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Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

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Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby Dogbrain » Wed May 20, 2015 12:07 am

I moved to the South Bay from Oregon a few months back and I'd like to make my first trip to Yosemite this summer but there's sooooo many options I'm having a hard time picking a route. I filled out the trip advisory questionnaire below but I'll add some other details. I'm hoping for recommendations for an introductory trip.

I'm thinking I'd like to do one night of car camping after the drive and then do a 4 day/3 night backpack trip. I've tried to read about trip reports and trails, but I'm not sure how the snow pack this year is going to effect things and honestly it's hard to get a sense of it all.

I'm not set on seeing anything in particular, near as I can tell it all seems awesome. I just want to see some mountains and some trees and a lake or two if that's still a thing with the drought and the mosquitoes aren't crazy. Maybe wander through one of those big open spaces. I can go anytime between July 20 and August 10.

As far as gear goes I have a 30 (F) degree bag and a light down hooded jacket and warm base layer. In a pinch I figure I could get through a 20 (F) night but I'm hoping to stay warmer. I need to get a bear canister but I'm good as far as other gear goes. I am thinking a GPS considering how cheap they are, but I've always been able to use a map and compass if I take my time, although I've never done any cross country.

Also, I've been reading about the permits. Will I need reservations with a midweek start? How about car camping the first night? Are they booked months in advance?

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

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
Comfortable with Class 1. I would like to comfortable with Class 2, I feel like with proper planning I could do a moderate cross country route.

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Forests
- Big Mountain scenery

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
4-5 days / 3-4 nights (1 night car camping, 3 night backpacking)

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
5-7 miles per day. Not opposed to a layover in a nice spot. I can do 12+ with gear and climbing at lower elevation. I think 5-7 at elevation will be enjoyable and leave me with time to relax and take it all in.

Do you have a route logistics preference:
Loop or out and back, unless a shuttle is easy to arrange.

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in?
Yosemite

Will you be hiking with a dog?
Nope.



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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby AlmostThere » Wed May 20, 2015 6:56 am

1. With permit in hand you can stay in backpacker camps. 2. Anywhere there are lakes you will be fine. 3. Your chances of a walk in drastically improve if your itinerary starts at a trailhead that is not pointing toward half dome, and you are picking it up midweek. Walk ins begin at 11 am the day Before you want to start hiking. 4. Bear cans can be rented - in the park, at REI, by mail from Wild Ideas.... 5. Layers and a 30 degree will work. 20f better.

Ten Lakes to Tuolumne, the loop out at Hetch Hetchy, or the Buenaventura Vista loop. Or, get a permit out in Ansel Adams and come into the park via Fernandez or Isberg Pass. That would have to be a lollipop loop but AA is gorgeous in its own right. Another option would be getting a permit (online via recreation.gov) for a trailhead out of Inyo and head into the park that way. People fixating on the JMT are trying to get Tuolumne or Happy Isles southbound, nothing say you can't that area going the other way.
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby Dogbrain » Wed May 20, 2015 11:17 am

Thank you!
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby balzaccom » Wed May 20, 2015 11:36 am

I think there are much better trips in Yosemite than AT has suggested here. He must be having on off day...

The Hetch-hetchy route is a fine option during the shoulder season, when weather or snow is a concern, but during the summer it's hot, dry, and not all that scenic, unless you like looking at reservoirs with bath-tub rings around them. And I think he means the Buena Vista Loop, not Buenaventura. That's another trail that is frankly a little short on scenery for most of the hike---the first ten miles without much in the way of views. Compared to the rest of Yosemite, that's almost criminal.

Instead, look at a loop out of Tuolumne Meadows up to Vogelsang, then down Lewis Creek and up Fletcher Creek. That would give you more lakes and high mountain scenery than you can imagine. Another loop would be from TM up Lyell Canyon, over the ridge by Evelyn Lake, and then back to TM meadows via Rafferty Creek.

Want more of an out-and-back? Illilouette Canyon from Mono Meadows up to the Ottoway Lakes, or Young Lakes with a side trip to climb Mt. Conness.

If you want to drive to the East side of the Sierra, there are many more. Look at Green Lakes and that loop, Twin Lakes to lollipop around Snow Lake, or for a great trip, look at Rush Creek to up Waugh Lake and the JMT, then down to Ediza, and back out through the Clark Lakes.

All of those will give you a great High Sierra experience.

