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Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

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Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby diesel » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:21 am

I'd like some guidance in planning a backpacking trip. So far I've really only done a short 3 day trip where we took two days to hike from Yosemite valley to half dome, plus a third/extra half day just doing day hikes in the valley. So admittedly, I'm not advanced, but in great shape and do plenty of day hikes here in the bay area. I'd like to plan 2 trips- one very early in the summer, as soon as early to mid June, and another trip much later, in August. What would you suggest?

What level of backpacking experience do you have?

Level 2- Some backpacking trips, using trails

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 1 terrain/trail hiking
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country- no experience with cross country hiking, but wouldn't mind a mountain pass
- River crossings- no problem
-snow- a little snow is fine, but not looking for an experience that would require crampons or snow shoes

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

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead? (3 days/2 nights)

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers? 7-9 miles per day (or two 10-12 mile days and one short 4-5 mile day)

Did you prefer a loop or out and back trip? preferably a loop

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKI
western sierra start or eastern start ect.)? Kings Canyon, Yosemite, sequoia, but open to anything

Will you be hiking with a dog? No



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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby balzaccom » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:16 am

I'll give this a shot, but I also suggest that you check out a few websites (ours and others) as well as the books Sierra North and Sierra South. That will give you a great idea of the possibilities, and I will guarantee that whatever we recommend, you will find something there you like better!

That said, some good and relatively straightforward trips would include:

Early season: I'd look at Rancheria Falls out of Hetch-hetchy, with a day hike to LeConte point. Not much in Kings Canyon that early, as most things will be under snow. You might also look at Bear Lake in Emigrant Wilderness as an option...

Later season:

Kings Canyon: Paradise Valley out of Roads End, or Jennie Lake up above...

Yosemite: Almost too many to choose here, but I would look at Ten Lakes Basin or Young Lakes out of Tuolumne Meadows. You could also do the trip up Lyell Canyon and back down Rafferty...

The Yosemite trips would require more planning, as the permit process is a bit more difficult there. But if you leave mid-week, and plan ahead, I don't think you'll have a problem.
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby adam » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:01 am

I don't have much to suggest for the early trip, but for august the trails off of hwy 120 offer a lot. the standard would be lyell canyon-->Ireland creek-->vogelsang, return via raferty creek loop. Unfortunately, the permits you would need (lyell canyon or vogelsang) are both among the first to be snapped up.

Remember that in august there are bus services too along 120 (see the nps website) so you could make "loop" trips connecting different trail heads-- for instance, 10 lakes to may Lake, or sunrise to cathederal. perhaps the best strategy for the 120 options would be to plan several trips and then go wherever you can get a walk in permit.

Another classic 3 day loop, not on 120 though, is the minaret, cecile, isberg, ediza lakes loop in the ansel adams wilderness, leaving from devils postpile. a short section of moderate xc in that one, but among the best 2 night loops out there.
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby copeg » Sat May 01, 2010 8:02 am

Perhaps a trip for later in the summer when the pass is clear of snow, but South Lake to Dusy Basin will offer some big mountain scenery and is a great trip. Its not a loop, but there is plenty to explore along the way. Its not an extremely difficult hike, but because there is a high altitude pass involved does pack a bit of a punch.
Another very nice loop would be in Ansel Adams Wilderness. Starting at Agnew Meadow you can take the High Trail to 1000 Island Lake. From there you can loop back to Garnet, Ediza, and Shadow Lakes and then back via the River Trail. You also have the option to x-country from 1000 Island to Ediza, but for a beginner you may wish to stick to the trail. The other option in the area that adam suggested is a bit more difficult and requires x-country (between Iceberg and Cecile there is a steep perennial snowfield that I hesitate to recommend to a beginner)
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby adam » Sat May 01, 2010 11:30 am

thanks for the reality check-- I did that minarets loop with my family when I was 14, and have absolutely no memory of a steep snowfield-- although I do remember lots of beautiful scenery and exploring. Maybe this means I'm officially getting old...
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby larree0 » Mon May 03, 2010 9:07 pm

If you're driving from the SF area, and only have 3 days , you might consider Island Lk/Penner lk (6800'), about 20m N. of emigrant Gap...It's crowded on weekends, but we've had a lake to ourselves on weekdays. A bit further gets to 5 lakes basin, nice lakes.
Or...Rockbound lake area (6500') via Loon Lk, Meeks bay, or for some excitement , up the jeep trail (McKinney lk rd , just don't go during the annual jeep jamboree, check for current road conditions)

There are also a lot of posts for the S. end of Desolation Wilderness on this site that would give you max lake time with short hikes.

