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Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

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Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby SirBC » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:48 pm

This is my first post here, and I've been enjoying all the great trip reports and sierra photos for a couple of months now. So I guess it's time I said hi :) I live in the Bay Area, and come January 2015 will be taking (very) early retirement and will have a lot of time to spend hiking and camping so I hope to be able to post a number of TR’s in the future.

I find that I have a 5 day long weekend free the weekend after next from the 24th to the 28th and I'd love to get some hiking and camping in and could use some advice. Living in the Bay Area, I've visited and day hiked in the Sierra previously but I've yet to do any overnight camping.

I will be hiking the JMT in 2015, and I also have a couple of (guided) hiking and camping trips to the Yukon and Patagonia planned over the next year. So this trip will be one of my shakedown trips to finalize some gear choices.

I’m thinking that with so little lead time the route might be dictated by permit availability...

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 2- Some backpacking trips, using trails

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
Class 2 terrain

What is your main interest?
Photography. I’d like to camp at places with some great photo opportunities

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
I have 4 nights and 5 days available.

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
I would be comfortable with ~8-10 miles/day. I wouldn't mind having 1 day of layover

Do you have a route logistics preference:
I'm coming from the Peninsula, so a start on the Western side would make sense, but I really don’t mind doing an Eastern approach

Thanks!
-Dave
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Dave | flickr



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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:10 pm

Hi Dave,

Welcome to HST!

Would recommend the Minarets as introductory backpacking trip for your requested
time frame, its has easy access into some of the best place in the Sierra.

Lots of people, which may be comforting to you since this would be your first
backpacking trip.

Would recommend the River Trail from Agnew Meadow to 1000 Is Lake, where you
could do a lay-over and visit Davis Lake or climb and peak over Catherine Pass.

Then go stay at Garnet Lake, visit the beautiful meadow on the far western side of
the lake.

Leave Lake Ediza as your last stop, it is one of the prettiest lakes in the Sierra, and
will have you yearning to go back.

Then use the Shadow Lake Trail the last day to get back to Agnew Meadows, and take
the shuttle back to Mammoth.
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:04 pm

Another mid-east side area that is good for 4-5 day trips is the Virginia Lakes-Green Lake area and everything in between. Great scenery, mellow trails, and a bit less crowded than the Minarets area.

From the Peninsula, you can also do some pretty nice Desolation Wilderness hikes (west, east or crest (Echo Lakes) entry). It is so easy to get to the heart of Desolation, a 5 day trip can touch on many of the highlights.
For something a bit different and varied (ranging from the knobby volcanic landscape to gray granite), you might also try hikes out of Kennedy Meadows southward into Emigrant Wilderness (this is the Hwy 108 Kennedy Meadows in contrast to the S Sierra one).
For the west flank, I'd recommend Ansel Adams Wilderness, going in from Fernandez or Norris toward the Vandeburg, Lillian Lake etc. cluster. Good views and the flexibility to segment your hike as your pace and desire dictates.

By the way, not to get off topic, but that is a nice hop cone photo. A hoppy beer fan, I'd guess? That photo is about to send me on a walk to my 'fridge.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby SirBC » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:27 pm

Thanks for the info guys.

Mav, it looks like the River Trail (and High Trail and Shadow Creek) do not have any overnight permits available for the 24th. Are same-day permits easy to come by there? I would likely be rolling into Mammoth around 11am on Thursday.

Giantbrookie, thanks for the suggestions, I'll look into those locations and permit availability. I took a quick look at permits for Virginia Lakes and it looks like there are no online permit requests, it has to mailed in (?). I'm not sure though, this permit process is all quite confusing to the beginner.

That is indeed a pic of a hop cone, one from my backyard a couple of years ago. My wife and I are home brewers; an IPA a day keeps the doctor away :)
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby QITNL » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:16 pm

If you are traveling solo, you have a real good chance of scoring a walk-up, particularly if you have a Plan A, B, and C and carry the maps for them. Odds are way better on Thursday than Friday or Saturday.

If you want to book something for Yosemite, check here:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf
then call 209-372-0740
I usually wing it but see a few options there. Glen Aulin (pass through) - May Lake - Mono Meadow - Ten Lakes - those trailheads might suit you.

