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Hiking with 7 people

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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby markskor » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:21 am

Re: High Trail - Bernice to Lyell fork of Merced vs. the River trail (the one which passes next to Merced and Washburn lakes)

The High Trail saves you miles and that 2000 foot, cobblestoned, switchbacked, knee-wrenching drop coming down just above Merced Lake...probably the worst section in your intended 7-day route. Suggest avoiding this, take the High trail instead - scenic enough, and save the River Trail for if/ when you leave Harriet and bail out early - then just follow the Merced River all the way down to Valley.
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby Splash » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:29 am

I am starting to come around and agree with those who say slow it down. No sense in forcing the rest of the group on the "siberian death march".
How about this for the intinerary : Agnews to somewhere around Thousand Island Lake the first night, Second night Marie Lakes. Is Marie Lakes worth going too? Are there any fish there?, Third night somewhere around Ireland Creek Lyell Canyon, Fourth night Ireland Lake, Fifth day layover at Ireland Lake, Sixth day hike to Bernice, Seventh day either hike out to Tuolumne or work our way down to the valley via the Merced River, staying the seventh night between Bernice and the valley. Is there anywhere to camp between Merced HSC and Little Yosemite Valley?
Does this make more sense?

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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:40 am

I have a bunch of photos of Marie Lakes in this set if it helps:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roguephoto ... 680709243/

If your going to go from Thousand Island Lake to Marie Lakes then I would do so by going to Davis Lakes and then go to the Upper Davis Lake, cross a small saddle to the NW of the Lake that will take you to Rodgers Lakes, Then to the SE of Marie Lakes is a small lake that drains into Rodgers Lakes. Take that drainage up and just before you reach the small lake jump over a white granite rock hill side and your at Marie Lakes. This route is about 9 miles with half on trail half off trail. The cross country is pretty easy with only a few narrow talus hoping sections that makes for good experience for beginners. And best of all it's a scenic way to go!

I can draw this route on a map if you would like.
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby markskor » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:41 am

Splash,
Good thinking on the "slow down". Too pretty to rush through.
Just a few suggestions.

Trip 1,
Agnew Meadows begins (probably a late start with the bus connection crapola.) Thus making 1000 Island will be a long 1st day hiking day...maybe take River Trail and stop at the nice large (along river) sites just before the 1000 foot gain below Garnet.
1000 Is. next day...
Marie night after that, (Yes it does hold good fish) and/ or Davis - (not as scenic) - smaller fish but 1 mile closer than Marie.
Ireland Creek junction after Donahue would be good next night (good fishing on the Lyell).
I would then pop over ridge above Ireland and instead of staying at Ireland (few good sites) head straight for Townsley (a use trail and avoids Evelyn trail). One again, before you go, I would inquire at the Voglesang HSC and see if you can wrangle dinner reservations...(on-line) and thus camp close to the HSC.
You have many trail options now and still 2 nights remain.
1) Emeric lake (or Voglesang Pass trail - 500 feet higher and 1 mile longer) trail down to Merced Lake next night and Moraine Dome waterslide last night before going down Nevada Falls.
2) Emeric lake trail down to Washburn...(finish just as above).
3) Booth Lake or maybe Bernice and down Rafferty Creek to Tuolumne.

Trip 2 -
Mono Meadows TH - (always easy to get next-day permits here - Glacier Point bus) start, and camp 8 -10 miles up Illilouette Creek.
Lower Ottoway Lake is Killer - great fishing.
Over Reds Peak Pass and stay Red Devil, or if fishing, tarn below Edna - ( you said you wanted Edna!)
Fisherrman then day-hike to Edna...the rest take zero day. (You will understand when you see the approach to Edna.)
Back on trail, up to the TPF and... (the Harriets?) -
Lastly, follow Merced River all the way to Valley (Washburn, Merced) as before.