Not sure about snowpack this year in May, here's a rough guide: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/westsnow.pl
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 09, 2010 3:09 pm

Yosemite is not much farther than Desolation from the Bay Area. In my opinion, Yosemite is far superior to Desolation. With 3 days, the east side means a long drive. Particularly if you are in the south Bay Area, you could consider Kings Canyon too.

A spectacular 3-day early season trip I have done is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Park at Lembert Dome parking lot, Day 1 to area near the top of Waterwheel Falls. Day 2 Pate Valley area (but NOT in Pate Valley)-- a couple miles upstream or near the 2nd creek after Pate Valley. Pate Valley is swampy, full of bugs, snakes and bears. Day 3- long day up and out to White Wolf. I have never had much trouble hitching back to Tuolumne Meadows. If you have 2 cars, park one at each end. I have also done this in late season - still a great trip, this time with lots of swimming breaks in pools but less spectacular waterfalls. It is hot late season, but just plan for this and you will be OK. In late season, reverse the loop - walk down from White Wolf (hot and dry) and go up the canyon- many water sources. This is a challenging trip - some side stream crossings can be interesting.
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby rlown » Sun May 09, 2010 3:18 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:A spectacular 3-day early season trip I have done is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Park at Lembert Dome parking lot


It's a good trip, other than that little hump back up to White Wolf. If you're going down towards Glen Aulin anytime, the best place to park is at the Stables; shaves some time off the trip from Lembert. The horse trail is just up the hill North about 200 yds, and then it's all downhill, or you can go towards Soda Springs out of the West end of the parking lot. We always choose the horse trail, to avoid the people.
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby markskor » Sun May 09, 2010 5:27 pm

Maybe it is just me getting old but...
These 3-day trips you so casually throw out there - down to Pate and up to White Wolf,
might be perhaps better served with an additional day added for acclimation and/ or fishing. Three days alloted to drive to YNP, hike down to the bottom, and back up...have to ask why the big rush.

For me this loop trip (done a few times myself) included a night in Tuolumne, and a day and night just below the second falls, seeking out the hidden pools for lunkers, and just to revel in Yosemite's backcountry.

BTW, the hike up from Pate to Harden...~4,000 feet in 4 miles is a major slog...much better route is the other way but...
With the high water possibly blocking the trails just above Pate, coming from Glen Aulin, starting in Tuolumne guarantees you will see all the three falls but you may have to return the same way.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 09, 2010 8:23 pm

The fellow did say he was in good shape, and I did say it was challenging. I would however, prefer to do this trip with another person. I did this the day that Tioga Pass opened a few years back - I was 55 and my companion was 60 and we did it in 3 days - so it is not terribly difficult. It is warm enough that you do not need lots of heavy gear - our packs were under 20 pounds. The walk back up was not bad, given an early start and plenty of early season intermitten streams for water. The high water conditions can be challenging. We had to explore upstream (I believe it was Rogers Creek) before we found a log to crawl across. This is an exciting scenic trip, but not one if you want leisurely travel.
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby diesel » Mon May 10, 2010 5:11 am

Wandering daisy, I like your yosemite suggestion- I'll definitely consider this one as soon as tioga pass opens up again. Admittedly I haven't done my research Here yet, but would there be some shuttle I'd be able to take back to my car or will I have to rely on the kindness of strangers to pick me up? Thanks
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Re: Help me plan a 3 day backpacking trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 10, 2010 8:15 am

As far as I know, the shuttle does not go to White Wolf (the shuttle used to go from Tuolumne Meadows to Tenaya Lake and maybe Olmstead Point). They are expanding shuttle services in Yosemite every year, so you need to call and check on this. If facilities are open, White Wolf has a resturant and campground, so you really do not need to stick your thumb out on the road - just ask around. We actually had to walk up the road to the highway and hitch from the side of the road, because the facilities were not yet open. Funny story here too -- a British couple picked us up and immediately started up the highway on the left lane! We quickly reminded them that we Americans drive on the right side.
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