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Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

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Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby amigo » Sun May 04, 2014 8:42 am

My friend and I are planning a trip from out east to the Sierra early to mid September, after Labor Day weekend. We will be doing only dayhikes and car camping. Hikes we are considering are:

    Four Mile/Panorama loop in Yosemite
    Clouds Rest
    Bishop Pass
    Kearsarge Pass
    Desolation Wilderness - Aloha Lake or Velma Lakes
    if time permits, also include Cathedral Lakes/May Lake+Hoffman in Yosemite

I have been to Yosemite and Ansel Adams Wilderness once 3 years ago and my friend has been to Lake Tahoe. Neither of us have done any of the proposed hikes. I've done some backpacking and lots of hiking. My friend has done some hiking.

1. Should we book a campsite at one of the Yosemite Valley campgrounds ahead of time? Can those campgrounds still get full after Labor Day? Weekdays? Weekends? We plan on camping here at least one night. What about the campground at Tuolumne Meadows? Plan on staying here at least one night.

2. Same as #1 but for South Lake Tahoe/Emerald Bay campgrounds? Busy?

3. Any suggestions for where to car camp near Bishop Pass and Kearsarge Pass trailheads? Likely less busy here?

4. How cold will nights likely get at campground locations we're consdering? Sounds like daytime can be hot but nights cool. How cold, likely? 40s? 30s?

5. For those familiar with Desolation Wilderness, would you recommend Aloha Lake or Velma Lakes?

Thanks.



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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby markskor » Sun May 04, 2014 9:46 am

1. Should we book a campsite at one of the Yosemite Valley campgrounds ahead of time? Can those campgrounds still get full after Labor Day? Weekdays? Weekends? We plan on camping here at least one night. What about the campground at Tuolumne Meadows? Plan on staying here at least one night.
Most Valley campgrounds (other than Camp 4) are summer full, even long past Labor Day - reserved long ago. If you know when exactly you plan to be there, you can still try...send in reservation applications now but doubtful through the mail. Always better in person - better to stand in line Curry lot, but that's no help to you at home. Best guess is maybe - for one night mid-week in Valley Campgrounds...Camp 4 a better shot.
Tuolumne is another matter entirely and your best bet as only 50% of the campground is reservable...other half is first come..Stay there!
With a site in Tuolumne you can day hike Cathedral, Clouds Rest, Saddlebag area and still come back to Tuolumne nightly...I would stay there for the entire week..

2. Same as #1 but for South Lake Tahoe/Emerald Bay campgrounds? Busy?
You never know but usually full too...(not my area of expertise.)
3. Any suggestions for where to car camp near Bishop Pass and Kearsarge Pass trailheads? Likely less busy here?
Onion Valley is convenient for Kearsarge...also probably full but worth a reservation shot.
4. How cold will nights likely get at campground locations we're consdering? Sounds like daytime can be hot but nights cool. How cold, likely? 40s? 30s?
Sounds about right... FWIW, I always carry a 20 degree bag - Sierra.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby paul » Sun May 04, 2014 5:24 pm

Specifically for Bishop Pass - there are a number of campgrounds along Bishop Creek on the way from Bishop to South Lake, plus there is a campground at North Lake, not far away. Look on the Inyo national forest website for info. Don't know how many days you have available for hiking, but in addition to Kearsarge and Bishop Passes - both should be great dayhikes, by the way - Piute Pass is also nice, pretty easy hike with massive views from the pass.
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby larroyo33 » Sun May 04, 2014 7:07 pm

Specifically for Kearsarge Pass, Onion Valley is the best place to camp as it is right next to the trailhead. Another option is Grays Meadow, it is down the road at a much lower elevation but still within a 10 minute drive to the trailhead. I would recommend reserving a campsite for Onion Valley through recreation.gov as it can fill up especially on the weekends.
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby amigo » Mon May 05, 2014 11:10 am

Thanks for your replies. I'm surprised to hear that even after Labor Day it's still busy. Should've known. For once, I would like to not to have to make reservations ahead of time and just wing it. Oh well, that's the price to pay to go to beautiful, popular, places.

