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Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

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Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby ChinMusic » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:52 pm

We have a trip planned for late July into early August. I think we have things pretty well thought out but I am posting the trip here to have folks that know the area to pick it apart or make additional suggestions about things we just "have to see" that are a short side trip. Almost any comments are welcome.

We are pretty seasoned backpackers. Fitness wise, we could handle 10-12 AT-miles comfortably and stll have something left in the tank. I personally have ZERO experience above 8000'. Aside from a trip to Glacier and Alaska almost all my backpacking as been out east. I have only camped above 6000' a couple times. I do have some concerns about how altitude will affect me.

We are in NO HURRY. We want to soak it in. I like to take LOTS of pictures and figure I'll be stopping quite often. A certain places I may want to set up some attempts at time lapse photography.

Day 0: Land in Reno. Drive rental to Reds (7800') and stay for the night.

Day1: 6-mile hike to Gladys Lake (9700"). Other than a gradual up I have no idea what is on the way.

Day2: 3.6-mile hike (1 mile off the JMT) to Ediza Lake (9400'). One of our members has been to this lake and views it as a must-stop. This short day could help with acclimation as well as being a beautiful spot. Day hike options would be nice for this short day should I be feeling up to it.

Day 3: 8-mile hike to the Rush Creek area (9700'). Hike by Ganet and Thousand Island Lakes. I see that Waugh Lake is near where we are planned to camp. Wondering if that might be a better spot to camp

Day 4: Hike 6.5-11 miles over Donahue Pass (11000'), this would be my highest point ever while hiking, to somewhere along Lyell Fork as early as Kuna Creek (9000'). Stopping at Kuna only if the day and altitude has sapped us dry. We would like to get closer to Tuolumne.

Day5: Hike 10-13 miles stopping at Tuolumne to resupply, eat, hopefully charge some batteries, and move on (don't like crowds). Thinking of stopping near Cathedral Lakes (9300'). Have not really thought out this area very well and would like suggestions on sites.

Day6: Hike 10ish miles to camp along Sunrise Creek (just short of the Half Dome Trail junction). My understanding is that there is a camping area about a half mile before the Half Dome Trail turnoff along the creek.

Day7: Leave our tents up and dayhike the halfish mile to the Half Dome Trail. Take the HDT to Half Dome. We would get there while fresh and WAY before the dayhikers from the Valley. Take our time and then hike back to our tents (slight back track). Hike on down to Yosemite Valley.

Day8: Be a tourist before catching a bus back to Reds at 5pm.

A possible option would be to arrive a day later to YV, spending that extra day in the field, but still with time to catch the 5pm bus.
Please critique the plan, comment, suggest options (especially campsites)(side trails). I'm pumped thinking about this trip.



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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby jimqpublic » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:24 pm

Sounds reasonable.

The first day is gradual uphill all the way. You might be lagging from the long travel day and higher altitude than you're accustomed to. Since you have a shorter second day you might stop at Gladys instead of Rosalie- I think there are more good camp spots and if you stroll past the outlet you get a great view. Even the lower lakelets or Johnston Meadow/Lake are nice camping, but more buggy.

Second day as you say short but fun exploring above Ediza.

Third day passes spectacular scenery. Some big meadow areas to camp past Rush Creek toward the foot of Donahue Pass.

Day four brings you into the beautiful Lyell canyon.

Day five camp spots between 4 miles before Tuolumne trailhead and Cathedral Lakes are prohibited or nonexistent. Lots of day hikers to Cathedral Lakes.

Day six your camp spot is good. A few good camp spots right at the JMT/Cloud's Rest lower junction. I think it's only about 1/2 mile to the Half Dome trail.

Day seven get up Half Dome before the crowds arrive!

You can camp in the Backpacker campground (Not Sunrise or Camp 4). You get off the shuttle bus at the Stables/North Pines campground and walk to the back of the campground, across a footbridge to the backpacker camp. Another option is to get a tent cabin at Curry Village. Their prices aren't too bad and showers are included. They often have availability from cancellations.

Day eight absolutely spend it in Yosemite Valley! The valley is not a wilderness experience but it is beautiful! Eat lunch and dinner at the Curry Village Pizza Deck- The pizza is great but try to avoid peak times. At some point take the shuttle to the Awhanee Hotel and relax in the great hall. I would even suggest spending 'two days in the valley'.

