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Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

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Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby ragedaemon » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:33 pm

Hey everyone,

The gf and I will have a few days off from April 30-May 9th and we were planning on going backpacking for our first time. We were originally looking at Yosemite/Desolation Wilderness/Kings Canyon but it seems like there will be too much snow for that to be much of a productive endeavor so were wondering if anybody has suggestions for easier two day 1 night type trips. Seeing as this will be our first time backpacking we're planning on just taking it easy and going around 5-8 miles per day. Totally open to anywhere in the Sierra Nevadas but really hoping for areas with trees/lakes (we have seen suggestions online for Domeland and Golden Trout wilderness if anybody has any thoughts on those areas).

As far as general fitness goes, we're fairly fit and have experience with day hikes and car camping. We'll be equipped with all the essentials, including a 22f sleeping bag (in general, is 22f enough or should I spring for lower?), marmot 2p limelight tent, sleeping pad with a 4.2 R-value, and microspikes for snowy/icy areas. Given that I'll be carrying a majority of the gear (she'll be using a smaller backpack), I'm estimating our base weight at 25-30lb which may, of course, be totally off. Thanks and looking forward to my first trip!
Last edited by ragedaemon on Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby bobby49 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:34 pm

First of all, in that season, everything depends on how high in elevation you are trying to go. It _might_ be dry enough to go into Hetch Hetchy, and your gear would do fine. Note that Hetch Hetchy tends to be one of the warmer places in Yosemite park. Now, if you tried to go significantly higher than Hetch Hetchy, you are likely to get into trouble with snow, cold, or wetness. It sounds like you are going to try to carry about 40 pounds and she will try about 25 pounds. That is OK, but how does she feel about that? I mean, equality and all that. Keep in mind that the bears are out, and food will be stored in a bear canister, either one or two.

Your trip length may be limited by how many pairs of dry socks you bring.
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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby gary c. » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:29 am

If it's your first trip out I would suggest the river trail on the Kern River. It's only 4mls to the end and with only a 500ft gain in elevation it won't beat you up. You can stop anywhere along the river and a great little hike to test your gear and how much you want to carry.

Here is a link.
https://www.summitpost.org/river-trail/626366
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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby ragedaemon » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:45 pm

Awesome, thanks. We'll most likely try Hetch Hetchy! Thanks for the suggestions!
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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby wildhiker » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:56 pm

Regarding Hetch Hetchy in early May: depending on the progress of the snowmelt, the trail around the lake can be closed just a few miles in at Wapama Falls. The trail crosses the creek right at the base of the falls on a couple of bridges. During highest flow, the water is flowing over the bridges and people have been swept to their death trying to cross, so the Park Service is pretty conservative now about closing the trail during high water. Early May is a likely time for high water. And I don't think there is any legal spot to camp along the trail until you get to Rancheria Creek, long past Wapama Falls. Be sure to check the Yosemite park website and even call the park before heading up to Hetch Hetchy to verify that the trail is open.

There is another recent thread in the main backpacking forum asking for suggestions for short trips in April:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=17945
You should check that thread for more ideas.

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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby bobby49 » Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:13 pm

wildhiker wrote:Regarding Hetch Hetchy in early May: depending on the progress of the snowmelt, the trail around the lake can be closed just a few miles in at Wapama Falls.


For the last time that I went in there (2017), the trail was closed a good deal due to the high water. Then it opened in time for my trip. When I got to the bridge, it was a very serious test of my rain gear. It was short, but intense.
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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:00 am

Two day - one night trips that might not get you into too much snow are the hot topic this time of year.

It's possible to go up to Chilnualna Falls (Yosemite) and back in two days. All uphill for four miles, tho. You are stopped from further miles by the creek that is high with melt and/or snowbanks, depending on how the melt is progressing. But it's a pretty place. Expect there to be plenty of people.

It's possible to go to Hite Cove and camp. It's in National Forest, not designated wilderness so no permit, information obtainable from the Bass Lake Ranger District office. No water crossings. A little birdie told me there has been trail maintenance, so there is a good chance of going to the old gold mine/town and somewhat beyond. There will be scads of day hikers taking pictures of flowers which are the main draw for this area. They all go home and it gets pretty quiet back there. I've taken backpacking classes back there before. The trail feels exposed if you are not accustomed to narrow trail tread on a very steep hill that ends in a big, deep river.

Just going to Little Yosemite Valley is probably possible - it's before quota season, which starts in May, so starting on April 30 or 31 you squeak in before the lines of frenzied wannabe Yosemite backpackers with an easy, non-quota, free wilderness permit at the visitor center in Yosemite, and go. You'll be expected to stay at campsites in a designated area but each has a bear locker.
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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby bobby49 » Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:53 pm

AlmostThere wrote: It's possible to go up to Chilnualna Falls (Yosemite) and back in two days.


A few years ago, I started from North Wawona and headed counterclockwise around the Chilnualna Falls loop to Deer Camp and around. The plan was that I would take three days if the wildflowers were nice, but I would cut that down to two days if they weren't. Starting around 9 a.m., I got up to Deer Camp that afternoon. However, there was no damn water flowing anywhere. I was bummed. Obviously I wasn't going to camp there. So I kept going until I found a tiny trickle of water that I could gather up. I kept going, and I was hoping to find some nice place to camp. Nothing. I kept going after sunset and finally arrived back in North Wawona at midnight, on the same day that I left.

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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby ragedaemon » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:38 pm

Thanks for all the responses and suggestions everyone! Given the changing weather and conditions during this time of year, we've decided to hold off on any final decisions until the week. However, a hike to Little Yosemite from Happy Isles looks amazing as does Hetch Hetchy and we'll most likely do one of those. Will update with trip report after!
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Re: Beginner trips for Late April/May and Questions

Postby maiathebee » Tue May 08, 2018 1:23 pm

Curious what you decided to do and how it went. Any updates / photos / conditions reports to share?
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