Long Trip to Sierra | High Sierra Topix  

Long Trip to Sierra

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby seanr » Mon May 19, 2014 5:54 pm

I'm not sure if you are driving all the way from Texas, or maybe flying to LAX and needing to start and finish in L.A. with a place to camp near L.A. the first night.

You happen to be hitting a weather sweet spot for Joshua Tree (late May can be hot), while the farther north you are this week, the more likely you would experience thunderstorms. Given the weather I'd probably check J-Tree out (if flying to LAX and wanting to quickly get to a scenic campsite with bouldering and hikes nearby). I say probably because you could instead boulder in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine with Mount Whitney as your backdrop or in the Buttermilk area by Bishop. The former will remind you of many commercials or movies you may have seen because that is where the filming was done. These bouldering spots are down in the lower elevations, so snow is not a concern, but heat could be if a heatwave develops later in your trip.

The drive along 395 in the Eastern Sierra is beautiful and dispersed camping or developed campgrounds are available in addition to backcountry camping in the Inyo National Forest or on BLM land. You should check it out on the way to Yosemite, after Yosemite, or both (you will be hitting Yosemite Valley at a great time; don't skip that). The downside to the Eastside as compared to Yosemite Valley is that, like Tuolumne Meadows area in YNP and the high elevation hikes out of Cedar Grove, Roads End, and Mineral King in SEKI, the upper elevations will have lingering snow and icy lakes in some areas, especially north facing areas if peakbagging. To see and visit the Eastside, you could enter or leave Yosemite via Tioga Pass, checking out and exploring Tuolumne Meadows and the Mariposa Grove along the way. Just north of Yosemite on the Eastside, the Sierra roads and trails between Lee Vining/Tioga Pass and Bridgeport are great. As mentioned, Rock Creek Rd. (Little Lakes Valley), South Lake/Sabrina/North Lake (HWY 168 west of Bishop to trail access for Eastside of SEKI), and Mammoth area are great, as are Horseshoe Meadows Rd., Onion Valley, and Glacier Lodge Road. Aside from what's already posted, you ought to be able to get additional tips and reports after this weekend on what might be doable without significant snow, but as you know, you are a little early in the season for that.

If driving from Texas and you want to see Joshua trees and other desert scenery/flora, consider driving through Mojave National Preserve or taking HWY 190 through Death Valley NP (could be more convenient than J-Tree). Consider hiking or backpacking Telescope Peak with a stay at Mahogany Flat campground (check the point weather forecast at weather.gov first). As someone else mentioned, Westgard Pass and the White Mountains are scenic as well. If you choose to check any of these places out, we can get more specific with hiking and camping suggestions as well as worthwhile side trips.

As far as your Yosemite plans, they look great given that you are wary of snow in the more remote upper areas of the park. You've gotten several excellent tips and ideas in this thread. I agree that Waterwheel Falls out of TM area would be better than Ostrander. If you can't or won't break it up into parts of a backpack trip, I don't think that 4-mile-G.P.-Panorama Trail-Mist Trail- Happy Isles loop will wear you out enough to need a definite planned rest day. It is easy trail hiking given that you are in good shape, young, and used to backpacking rougher terrain. The Clouds Rest Hike will probably take a little more out of you. It wouldn't hurt to do the spectacular Mist Trail a second time to visit Clouds Rest if you manage to get a Half Dome Permit, but have trouble getting a backcountry permit. You could also dayhike to Clouds Rest from Sunrise TH up near scenic Tenaya Lake. Regardless, you are missing out if you don't head up to Tuolumne Meadows, even if you just drive and walk around a bit. Maybe do Lembert Dome if you are short on time or find too much snow elsewhere. Hikes and camping from Saddlebag Lake just east of Tioga Pass are easy and spectacular, but I'd wait for reports on what the snow travel is like there since you aren't looking to deal with it. It will probably be too early for that.

If you do go to Westside SEKI, all the suggestions you've gotten in this thread are great. Playing tourist at Moro Rock, in the Sequoia Groves, along Redwood Creek, near Cedar Grove, or on waterfall hikes won't be bad if you don't feel like doing more or dealing with snow. Don't bother with Mariposa Grove in YNP if you visit SEKI.



User avatar
seanr
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 257
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:46 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby balance » Tue May 20, 2014 8:39 am

Welcome to the Sierra Nevada!

If you don't already have it, you might want to get "The High Sierras: Peaks. Passes, and Trails" by R J Secor. It's a great reference for finding the places you and your friends might want to explore.

Full disclosure: I am not R J Secor trying to sell a book.
User avatar
balance
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:26 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby markskor » Tue May 20, 2014 12:40 pm

Should read - The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails Paperback
by R. J. Secor...
My God man, at least get the title right?
mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2047
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby balance » Thu May 22, 2014 10:03 pm

Greetings mark

You are so right. Going by memory, I did add a superfluous and extraneous s.

