The area you are acclimatizing is actually called Horseshoe Meadow. Cottonwood is the name of the creek on the way in.
Watch here for conditions... that is probably the best way to plan. We are all watching for the conditions at the cables.
The old trail is a nice shortcut. Finding its beginning past the Portal Store may be the most difficult part, but even that is not hard. If you go up, you cannot miss the main trail -- the old trail stops AT and ON the main trail.
Here's BobR's map of the old trail
It would sure be nice if someone going up in the next month would take a series of pictures showing the start of old the trail, and the end, too.