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east coast newbs

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east coast newbs

Postby ghostrunner76 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:05 pm

myself and one other are headed out to Yosemite late July and i'm looking for any useful info to be honest. neither one of us have been to the Sierra range (we're Appalachian boys). i would say we're class 3, level 3 and want to get the best experience that we can ... probably 3 or 4 nights will be all. as of now, we are talking about flying into Reno and then accessing Yosemite from Mono Lake / 120. we want to see the best of Yosemite but avoid crowds if possible (i know, everyone wants that and you guys have probably seen this same post 1000 times). any advice, links, etc... is GREATLY appreciated. i will continue to spend time on the board trying to plan ...



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Re: east coast newbs

Postby maverick » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:42 pm

Welcome to HST!
What mileage are you comfortable with on the trail, and is this 3 or 4 nights, because
this makes a major difference in the planning?
Will you have a night before hand to get acclimated, or are you planning to drive, and
then hit the trail immediately, if you can secure a permit ahead of time?
Getting permits could be an issue, especially with the more popular trail heads.
Please read and plan accordingly:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby balzaccom » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:45 pm

Take a look at our website--we have ten or twelve itineraries that might work for you. look under the destination sections, and you'll find a lot of ideas.

Check out Nelson Lake, or Matterhorn Canyon, or Lyell....all fun adventures.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:50 pm

For a first visit I would rather do day hikes and see the typical tourist sights rather then backpacking. Things like day hike Tioga Peak or Mt. Dana. Hike around Tuolumne Meadows some. Glacier Point, Taft Point, See the water falls although they will probably be very low this year by July. Day hike up Yosemite Falls. All that good stuff.

It wouldn't get you away from people though.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby The Other Tom » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:42 pm

Welcome to HST !
What part of the Applachians are you from ?
One thing to consider is the altitude. You should give yourself at least a day to acclimate. Use that day to do the tourist stuff....Mariposa grove of giant sequoias, glacier point, Yosemite falls,etc. Then I would head for the high country. A hike to the May Lake area is nice, as well as Gaylor lakes. If you can get a permit, spend a few days in the Vogelsang area. There are many more, I'm sure others will chime in.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:05 pm

for a first trip to Yosemite, do the tourist stuff. Don't fuss about backpacking - you are too late to reserve a wilderness permit and the trailheads all have quotas. the popular trailheads will already be booked up solid. (there is a place on the wilderness page that lists dates each trailhead has filled, go have a look.) You can develop a list of preferred trips and take your chances at a walk in permit the day before, but there is plenty to do in Yosemite by dayhiking.

I suggest finding a campsite or other accommodation and hiking around the valley, go to the bottoms of the falls, head up the mist trail to nevada falls and come back for your first day. Go up Tioga Rd and visit short hike destinations - Lukens and May Lake, Olmstead Point, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows. If there's time take a longer hike down to Glen Aulin, or down Lyell Canyon. Visit the Tuolumne Grove of Sequoias if you don't budget time for Mariposa Grove (tho Mariposa is more impressive it's a long way from the valley). Budget a day for Glacier Point - hike up the four mile trail and visit the point then go up to Sentinel Dome. Upper Yosemite Falls is three miles of steep uphill but worthwhile and easy to justify taking a day to do.

Go out early in the morning and 90% of the crowds won't be out there! My hiking group goes first thing in the morning, 7-8 am at the trailhead, and we routinely pass all the tourists as we are headed out and they are headed in. Hiking in granite in the afternoon is a hot and sweaty endeavor - I do not quite understand why the tourists do it this way - but that's pretty much the pattern we've found.

Backpacking, if you are determined to do it, will not be impossible but you may end up going away from the more spectacular sights if you are trying to avoid crowds. I would say try Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, or going from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley (that will be very, very crowded with day hikers but also go past Clouds Rest and other icons of the park), or going out mono/parker pass - which is actually a very scenic, hardly visited area. You can't camp until you are outside the park boundary on Parker or Mono Pass, however. The rules are 4 miles from the trailhead, 1 air mile from any road, which is why dayhiking is sometimes a better idea - many of the very scenic parts of the park are in no camping zones. Gaylor Lakes Basin is one of those places - just a mile from the pass but high elevation and beautiful.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby balzaccom » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:22 pm

i agree about hiking early in the morning---it's a great way to get away from the crowds. But there are also plenty of hikes via the existing trailheads that will get you into the back country, and away from people. You just have to avoid the obvious trailheads, leave during the week instead of on the weekends, and be a little creative about the whole thing.

