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Planning trip - suggestions

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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:32 pm

Seki's permit/wilderness page: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/wilderness.htm

Inyo Nat'l forest pointer: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/recreation ... ndex.shtml

All the Fed stuff is by forest area. You need to look up where you want to go, find the right regulatory body, and do the reservation. It's best to pick a time, regardless of the conditions; pick a back-up plan if the weather blows you out.

Hope these help,

Russ

PS: I like September, after the kids go back to school. Given the potential "el nino", this year's early attempts are probably improbable. If you go high, you'll still have snow to cross. I never go in Summer anymore; fish are down and crowds are up. Just my thoughts.



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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby amigo » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:13 pm

Yes, even out here, September and October are the best times to hike. Only problem is I have rather hypersensitive extremeties to the cold (more than normal). So, for camping, early September would be best for me - probably less chance of snow then as well (I'm guessing).
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:31 pm

October in the Sierra might be way too late unless you're really prepared for cold, snowy conditions. I generally target the last week of Sept with my permits; a little earlier if i think it's a bad weather year.
In my opinion, you're safe for permits and weather in mid-late sept. If i go near a high sierra camp, i go after they close. Before that, i make sure i have a permit in place.

Early Sept, per your comment, would be best aimed after labor day, depending on where you want to go.
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby gary c. » Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:40 pm

If you can not plane far enough in advance to reserve your permits I wouldn't let it detour you from making your trip. Just make sure that you bring plenty of TOPO maps for several areas that you would like to hike. Some of my favorite trips have been ones that we realy didn't know or care where we went. We just showed up early for the "day of permits" and asked what was available. We alwyas have a list preferred trails and have always gotten a permit for someplace on the list if not our first choice.
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby amigo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:16 am

I was a little discouraged yesterday by all the permit reservations deal. However, stupid me - I should have known better. I've just been so thrilled about going backpacking in the Sierra (been a dream of mine for many years now) that I just didn't give the logistics issues much thought. As well, you don't need backcountry permits in the National Forest up here. Guess it's just not as busy as the Sierra.

We may consider going in September after labor day - sure sounds like a nice time of the year with less crowds. If not, we'll just make the best of it. Following gary's suggestion about last minute overnight permits is a good idea - at worse, we can do dayhikes. Either way, I think we'll enjoy it. And head to a city on busy weekends for some good California brewpub sampling ;) Boy, I'm so looking forward to this!!
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:31 am

amigo wrote:I was a little discouraged yesterday by all the permit reservations deal. We may consider going in September after labor day - sure sounds like a nice time of the year with less crowds. If not, we'll just make the best of it. Following gary's suggestion about last minute overnight permits is a good idea - at worse, we can do dayhikes. Either way, I think we'll enjoy it. And head to a city on busy weekends for some good California brewpub sampling ;) Boy, I'm so looking forward to this!!

Hello Amigo. As others have said, don't be discouraged by the wilderness permit thing. It is a mild logistical consideration and not a major barrier to enjoying the High Sierra. As noted above, having several options handy and such will get you around the potential problem of not being able to do your first option. The Sierra is such a big mountain range with so many choices, that options 2, 3...etc will all be good. In the years that I did first-come-first-serve permits, instead of reserving them, the few times I didn't get my first choice all ended up with me calling audibles at the line of scrimmage to trips that turned out to be stellar.

Regarding the brewpub thing, as a longtime beer enthusiast and veteran homebrewer I can certainly give you some recommendations, especially if your tastes in beer tend toward what has become the West Coast signature style (extreme use of hops). While there is a greater concentration of brewpubs in SoCal (especially San Diego) and Bay Area and points north, there are plenty of good ones closer to the Sierra on its western flank (spanning Bakersfield to Chico--OK the last spot is cheating a bit because it's not exactly flanking the "High" Sierra) and one on the east side (Mammoth Brewing Co. makes a very respectable IPA--they have a brewpub in Mammoth and a restaurant/pub in Bishop).
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: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby amigo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:32 pm

Thanks, giantbrookie. Appreciate the good advice. I seem to always be complaining to my friend about our trips being overly planned with little spontaneity. Here's our chance to not worry too much about permits and where we'll be hiking. Sure looks like the entire range is a gem for hiking.