How does the Piute Pass hike compare with the Bishop Pass and Kearsarge Pass hikes? How would you rate them on wow factor, difficulty and length?
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby paul » Mon May 05, 2014 1:13 pm

I haven't been up Kearsarge (though I have seen lots of photos, sure looks great) so I can't really compare that to Bishop or Piute which I have been up and down. The scenery along the Bishop Pass trail is better than the Piute Pass trail, but I think the view to the west from Piute pass is a bigger "wow" than at Bishop. I think Piute is 5 miles and 2000 feet, and Bishop is 6 miles and 2200 feet, so very similar time and effort. I'd call it very close, you can't go wrong with either one. One nice thing about Piute Pass is that the North Lake campground is the trailhead, so if you camp there you walk right out of your campsite, whereas at South Lake you're down the road a bit. Not a big deal but might make a difference to you.
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby rlown » Mon May 05, 2014 1:16 pm

Amigo,

Either way you choose, it would be nice to see a TR. I love getting the feedback on conditions. Esp, if you choose Piute Pass. The others would be a bonus.

Russ
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby maverick » Mon May 05, 2014 2:35 pm

Russ wrote:
Either way you choose, it would be nice to see a TR. I love getting the feedback
on conditions. Esp, if you choose Piute Pass. The others would be a bonus.


Russ is right on, TR's and feedback are highly appreciated, and very helpful to your
fellow HST members. Many of us feel it is kind of an unwritten payback for all the
great info we have received from other fellow HST members along the way, which
may have contributed in making our trips not only better, but also safer in some
cases. They are the things that makes HST such a great site.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby Tom_H » Mon May 05, 2014 6:25 pm

I used to live at Tahoe. It's dead after Labor Day, especially Sun. night-Friday mid-day. There are quite a few big campgrounds that will have space: Camp Richardson, a huge one by the library on Hwy. 50 in the middle of SLT, another on Hwy 50 as you approach the intersection with Hwy 89 (We call that the South Y). The campground is just east of the road a half mile or so before you get to the intersection. There is a free one night campground at the parking lot TH to Cascade Lake. There are several nice CA State Park campgrounds between Emerald Bay and Tahoma, DL Bliss being one. Do a Google Advanced Web Search for "campgrounds" + "South Lake Tahoe" and they all will appear. Now this being said, it's been awhile since I've lived there, though I do go back. Perhaps TahoeJeff might see this and add his thoughts.

The two best day hikes are: 1) Echo Lakes to Lake Aloha, but the water taxi will be closed after Labor Day as they open the dam and release water diversion away from Tahoe Basin and into the American RIver. This means a couple of extra miles on each end as you have to start your hike at the marina at the lower end of Lower Echo. The water taxi goes almost to the upper end of Upper Echo. 2) Start at Glen Alpine Spring beyond Fallen Leaf Lake and climb Mt. Tallac. It's like looking straight down from heaven onto all of Lake Tahoe. Really great view. You can do Google Advanced Image Search for "Lake Aloha" and "View from Mt. Tallac" for an idea of what you'll see. There are plenty of other day hikes, but those are the best. Ask if you want more.
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby LMBSGV » Mon May 05, 2014 9:12 pm

Here are a couple of other suggestions along with the all other good ones in the previous posts. If you can't get a place at Tuolumne Meadows, then the National Forest sites on the east side of Tioga Pass are a great possibility. They are all first-come, but after Labor Day, you should be able to get a site at one of the campgrounds. Saddlebag Lake would be best for dayhiking without driving, but the others are all good places to camp and provide drivable access to the Tuolumne trails.

The other suggestion is McGee Creek Campground or the campgrounds on Rock Creek Road. Check the Reserve America site for reservations for McGee Creek and East Fork on Rock Creek Road. The McGee Creek Campground is small at the beginning of the McGee Pass Trail. Rock Creek Road campgrounds would provide access to Little Lakes Valley and Mono Pass.

From my experience, finding a campsite on a weekday on the Bishop Creek/Sabrina road would be pretty easy after Labor Day. The dayhike possibilities from this area are fabulous.

