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advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby guyd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:19 pm

Hi,
Part of my first trip from Montreal to California, with wife and three teens (15-16-17), will arrive in Sequoia June 30 (mid PM) and in Yosemite July 4 (mid PM) before leaving for San-Francisco (+/-) July 8 , I wish to include a 2n/3d first backpacking experience in one of the park for the five of us (no dog). I want it memorable so my wife will be ready for others. (we will day hike in the other park)

- What level of backpacking experience ? Level 1- Minimal , but we day-hike in mountains 5-6x/year. We have also hiked with a small backpack from Inns to Inns

-What terrain are you comfortable/with? - Class 1 terrain/trail hiking. Never done snow crossing in summer

-Main interest: Big Mountain scenery, away of crowds...

-How many miles did you want to do a day: 5-6 miles with 2000-2500' elevation is our usual. (the boys want and do (if possible) more of course!)
-Did you prefer a loop or out and back trip? Well, loop unless shuttle in operation.

I was initially thinking of Tenaya-Sunrise lakes-Clouds Rest- side trip to HD (at least for the boys)-Valley, but being late I suspect that permit may be a problem...

Since we want to hike among sequoias I was thinking instead of a loop in Sequoia NP from Crescent Meadow start with the sequoias trails-HST trail up to the junction for Alta Trail, with second camp on Alta at Mertem Meadows (and leave camp there and go to summit of Alta ... if feasible at that period) and back to Wolverton.

I've read about Bearpaw Meadow and Hamilton Lake, but it seems too far for us...

What do you think of all that? What is my best bet?
There is SO many trails in your area, it is mindboggling...
I need to decide quick for permits, other lodging and plane tickets...



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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:47 pm

Hi Guyd

Welcome the HST!
Thinking out load here, 2 nights, big mountain scenery, 5-6 miles per day is kind of
difficult, since some trips like the Tenaya to YV will be a little over the mileage
your asking for, and you may run into some snow on the trails higher up, and in SEKI
there are no loops 15-18 miles in length.
Let's see, you need something from the west, Rancheria in Yosemite is out, since it
does not give you the big mountain scenery your asking for, or any solitude.
Permits out of Tuolumne Meadows or the Valley may be difficult to secure this far
into the year, and walk up permits for 5 people is going to be hard, especially
during the 4th of July holiday.
Hikes out of Roads End in Kings Canyon is going to be limited to Paradise Valley
since the other trails are going to take you more mileage to reach any open
expansive views.
Well even though SEKI is the bomb for backpacking trips, and offers some of the
best scenery, I would recommend that you do some day hikes in the park, and save
it for when your wife is ready to do some longer, and more difficult trips.
Make sure you visit Moro Rock in Sequoia, the views will have her wanting to come
back and explore.
Also Crescent Meadow, and the Giant Forest near by are places that should be on
your list.
A drive down to Roads End in Kings Canyon is fun where you can visit Zumwalt
Meadow, and hike up to Lookout Peak which starts right across form Cedar Grove.
I think you should try parking the car in Yosemite Valley, taking the shuttle to
Glacier Point and then hiking down the Panorama Trail to Little Yosemite Valley
where you could set up a base camp, if you can get the permits.
Then climb Half Dome the next day, get an early start, take enough food and water.
Make sure no one in your group is afraid of heights, because going up is easy
for most folks, but coming down that smooth granite at a steep angle can
freak some folks out.
Do not attempt the hike up HD if the weather is not good, especially if there
are any thunderstorms in the forecast.
There will be a lot of folks at LYV, and bears are a big issue, so keep a clean camp.
I do not usually recommend LYV because of all the people, but for first timers it
should be okay to be around other folks, plus you can have a camp fire, and you
will have a modern toilet(back country standards), which will make your wife
happy.
Be prepared for mosquito's, otherwise your wife will never go camping again!
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby guyd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:38 pm

Maverick,

From what I've digged the loop have described in SIKE:

- Crescent Meadow to the junction for Alta Trail,= 6.3m
- north on that junction (Sevenmile Hill Trail) = 2.2m
- west to Wolverton on Alta= 3.7m

TOTAL:12.2m
Going to summit of Alta supposed to add (from Alta jcn) 3m up, so big total 18.2m...

