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Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

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Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby Vidalia » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:02 pm

Looking for your experienced and thoughtful suggestions. I have researched the archives and have a little idea of what I am after but all feedback is specific to the request.

Two or three of my best friends and I are planning a 8-10 day backpacking trip in Yosemite this coming summer/fall and would like to get suggestions on hiking trips to consider. We are all in our 50’s, in good shape and have been doing this sort of thing for 30+ years. We usually hike somewhere in the US for a week or two every year. We have experience in almost every condition and prefer to backcountry camp when possible. Although there is always something new to experience in the great outdoors I can honestly say we very humbly feel we can hike almost anything Yosemite can offer. (And look forward to that challenge!)

Yosemite has always been on our radar but for one reason or another we have never been able to pull off a hike there. As we have, well, matured a bit, we have decided not to let such an amazing place as Yosemite to go unexplored.

We do not have any first hand experience in Yosemite but from the previous posts, trail guides and other references we have focused on something like a hike from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley via the John Muir Trail but would appreciate suggestions on other options. We travel light and enjoy the exercise but also enjoy days of free range walking from base camp. We sometimes take several days to cross a relatively short distance because we enjoy the off trail exploration of the high country.

We are somewhat flexible as far as timing, from August through September.

Thanks in advance for your help, ideas and suggestions. Your experienced advice will be very helpful in what we call our “Annual trip of a lifetime!” Oh, by the way, we are located in the southeast, Georgia and Alabama but our hearts and souls are bound to the high country of the west and mid-west. Thanks again for your help.

Vidalia



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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:01 pm

There are a ton of great hikes in Yosemite, and while the one you have suggested has lots of attractions, it also probably has more people on it than any other hike you could attempt. If you don't mind that many people, then your hike is a great one. If you want a little more solitude along with your scenery, then I would suggest either the northern or southern parts of the park.

There is a list of all our favorite hikes in the High Sierra on our website, with a particularly long list for Yosemite...but you might also look at a hike that starts outside the northern border, and then comes down Jack Main or Matterhorn Canyon---those are on our 'to do' list, and highly recommended by others, but we haven't hiked them yet!

Hope that helps
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:35 pm

If you plan on going prior to about Sept 15, I would stay in the high country of Yosemite. It can still be 90+ at lower elevations earlier. Be aware that you can get into Yosemite from out-of-park trailheads also. This avoids permit problems with getting on popular trails. Examples of this are to go into northern Yosemite via Saddlebag Lakes, Twin Lakes or even as far north as Levitt Meadows. Another thing to consider if you go late season is that many streams dry up - even those that USGS maps indicate as flowing year round. And if you are able and willing to go off-trail, many more areas open up to consideration (such as Hutchings Creek and the upper Lyell Fork of the Merced). I use the Shaeffer (spelling??) guidebook to Yosemite. He gives lots of good information on the trail routes- I especially like his rating of trails by scenic value and degree of use. And although you may not want to hike to Yosemite Valley, it is well worth it to drive down for a quick car-tour.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:35 pm

I agree on either the northern or southern sections as the best places to go, staying in high country, and considering entering from trailheads outside the part. If you want to go from Tuolomne Meadows, spend the night at Tuolomne and get a permit for the next day by showing up early to get your permit.

I have a particular love of the southeast section bordering Ansel Adams Wilderness. The Clark Range and the section both on and off trail between Isberg Pass and Lewis Creek valley offer relative solitude and a marvelous diversity of terrain and scenery. You can configure many routes depending on which trailhead you want to leave from. From Tuolumne Meadows, one year my wife and I did a week long trip through Emeric Lake, the Merced Canyon past Washburn Lake, the Clark Range for two nights, and then back along the higher trail to Lewis Creek Valley and over Vogelsang Pass. Once we got above Washburn Lake, we saw very few people until Vogelsang Pass. Side trips on the higher trail below Isberg Pass can include the Harriet Lake bench and, if feeling like dealing with class 2 cross country, over Blue Lake Pass to Bench Canyon, one of the most wondrous locales in the Sierra.

