I was thinking of throwing my name into the hat for a reservation at the Yosemite High Sierra Camps next year. I've hiked past all of them over the years, but never stayed there. Anybody got any experience using the HSC's for a week long loop trip?
I did the week-long guided loop trip, but that was 20 years ago, so I imagine quite a bit has changed since then. I think the concessionaire that runs the camps has probably changed in that time, so things are probably run differently and whatever qualities or deficiencies I noticed during that trip may have changed for better or worse, so take my experience with a boulder of salt.
The guided loop trip back then was normally led by a concessionaire employee, but every once in a while, those guys had a break for a week or something, so an actual ranger would fill in. I lucked out and got a ranger led trip (our ranger was Margaret Eisler, who I think still works in the park - an added bonus was that she was a part-time flautist for the Santa Barbara symphony then, and she brought her flute along and played a few times).
Our trip started in Tuolumne (duh), then went counter-clockwise around the loop. For those of us in not-so-great shape, doing it that way helped a lot because the first couple days are really easy and allow you to get acclimated before taking on the tougher hikes from May Lake to Sunrise and from Merced Lake to Vogelsang. There was a huge fire burning on the western side of the park, so the place was mostly shut down, and people weren't really allowed out on the trails unless they already had reservations at the camps, so we had a lot more solitude than you normally would.
The accommodations were all fine, just standard Yosemite tent cabins, with beds and a stove. If you're thinking of making meal reservations, the meals on my trip were excellent, but just being really hungry may have played a part in that. I think all the camps other than Vogelsang had some kind of plumbing, with showers and toilets. Vogelsang just had pit toilets. We had a layover day in Merced Lake, where they had some facilities for washing clothes (nothing too fancy, just a sink, wringer, and maybe a clothesline).
Generally I'd highly recommend it, especially if you'd like to have a backpacking trip where you can ditch at least half your pack load.
It's a beautiful trail. We usually do it every summer, we did not have a guide. Personally I like to do a bit more, I find it to be an easy relaxing walk (a few elevation gains, but nothing horrible). There are also campsites available at each HSC if you were looking to save money.
At May Lake if you hike up the rocks/boulder behind HSC and to the east of the trail walking towards the road/out of May Lake, it gives a great panorama view (especially at sunset). You can also hike up Mt Hoffman from May Lake.