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Another newbie looking for guidance...

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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby sparky » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:00 pm

I have done the early season Yosemite trip many times.

The last two years we did the same thing, although it requires not sleeping one night, but everything goes pretty smooth.

Leave home at 10pm, drink energy drinks. Arrive in Yosemite at 3 or 4 AM, wait for sunrise at Wawona Tunnel overlook. Go see bridalvale all by yourself. Go get permit. Site see in the valley, then set up in backpackers camp. The next day, go hike. Then exit early AM on your last day of hike to unwind, camp again in backpackers campground. If done with valley, head to Tuolumne Meadows and do it all over again ;) . There are some options in June out there.

Also, for the amount of tourists, June is not as bad as July and August. Some trails will still be wall to wall people so expect that. It can be shocking to say the least to come out of a long backpack to the valley. Going from so cal->yosemite, not so much of a shock :nod:
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:07 pm

Also, early season, all the people who can't navigate will logjam at snowline. Dayhiking Chilnualna Falls in late April - early May, you'll find tents of people who can't figure out that it's not spring yet there and get stuck where the snow begins to obscure the trail. :p

If you can navigate with gps/map/compass pretty well, and don't mind walking on snow, you can get in farther and have a pretty nice overnight trip without hordes of people.

Be prepared for bugs.

I take the wilderness hygiene stuff pretty darn seriously in Yosemite - it's the place most likely to inspire non-hikers to go backpacking, so destinations one day from the trailhead get slammed hard with folks who don't understand the first thing about Leave No Trace ethics or that they are the only people presently camped there, but about the two hundredth group that season.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby krism » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:30 pm

Well I just booked two nights at the Wowona campground--there were only a few sites in the whole park available so I was lucky. We should get in there about 5-6 P.M. Wed night so hopefully that will give us time to set up tent and drive back and walk around the Mariposa grove redwoods, then go up to the valley the next couple of days and do whatever.
The decision to camp was further made easier when I called a Comfort Inn over an hour west of the park and was told it was $190 a night for 4 adults. $20 a night is a little easier.
So as of now we are car/tent camping and day hiking/driving.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:34 pm

Glad you got that figured out! No matter what you do, you'll have an awesome time.

There are campgrounds in the park that are first come/first serve only - Bridalveil is. So if you don't like Wawona you are positioned well to get dibs on a campsite elsewhere by showing up early in the morning. It's a short drive from Wawona to Bridalveil. While you're staying at Wawona, there's Chilnualna Falls - great dayhike - and of course Mariposa Grove.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby krism » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:33 pm

Thanks so much you guys for all the help. BTW my outdoor history is basically
Grew up in rural southern IL and did quite a bit of sandbar/river camping, fishing, hunting.
Worked briefly as an outdoor instructor at an outdoor camp in eastern PA Pocono Mts for kids.
Through college, grad school, and work years so far have camped in MO, AZ, OK, MT, CO, UT, (DE and MD beaches), (WV and VA mountain biking and camping), NV (Area 51 perimeter!!!!).
Lived in MT for two years (Missoula) and did a ton of day hiking/biking, and two overnight backpack trips (worked quite a bit on weekends and didn't have a lot of full free Saturdays).
Been to a lot of the major nat. parks in those areas.
Nothing more than two consecutive nights spent backpack-camping though :-k

Anyway, here is my next question....where in the Sierra Nevadas can we do some free or low-cost backpacking and basically be able to go and camp wherever we want and gather wood and burn it and not have to worry about crowds?? Basically I want to be able to behave like I own the place! :rock:

I miss my days of going south of Missoula, MT into the Bitterroot Mts and walking up any of a number of trails that followed creeks up to high lakes with great scenery and being able to camp anywhere we chose, etc.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:25 am

Nowhere near Yosemite!

There are lots of places in Sierra National Forest, which is between the two parks. You have to drive out away from resorts and communities to do it.

There are still rules - you will need a campfire permit to use a stove or build a fire - but that's free from any ranger station and expires on Dec 31. Best places are out beyond North Fork and out past Shaver or Huntington Lake. There's a network of NF roads between Shaver and Dinkey Wilderness that are popular with the dispersal camping folks - you can pull off and camp pretty much anywhere. No permits necessary for hiking unless you are on the trails in the wilderness areas. But, there will still be people out there. Not the crowds you'll get in Yosemite - just people, with OHVs and horses and mountain bikes.

