Long Trip to Sierra

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Long Trip to Sierra

Post by KrazyKolb » Sun May 18, 2014 5:17 pm

Howdy All,

I am about to embark on a multi week trip through the High Sierra and want some opinions on choices I have made. Our party with be 3 20-something males, in good (not excellent shape) with outdoors experience. We are traveling from Texas and hoping to a taste of the "the Sierra experience." Our current plans all include national parks, only because of name recognition. Our goal is to get a good mix of backcountry and day hikes to capture scenery. We're much more interested in scenery and exploring ("Hey, do you think we could make it to the top of that peak?") than just doing long distance hikes.

This is going to be a huge topic, but I'll take any suggestions people have to give (even if only for a leg of it).

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 3- Numerous backpacking trips, some x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
I would be fine with class 2 or 3

What is your main interest?
Big Mountain scenery, peaks, forests, and bouldering (with photography occurring alongside)

Joshua Tree: Arrive Night of May 21, leave afternoon of May 23
We will explore some trails, boulder, and just wander around the park

Sequoia/KK: Arrive early afternoon on 24th and leave afternoon of 27th
This leg is not planned at all. I could really use some suggestions here. We'd like at least a night backcountry and summiting a peak would be awesome.

Yosemite: Arrive Night of 27th, leave late morning of June 4
28 - Rock climb in Yos Valley (with guide)
29 – Hike: 4 Mile Trail -> Glacier Point -> Panorama Trail -> Mist Trail (16 miles total).
Camp at campsite east of park (El Portal)
30 – Kinda chill hike day – Maybe visit the trees in Mariposa Grove (this is still open, but I want a rest day)
Camp at campsite (El Portal)
31 – Hike: Clouds Rest (16 miles round trip)
Camp at campsite (El Portal)
1-2 – Backpack Yosemite Falls -> Mirror Lake
I already have a back country permit
2-4 Backpack Ostrander (<4 miles)
I have a permit for 2 nights (mostly as a safety net)
4 – Hike back to car and leave (~6 miles)

Based on this, can you provide any pointers or critiques?
Last edited by KrazyKolb on Sun May 18, 2014 9:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by markskor » Sun May 18, 2014 6:51 pm

Interesting the extensive plans made - (locations based only on name recognition you say?)... by a Sierra first-timer (three 20-year old bucks from Texas!), hoping to get the "total Sierra experience"...in two weeks. This could be a good read, hopefully you all go - normally someone always drops out last minute. Whatever happens, you owe us a TR after, just so we can all laugh at your adventures on your "Long trip to the Sierra."

I can only speak to your Yosemite plans...looks like you have done lots of research...nice plans.
Just a few thoughts: Lose the plans - play it by ear.

Since you are entering on the 27th, (early by Yosemite season standards) instead of camping El Portal all week (OK, but a 25 minute drive, each way El Portal to Valley), stop in Valley first thing and bag a site at Camp 4 for the week in the Valley. Check it out - should be room. Three 20-year-old Texans should fit in fine. Another option, (If you want to stay Valley which is better than El Portal), is to try for any available campsite in the Valley campsites - Lower Upper River, etc. - small office NE Curry Lot...Just check when there - midweek...could be lots of openings - in person.

Once happily ensconced in the Valley, your plans make sense - or not, but you will not have to move/drive all week. You could check Wilderness Office daily - check for next-day, wilderness permits available... probably bag something cool - a next-day Half Dome with an overnight in LYV, or do your guided mountain climb, or do the Mist, or bus to GP and down the Panorama, or overnight atop Yosemite Falls...or just chill.

There will be lots better 1-night hikes than Ostrander in Yosemite, IMHO.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by balzaccom » Sun May 18, 2014 7:54 pm

I would just at least a day trip to Tuolumne meadows to get a sense of the High Sierra. You have a pretty good itinerary Ser, and Clouds Rest will help, but there is nothing like Tuolumne Meadows...And you should at least see it.

Thaat, and maybe an afternoon with some Giant Sequoias. You boys from Texas should know what big trees really look like!

Sounds like a great trip.

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by KrazyKolb » Sun May 18, 2014 9:05 pm

I appreciate the responses. I could have clarified the "name recognition" comment. We researched a lot and decided on national parks rather than "smaller" areas just as a way to narrow our field.

I appreciate the tip about first-come-first serve. I was afraid that these sites would be full and I didn't want to be SOL on lodging, but I'll take your word on it. Being in the park would be way better (hopefully avoid some crowds on evening hikes).

