Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

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gooral
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Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by gooral » Sun Feb 14, 2021 7:44 pm

This year I get a sabbatical leave from work, 5 consecutive weeks, and I plan to spend it backpacking in Sierra around August. I hope that a couple of friends or family members would be able to join in me on some week-long sections but I may need to go solo otherwise. I have done a few week-long loop trips in Sierra with 1 or 2 friends and we always drove a rental car from airport to TH which was quick and convenient, but this is not economical for 5 weeks. I'm looking at possible public transportation and resupply options but it seems that both may still be affected by the pandemics this year.
Initially I thought about modified SHR from Lodgepole to Yosemite Valley with resupplies at Cedar Grove, Parchers, Red's Meadow and TM. I wonder if this is realistic this year though. Sequoia shuttle from Visalia was cancelled last year and there is no update on 2021 yet, and I probably can't count on any short hitchhiking that would greatly help with resupply at Cedar Grove and Parchers (I hoped to hitchhike from South Lake to North Lake).
Now I feel that starting and ending in Yosemite might be a better choice logistically. I would fly to/from Fresno and take YARTS to Yosemite. Then I would do a longer loop from TM with resupply at Red's and Vermilion, or a series of back-to-back shorter loops from TM while keeping some supplies in bear boxes there. I don't have the exact itinerary yet and I welcome any suggestions. I'm used to 8 miles per day pace and off-trail travel up class 2. I want to make permit reservations soon before they're gone.

Do you think this plan makes sense?
Has anyone had experience with YARTS out of Fresno last year? Their website indicates that 2021 season is on track but the advanced ticket reservation didn't work for me when I tried it.
If I get a single 5 week permit with a couple of extra spots, would I be able to rotate members of the group if they join me for a section of the trip?








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CAMERONM
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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by CAMERONM » Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:14 pm

Hello, these are all good questions. The short answer is that you should come here, be flexible, and wing it.

The longer answer is that for several years now longer-term planning has been difficult because of fires. I have more than once driven up 395 with all my maps and made my decision to stop depending on where the fire situation looked best THAT DAY. So fires have become the new reality.

Many of us just do walk-in permits. Almost always if you are willing to hang back a day, you're in.

And of course the screwed-up covid situation has not helped. Because of many uncertainties, I think in many cases that the existing permit quotas are not being used well at all. You will be able to find something by agitating, looking around, and dare I say it, in some cases just go for it. I am not going to lose my valuable summer trip because the forest service can't get it together to find a way to do their job. I am just over it. I have been trying to get a building permit in Los Angeles for 9 months now for a job that should have been a 3-week process. I now build and ask questions later. Life has to go on, regardless of the low pay-grade of these people.

Transportation has also been dodgy. It is not at all clear that any of the normal summer services will actually be running. I would contact and lean on dependable shuttle drivers and taxi services who will commit to a date or otherwise indicate their willingness to drive when contacted.

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by balzaccom » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:23 pm

With all the variables you and Campermom have mentioned, I think that Yosemite is a pretty good idea. You can certainly find some lovely loops out of Yosemite Valley, as well as Tuolumne Meadows, and Glacier Point. There will probably be a shuttle bus between those locations this summer, and if not, hitch-hiking for a single hiker should be OK. Out orf Glacier Point, you could do a nice loop up Illilouette Canyon and then back into the Valley via Red Peak Pass and the Merced...or do that loop in reverse from happy Isles. Out of Tuolumne Meadows, you can hike North and spend days and days exploring Matterhorn Canyon, Slide Canyon, Benson Lake, Virginia Canyon...lots to see up there. And South out Tuolumne Meadows you can find lots to do either over Donahue Pass or Tuolumne Pass---

The nice thing about working out of Yosemite is that as a backpacker you get a lay day at a backpacker's campground both before and after your trip--that gives you time to do laundry, restock, etc. All of which can be done in the Valley, and some of which can be done in Tuolumne Meadows.
Balzaccom

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by wildhiker » Mon Feb 15, 2021 12:43 am

Here are some other things to keep in mind...

Personally, I would be comfortable using public transit or a taxi or trailhead shuttle service only if I have my full COVID-19 vaccination already. Think about your comfort level.

Still not clear if there will be any true "walk-up" permits this summer. In most parts of the Sierra, they were turned into online permits last summer that were made available one to two weeks in advance due to COVID-19 concerns. The Inyo and Sierra Forests appear to be leaning toward repeating that system again in summer 2021; but at least you could still reserve a "walk-up" permit just a day or two in advance (if not all taken already and you had a smart phone with service wherever you happened to be!) In the case of Yosemite Park, in 2020 you had to submit a lottery request for the "walk-up" permits 14 days in advance; if they weren't all taken in that first day lottery, then you could reserve them up to 9 days in advance. Made it impossible to decide on your trip plan at the last minute. The Yosemite Park website is not committing to real walk-up permits for summer 2021 and may end up with an online system again.