These places are anywhere from a 2 hour to a 8 hour drive from Yosemite. There is actually a backroad route from Bass Lake turnoff to North Fork to Shaver Lake and out but it is narrow and takes a long time to drive.

North of Yosemite, there are more - Stanislaus National Forest (again outside areas with resorts or developed areas) is similar. I spent my childhood camping in the granite on Sonora Pass, driving out those dirt roads to find campsites along streams and anywhere we wanted to just stop a while. The permitting for Emigrant Wilderness is much less complicated than for the national parks - pick it up and go - so backpacking there is no fuss at all and the scenery rivals the Yosemite backcountry.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:00 pm

Yosemite Valley is unique and nothing is comparable, not even Hetch Hetchy. There is the highest concetration of world-class waterfalls in Yosemite Valley. But, you do not have to backpack to experience Yosemite Valley. At least drive through and stop at the scenic turn-outs: Glacier Point, Wawowna Tunnel, Yosemite Falls. As far as scenery "rivaling" Yosemite Valley, that depends on your taste in scenery. Do not get me wrong- I lover Emigrant Wilderness, but it is not the same as Yosemite Valley. Another spectacular drive is over Tioga Pass.

You seem to be almost more interested in the camping experience than the scenery per se. Just be aware that this is looking like it will be a high snowpack year. The Beseares road loop out of Bass Lake may not be snow-free this year until July. Fires are permitted, even in Yosemite, below a specific elevation. Given that almost everything above 9000 feet will likely be snowed in, you will likely be able to build a fire in most places you could backpack this early. You have to check,- sometimes it is 9,000 feet, sometimes 10,000 feet. A nice easy loop that has a similar look to the Bitteroots is from Twin Lakes to Crown Lake in the Hoover Wilderness. Hoover is probably the least hastle ranger station I have ever been to obtaining a permit. It is the east side out of Bridgeport. But, again, mid-June this year may be too early for this trip. But surprises do happen! If we have a hot spring the snow can melt fast. It really is too early to totally count out the higher elevation trips.


Now, you probably have more information than you want! Everyone has a different opinon on good trips for you! I'm not sure anyone has yet warned you about Bay Area traffic. Getting out of SF on a Friday afternoon is not easy. It can take several hours just to get free of the rush hour congestion. Have a little contigency built into your plans.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:47 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote: As far as scenery "rivaling" Yosemite Valley, that depends on your taste in scenery. Do not get me wrong- I lover Emigrant Wilderness, but it is not the same as Yosemite Valley. Another spectacular drive is over Tioga Pass.


Which is why I didn't compare the Emigrant to the Valley or Tioga Pass, but to the backcountry. :nod:

I think it's all great - just all a very different experience. And no matter what the experience, it draws one back out there to have other experiences, with other areas and other terrain, until you have tried it all - and then you are drawn back out to visit it all over again. Or so it has been for me.

More than the place, the end result of all my trips has proven over and over - it's not just the scenery, the location or the journey, but also the people you are with that makes a whole experience come together. So in addition to the crazy array of suggestions obtained, consider too the people you are going with, and what would be enjoyable to do with them. When I go camping it is with very different people than the people who go out backpacking with me.
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Re: Another newbie looking for guidance...

Postby krism » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:16 pm

Well friends, it was a good trip (Yosemite).
Day 1--long travel, got to Mariposa, hiked the sequioa grove, got to campsite and set up.
Day 2--hiked Inspiration Point near the tunnel, later hiked the mist trail (vernal and nevada falls) and got COLD and SOAKED! Camped at night.
Day 3--Hiked Upper Yosemite Falls! (2,600 ft up) and watched brave young guys tightrope walking on a cable over the falls!!!!!!!!!! got lucky at the Wawona campground reservations and got another site for this night.
Day 4--drove out through Tioga Road on the FIRST day it opened!! We drove out the east side and up to Lake Tahoe where we had dinner and camped. Took a full 15 minute immersion/swim in Lake Tahoe--very cold!!
Day 6--took a nice hike directly from out campsite at the Meeks Bay campground at Tahoe and went up and walked on some snow and overlooked the Lake. Very nice temperatures every day so far. Drove to San Rafael hotel.
Day7--Did San Fran--fisherman's wharf, China Town, etc. Stayed in hotel.
Day8--Did Napa/Sonoma wineries, then flew back home on a red-eye flight.

This was a really good trip and the other couple we went with made it fun for us also. Thanks for the previous help on this forum everybody.
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