Can you comment?
Maybe poor on scenery...?
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby oldranger » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:05 pm

Guyd,

If you go during the time you are considering your trip is likely to be memorable, but not in the way you would like. There is a high probability that there will be significant snow above 9,000 feet at that time, what is not snow covered will probably have hoards of mosquitos. No one can know how fast the snow will melt but up until a couple of days ago the snowpack was increasing and still may increase before melting outdoes accretion. The views from Alta Peak toward the great western divide and beyond would be incredible but you are talking about lots of snow. Many of us that post on the forum have tramped, more than once, through snow on the 4th of july and before the solid snow we dealt with mosquitos! Oh this year you can pretty much count on mosquitos all summer long unless there is an unusual cold spell midsummer.

I'd stick with maverick's advice.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:09 pm

Nice trip, though the High Sierra Trail starts getting really good after
Bearpaw Meadow, and really nice up towards Hamilton Lakes, and
the Kaweah Gap.
The view from Panther Gap, and especially from Alta Peak is very good.
You can camp at Mehrten Meadow, and should have a lot of solitude here.
With all that said, Glacier Point's views are just gorgeous, as are the the ones
from the Panorama Trail.
Nevada Falls will be outstanding due to the big snow pack, and your views form
HD will be out of this world, though Clouds Rest is even better!
The thrill of doing HD for the first time, especially for teenagers will be quite
an experience.
Going down to the Valley you will get to see the other falls, Vernal Falls, which
is quite pretty too.
Snow pack as of 1 April is at 178% which is the same as it was in 1995, and GP road
did not open till 1 July, so you may have to do your trip out of the Valley if things
do not thaw out quick enough. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby guyd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:40 pm

Glacier Point to LYV reserved permits are all gone since a while, so I understood that I must reserve Glacier Point->Illilouette, with the obligation to camp first night at Illilouette Creek and then come back and reach LYV camp. Correct? (Would going farther to Sunrise Creek site a better choice than LYV?)

Because of July 4, and the overcrowded LYV I was worried that we would not feel any wilderness, but it seems that it might the only valid choice...?

The boys would be really disappointed if we would only do dayhikes, as we normally do. Is there options in lower land (!?) where snow would not be a problem?

Alternatively, how would you modify your replies if we added a third night and a fourth (half) day?
THANKS!!
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby markskor » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:58 pm

Instead of Glacier Pt - Illilouette, a short day at best...or the option of all the way up to Sunrise, a bit of a long, first-day slog,
Why not just camp up river (Merced) a bit. Moraine Dome waterslide (2 miles above LYV on the river) is the next legal camping site allowed...would work - great site.
It fulfills the wilderness conundrum/quota snafu of not being able to stay at LYV, is only a level two miles further, is a real wilderness camp, and would seem to be the easiest solution. Next day you could visit Bunnell Cascades, and then backtrack to LYV if Dome is in the cards.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby guyd » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:15 am

Well, I'm really confused with Trailhead and Destination names for permit reservation. Which are the options to try to get in order to camp at Morraine Waterslide?
======
Ain't the Sunrise Creek camp site (junction of CR and JMT) closer to HD as well as a shorter distance from Glacier Point and/or the valley than Morraine waterslide campsite?
======
Camping at Sunrise Creek could allow to go to CR instead of HD, isn't it?
(Although I understand it is almost guaranteed CR will be under snow first days of July...)
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:33 am

guyd wrote:Well, I'm really confused with Trailhead and Destination names for permit reservation. Which are the options to try to get in order to camp at Morraine Waterslide?
======
Ain't the Sunrise Creek camp site (junction of CR and JMT) closer to HD as well as a shorter distance from Glacier Point and/or the valley than Morraine waterslide campsite?
======
Camping at Sunrise Creek could allow to go to CR instead of HD, isn't it?
(Although I understand it is almost guaranteed CR will be under snow first days of July...)


The rules about camping in Yosemite usually involve a minimum distance from trailhead and in some areas, staying within the bounds of areas the rangers want you to be in, in order to minimize impact in heavily trodden regions, aka Little Yosemite Valley and Rancheria Falls.