As for beer, both my friend and I are IPA lovers so I think we won't have problems finding good beer. I try to make it a point to visit a few brew pubs on our trips for some good sampling. They're especially appreciated after some good hiking. I did a google map on brew pubs in California and I see what you mean by SoCal having so many of them. Thehy appear to be somewhat scattered around the Sierra Nevada range. Too bad there aren't more on the east side. I guess we'll just have to lug a couple of 6-packs with us. I'll note the ones you mentioned :)

By the way, is it strictly Yosemite Valley where bears have a tendency to break into cars that have anything that looks like food or is scented, or anywhere in the Sierras? Not joking here, but can a bear smell a 6-pack of beer in the trunk of a car (unopened), for example? Sure wouldn't want a rental car to be destroyed by a bear.
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:19 pm

A bear shouldn't be able to smell unopened beer. If any aroma was leaking out of the bottle, we'd have some issues with the beer. Regarding some near Sierra favorites that may be handy to your routes:
Visalia: Brubakers--nice IPA, Fresno: Sequoia Brewing Co. (was Butterfields back in the day, for those that follow this scene back to the late 80's)--nice IPA and otherworldly high gravity specials. Their Jacob Marley Barley (only Xmas time, unfortunately, best barleywine I've had that wasn't brewed in our home brewery: epic gravity: 12% but supreme hoppiness and drinkability) and the Buzzsaw (serious Double IPA at 11%, hasn't been brewed since 2007 but is supposed to come back this fall). If going up the 108, Snowshoe has been a great brewery for a long time (Sonora and also along 4 in Arnold going up toward Ebbetts Pass). Sacramento and vicinity has many good ones, but I'm still partial to the first of the Sac breweries: Rubicon: their IPA has kept up with the very best in the pack with many upgrades over the years--it is superb! Chico, of course, had to be mentioned, even if it was a bit north, because Sierra Nevada is there. Not only is the brewpub excellent for beer (including stuff you can't get outside of the brewery), but their food is mighty fine and not overpriced. Sierra Nevada is one beer pilgrimage that should be made for all microbrew enthusiasts (plus they are on the cutting edge in just about everything from green technology, superior IT stuff, and I hear they treat their employees well).

And now (OK this is a bit off topic) for a very brief brew review:
Bay Area and north standouts: Favorite brewpub: Bear Republic (Healdsburg). Multiple great IPAs/double IPAs. Great food. Don't miss the wild game specials and the best garlic-rosemary fries I've had (a side with any sandwich). Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa): with BRBC makes the twin towers of hops in Sonoma Co. Not quite the menu of BRBC, but good pizza. Brewer/owner Vinnie Cilurzo is a legend for good reason--nice adventurous Belgian ales in addition to cutting edge over-the-hop West Coast brews. Moylans and Marin Brewing Co. (Petaluma and Larkspur, respectively in Marin County). same owner, different brewers, superb West Coast IPAs and other brews. If they have any of their top hoppy brews on hand pump (ie cask conditioned) you have to have it--amazing. Slight edge to Marin because their pub food is way above average. San Francisco: Toronado. Not a brewpub, but arguably the most famous pub on the West Coast. Any beer enthusiast I've met in another country who found out I was from California inevitably asked if I've been to Toronado. Its reputation is deserved. No food (can carry in from neighboring establishments), but huge tap list of micros plus some hard-to-get imports. Huge Belgian beer list. More SF: Magnolia. Top cask conditioned beer and brewpub in Bay Area and very good food, too. Good mix of traditional UK style brew and West Coast stuff. More SF: 21st Amendment. Very good food (one the best side salads ever with their sandwiches, for example), plus serious brew and top-of-the line IPA/DIPA. Oakland: The Trappist. Serious Belgian-dedicated pub. Hayward: The Bistro. Center of the universe for Hop Heads. My former local (when I lived in the Bay Area), and I still regularly visit the place. Only 12 taps, but they are quality. Great festivals. Southern Cal: Best breweries are in San Diego. Any of the Pizza Ports (Port Brewing) are well worth visiting including the fabulous Carlsbad and Solana Beach ones. There is a big rivalry between the north Bay and San Diego for most over-the-top IPA/DIPA. Ballast Point and Green Flash are also among the amazing San Diego scene with phenomenal IPAs. Unfortunately San Diego is a long way from the High Sierra. The Bay Area works out better in that regard. Should you find yourself in Pasadena, don't miss Lucky Baldwin's in old town. Somewhat like Toronado with food. By the way, I am in fact sipping on beer as I'm posting this.
Last edited by giantbrookie on Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby amigo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:43 pm

Wow, what an extensive brew pub report. Thanks very much. This is really good to file away until I head to CA. Now I'm really thirsty! Hmm, maybe I should do a brew pub hopping (pun intended) trip instead ;)
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby TehipiteTom » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:35 pm

amigo wrote:San Fran -> Yosemite -> drive down the 395 ->

Only Southern Californians use the definite article in front of highway numbers. Civilized humans do not.
;)
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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby oldranger » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:17 pm

Good catch Tom.