You won't be able to do 5 weeks of backpacking out of Yosemite trailheads. From https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildregs.htm - "from May 1 to September 15, the camping limit in Yosemite is 14 nights (this includes wilderness camping)." So Yosemite Park won't give you permits for more than 14 nights of backpacking. This is enforced when they enter your permit information into their computer system. However, you can also enter the Yosemite Wilderness from trailheads in the surrounding national forests. I don't believe those permits are shared with Yosemite in real time, so that would be a way to get more nights in the Yosemite Wilderness. However, then you need a way to get to those trailheads, so you are back to the car versus public transit problem.

A car would be so much more convenient if you want to visit multiple areas. Have you looked into monthly lease options?

You might consider basing yourself in the Mammoth Lakes area. You can get there by bus from Reno (www.estransit.com) and then shuttles in town can get you up to the Mammoth Mtn parking (start of the Reds Meadow shuttle, if it runs, or a few miles extra walking/hitchhiking down the road to trailheads) and to the Mammoth Lakes area trailheads. I could imagine doing several long loop hikes from there. For example, one long loop could start at one of the Reds Meadow area trailheads going north on the JMT/PCT and over Donohue Pass, then cutting over to Ireland Lake and the Vogelsang area, then on the High Trail past the Lyell Fork Merced to pick up the Sierra High Route over Blue Lake Pass, down Bench Canyon, up to North Glacier Pass, and back to Reds Meadow area. Another long loop could start at Mammoth Lakes over Duck Pass to the JMT south to the Silver Divide, then explore the many lake basins along the Silver Divide (some cross-country) before heading back. The Inyo National Forest (start of any trips in this area) has a 28 day camping limit per season.

-Phil

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by chulavista » Mon Feb 15, 2021 3:21 am

I no longer count on the sierra as a reliable August destination due to the fire/dead tree situation. To cut down on the cost of a rental car, you could look at using neighborhood locations around an airport that are accessible via bus or uber/lyft. I'd think you would want to be extra flexible on location this year.

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by TurboHike » Mon Feb 15, 2021 7:01 am

Rental cars by the month can be much cheaper than rental cars by the day. In my limited experience, the price has been about 50% off... so 4 weeks for the price of 2 weeks.

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by gooral » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:55 am

Thank you all for very valuable information. It looks like a long Yosemite permit application may be rejected outright even if itinerary adheres to 14 days limit within Yosemite. I don't even see a way to specify full itinerary on the permit application website, the way one can do at recreation.gov. I will look at Mammoth Lakes alternative and a car rental possibility. A quick search didn't show a huge difference in monthly vs. weekly rates, but a car would give me much more flexibility in case of forest fires. I'm also considering mid July start to minimize the risk of fire disruptions.

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:29 pm

"I am not going to lose my valuable summer trip because the forest service can't get it together to find a way to do their job. I am just over it."

I agree. :thumbsup:

I will do my best to get a walk-in permit, but feel the same as you. I hope it works out, but if not......then.

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by Chris B » Fri Feb 19, 2021 1:18 pm

If you have five weeks to spend in the Sierras, you may want to take a look at the Tahoe Rim Trail, you only need a permit for the Desolation Wilderness section and you can either book these on-line or just sign up at the trailhead. You can take detours and use TART or Uber to resupply at local stores. This may not be a true Wilderness experience but it's a spectacular route. In August you will need to be prepared to carry plenty of water as many of the creeks are likely to be dry and most of the snow will have melted.

https://tahoerimtrail.org/

If you are considering this, it's probably best to fly to Reno/Tahoe then Uber to Truckee, Incline Village or South Lake Tahoe. Also consider staying your first night at a decent hotel that has a free shuttle bus from the airport.

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Re: Longer trip advice and logistics for out of state visitors in 2021

Post by oleander » Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:01 pm

To offer a contrarian view:

If you can go to any mountain range in the country, why pick the Sierra THIS YEAR?

Last summer was a nightmare, even for us relative locals who had flexibility. If Covid realities or restrictions rear their heads again this summer, you might be looking at several or all of: Lack of walk-up permits; day-entry lottery just to enter Yosemite; many front-country campgrounds and services shut down completely; transportation services canceled; people unwilling to pick up hitchhikers; huge swaths of land shut down to backcountry access (often canceling your backpacking or camping permits); headache-inducing research to figure out where you CAN still go; places like Mammoth Lakes absolutely mobbed with tourists; expensive and crowded motels...Not to mention a higher than usual likelihood of August fires if this season's snowfall remains below normal.

Maybe we'll get past all that, and it'll be a new day in CA this summer. I'd sure like to think so. Are you sure you want to count on it, though? I'm not.

I'll be prepared to drive a couple of days just to get to a mountain range that is less crowded and restricted.

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