If you are headed east on 120, stop in Tuolumne Meadows along the way. They may have a spare permit for the popular trails (Vogelsang, Cathedral, etc.). If you are totally shut out in TM, head over the pass to Mono Lake or Mammoth and I'm sure you can score something there.
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby Dave_Ayers » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:58 am

There are permit stations for Yosemite at the Big Oak Flat entrance station and for Inyo NF at the Mono Lake Visitor Center near Lee Vining, about a mile north of the 120/395 junction. One of those stations might be more convenient to get a walk up permit and save some drive time if you don't need to drive all the way to TM or to Mammoth.
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Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:17 am

Please remember that the wilderness offices each have an area and if you are in Big Oak Flat needing a permit from a trailhead on Tioga Road, they will not simply hand it out - they will call the Tuolumne office because TM wilderness office line gets first dibs on walk ins. They do not answer the phone while servicing the line. So you are essentially the last person in line and probably will fail to get a walk in.

If you have a reserved permit it is no problem, any office will do.


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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby maiathebee » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:13 pm

I just did a great 4 night trip in Yosemite out of Mono Meadow. It looks like there are still reservable permits available for the 24th (your date of entry). (Check availability here: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf)

I did Mono Meadow --> outlet of Ottoway Lakes --> off-trail lakes west of Isberg Pass --> Lyell Fork of Merced --> east edge of Little Yosemite Valley --> Happy Isles and used the Glacier Point Tour bus as a shuttle to the trailhead. It was GORGEOUS and I had it essentially all to myself! The mileage was 13, 11, 6, 15, 7 for the five days that I hiked. (I had crazy storms interfere with my plans a bit.)

I am working on a TR right now, but here's a teaser photo:

10506722_10153027261673709_7352124071886317527_o.jpg
Morning reflections at unnamed lakes west of Isberg Pass.
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby SirBC » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:33 pm

maverick wrote: Would recommend the River Trail from Agnew Meadow to 1000 Is Lake, where you
could do a lay-over and visit Davis Lake or climb and peak over Catherine Pass.

Then go stay at Garnet Lake, visit the beautiful meadow on the far western side of
the lake.

Leave Lake Ediza as your last stop, it is one of the prettiest lakes in the Sierra, and
will have you yearning to go back.

Then use the Shadow Lake Trail the last day to get back to Agnew Meadows, and take
the shuttle back to Mammoth.


None of the three trailheads at Agnew Meadows had permits available but I was able to score a Beck Lakes permit, about 5.5 miles to the south. I will first try and get a walk in permit for River Trail but if not I'll adapt your recommended itinerary to the start at Beck Lakes TH:

Day 1: It looks like there are a number of lakes along the Beck Lakes trail worth visiting. I see that Ashley is highly recommended and is about 8 miles from the TH.

Day 2: If staying at Ashley Lake, it looks like it's 11 miles just to get to Agnew Meadow. That would make a very long day to 1K lake. Instead, I'm thinking of cutting North sooner at the JMT and then stopping at one of Rosalie or Shadow Lake, for about 15 miles that day.

Day 3: Hike and camp at Thousand Island

Day 4: Hike to and camp at either Garnet or Ediza

DAy 5: Hike out to Agnew Meadows and shuttle back to Mammoth

I still need to figure out the long-term parking. Do I park and leave my car at the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center? Would the same shuttle take you to both Agnew Meadows and Devil's Postpile (Beck Lakes TH)?

Also, I hope to be able to pick up my reserved permit by 10 am but if there are traffic issues I may not get there until after 10 am. My permit confirmation says, "Deadline: Confirm your group size online to hold your reservation for late arrival or your reservation will be canceled at 10 a.m. on the trip entry date." I see no way on the website to ask them hold for a late arrival. Is that possible?
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby SirBC » Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:25 pm

maiathebee wrote:I just did a great 4 night trip in Yosemite out of Mono Meadow. It looks like there are still reservable permits available for the 24th (your date of entry). (Check availability here: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf)

I did Mono Meadow --> outlet of Ottoway Lakes --> off-trail lakes west of Isberg Pass --> Lyell Fork of Merced --> east edge of Little Yosemite Valley --> Happy Isles and used the Glacier Point Tour bus as a shuttle to the trailhead. It was GORGEOUS and I had it essentially all to myself! The mileage was 13, 11, 6, 15, 7 for the five days that I hiked. (I had crazy storms interfere with my plans a bit.)

I am working on a TR right now, but here's a teaser photo:



Thanks Maiathebee, I'm looking forward to your trip report.
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Re: Trip Advice: 4 nights but short notice

Postby sekihiker » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:09 am

I recommend the Red Mountain Basin from the Maxon Trailhead near Courtright Reservoir. I have never been turned down for a walkup permit at the Prather USFS station. For photos of the area:
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
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