If you haven't checked it out, here's the Inyo National Forest Campground page:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/inyo/re ... 8&actid=29
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby RiseToADry » Mon May 05, 2014 10:30 pm

amigo wrote:Thanks for your replies. I'm surprised to hear that even after Labor Day it's still busy. Should've known. For once, I would like to not to have to make reservations ahead of time and just wing it. Oh well, that's the price to pay to go to beautiful, popular, places.

How does the Piute Pass hike compare with the Bishop Pass and Kearsarge Pass hikes? How would you rate them on wow factor, difficulty and length?


If you choose bishop pass, I would recommend the loop around chocolate mountain when you come back down. It'll add a mile or so more but pretty decent scenery!

Piute pass is nice because you can be at the top of the pass by 9 if you get an early start, which gives you time to explore upper humphreys basin. I would check out the golden trout lakes and Muriel, or head to the north and hit lower deso lake and the humphreys/marmot lake. This whole basin is pretty majestic.

Can't wait for a TR. Cheers!
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Re: Yosemite, Bishop, Desolation Wilderness trip - need info

Postby wildhiker » Wed May 07, 2014 12:20 am

We have a cabin about an hour from north Tahoe, so we day-hike there a lot. Here are three of my favorite day hikes that give great views of Lake Tahoe, assuming you can do 10 miles round trip and up to 2000 feet elevation gain:

1) Tahoe Rim Trail from near Martis Peak east over Mt. Baldy to near Rose Knob Peak. Take the narrow but paved Martis Peak lookout road from the big bend just a couple hundred yards north of Barker Pass on Hwy 267 for about 4 miles to a very sharp 90 degree bend from eastward to northward just about 1/2 mile before the lookout. Park there, walk 1/2 mile on the dirt road east (or drive this road if you have high clearance 4WD) and pick up the Tahoe Rim Trail. Walk southeast through pleasant forest for a couple miles with peek-a-boo views of Lake Tahoe while climbing, then burst out on Mt. Baldy with a view of nearly the entire lake directly below you and surrounding mountains. From here, the TYT continues east just below the ridgecrest on open slopes with outstanding views the whole way of the Tahoe basin. Really feels like you are walking on the top of the world, with the lake 3000 feet elevation below you. Walk as far as you like and turn back. Even better in mid July (in normal year) when the open slopes are covered in wildflowers.

2) On the east side, from Spooner Lake up to Snow Valley Peak. From the Spooner Lake parking lot on Hwy 28 just north of the Hwy 50 junction (park entrance fee), head up the North Canyon trail fire road, then branch left onto the foot trail headed to Marlette Lake. At the head of North Canyon, the foot trail nearly touches the fire road - head over to the fire road and then back south down it for 1/4 mile to a gated rough jeep road heading east up to Snow Valley Peak. Take this jeep road up to the top with great views - don't forget to walk north to the top of the little knob at the last big switchback, where you can look directly down at Marlette Lake. Intersect the Tahoe Rim Trail just below Snow Valley Peak - take the short side trip up to the top. Then head south on the TRT. For a shorter option, after a couple miles, take the side trail west back down to North Canyon and then down its fire road back to Spooner Lake. For a longer option, take the TRT all the way down almost to Hwy 50, where you pick up a side trail west around Spooner Lake. Even better in early to mid October when North Canyon is full of aspen in blazing fall color.

3) Cascade Lake trailhead to Dicks Lake in Desolation Wilderness. This trailhead is on the south side of Emerald Bay. The trail climbs rapidly up to the top of Maggies Peak, with great views straight down to Emerald Bay and the out over Lake Tahoe. From Maggies Peak, you roller-coaster along a ridge directly into the open granite country of Desolation Wilderness. Dicks Lake makes a good destination. Return the same way.

4) Bonus easy hike: Rubicon trail along the shore of Lake Tahoe. Start at DL Bliss State Park just north of Emerald Bay (park entrance fee) and drive down to the Rubicon trail parking lot just below the campground. Hike south first on a dramatic section of trail that clings to the cliffs directly above the incredibly blue lake, then gets higher with more open views. It runs through a bit of a boring forest section while it drops back down to lake level and then turns into Emerald Bay. Return the same way.

-Phil
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