From Clover Meadow in Ansel Adams Wilderness, you can go over Isberg Pass into Yosemite and explore the Clark Range, the higher trail to Lewis Creek, Harriet Lake bench, and other places of southeast Yosemite. Looking at the map will suggest several possible route possibilities.

One other suggestion offers less solitude, but does give a sense of the Yosemite high backcountry and is beautiful if you don’t mind the other hikers. From Tuolumne, go past Cathedral Lake, Sunrise High Sierra Camp, down to Merced Lake, up to Vogelsang, over to Ireland Lake, down to Lyell Canyon, a side excursion up Lyell Canyon to Donahue Pass, and back down Lyell Canyon to Tuolumne.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby The Other Tom » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:32 am

LMBSGV wrote:One other suggestion offers less solitude, but does give a sense of the Yosemite high backcountry and is beautiful if you don’t mind the other hikers. From Tuolumne, go past Cathedral Lake, Sunrise High Sierra Camp, down to Merced Lake, up to Vogelsang, over to Ireland Lake, down to Lyell Canyon, a side excursion up Lyell Canyon to Donahue Pass, and back down Lyell Canyon to Tuolumne.

I would second this hike. Vogelsang is one of my favorite places and you could spend a few days there exploring the surrounding area. As someone else mentioned, if this is your first trip to Yosemite, there are some other "tourist" things you should probably do. I would recommend tunnel view, then going out to Glacier point (with maybe a side trip to Taft point). Also not to be missed is the Mariposa Grove of big (Sequoia) trees at the southern end of the park. Personally, I would avoid the valley as the falls will not be full during your visit, but that's just me.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby balzaccom » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:31 am

Actually, if you do drive up to Glacier Point, you can almost always get a permit for Mono Meadows, which would allow you to go up illilouette Canyon and visit many the CLark Range etc from this very easy and convenient trailhead.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:53 pm

This 10 day trip would give you some good class 2 passes to climb, through some
rugged back-country though not to bad, and pass through some of the prettiest
parts of the Sierra.
Agnew to Tuolumne Meadows ( Rogers Pass - Old Bones Pass - Lyell Fork- High Trail
Lewis Creek Trail- Vogelsang Trail) this would take you thru some of the highlights
of the northern Sierra (2 cars would be needed for this one).
You would get to see the Minarets up close, and visit beautiful Thousand Island Lake
visit the Northern San Joaquin River's watershed, see some of the most rugged and
picturesque peaks, and lakes in Yosemite's southeastern boundary.
The Lyell Fork is a special area not frequently visited as is the Hutching Creek area and
both have beautiful small lakes with gorgeous peaks as backdrops.
Then up Lewis Creek to Bernice Lake, Gallison Lake and over Vogelsang Pass where
you can get a hot meal, and basecamp visiting several lakes in the area or
jump the ridge at Emeric Lake into the Echo Creek drainage and follow it up towards
Matthes Lake and then on to Cathedral Lake and back to the car.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby gg-man » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:45 pm

You don't specify how many miles you are able/desire to go. But here is a couple options:
1) Start at Yosemite valley and take the backpacker bus up to Tuolumne Meadows. I would not recommend the JMT back down to the valley. That is only 24 miles, all downhills and frankly boring compared to the alternatives. If you are up for 54 miles try: TM up over Vogalsang pass and down the Lewis creek drainage toward Merced Lake. Just Before Merced Lake go south along the Merced and take the trail over Red Peak Pass and ottaway lakes.From there you can take a trail down to Nevada Falls and pick up the JMT to the valley. If you do this in August you shouldn't have snow on the passes and skeeters will be under control. I believe this has about 11k of elevation gain.
2) From Tuolumne Meadows head north to Glen Aulin and down through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. This would be better earlier in the year with more water but it is spectacular. Once you are through the canyon there is a trail that heads up the canyon toward white wolf. This has a gain of 4-5k which will be tough. From there you can make it a loop by heading through the ten lakes regions and connect back at Glen Aulin. I believe this was about 45 miles.
3) Another TM to Yosemite valley trip would be the Rafferty Creek trail to Fletcher Creek down to Merced Lake. from there follow the Merced down to Yosemite Valley. Maybe 32 miles.
4) I personally would stay away from Hetch Hetchy in the summer. It is very hot and you have a climb to get out of the canyon. But if thats not a problem, Jack Main Canyon up to Tilden lake. This is one of my favorite places in the park. Round trip will be about 45 miles. You can also make a loop by taking the Tilden canyon? trail back through Tiltill Valley to hetch Hetchy. Tiltill Valley is also very nice. (A great side excusion is to follow the creek that feeds Tilden Lake. There is a use trail and there is hidden little gem of a waterfall up there.)