And while logic tells me that GB is correct that unopened beer containers left in the car should not be detected by a bear. The same should have been true for the beer that I once left under a rock in a creek while I went off on patrol but returned to find the same can, empty, with tooth marks in it beside the creek. On the other hand just this past Memorial Day after conscientiously placing all carcamping food (including beer) and cooking stuff in the yosemite creek bearboxes (with great trepidation as the NPS requires that the boxes be unlocked) I parked the trusty 4 Runner near the White Wolf intersection and took off for 9 nights in the Northern Yosemite backcountry. When I returned the odor in the car brought my attention to the fact that overwhelmed with a case of old age onset attention deficit disorder that I had left a banana on the dashboard of said vehicle, in plain site of marauding bears and not so eagle eyed rangers. The banana, considerably ripened and odiferous, remained untouched and the window unticketed. This clearly proves it is better to be lucky than good! (It also helps if you park in a location not frequented by marauding bears and maybe the ranger decided that the senior access pass was proof of mental incapacity and therefore I was incapable of criminal intent :D .)

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Re: Planning trip - suggestions

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:47 am

My .02 cents worth.

I routinely organize trips for a hiking group. Half Dome will never be on my schedule again - it's crowded and not a wilderness experience so much as it is Just Another Line of Tourists. I tell people they don't want to do it if they have not been hiking at altitude - unless you are backpacking and can overnight up there, the day hike will kill your feet and legs for no good reason. People will sign up simply because "it's Half Dome! you have to do Half Dome!" - I had people limping and crawling back to their cars the one time I scheduled this as a day hike, took them from 9 am to about 6 pm to get back to the parking lot.

Half Dome now requires a permit if you day hike it on a weekend or holiday. Backpackers will be given a permit when they get their wilderness permit, no problem. Day hike permits are available online - check the Yosemite website for details.

Alta Peak (Sequoia NP, Wolverton trailhead) is hands down a better hike - more elevation gain, higher peak, better views of the Sierras (including Mt Whitney, due east, on a clear day), and I enjoyed camping at Alta Meadow much, much more than staying in Little Yosemite Valley. No crowds, no cables. Clouds Rest is a better view and no cables. North Dome is also great, busy but no crowds anything like Half Dome and no cables, and a great view of Half Dome.

I'm not going to say don't do Half Dome - I am a lifelong Yosemite fan, go there every year despite the crazy permitting procedures, crazy bears and crazy tourists. Half Dome is a neat place to go but I have to say that the crowds totally killed it for me. Never going again.

You don't want to leave bags, packs, or ice chests - whether there is anything in them or not - visible in the car in Yosemite. No sense in taking chances. It's the only place I'm aware of where bears break into cars, but they are starting to warn people in SEKI as well and there are bear boxes you are asked to use at trailheads, rather than leaving stuff in vehicles. The marmots in Mineral King are famous for chewing up stuff in your engine compartment if you don't use chicken wire or tarps to protect them, and I've heard rumor that marmots in the neighborhood of Courtright Reservoir also do the same.

If you are not taking more than two-three people and are flexible in your scheduling you can probably manage first come/first serve wilderness permits in Yosemite. The problem is that they are available the morning before the starting date. I've successfully gotten six permits for Happy Isles trailhead (most popular in the park) by showing up at 5:30 am to sit on the porch of the wilderness office. There were three people ahead of me. The person behind me wanted four permits for the same itinerary and only got two. You'll find it's less difficult getting permits for places like Kings Canyon/Sequoia, Ansel Adams wilderness, etc than it is in Yosemite.

The backpacker camps in Yosemite help with this - they are five dollars per night and available for you the night before or after a backpack (a ranger will walk around looking at permits in the designated campsites). They are very strict about your starting date and your possession of a bear canister on their approved list - the absence of a permit or approved canister will result in your being ejected from the wilderness if a ranger asks to see them. Friend was marched out from Red Peak Pass because he was out without a permit. The fine is 75 - unless it's a food storage problem, then they can fine you up to $5,000. Yosemite wins my prize for "park most similar to a police state" - but the scenery is worth it.
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