Right now the only trailheads that are really full are Happy Isles, Rafferty Creek, and a few others in the middle of the summer. Even Glen Aulin has plenty of dates available, and would be a great place to start a high country hike.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:52 pm

Late July in the Valley may be hot. If you are set on backpacking I suggest an overnight one-way hike from the high country to the Valley and then take YARTS bus back to your car. The heat is not bad as long as you go downhill. Like others said, Yosemite Valley as well as the high country have awesome day hikes. Get a good guidebook and map and study it. Be flexible. If it is really hot then plan very early morning day hikes from the Valley and drive higher for the afternoon. You can luck out and have moderate temperatures in July, so then you may want to do more from the Valley. The advantage of doing one night overnight backpack is that you can then stay the night before and the night after in the backpacker campgrounds (one in the Valley, one at Tuolumne,and one at Hetch Hetchy). Sometimes it is hard to find a campsite in Yosemite.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby sparky » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:39 pm

I thing WD has the best idea. Hike from tioga road into the valley, then hang around the valley. Savor that view for your first time and see it by foot. You wont avoid crowds, not this trip.

Familiarize yourself with the permit process. One way hikes are doable because theres bus service from the valley to tioga road, to downtown mammoth to devils postpile.

Theres tons of options for 4 days if you can do 10-15 mile days.

I like the idea of hiking from tioga rd into the valley. One could take 2 days to get to thep valley, a day in the valley and a day in tuolumne meadows area...or elseware off tioga road.
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby oleander » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:42 am

Hmmmm,

A lot of people have touched on the question of whether to do a series of day hikes vs. a backpacking trip. What is your hunch? Or maybe you'd like to do a combination (let's just say, 2 days of day hikes followed by a 3-day backtrip trip).

For day-hiking there is no place comparable in the Sierra to Yosemite Valley. It almost doesn't matter which hike you do there; just hike from the Valley up to the rim and back. Half Dome is the classic (if there are even permits left for July - new system - google it). But lots of hikes have comparable view, such as Snow Creek or Four Mile Trail, or Cloud's Rest, and they don't require a permit.

Driving into/around the Valley in the early morning, as someone suggested here, is a good trick. You will still have to deal with unbelievable crowds, though. Think Disneyland. Last time I went to the Valley in July, I remember waiting for everything. Waiting in the car for traffic to move. Waiting in long lines for bathrooms. Waiting in lines for food. Waiting behind hundreds of people to ascend the stairs to Vernal Falls. We even waited in line to push our way into the Visitor's Center! This is something I can handle for maybe one day, then I have to leave. Something to keep in mind. It helps a bit if you arrive sometime Monday-Thursday.

Piling on the stress: You cannot count on finding a place to camp inside the park (unless you get lucky at one of the campgrounds at Tioga Pass or the Tioga Road that does not take advance reservations). Your better bet is to camp somewhere near Lee Vining, do a very long day driving very early to the Valley for a day hike, and yes, driving all the way back to Lee Vining. Or, if you happen to drive to Yosemite from the west (say on Highway 120) instead of the east side, you can take the last exit before you reach the Yosemite entrance gate, drive a couple of miles down that road (it's a forest service road - can't recall the name), pull alongside, and a pitch a tent. Free camping. The tent needs to be 100+ feet from the road. That location is much closer to the Valley than Lee Vining is, but as a camping spot it is purely utilitarian.

If you want to go backpacking instead of, or in addition to, day-hiking, my destination advice is completely different. I might take some flak for this, but I do not think Yosemite has particularly outstanding backpacking, and I say this after having backpacked to "all the best places" there. Yosemite was set up to honor its spectacular Valley; but the high-country backpacking is much more mind-blowing in the High Sierra to the south of Yosemite, from the Ritter Range down to Mount Whitney. Imagine that people from another state are visiting your neck of the woods in Appalachia, and they all want to congregate in one single park that you think is about the tenth most scenic backpacking spot in your region, not the most scenic at all. You want to tell them about the nine places that are even better, and, as a nice bonus, those places are not as crowded. Well, I think of Yosemite as about the tenth nicest place to backpack in the Sierra.