Your ambitious trip plans would also work - someday, just add a week or so to do it right.
Mark
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby oleander » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:00 pm

Hi,

I organized two such trips last year, most people on my trip had done only one backpacking trip in their past. All were athletic types, trail runners, triathletes, etc. Hoping my experience will help.

WHAT WORKED WELL:

1. Organizing not one but TWO pre-trip meetings. It took a surprisingly long time to go over critical things, such as: basic equipment, shoes, behavior in bear territory, leave-no-trace, food. Having a meeting that people are required to go to also reinforces the idea that each of us is interdependent on everyone else.

2. Splitting people into pairs. Each pair is responsible for accumulating a list of joint items (two-person tent, groundcloth, stove, fuel, water purification method, small med kit, etc.). Make each pair name a time it will meet and determine what they already have and what they might need to borrow. Make them declare to you what they might need to borrow, at least 3 weeks prior, so that you have 3 weeks to find that piece of equipment to lend them. I borrowed from friends to lend to other friends, and as a backup I knew that REI will rent stuff out. Prepare to rent bear canisters from the park (or from Wild Ideas). I had to create an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the items lent out, and make sure they were all returned to the proper owner after the trip. With pair-based planning, you still oversee the process, but it is a LOT less work than you having to do all of their planning for them!

The other advantage of organizing into pairs is that it is excellent training for backpacking planning, as many backpackers do go out in pairs and have to do this exact kind of planning re: joint equipment needs.

3. I wrote up a complete pack list, split into three sections: What you definitely need as an individual; what you need as a pair; and what is optional. I also added a section on things we normally do not bring, such as swimsuits and chairs - heavily encouraging people to go lightweight. Emphasize the importance of being able to fit "smelly" items into bear canisters at night. I.e. Each person needs at most 1/2 oz. of sunscreen per day, and 1/2 oz. of hand sanitizer for a week-long trip. Toothpaste can be per pair, at most a 1-oz. tube per pair.

4. Everyone gets the same breakfasts and dinners. You pool everyone's money, buy the food and package it yourself. Believe me, this is FAR easier and more reliable than trying to train people to pack their own food when they have no experience doing so, and have too many other things to buy, borrow and generally figure out. Do ask them to bring their own lunch/snack food individually. Give them a short list of example lunch food. Remind people that they will probably eat far less than they might expect, owing to loss of appetite from altitude, and to a general state of distraction. If you allow people to pack their own breakfasts/dinners or to bring too much lunch food, I can GUARANTEE everyone will have twice as much food as they need and you will have a fitting-into-bear-canister crisis on your hands, a very bad situation in the very bear-heavy country you are traversing. In camp, you pool the stoves together and teach people how to operate the stoves. Be warned though, people will do scary things with stoves they are unfamiliar with, if you don't monitor them carefully.

5. Write up a list of every single thing they will need to do before they leave town - such as, packing an "exit" kit (clean clothes to change into after the hike), drinking a ton of water during the days leading up to the trip, buying whatever food they will need to eat in the car on the way up, pre-clearing their cars of anything that would attract a bear. And emphasize over and over how important it is that all cars leave town on time, so you can start hiking when you need to. (Drive up on an evening and spend the night in a campground near Agnew Meadows/Devils Postpile, so you can actually start hiking on your permit day.) People dramatically underestimate how much time it will take them to pack. Some of them will be up all night packing. You will leave town much later than expected even with all this forewarning. Take all this inevitable chaos and exhaustion into consideration when determining realistic starting time and mileage for your first day out.

6. Limiting daily mileage to about 5 miles/day (longer on layover days). I repeat that I had an athletic group with me, so they probably COULD have done 10 miles/day easily. But they found the elevation and other elements difficult (see below). You are courting disaster by demanding 10 miles/day with any group larger than 3, especially newbies to the Sierras. Your group will only move as fast as your lowest common denominator, and at any given time you will have someone with bad feet, a way-to-heavy pack, altitude sickness, etc. that is necessarily moving at a very slow pace. It is also very true that it will take forever to get people out of camp in the morning, even if you are early risers. People are still learning skills and they will not be efficient yet at their cooking, packing, etc.