I'm new here, so I'm not sure if you're kidding, or just don't have anything better to do.
User avatar
balance
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:26 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby markskor » Fri May 23, 2014 5:06 am

Sierra - not Sierras and not kidding.
High Sierras is just wrong.
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2047
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby KrazyKolb » Sat May 24, 2014 8:37 am

Trip Update:

We just made it out of Joshua Tree and will be headed up to SEKI this afternoon.

Day 1:
Arrived in the evening and set up camp at Indian Cove. The site was breathtaking and we were nicely nestled at the base of a rock outcrop. Scrambled up some "hills" and kept it easy. It was very cloudy which ruined the sunset, but we decided to sleep without the rainfly and were rewarded with beautiful stars through the night.

Campsite.jpg
Campsite

Tent View.jpg
View from Tent

Pano.jpg
Indian Cove


Day 2:
Our plan for the day was visit different sites and climb as many peaks as we could. We started at Indian Cove, moved to Hidden Valley, then spent time at Keys View. The afternoon was scuttled by rain (really, they get 5 inches of rain a year and we experienced 1 of those) but it kept things cool. Evening we were rewarded by a beautiful sunset behind the mountains.

Isle.jpg
Isle in the Sky


Day 3:
We broke down camp in the morning and went off for more exploring. Climbed around Jumbo Rocks, Split Rock, and Isle in the Sky. We explored the Cactus farm and headed out of the park.

Split Rock.jpg
Split Rock


Great experience! The south doesn't feel too different from Texas, but as we've headed further west we're becoming inundated with hills and mountains. This landscape is incredible (LA smog not so much). We're ready to leave the desert and hit the trees.
Last edited by KrazyKolb on Sat May 24, 2014 10:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
KrazyKolb
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 18, 2014 4:40 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby KrazyKolb » Sat May 24, 2014 8:57 am

I'm trying to figure out pictures, I'll add them in when I figure it out (maybe after the trip)

Thanks for all the advice up north. We've taken your tips and modified our plans.

SEKI:
We arrive tonight and will hope to get a spot in Cedar Grove (Not likely, given Memorial Day campers). Assuming this doesn't work, we're going to do a short backcountry hike and camp in the forest. Is there any chance of getting a site this weekend? This would affect our plans (but not too much)

Day 2: Explore mist falls (Or moro rock) in morning + Hike Alta Peak pt 1
Day 3: Summit Alta Peak and hike back down (return to base and again hope to get a camp site)
Day 4: Hike Mitchel Peak and drive to Yosemite (stay with friend in Oakhurst)


Yosemite:
Day 1: Drive into park with friend to go climb (we will investigate campsites and see what we can find. We'll either get a site in the valley or just set up in camp 4 with our packs)

From this point we're going to play in by ear. Backpacking is totally an option, so I'm glad that makes things easier.

If we can get an overnight permit for LYV, we'll follow WD's advice and take follow this route
Wandering Daisy wrote:Day 2 hike Clouds Rest (be sure to take the Mist Trail instead of the JMT) and go up to the shoulder of Half Dome (even if you do not get a permit for the cables) and stay at Little Yosemite Valley backcountry CG. Day 3 return to the Valley by way of Panorama-Four Mile Trail. Camp at backpacker's CG night 3


If we manage that hike, we will likely ditch the Yosemite Falls overnight and just do it as a day hike.

Ostrander and Mariposa Grove will definitely be ditched. We'll replace it with a day hike through TM, and possibly a second depending on ground conditions (I hear it recently dropped 8 inches of snow... that's concerning). It's hard to judge right now, but Waterwheel and Tenaya sound like our best bets.

At the end, we're going to leave the park a day early and explore the areas you recommended around 395. We'll stop at either Mammoth and Minarets for the night.

I'll be sure to keep you updated and I'll check back whenever I have service.
User avatar
KrazyKolb
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 18, 2014 4:40 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby KrazyKolb » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:47 pm

Howdy everyone,

Sorry for the incredibly delayed response here. I just found my trip writeup saved on my computer and realized I never posted it. This obviously won't help anyone now because the trip was 5 months ago, but I figure someone in the future might stumble on the post and find the information useful. To be clear, this trip was taken in late May.

Final Trip Update
Day 4-5: Spent going from Joshua Tree to SEKI, stayed in LA with friends the night after J-Tree, then drove up along the coast on Highway 1 for a while then cut in to dispersed camp in the national forest outside the park for the night. We also had our first In-N-Out Experience, which was tasty but not quite as good our local Texas chain Whataburger.

Day 6: We avoided the bulk of the Memorial Day tourist crowds by hiking up Mitchell Peak (after talking to the rangers we decided this would be a better option than Alta b/c of snow above 9000ft+). Hike was nice but there was some lingering snow, especially on the last mile or so up to the top. We ended up still getting in the tourist crowd mix by checking out the Sherman Tree later in the day.