You will want to specify LYV passthrough to get to either location, Moraine Dome or Clouds Rest area. The Happy Isles permits are either HI -> LYV or ... HI -> LYV passthrough, with two separate quotas. You will also find that these quotas for reservable permits have already been booked solid because this is the most popular trailhead in the park, primarily because of Half Dome.

From Sunrise, it's different - you'll just put Sunrise to your first night's camp, which they want you to specify, and you probably won't put Moraine Dome as that's farther from the TH in that direction - would probably be Sunrise Creek.

I would come up with a list of trailheads and first night camps, and when you call about the permit, work your way down the list. If you cannot reserve permits, there are three more chances to get them by showing up the day before you want to start hiking, since they have some permits reserved to give to walk in folks (a limited number so they go fast) and also they give out unclaimed permits that were reserved.

The tough part about starting from Glacier Pt - getting to that trailhead, if you want to leave the car at your exit trailhead (usually Happy Isles), involves riding a bus up to it, for which you reserve tickets. Unless you have a friend give you a ride. The first campsites that are legal are up Ilillouette as you say, and the next legal campsite is LYV, and 2 miles beyond that in either direction you can dispersal camp - so you have a very short hike first day or a longer-than-you-want hike, potentially combined with a tour bus ride from the valley to Glacier Point that's eaten up half the day already.

I suggest looking at a different area. A good backpack with some decent fishing, to Ostrander Lake - there are views of the Clark range and the back of Half Dome and Clouds Rest, it's six miles in with one steep section and not the constant climb and descent of the trail through the Clouds Rest/Happy Isles corridor, and once camped at the lake you can explore - go to Hart Lake, climb up Horse Ridge, fish in the lake for brook trout (if you get a license, which you can get a one or two day license), and you can have campfires as it's just below the max elevation. There may be patchy snow along the trail but since it is not steep that shouldn't be an issue. This is a popular area but there are two trailheads, one from Lost Bear and one from Bridalveil campground, and it's a rarity to not get permits for this destination. I
Last edited by AlmostThere on Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:46 am

If you do not mind hiking a little further, which should not be that much of a deal
since you will be hiking down hill to LYV from Glacier Point, then go to CR/Sunrise
Junction, just try to get as early start as you can.
I like this personally better than LYV, it offers much more privacy, and is perfect for
hitting HD and CR.
When you get to the junction continue across the creek about 200 yards and there will
be a small spur trail on your left that will head down to a clearing between some
big trees, and right next to Sunrise Creek.
It has a fire ring, and may even have firewood collected all ready.
CR is beautiful, but there will be snow as you get to 8500-9000 ft, and there are
some section where there are some steep drop-off's, not a place you want to slip.
If you go to early it will be icy and dangerous, a little easier if enough people have
made a tail in the snow, but check to see how hard it is before you start by you going
out a little ways and checking with some hiking poles.
Also be careful on top of CR that you do not get to close to the edge of the snow since
you do not want to slip or have a piece of the snow break off, it's a long way down.
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby guyd » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:47 am

maverick wrote:If you do not mind hiking a little further, which should not be that much of a deal
since you will be hiking down hill to LYV from Glacier Point, then go to CR/Sunrise
Junction, just try to get as early start as you can.
I like this personally better than LYV, it offers much more privacy, and is perfect for
hitting HD and CR.
.

Since all permits Glacier>LYV, HI>LYV, HI>Sunrise are gone for my dates can I assume many of those (plus hikers arriving from other TH) precisely plan to camp at CR/Sunrise Junction?? How many tents can fit in that area?? (my own group will be three tents!)
THANKS AGAIN
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Re: advice for first 2n/3d backpack with wife

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:16 am

I have never had anyone camping down in that area the several times I have been
there.
There are other campsite right around the junction area (before you get to the creek
crossing), also if by chance there are other folks there, than just go through the site and
cross the stream, there are all kinds of places to set up camp for as many tents as
you like on the other side.
If you plan to do CR and HD, I would recommend staying 3 nights if you can, that way
you can chill the first night, get an early start, go up to CR, and then do HD the
next day with an early start again, that way you can do things comfortably, with out
rushing, and your wife will appreciate that.
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