7. Name a "commit day" at least one month out from the trip. That is also the day they cut you a check to cover the cost of the food, equipment or permits you are jointly obtaining for everyone. If they can't commit by that day, they are out. My commitment date was 2 months prior to our trip. You cannot afford to invest in people who are going to flake. If one of a pair drops out, you have to re-assign at least one pair (or have someone go solo) and go over the new pair's joint equipment list from scratch.

8. HEAVILY encourage people to go on an independent weekender trip to Point Reyes to test out their equipment and clothing. You want them to weed out the disaster shoes, disaster sleeping bag, disaster backpacks BEFORE your trip starts.

PM me and I will email you some of the packing lists and memos I wrote up last year.

With your start at Agnew, consider just hiking 5 miles in on the first day (above Shadow Lake, or along the River Trail depending on which route you have a permit for). Make your second day a layover, to Ediza Lake, or if you're on River Trail, do a short hike today only as far as Thousand Island. You can do this whole section to Tuolumne with a lot of layovers and/or side trips, Davis Lakes, Marie Lakes, Lyell Glacier, Ireland Lake. Or, camp early near a trail junction, such as Island Pass, and the strong people can do a side trip to a lake in the afternoon. The great thing about layovers or half-days is that the people who are having trouble adjusting to altitude or to blisters can have time off to bum around camp, while others can fly off to a great set of lakes without feeling "held back."

Consider keeping the daily mileage short, and just going up to Vogelsang and then out Cathedral Lakes.

THINGS THAT WERE A CHALLENGE

Some situations that came up on one or both of my trips, in spite of the extensive prep we did.

- Two people who packed WAY too much weight. It was almost a statement saying, "You will not tell me what I cannot bring." These people seriously slowed us down on Day 1, where we only made 4 miles by dusk!, and had us worried about their ability to even finish, as they had bad knees and/or backs and we worried about joint damage on the downhills. As it turned out, they were adjusted to the pack weight by Day 3 and able to hike out just fine. But it helped enormously that Day 2 was a layover, and people feeling bad could hang around camp while others did a dayhike. Layover days early in your trip help everyone to eat down some of their food weight.

- Two people who were too cold at night. Unable to check sleeping bags (which IMO were rated incorrectly) prior to trip.

- Foot and shoe problems. Delays accordingly. There were people who had not followed through with our advice to try out their shoes on steep hillside trails before coming on the trip.

- A pair that packed in an absurd amount of lunch food that they were unable to fit into their canisters on our first night out. Fortunately we were able to stuff (most) of it into other people's canisters. But remembering which food was in which canister became an organizational nightmare. This couple ate less than half of what they packed. I believe we brought an Ursack or two to accommodate possible food overflow; even though Ursacks are not approved in that area, it is much better to have them than to have nothing.

- People were intimidated by things we hadn't anticipated. For instance, they felt very vulnerable (to wind, etc.) above timberline, almost afraid. And, they found the trailed passes to be very rocky and scary. These were major trailed passes, nothing sketchy or x-country. I was very surprised at this reaction because a lot of these people, as I mentioned, are trail runners. A few will be afraid of heights. We originally planned on some easy Class 1/2 cross-country, but abandoned that entirely after we saw that the trails were all that some people could mentally manage. People get overwhelmed easily by all the new things they are learning and getting used to. A few will feel like things are a little unpredictable or out of their control, even if they trust you fully. These are reasons why you do not layer a huge day (10 miles) onto the many, many things you are already asking them to learn. Listen attentively to their fears and concerns; be both empathetic and quietly confidence-inspiring; and be prepared to adjust and change plans.

- Incidents showing people did not know how to really care for delicate equipment. A big concern considering much of it was borrowed.

- Severe altitude sickness at only 10,000 feet, in spite of our slow elevation gain. The sick person and his backpack partner both had to hike out and drive home. Prepare for this possibility.

