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3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

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3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

Postby tboyflyer » Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:38 pm

Trip planning for a group of 4 for June 18,19 trail start depending on arrival time and acclimation. We have various endurance limits so I am trying to plan conservatively with 2 separate hikes, separated by a hotel stay or camp with conveniences, both hikes to the backcountry would be planned for 2 nights/3 days. The intent is to keep the pack light since we are from Michigan and used to flat low ground. Two dads and two sons ranging between 50 and 14 yrs.

We are flexible for (1) 3 night hike and then biting the bullet to day hikes in the Yosemite area. I would like the Yosemite area for the hikes but honestly would prefer to avoid the crowds and the permit system is daunting to say the least. I have missed the 27 week advance deadline and after trying for a week to figure it out i think plan B is a better option. Someplace a little off the beaten path.

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/pass/x-country but limited snow experience at altitude
- Have Winter camped in Michigan.

What is your main interest?
- Big Mountain scenery
- Waterfalls and lakes

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
5-8 Layover on the trail with side excursions ok to save the old mans knees

Do you have a route logistics preference: loop, out and back, point to point (which
may require 2 vehicles or hitchhiking)?

Willing to compromise with a 2 car system for point to point but prefer a loop or could make the second day a day hike and return to 1st night camp if there is a high interest area nearby.

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKI
western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?

Only to satisfy our interest in mountain scenery with lakes/rivers
Will you be hiking with a dog? No

Last thing: A controlled evening fire would be nice.

Thank you

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Re: 3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

Postby balance » Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:01 pm

Greetings tboyflyer

First of all, it's great that you spend time with your kids in the outdoors. You're giving them access to a world of beauty and wisdom and wonder which many young people never experience.

Since you're doing a good job of planning ahead, I would suggest two books that are the best source of information for planning a hike in the Sierra Nevada: "Sierra North" and "Sierra South". They provide a good idea of what you can expect on the trail, elevation, campsites, etc. They give you information about trails you might not have considered, which can help get away from the crowds. Cross country routes are also included. I've used these many times for the basic outline of a trip, and then add my own variations. Sometimes I tear out the specific pages and take them on the trip. Along with map and compass, the information is often useful.

Now here's my opinion on a couple of things. There is a way to do a six day trip and not get over your head. Simply hike one day, then take a rest day, while the more energetic explore a side trail or hike to a higher vantage point. Maybe one dad could go with the kids on one day, and then the other dad could tag team with them on the next rest day. Just an option that would let you get deeper into the outdoor experience.

There's one thing you have to do, beyond a doubt. I've been hiking the Sierra Nevada for many years, and could not take the trips that I do nowadays without trekking poles. Especially when coming downhill, they take a tremendous load off your knees. I use these expensive telescoping poles, but you don't really need them. For years I got along with a couple old ski poles. In any case, they make all the difference in the world when you're dropping down from, let's say, 10,000 to 7,000 feet elevation in one day.

Here's another opinion. I know people like their campfires, but I wouldn't make one if you paid me. Sunset is a great time to watch the sky change colors, or sit still and watch for the animals to become active, or see the fish jumping on the lake. When the stars come out, I love the thrill of being immersed in the sounds and smells and mystery of the night. There's no better place to see the Milky Way, or look for a shooting star. As your senses become attuned to exploring the night, you become more aware of your surroundings, and make a connection with the wilderness that a smoky fire will never give you. I hope you'll give it a try.

Anyway, Godspeed and Heaven bless you for giving your children such a great gift.
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Re: 3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

Postby wildhiker » Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:44 pm

Hello Tboyflyer,

Your first planning challenge is your date: mid-June is early season in the Sierra. Last year, with the lowest snowpack on record, you could do a lot of high country hiking then. But this year is shaping up, so far, to be a more normal snowpack, which means that a lot of the high country about 9000 feet could still be more or less continuous snowpack, and many melted areas above 7000 feet could be thick with mosquitoes. But being from Michigan, I imagine you know how to handle bugs.

Secondly, I generally do not reserve permits in Yosemite, but rely on the walk-up permits. You just need to have flexible plans. Have several different trips in mind, and then get the permit for whatever is available.

Finally, some areas right around Yosemite Park have scenery just as spectacular, but fewer people and easier-to-get permits.

Here are some ideas for 2 night backpacks in the Yosemite area that stay below 9000 feet.

1) Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to Rancheria Falls. Actually, more of a 1 night backpack, since there isn't that much to do once you get to Rancheria Falls except climb up, up, up. But the hike there is spectacular, with big granite cliffs like Yosemite Valley and a couple of big waterfalls. Elevation between 4000 and 5000 feet. A good warmup hike.

2) Assuming the Tioga Road is open (should be open around Memorial Day unless we get a lot more snowpack), try a loop from Porcupine Flat down to the north rim of Yosemite Valley. You would head first for North Dome where there are camping spots staring directly at the face of Half Dome - use the search box on this site to find out more about them. Then head west on the rim trail to Yosemite Point (3000 feet straight down to the Valley), the lip of Yosemite Falls which should have a lot of water at that time, and then up to camp somewhere along Yosemite Creek. Finally, hike up the creek to Yosemite Creek campground and then on the old road alignment that is now a trail back to Porcupine Flat.
June 2016 correction: did this hike. Old road alignment from Yosemite Creek up to Porcupine Flat now so overgrown with small trees you can't follow it and have to bushwhack up the slope. Probably easier to continue a couple of miles further up the Yosemite Creek trail to where it intersects the Tioga Road and then hitchhike back to Porcupine Flat.

3) Waterwheel Falls on the Tuolumne River are spectacular in early season. Assuming Tuolumne Meadows is melted out and the trail is not flooded too much, you hike on the Pacific Crest Trail northwest from the Meadows about 7 miles to Glen Aulin. Rather than camping here in the heavily used campground, head down the river a mile or so to find a secluded spot. On your layover day, dayhike down the river trail to see California, LeConte, and Waterwheel Falls - each more spectacular than the last. Return the way you came on the third day.

4) If you can get over Tioga Pass to the east side, try the Green Creek drainage to the north. See if you can get a wilderness permit at the Mono Lake visitor center - otherwise you have to go north to the Forest Service station in Bridgeport, and then come back a few miles to the Green Creek turnoff. You head west on this good gravel road to the campground and trailhead at about 8000 feet elevation, and then hike about 4 miles up to East Lake at 9000 feet where the big mountain scenery really gets going. The east side tends to melt out faster, so you may be able to continue further up canyon before camping. Or just camp at East Lake and take a day hike up as far as the snow allows.

Last edited by wildhiker on Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:52 pm

Are you driving or flying? If you fly into Reno (good for Hoover Wilderness, Inyo NF), or driving from the east, then the east side is the fastest to access. If flying into SF or Oakland (good for Yosemite) or Fresno (best for Kings Canyon and Yosemite) or Sacramento (good for Desolation Wilderness and Tahoe) a west side access will give more time hiking and less driving. The problem with east side is that mid June is pretty early to avoid snow. Things look like there may be considerably more snow in the Northern Sierra than Southern. The east side generally has less snow than the west side, for the same elevation.

Snow conditions may preclude this idea, but base in Bishop and do one 3-day loop to Sabrina Basin and a second out of South Lake for just the east side of Bishop Pass. Good 3-day trip also into Third Lake from Glacier Lodge. Bishop actually is a good place to base if you have kids. They have a swimming pool in City Park, lots of reasonably priced motels, Owens River Gorge day-hike in case you decided to do only one backpack and the Bristlecone Pine forest on White Mountain is another pretty cool day trip, and the Buttermilks (famous bouldering area). Bishop itself is pretty low (5,000 feet). There will be some snow on the trails, but all these hikes are pretty popular and there likely will be a path of footprints over the snow. Even with patchy snow, you can usually find a dry spot to camp. Fishing is good too.

In spite of the fact you have been there already and you do not want crowds, basing at Yosemite Valley and hiking from there is perfect for June. Also, a classic mid-June 3-5 day trip is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne if you are willing to do one trip instead of two. I only recommend this if the kids are quite experienced - it is all trail but a pretty difficult trip. But like all harder backpacks, it can be made much easier simply by slowing down the pace. And if you have two cars, you have solved the major problem- transportation.
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Re: 3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

Postby snevill » Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:35 pm

If Horseshoe Meadows Road is open by that time (probably will be) the Miter Basin area may be a good option for a few days in high country in the southern part of the Sierra. As noted above, this will depend on where you're flying into as this area would a really long way from the Bay Area. Flying into the LA area would probably be a better bet in this case.
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Re: 3 Day Trip x 2 Advice

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:54 pm

Big Pine North Fork
Here are some TR's to the area, there are many more. Beautiful emerald green lakes, largest glacier in the Sierra, and the gorgeous Palisades on the skyline.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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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