Permits on the East side are easier to get, since they start in national forest land. And during the week, you can often get a permit for one of these other hikes. You can check the trailheads to see how full they are here:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/u ... lheads.pdf

And we have a ton more information, including trip logs on most of these hikes, on our website.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby Dogbrain » Wed May 20, 2015 10:23 pm

@balzaccom thanks for the detailed explanation. I also got a detailed PM with several options out of Tuolumne Meadows. After looking things over I think I'll take your suggestion to go up Lyell Canyon and down Rafferty Creek. I'll spend the first night at the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker camp and have a look around and rest up from the drive. Second night will be up Lyell canyon somewhere, then I'll have two days and nights to do whatever I want as long as I end up within proper morning distance of Rafferty Creek on the fourth night. I'm pretty excited.

Some questions...

If I pick dates can I reserve a wilderness permit ahead of time?

Is there any reason I should choose late July over early August or vice versa?

Is it common for people to leave their tent set up and wander off on day outings? Is thieving ever a problem?
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby Dogbrain » Wed May 20, 2015 10:23 pm

Also thanks for the link to your site, there's a ton of info there!
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby balzaccom » Thu May 21, 2015 8:41 am

If I pick dates can I reserve a wilderness permit ahead of time?

Absolutely. Check out the YNP official site, search for wilderness permits, and follow the instructions.


Is there any reason I should choose late July over early August or vice versa?

This year? Only that there might be a bit more water in July.


Is it common for people to leave their tent set up and wander off on day outings? Is thieving ever a problem?

It is common, and theft is not usually an issue. Set up your tent away from the trail---which is required anyway.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby wildhiker » Tue May 26, 2015 1:15 pm

If you are comfortable with class 1 cross-country hiking and route finding using a topo map, you can do a spectacular loop out of Tuolumne Meadows visiting Nelson Lake, the Vogelsang area, and Ireland Lake. Lots of big mountains, long distance views, timberline meadows and beautiful lakes. I did this one with my wife and three kids ages 7 to 12 back in the 90s and have repeated it several times since, most recently in 2012.

Start with the trail to Nelson Lake - it begins inside the Tuolumne Meadows campground and is signed as a day hike to Elizabeth Lake. The trail continues beyond Elizabeth Lake as a use trail up over a high pass, down a valley with granite cliffs, and then around the corner to Nelson Lake - we camp in the trees at the northwest corner to enjoy the alpenglow on the cliffs on the south side.

Next, walk up the valley above Nelson Lake - we skirt the big meadows on the west side and then cross the creek to easier ramps on the east side to get up to Reymann Lake, which we pass on the north side. Continue following the creek east up above Reymann Lake to an obvious low saddle. Then contour to the southeast about 1/3 mile to a second ridge where you start to see the Vogelsang area. Just contour along the slopes heading slightly downhill for the obvious Tuolumne Pass - all easy walking on slabs and meadowy areas - a bit of open forest at the end. Camp in the Vogelsang area - I think Fletcher Lake is the most scenic, but busy.

Third day, take the trail to Evelyn Lake and then continue to Ireland Lake. Follow a short distance down the outlet creek from Ireland Lake to find campsites among short bristlecone pines. If you have extra time/energy, walk up the open alpine meadows above Ireland Lake. If you make it all the way to the obvious pass south of Amelia Earhart Peak, you will have great close up views of Mount Lyell and its glacier.

On the final day, head down the Ireland Lake trail to the John Muir Trail in the Lyell Fork, and then down that trail back to Tuolumne Meadows. The JMT is always so busy, that I prefer to use it as an exit route, rather than entrance.

All the campsites on this route are above 9600 feet where no campfires are allowed.

-Phil
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby Dogbrain » Sat May 30, 2015 2:18 pm

@wildhiker Thank you for the recommendation as well! That sounds like a really nice trip and I appreciate the thought of using JMT on the way out. I haven't filed for a permit yet and I'll definitely look at that route on my map. Right now I'm just glad to have it narrowed down to that side of Tuolumne Meadows.
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Re: Overwhelmed with options for first Yosemite trip.

Postby LightRanger » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:22 am

Lyell Canyon is phenomenal. You won't be sorry. I'd try to tag the summit of Lyell, though I see you said you may not be quite comfortable at that level. Maclure would be fun as well, and I don't think the ridge from the notch between Lyell and Maclure is much more than Class 2.

Here's a TR from a buddy of mine (who's a pretty phenomenal athlete): http://snowymonk.blogspot.com/2013/11/expoloring-se-yosemite-mt-lyell-maclure.html
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