We planned the Clouds Rest day after we were unsuccessful in the Half-Dome lottery. Assuming we can get a next-day pass, is it worth doing both?

Lastly, Tuolumne was on our to-do but I was under the impression it would still be snow covered at this point in the year. Assuming this isn't the case, I'd love to explore and maybe summit a peak in the area. Sunrise and Cathedral Lakes were the ones I saw most recommendations for, but those are already booked for permits. Any other recommendations?

Thanks again for all the help. I will definitely post a report at the conclusion

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by sparky » Sun May 18, 2014 9:10 pm

Sunnyside Bench :)

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by franklin411 » Sun May 18, 2014 9:59 pm

KrazyKolb wrote:Sequoia/KK: Arrive early afternoon on 24th and leave afternoon of 27th
This leg is not planned at all. I could really use some suggestions here. We'd like at least a night backcountry and climbing a peak would be awesome.
Check out Alta Peak. I dunno about snow right now, but without snow it's a relatively easy 14 mile r/t from the Wolverton parking area IIRC. You get a great view of the Tableland, the Great Western Divide, the Kaweah River valley, and the San Joaquin River valley. There's a trail all the way to the top, and there are multiple campsites in the area. I did it as a dayhike in about 5 hours (I ran about 2/3 of the flat/downhill portions on the way out), but it could be a good overnighter too, and you score a peak.

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by uclacody0908 » Sun May 18, 2014 10:47 pm

Just wanted to say I think your trip idea is very cool. I feel so many get wrapped up in how many miles logged or peaks bagged, but you are just interested in exploring. Very John Muir.

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon May 19, 2014 7:23 am

There are three areas in KC-Sequoia NP. It is probably too early for Mineral King, but if open the drive up there takes at least an hour each way. Lodgepole is at park headquarters and has a nice campground. Day hikes to Pear Lake (take trail that goes by the Watchtower), and see some big trees on other loops. The campgrounds at Cedar Grove are the most scenic. I would say that Kings Canyon at Cedar Grove is the most scenic part of the park that can be seen from the road. There are really nice campgrounds down there and it is seldom crowded. Hike up to Paradise Valley.

There is another way to get a campsite in Yosemite Valley - do an overnight backpack. That gives you the night before and night after camping at the Backpacker's campground. Your original plan is a bit repetitive since the Four-Mile-Happy Isles loop goes down the same trail as you would go up to climb Clouds Rest. The plan below may be a bit more effective.

Day 1, drive to valley early and get a permit for night 2 at Little Yosemite Valley allowing you to camp at the Backpacker's CG on Day 1. Day hike to top of Yosemite Falls and spend some time in the Valley- El Cap Meadows (watching the climbers). Day 2 hike Clouds Rest (be sure to take the Mist Trail instead of the JMT) and go up to the shoulder of Half Dome (even if you do not get a permit for the cables) and stay at Little Yosemite Valley backcountry CG. Day 3 return to the Valley by way of Panorama-Four Mile Trail. Camp at backpacker's CG night 3. Day 4 - do your climb with guide and stay at Camp 4 or go up to Tuolumne (not sure campgrounds will be open). Day 5-6 take an overnight backpack to Waterwheel Falls or do a climb (there will be lots of snow up high). You can find some dry camp spots near the top of Waterwheel Falls. You likely will have to wade some flooded areas so take wading shoes.

The most scenic return is to drive down Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierra. There are several day hikes from trailheads - Rock Creek and South Lake. If you could squeeze in an overnight, you can get up to Garnet Lake (Minarets) in a long day.

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by cgundersen » Mon May 19, 2014 8:28 am

Hi KK,
I'll just second several of the preceding suggestions; in particular, a trip up Alta Peak will give you a great sense of the southern Sierra and big trees to boot. You can follow snow conditions throughout the Sierra on the following website which includes a camera that is trained on Moro Rock and Alta Peak. Plus, simply driving up the road to the Giant Forest is memorable for all the hairpin turns.
http://www.sierranevadacams.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As Daisy pointed out, it's a long but worthwhile trip to road's end in Kings Canyon. Since you're coming from Texas, why not? And, coming back down US395 on the eastern side of the Sierra will open up gobs of ideas for future trips. At a minimum, check out the Minarets from the turnout right by the entrance station on the road out of Mammoth that leads to Devils Postpile. Day hikes there, or as noted by others in Rock creek or Bishop Basin would also be great.

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Re: Long Trip to Sierra

Post by austex » Mon May 19, 2014 11:21 am

Drive down 395 :rockon: That gets you to 40 to go east. Or over Westgard Pass and to Las Vegas

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