Have fun!
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby Vidalia » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:17 pm

Thanks everyone for the informative suggestions. I will have to look over the replies and I am sure I will have more questions as the planning progresses. It is awful damn (opps, can I say that here?) exciting to be planning this trip! This is a place I have always wanted to explore. I have plenty to do but your route ideas are a great place to start.

If anyone has more to offer please do so. Thanks!

Vidalia
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby tim » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:11 pm

Remember that this week is the start of the booking period for early/mid September trips and we're already past the time for reserving July/August (http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/w ... tdates.htm). If you're thinking of going for a popular trailhead then it might just be worth reserving a date now and changing later if need be - places like Cathedral Lakes already have most spots in August taken (http://www.yosemite.org/DSN/wwwyosemite ... ddates.htm). Of course midweek/later in September you will have less of a problem with late booking or even walk-in.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby adam » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:31 pm

regarding maverick's earlier post-- as he states, it's an amazing itenerary (as would be most any other in the area), however you CAN do it with just one car-- check out:

http://www.yarts.com/schedules.html

It makes the mammoth/june lakes area approaches very reasonable for one-way hikes.

I did a trip last year where we crashed in the T. meadows backpacker camp, then I got up early, drove to the east side to drop off the car, and caught the morning bus back into Yosemite-- I think we were on the trail from T. meadows by 10ish, if I recall correctly, with the added benefit of my wife getting to sleep in!

I'd never done this before, and felt like an idiot for not taking advantage sooner.
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Re: Yosemite backpacking advice for this summer/fall?

Postby Vidalia » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:22 am

Not ever having been to Yosemite (I know, bad move on my part!) I have some naive questions. When I go places like Ranier I prefer to obtain a "backcountry permit" allowing me to setup camp in a particular geographic area but not stay in a designated camping area. I understand the high sierra can be more fragile and water sourcing can be an important issue but can someone camp somewhere other than a designated campsite? BTW: I practice LNT camping, etc.

We were looking at the logistics of travel and can be in Fresno and hopefully in a rental by noon. If we park in Yosemite Valley and take the backpacker bus or Yarts to Tuolumne
Meadows or Mammoth Lakes what would be a good choice for spending the nght in Yosemite Valley for one night? I assume driving to Y Valley, catching a bus and getting to a trailhead as too much to attempt on the day we fly in.

Bear containers are required everywhere?

In answer to a comment about milage capacity for hiking, we did the Skyline Trail in the Olympics last August and averaged about 8-10 miles per day. No problem doing more but if not necessary I like those distances. It allows for some late afternoon scrambles and a third cup of coffee (I am a coffee roaster) in the mornings. We also like to spend a couple nights at the same campsite once or twice along the way so we can ditch the packs and go exploring on day hikes. The ruggedness of the terrain can limit this somewhat but it is still a goal to include on our trip.

It looks like the penciled in dates we are looking at are Saturday, September 11th (OMG! - 9/11!) through Sunday, September 19th. That should give us at least 7 nights on the ground with 2 nights flexible.

Thanks as always! Vidalia

By the way, this weekend we sat around with computer topo software and really got into the possibilities available to us. Awesome is not a word I like to use but it fit in this case!
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