Managing all of this was a full-time job for me and my co-organizer. It does settle out a bit after the first two or three nights out.

A take-away for me, if I want to do a long trip I will not invite more than *one* new guest who has never been out on a similar trip. Willing to do trips introducing lots of newbies to backpacking, but those will be one night out or maybe two at most.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby rlown » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:33 pm

That was one of the best write-ups I've seen on how to deal with large groups. :thumbsup:
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby gary c. » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:01 pm

I agree with Russ about what a great write up for dealing with groups. I am in the planning stages right now for a large group, 4-3 of which have never been on a weeklong hike before. I've been trying to explane to the others in our normal hiking group that allowances need to be made to compensate for the noobs. I'm copying the above post and sending it to everyone that plans on going. Thank you for taking the time to write your post Oleander. :thumbsup:
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby Splash » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:53 pm

Wow Oleander what a great expanation of your issues taking large groups....When I posted this originaly; I never expected such great responses. Thanks everyone.....Fourtunately for me I have backpacked with everyone in my group a few times so they know how I approach things and what to expect....we are planning the Lost Coast north down to Shelter Cove and one 3 day Sierra trip together before we leave for 8 days........ I am definately going to take some of the information from Oleander's post and share it with everyone.... I have taken Markskor's advice and made reservations out of Glacier Point (couldn't get Mono) to hike up and over Red Peak..and eventually down to the valley... makes for a shorter mileage trip; we can have a layover day and add a few easier crosscountry trips to get our feet wet....I'll keep everyone posted on how we approach this...

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Re: Hiking with 7 people (Now 5)

Postby Splash » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:32 am

Hi Everyone,
Well we're down to 5 now. It should make for a more manageble trip. I changed the trip based on everyone's concern of the daily mileage for the group. The new route gives us one more layover day...The new intineary is as follows: 8 days leaving end of July. Glacier Point to Clark Fork Creek; Next day to Ottaway Lake; Layover at Ottaway; 4th day hike to just below Edna Lake; 5th day hike to Turner Lake ; 6th day is a layover at Turner; 7th day hike down the Triple Peak Fork to Merced High Sierra camp ; 8th day to the Valley.
Anyone stay at Turner before? I read it has fish; anyone with any experience? Is it worth staying two days? Is it a managable cc hike? I am not really thrilled with staying at MHSC but it's about half way between the Valley and Turner (24 miles). Is there any place close to MHSC that we could camp?

Already planning tune up hikes. I am going to Rancheria Falls end of the month; just as soon as the road opens.

Splash...
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby oldranger » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:27 am

Splash,

Turner, is probably the least desireable destination in the area--small brookies. I would much rather do a lay over or 2 a few hundred yards below where the Red Peak Pass trail crosses the Merced Peak Fork. This gives your group the option to explore up to Edna and down to the narrow little lake a mile or so downstream from the campsite (10" rb but incredible views). Since except for a few hundred feet of uphill it is all downhill it is possible to make it all the way to the valley in two days from this location. If you decide this option, pm me for easier way to Edna (not obvious when you are there or from the map)

Mike
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby markskor » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:27 am

Once again OldRanger is spot on with his assessment of Turner Lake... but then he does tend to think in terms of the great trout possibilities over all else. The man knows his priorities; probably why we hike together.

Not knowing how much emphasis your group places on world class trout fishing – (You are passing close to 3 of the top 5 Yosemite Trout destinations – Lower Ottaway, Edna, and Harriet.)…yes, hard to get to but…
Highly suggest using/planning your stay-over days at these named trophy lakes and not at a stunted Brookie haven.

Oh, BTW, Been to Edna twice now with Mike, (from two different directions too), and he has yet to show me the easy way up. ;)
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Re: Hiking with 7 people

Postby oldranger » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:10 pm

Markskor.

Read more carefully, "easier" not "easy." [-X I've taken 4 routes to Edna, none easy!

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