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Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

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Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby ICE » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:52 pm

Hello everyone!

This is my first post!

So my girlfriend and I are planning on backpacking in Yosemite this coming October 19th for 3 or 4 nights for our fall semester break from the University. We both have little/no backpacking experience, though we love car camping and we plan on taking some short overnighters with our gear this summer in preparation for the big yosemite trip.

The thing is, we're kind of out of shape for this type of stuff, and even though we're working real hard this summer to get fit I feel intimidated by the altitude gains and what the weather may be like in late October. We're thinking we can cover about 10 miles per day but to be safe I'm thinking maybe 8 miles a day.

It would be awesome to get some advice on what trails might suit us best. We've tried researching but it's hard to find something that's doesn't start from a closed road (seems like lots of roads close after October 15th) or have massive altitude gains and therefore snow and strenuous hiking. Does a relatively level trail that's at a decent altitude with interesting scenery even exist? The backpacking trails I find seem like they're meant for more experienced backpackers...

TL;DR - I want advice for a loop or an out-and-back trip, we're a pair of Level 1 hikers/backpackers wanting Class 1 or 2 terrain around Yosemite for 3-4 nights at ~10 miles/day in October.

Thanks for your help!! Sorry if I sound a terribly naive!!
Last edited by ICE on Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:00 am

You're noticing that roads close because that's a lousy time of year to backpack if you don't want to go in winter. Typically, that's when the weather starts to get rough and snow until it sticks on the roads -- and the trails, and everything else. It can be fun if you're prepared for it, but if you aren't, I highly recommend going in September. That goes for the entire Sierra Nevada, by the way. Yes, your break is not timed correctly.

You should consider going before semester starts -- in summer. Do a nice loop out of Tuolumne Meadows, perhaps the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - the buses will still be running so it will be easier to get back to the car.

It's a mountain range -- "level" isn't going to happen. Not on a 3-4 day trip. There are some places you may get 2-4 miles in a meadow, no more.
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:11 am

Hi ICE,

Welcome to HST! Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
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 October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby ICE » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:08 pm

Thanks for the input guys! We're definitely Level 1 for experience, I'm thinking between class 1 and 2 for terrain.

I guess "level" isn't the right word. I just want to know what might be the easiest routes for a loop or an out-and-back trip for 3-4 nights at ~10 miles/day in October! I think that at this point it might be too hard to get wilderness permits since it's the middle of summer :/
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:54 pm

Would not worry about getting wilderness permits in October, but that should be the least of you concerns.

October is the last month you want to use as an intro to backpacking, people think because we sometimes experience an Indian Summer at lower elevations that it is also safe to go to the mountains, this is incorrect, low pressure systems can move in very quickly and dump several feet of snow in the High Sierra. What this means to you is very low temps and no trails (covered by snow), if you have minimal clothing and shelter, hypothermia can become a life threatening situation very quickly, especially if you do not have proper survival skills and gear.

October, especially the second half of October is a very dangerous time, we lost a very experienced HST member and friend in 2012 when a storm hit earlier then predicted: viewtopic.php?f=37&t=8537

Would highly recommend that you try to go in September if possible, or try somewhere other than the High Sierra, like Point Reyes, Ventana Wilderness (Big Sur), Death Valley, Joshua Tree or some other lower elevation destination.
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:29 pm

Backpacking for novices in Yosemite third week of October has very limited safe possibilities. Snow storms are possible that could close state route SR120 over Tioga Pass. By then one cannot park overnight along that road. The only choice in the valley would be to backpack up to Little Yosemite Valley at 6100 feet past Vernal and Nevada Fall. Not an easy hike though safe with 2100 feet of uphill vertical over 4.7 miles on the John Muir Trail from Happy Isles at 4100 feet. And heavily used by day hikers so little wilderness feel.

A more pleasant idea at low elevations with a more wilderness feel at that time of year would be to drive to Mountain Home State Forest and hike out of the Shake Camp Campground at 6500 feet up the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Tule River as little as you want that starts in giant sequoia groves. No permit necessary as is not in wilderness and few or no other groups likely to be about. Would likely also see some fall leaf color from Pacific dogwood.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23727


http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.25283,-118.66504&z=15&t=T
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby ICE » Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:57 pm

Oh, I meant that it may be too hard to get a wilderness permit for this summer.

And wow, I'm glad I asked you guys. Yeah I think we'll have to find a different place; I definitely wouldn't want to have such a potentially rough time on our first serious outing.

What lower-elevation places might you guys suggest? I haven't researched as much on other places that may be good for the later half of October, but some good jumping-off points could be helpful! I'll look into Big Sur. As for the other places, I don't really want places that are too dry and desert-ish.

Edit - I wrote this before the post above was posted! Thanks for the advice SSSdave!
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby chulavista » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:25 pm

You didn't mention where you are coming from, but October is prime time for backpacking in the Grand Canyon (although can be dry and desert-ish).
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby ICE » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:27 pm

Oh yeah, I'm coming from Utah, Salt Lake City area. I could maybe make an exception for the Grand Canyon, it sounds amazing and I've never been there!
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:34 pm

Two people in summer -- not hard to find a place to go at all. Show up on a Wednesday in the wilderness office, get a permit. Wala. I am serious. Your fallback can be a leisurely tour of Saddlebag Lakes loop which has no quota, no fee, and a handy water taxi if you don't want to walk around the lake. It's just outside the park and just as spectacular as the stuff inside the park.

I have gotten walk in permits all summer by being willing to show up on a weekday. Avoid holidays and weekends, and you're golden.

Or don't bother with Yosemite - go to Mammoth Lakes, walk into the visitor center there, and get a permit for Duck Pass/Iva Bell Hot Springs/Fish Creek/Reds Meadow -- you'll thank me later that you did. Check online at recreation.gov for reserving permits -- there are dates available with 2 or more spots - no problemo. Observe:
http://www.recreation.gov/permits//r/en ... roupSize=2

The shuttles in mammoth make life easy for the loop backpacker.

If you are going to Yosemite to see it for the first time -- don't bother backpacking. The BIG NAME SIGHTS are in the Yosemite Front Country, not backpack trips. The Yosemite backcountry is spectacular but looks a lot like the rest of the Sierra.
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:55 pm

Grand Canyon NP would be perfect in October.
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Re: Advice for October Yosemite Backpacking (Beginners)

Postby ICE » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:10 pm

We've discussed it and it looks like we're going to somewhere in Big Sur! I guess I'll see you guys when I try a better time at the Sierra's, probably next summer. Thank you guys a TON for your help. Without you we probably would've gone and frozen to death on a random mountain peak in october!
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