley, it is quite a lot of rough downhilling but the icing on the cake is coming down the nearly 2 miles of stone stairs on the Mist Trail.  Along the way it is sad to see the burn remnants of the fires that burned Little Yosemite Valley. Made me wonder what it looked like before.

 

Once in the Valley, I always love an excuse to pass under El Capitan, even though the Old Big Oak Flat Road was heinously overgrown and decimated by landslides intermittently, I did appreciate the aesthetics of this choice. To have taken the maintained Yosemite Falls Trail and missed this iconic and awe-inspiring view would have taken away from the route.

 

Continuing on the road, the final run down in the dark was an intermittently intense forest bushwack-steeplechasing oddly juxtaposed by remnants of asphalt beneath your feet. It did make me wish I was on a maintained trail off-and-on due to darkness engulfing me during the climb out of Yosemite Valley. However, I will say that having the Kogalla Waist Light is a game changer for moving fast in overgrowth like this. A second angle of light in a flood light style gives better depth perception. With the days getting shorter and shorter as I continue these FKTs, I see myself utilizing this tool more and more! In short, with 18 miles to go you can expect crawling, ducking, scrambling, jumping, wading, and asphalt.

Follow my Journey to 100 FKTs at Jason Hardrath (Follow on IG or FB)

Gear:

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0

Kogalla Single Pack

Tailwind Nutrition

Hoka Speedgoats