Mitchell.jpg
The path disappeared about 1/2 a mile from the top


Day 7-8: We did an overnight backpack up to Pear Lake. The whole trip was filled with scenery that none of us had encountered before. All three of us agreed that this was hands down the best hike we did all trip, even with the patchy snow on the way up. Pear Lake was half-frozen and we got some gorgeous pictures here as the sun was setting.

Valley.jpg
Valley along the trail

Reflection.jpg
Reflection in Pear Lake

sunset.jpg
Sunset from a ridge near Pear Lake


Day 9: Headed out from SEKI to restock on food in Fresno and stayed with a friend in Mariposa for the night.

Day 10: Went into Yosemite and got our permits and campsites worked out for the next week or so. Stayed in Crane Flat that night.

Day 11: Hiked from Tenaya Lake up to Clouds Rest (14 miles-ish round trip). The view from the top was money. The snow wasn’t too bad on the hike either, there was some on the north facing slopes of the first ridge we had to get over about 2 miles in and we also had to cross a really cold stream about 2 minutes into the hike that was a little over knee deep, but other than that there weren’t too many other obstacles. We ended up being able to get a Little Yosemite Valley permit form Glacier Point the next night along with Half Dome permits, so we stayed in the Backpackers Campground in the Main Valley that night.

Day 12: Drove up to Glacier Point in the morning then hiked along the Panorama Trail to our campsite in LYV.

Day 13: Hiked up Half Dome early and ended up being the second people on the top for the day. As we walked down we passed by a couple hundred people headed for the summit so by going early we managed to avoid the mass hysteria that we were sure would ensue on the cables later that morning/afternoon. We then packed up our campsite in LYV and went back down the Mist Trail to the Valley and took a short break before hiking back up the 4 Mile Trail to our car at Glacier Point to complete one giant loop. (The day total was roughly 18 miles and 6000ft of elevation gain). Stayed in the Backpackers Camp that night.

HalfDome.jpg
View from Half Dome looking into the valley


Day 14: Took a rest day and chilled in the Valley amidst the mass of crowds. The park is like the Disneyland equivalent of National Parks, it’s insane how many people come to the Valley. We climbed to the top of Yosemite Falls, which wasn’t all that exciting to be completely honest as we had seen just about every viewpoint of the Valley and the waterfall was hard to get a good view of. If I could do it again I would skip this hike. Stayed in Crane Flat again that night.

Day 15: We wanted to get away from the Valley so we spent the day up in the Tuolomne Meadows Area, which is fantastic. We hiked up to Cathedral Lakes and explored a bit around there. Cathedral Peak looked awesome to climb, but a combination of snow, lack of time, and lack of mountaineering skill prevented us from attempting. Maybe on another trip another summer we’ll come back and try to climb Cathedral and Conness over a couple of days. Anyways, we ended up crossing over Tioga Pass and spent the night at Reds Meadow near Devils Postpile National Monument. A book we read advertised that the site had hot spring access, but we when got there the spring bathhouse looked like it had been closed for years. Disappointing.

Cathedral.jpg
Cathedral Lake from nearby ridge

Lakes.jpg
Both Cathedral Lakes from the shoulder of Cathedral Peak


Day 16: Explored around Devils Postpile and ended up taking a short hike to Rainbow Falls, in our opinion, the nicest waterfall we’d seen all trip (even better than the Yosemite waterfalls). Drove down 395 and made a couple stops at Manzanar and the Alabama Hills. The wind and heat were brutal so we decided not to camp around there and instead drive to camp in the San Bernardino National Forest northeast of LA. The Sierra peaks along 395 were incredible, and if only there was less snow we definitely would have planned to spend more time there and tried to climb a peak or two.

Rainbow.jpg
Rainbow Falls


Day 17 – 18: Headed back to Texas

Overall Trip Thoughts:
The most frustrating part was the presence of snow at the high elevations, which prevented us from doing any real high altitude climbs or hikes, but I guess that’s what we get for coming in late May / early June. We definitely think the places to come back to would be the SEKI backcountry and doing some backpacking / mountain climbing and also going to the Tuolomne Meadows and camping/hiking/and climbing there. All your recommendations were pretty much spot on, we really appreciate it!
User avatar
KrazyKolb
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 18, 2014 4:40 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby maverick » Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:21 pm

Thanks for posting the conclusion to this wonderful trip report, and the great pictures!
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby GoPoly » Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:59 am

Great TR. Looks like you guys hit alot of the highlights of the southern sierras. Yosemite Valley is definetly the "Disneyland" of the sierras. It is much better in the fall when all the crowds are gone and the colors come out. I started out backpacking in Yosemite and have moved to doing more in SEKI.

Chuck
User avatar
GoPoly
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:04 pm
Location: Santa Maria, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Postby sekihiker » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:12 am

Thanks for sharing. Ya'll come back now, y'hear?
User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Location: Fresno
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Previous

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], Sierra00 and 13 guests