On your overall pace I think it's pretty relaxed. I'm not in great shape but I did your route (not including Half Dome or Ediza) in four days going the opposite direction. Your seven day pace should give plenty of time for soaking in the scenery, weather, etc.
Jim
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:54 pm

May I recommend the following changes.
Day 1: Lake Ediza via Shadow Creek Trail
Day 2-3: 1000 Is Lake (lay over)where you can go visit the small lake, and beautiful
meadow via the ridge between 1000 Is Lake and Garnet L, at Garnet Lakes
western side.
Also Davis Lakes can be an Indian Paintbrush heaven in late July.
I would not rush past this area, and you'll see why.
Gem and Waugh Lakes are nice but not worth leaving the 1000 Is Lake area
for it, only if you were planning to go to Lost Lakes and on to the Kuna area.
Day 5: As mentioned there are restrictions on camping in the Cathedral Lakes
area, but well worth the stay, but do expect crowds at both lakes.
If you want more solitude than go to Echo or Matthes Lake.
Day 6: Yes, there are some campsite right before the JMT/Clouds Rest Junction
and you should consider Clouds Rest it has the best view in Yosemite!

Be aware that the 1000 Is Lake, and Lyell Canyon areas are big time bear
problem areas!
Also skeetrz will be very bad so be prepared!
You can also most likely purchase a meal at Sunrise High Sierra Camp if you
want a well prepared hot meal.
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby ChinMusic » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:43 pm

jimqpublic wrote:

Day five camp spots between 4 miles before Tuolumne trailhead and Cathedral Lakes are prohibited or nonexistent. Lots of day hikers to Cathedral Lakes.

Where would be a good place to camp on Day 5? I had heard of the no-camping area but didn't know where it ended.

jimqpublic wrote:You can camp in the Backpacker campground (Not Sunrise or Camp 4). You get off the shuttle bus at the Stables/North Pines campground and walk to the back of the campground, across a footbridge to the backpacker camp. Another option is to get a tent cabin at Curry Village. Their prices aren't too bad and showers are included. They often have availability from cancellations.

I assume this in in Yosemite Valley. I'm not familiar with those names. I didn't do the itinerary for our trip. I assumed my friend had Yosemite Valley locked up.

jimqpublic wrote:Day eight absolutely spend it in Yosemite Valley! The valley is not a wilderness experience but it is beautiful! Eat lunch and dinner at the Curry Village Pizza Deck- The pizza is great but try to avoid peak times. At some point take the shuttle to the Awhanee Hotel and relax in the great hall. I would even suggest spending 'two days in the valley'.

One of our peeps is going to go ahead of us so he can spend 2 days in the Valley. I plan on returning in the future so one day is fine for me on this trip. Thanks for the recs on eateries.

jimqpublic wrote:On your overall pace I think it's pretty relaxed. I'm not in great shape but I did your route (not including Half Dome or Ediza) in four days going the opposite direction. Your seven day pace should give plenty of time for soaking in the scenery, weather, etc.

I think the time is generous too. We are DEF now treating this as a thru-hike. We want to take our time.
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby ChinMusic » Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:11 pm

maverick wrote: Day 1: Lake Ediza via Shadow Creek Trail

Interesting. Is the climb out of Reds fairly uneventful and SCT more scenic? I only see SCT near Ediza. Or are you saying just get to Ediza on day 1?

maverick wrote: Day 5: As mentioned there are restrictions on camping in the Cathedral Lakes
area, but well worth the stay, but do expect crowds at both lakes.
If you want more solitude than go to Echo or Matthes Lake.

Are we giving up any evening scenery by going onto Echo or Matthes? I also don't see trail to these on my map.

maverick wrote: Day 6: Yes, there are some campsite right before the JMT/Clouds Rest Junction
and you should consider Clouds Rest it has the best view in Yosemite!

Clouds Rest eh? Where would you suggest we branch off for that option? That looks like a major change.

maverick wrote: Also skeetrz will be very bad so be prepared!
You can also most likely purchase a meal at Sunrise High Sierra Camp if you
want a well prepared hot meal.

With the late snow melt I suppose late July/early Aug will be bad for bugs. For the whole trip or just areas? Oh well, bug dope, been there-done that.

I see one High Sierra Camp on my trip. I guess that would be lunchish on day 6. What hours are they open for lunch?

Oh, what hours would the grill and store be open at Tuolumne?
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby Phreak » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:17 pm

Clouds Rest eh? Where would you suggest we branch off for that option? That looks like a major change.