I can picture a couple of itineraries that include a day or two of day-hiking in Yosemite, followed by backpacking somewhere further south in the High Sierra. One is to actually fly in to a place like Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, or smaller L.A. area airports like Ontario; search for cheap Southwest/Jet Blue/Virgin flights. Probably will save money compared to flying to Reno. You'd approach the Sierra from the west. Start with Yosemite, camp just outside the park for a couple of nights, and do your day-hike(s) inside the park by day. Then, drive down to Fresno and Kings Canyon National Park, and do the Rae Lakes Loop from Road's End, which is on the west side of that park. Or, if you are prepared for something more rugged, I'd recommend a loop in the Mineral King area in Sequoia National Park, also accessed from that park's west side. As a bonus, if you go to either Kings Canyon or Sequoia westside, you'll be driving through some amazing Sequoia forests and can stop for a nice short dayhike among them. (It is logistically harder/longer/hotter/more crowded to see the Sequoia forests in southwestern Yosemite.)

The other itinerary idea would have you backpack on the east side, with an entrance somewhere around Mammoth or Bishop. You could enter Yosemite for dayhikes from either the west or the east, but after Yosemite you'd drive down the 395/east side for your backpack trip. The whole drive from roughly Bridgeport to Lone Pine is absolutely spectacular, it is mellow over there and the drive itself is just a treat. There are also some hot springs and things to see. (I can't say the same for the dreary drive down the Highway 99 on the west side, between Yosemite & Kings Canyon/Sequoia.) Google-image "highway 395" for an idea of the eastside scenery. If you keep your hiking/backpacking strictly to Yosemite, you will miss most of this eastside scenery - you'd see just the Bridgeport/Mono Lake section (if driving from Reno), or none of it (if driving from the westside).

Lots of eastside backpacking options. Some favorites of mine, and they vary in distance so it depends how many days you have/miles per day to hike:

1. North Fork Big Pine Creek to Palisade Glacier (east side of the Palisades)
2. Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin & Palisade Basin/Barrett Lakes (west side of the Palisades) - requires good x-country skills
3. Sabrina Lakes Basin (gentle x-country after the first couple of lakes)
4. Rock Creek/Mono Pass to Pioneer Basin (note, there are 3 trailheads in the Sierras called "Mono Pass;" this is the southernmost one, it starts near Tom's Place south of Mammoth).
5. Duck Pass or Deer Lakes (Mammoth area) to the John Muir Trail southbound to McGee Pass - leave your car at your McGee Pass exit, and hitch back to Mammoth to your Lake Mary or Lake George trailhead.
6. Ritter Range/Minarets, in the Mammoth area: Lots of 2-5 day loops here, best one to recommend depends on your daily mileage & whether you want all-trail vs. partly x-country. Generally, Agnew Meadows is the best trailhead for this range. #6 is the most crowded of my suggestions, but for good reason.

All of these places are permitted by Inyo National Forest via recreation.gov. Bishop Pass and the best of the Ritter Range trailheads may go the instant they become available 6 months in advance, so plan accordingly. If you are concerned about acclimating to altitude, you might eliminate Mono Pass & Bishop Pass right off the bat, as they have high trailheads that climb to around 12,000 feet on your very first day.

If you had more like 5-7 days, or you just have 3-4 days but are the type to do 15-20 mile days even at altitude, I might recommend the Evolution Valley loop, the Kearsarge Pass - Glen Pass - Baxter Pass loop, or even the Benson Lake loop in northern Yosemite (even though it's in Yosemite :) But don't underestimate the difficulty of doing all these hills at altitude! - most people plan too many miles per day, and then they feel rushed and very tired, with no time for dips in lakes or little side-trip explorations.

- Elizabeth
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby oleander » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:23 am

Thinking it over, based on your skill level and your timing I am going to favor North Fork Big Pine Creek over my other suggestions. You can do it in an unhurried 3 days/2 nights, or extend to a fourth day if you want to explore more. You will get to see Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the U.S. It's at 12,000 feet, but the climb there is gradual, you'll have time to acclimate if you do some day hiking in the days leading up to it, and also on the first night out backpacking you can sleep at approx. 10,000 feet. The final mile to the glacier is x-country, but sounds like you can handle it. The drive to this trailhead will take you down the best of the eastside Highway 395, to the town of Big Pine, so you'll get some great driving scenery.
Attachments
Fifth Lake Flowers 2.jpg.JPG
Fifth Lake - Perfect place to camp, and from which to stage a dayhike to the glacier
Paintbrush Palisade Trail.jpg.JPG
Paintbrush on the hike to Palisade Glacier
Sam Mack Meadow.jpg.JPG
Sam Mack Meadow
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Re: east coast newbs

Postby ghostrunner76 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:29 am

wow you guys are awesome! i'll take some time to read through the replies this evening. thank you so much and i'll respond to specific questions after i absorb all the info. a lot to consider! thanks!!!!
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