I took this side trip in 2008 and it was my favorite spot along the JMT. Well worth the time and effort.
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby ChinMusic » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:26 pm

Phreak wrote:
Clouds Rest eh? Where would you suggest we branch off for that option? That looks like a major change.

I took this side trip in 2008 and it was my favorite spot along the JMT. Well worth the time and effort.

Since I want to do Half Dome the next day, would you suggest hitting Cloud's Rest and moving on closer to Half Dome, or is Clouds Rest a must-stay campsite? No additional permit I assume.

I'm liking this Clouds Rest option. I'm glad hikerduane directed me to this site......
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby jimqpublic » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:29 pm

You can loop up and over Cloud's Rest on your way to the campsite previously discussed.

Regarding Shadow Lake via the river or JMT- I like the JMT from Red's Meadow better. It's longer but nice forested terrain, plus Rosalie and Gladys lakes are nice.

Camping restrictions- I don't know what they are around Cathedral Lakes. I know you can't camp on the Lyell fork within 4 miles of Tuolumne, and there aren't any good camp spots between Tuolumne and almost to Cathedral.
Jim
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby Phreak » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:35 pm

ChinMusic wrote:Since I want to do Half Dome the next day, would you suggest hitting Cloud's Rest and moving on closer to Half Dome, or is Clouds Rest a must-stay campsite? No additional permit I assume.

I'm liking this Clouds Rest option. I'm glad hikerduane directed me to this site......


I took the side trip to Clouds Rest, then hiked over to Half Dome and then to my campsite at the campground. I wouldn't recommend camping near Clouds Rest. Its dry and I don't remember seeing any decent spots other than for a 'cowboy camp'. I did pass a SOBO on my trip who spent the night there and enjoyed it.
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:09 pm

Yes, Lake Ediza for day 1.
Echo Lake, and Matthes Lakes are pretty, and you were asking about an alternative to
the crowds, plus any thing without a trail to it = solitude.
Echo is easy, just get to the large meadow above Upper Cathedral which is over Cathedral
Pass and head for the far eastern corner of the meadow, follow the use trail down next
to the stream to Echo Lake.
Go thru Sunrise HSC to Sunrise Lakes taking the Clouds Rest Junction, and then go
down to the Clouds Rest/JMT junction turn north(left) cross the stream, and start up on
the trail you will see a use trail to your right that heads down to a large campsite
next to the stream in between some large trees, great site!
Sorry but I cannot help with times for lunch, HSC or TM is too civilized for me when
I am backpacking.
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby snusmumriken » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:22 pm

Random thoughts and suggestions:
1. They want you to take the shuttle rather than drive in to Reds Meadow - park at the top where the ski lifts are, this is also where the YARTS bus from Yosemite ends.
2. The free hotspring showers at Reds are legendary.
3. The first part of your trip up until Shadow Lake is pure drudgery in my opinion, no matter which route you go. Take the quickest way there, hence the suggestion to take the shuttle a couple of stops and start the hike at Agnew Meadows.
4. Ediza, Garnet and Thousand Island are definitely worth lingering at for a day, a week or a lifetime. Yosemite is beautiful, but not equal to this area. If you need a day to slow down and adjust to altitude this is the place to do it.
5. Skip Gem lake, nothing special, definitely not worth the detour.
6. After you've gone over Donahue you'll pass a couple of tarns, then there is a creek crossing close to a waterfall. Beautiful camping here.
7. There is a lot to walk around and see around Tuolomne Meadows. If you stop here for the night you could eat at the grill, restock at the store and camp at the backpackers camp ($5 per person fee - no reservations needed or taken.)
8. The High Sierra camps only serve breakfast and dinner and only sell meals to backpackers if they have fewer guests than they have planned for, so its a hit and miss thing, but worth stopping in and asking about if you happen to pass by around dinner time.
9. If you want to do Clouds Rest, take the route that diverges from the JMT at the Sunrise camp and goes past Sunrise lakes. Middle Sunrise lake is fabulous camp spot.
10. You won't be alone on Half Dome, no matter what the hour, but the line at the bottom of the cables will be shorter if you get there on the early side.
11. Enjoy.
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Re: Reds Meadow to Yosemite Valley trip plan

Postby hikerduane » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:29 pm

Very good points.

David, it isn't too bad at TM campground, you are thinking too much of what it may be like back east I think.
Piece of cake.
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