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[Yosemite]

Yosemite in May/June: some real FAQs from Italy!

Travelling to and visiting Yosemite National Park. How to get there, what to see or do, and other Yosemite trip advice.

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Yosemite in May/June: some real FAQs from Italy!

Postby thranduil » Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:11 pm

Hi!
My name is Luca, I'm a 43 year old engineer (and sometimes backpacker :wink:) from Monza, northern Italy.

I'm planning to visit California next year on my own, and of course I'd like to spend at least one week in Yosemite NP.

So here are the FAQs:

1) What about late May/early June? Is it still too cold for my 0°C sleeping bag? Am I going to get eaten alive by mosquitos?
2) What to do in one week? My main interests are photography and wildlife, but surely I won't miss the chance of climbing the Half Dome cables.
3) How can I get there? Greyhound or rent-a-car? (I'll land in Frisco)
4) How many chances to see (and photograph) a bear? That would be GREAT!
5) I'm going to carry my EOS digital Rebel (EOS 400D, this is the european name), the 18-55 "plastic lens", a 75-300 tele, and a light tripod, some basic filters. Anything wrong in this? (except weight, of course :cry:) Where can I recharge batteries?
6) When can I reserve a place in a camping site in May/June? Do I have to reserve every single night at every single campsite I'm going to sleep in? That would mean no flexibility at all, too bad!

Thanks a lot for your answers, and for your effort in reading my terrible English! :oops:
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Re: Yosemite in May/June: some real FAQs from Italy!

Postby dan » Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:36 am

thranduil wrote:1) What about late May/early June? Is it still too cold for my 0°C sleeping bag? Am I going to get eaten alive by mosquitos?

It might be too cold--wear extra clothing instead of bringing a heavier bag. Here's a temperature chart: http://www.yosemite.ca.us/faq/1.html#climate

It's usually too early for mosquitos--July or sometimes late June is worse. The mosquitos need a few weeks after the snow melts to grow.

Bring mosquito repellent and a mosquito netting for your head.

thranduil wrote:2) What to do in one week? My main interests are photography and wildlife, but surely I won't miss the chance of climbingthe Half Dome cables.

The cables to the top of Half Dome are usually installed middle or late May, depending on snow conditions.

Also, if there's a normal level of snow, May is usually too early to backpack anywhere--I suggest you visit in June instead.

thranduil wrote:3) How can I get there? Greyhound or rent-a-car? (I'll land in Frisco)

Greyhound heads to Yosemite from San Francisco, and is the most reliable and fastest.
Amtrak train service is available to Yosemite. The train starts at Emeryville and goes to Merced, then they have a bus that takes you to Yosemite Valley. Train service is slow, expensive, and unreliable though.

Rental car is the most flexible.

In summer (July-September), there's a "Hiker's Shuttle" that starts from the hotels in Yosemite Valley and stops anywhere you want along the Tioga Road. From there you can hike back down to the Valley. Popular routes are from Tuolumne Meadows or Lake Teneya to Little Yosemite Valley, then Yosemite Valley. The shuttle leaves each morning--ask in the lobby of any Yosemite Valley hotel for information and to buy a ticket.

By the way, people in San Francisco don't like their city being called "Frisco". I'm not from there, so I don't care :-).

thranduil wrote:4) How many chances to see (and photograph) a bear? That would be GREAT!

If you're backpacking in Little Yosemite Valley or around Tuolumne Meadows, there is a good chance of seeing a bear--usually in the evening.

thranduil wrote:5) I'm going to carry my EOS digital Rebel (EOS 400D, this is the european name), the 18-55 "plastic lens", a 75-300 tele, and a light tripod, some basic filters. Anything wrong in this? (except weight, of course :cry:) Where can I recharge batteries?


Recharging batteries can't be done in the backcountry. Near the roads, you can usually find a restroom with electrical outlets. Take multiple batteries.

thranduil wrote:6) When can I reserve a place in a camping site in May/June? Do I have to reserve every single night at every single campsite I'm going to sleep in? That would mean no flexibility at all, too bad!

If you are backpacking in the wilderness in Yosemite (away from the roads), you can camp almost anywhere except where it's posted or next to a stream or lake.

When you apply for your Wilderness Permit, you need to give the dates you are entering and leaving the wilderness and give estimated dates and places you are staying each night. But you don't have to camp at the locations you give--you can camp anywhere. They just want to know approximately which way you are going. Here is the official National Park Service (NPS) webpage on the Yosemite wilderness:
http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/wilderness/

For campgrounds near roads, you need to reserve them in the summer. All campsites in the summer are usually taken ahead of time by reservation. Half of the campsites in Tuolumne Meadows Campground on the Tioga Road are reservable. Here's the official NPS webpage about camping in Yosemite:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Here's an unofficial website that lists how many campsites are available:
http://www.yosemitesites.com/
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Postby thranduil » Mon Sep 03, 2007 2:17 pm

thanks a lot for your advice, dan!

Also, if there's a normal level of snow, May is usually too early to backpack anywhere--I suggest you visit in June instead.

I'm taking a look at all the links you kindly posted and I'm beginning to think that maybe early June could be a better idea :wink:

By the way, people in San Francisco don't like their city being called "Frisco"

oops, I'm really sorry! :oops:

When you apply for your Wilderness Permit, you need to give the dates you are entering and leaving the wilderness and give estimated dates and places you are staying each night.

so is it OK to plan a one-week stay inside the NP reserving but two or three nights in the "regular" campsites? :?:

Then, the mother of all questions:
I you were living in another continent, and had just one week in your life to hike in Yosemite, what would you absolutely NOT miss?
I'm thinking of Pohono Trail and Sentinel Dome (upwards) then down on Four Mile Trail in two days, sleeping near Bridalveil Creek, then Half Dome cables (in two days, camping in Little Yosemite, I'm not in such good shape :( )
And then?
Cloud's Rest? or Yosemite Falls? or what else?
Or is this plan already too strenuous?
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Postby dan » Mon Sep 03, 2007 4:18 pm

so is it OK to plan a one-week stay inside the NP reserving but two or three nights in the "regular" campsites? :?:

Yes. By the way, if you have a Wilderness Permit, you can stay in the backpackers campground at Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley 1 night before and 1 night after your trip into the wilderness. The Tuolumne Meadows backpackers campground is at the east end of Tuolumne Meadws campground. The Yosemite Valley backpackers campground is north of North Pines Campground (and north of Tenaya Creek)--it's not on any map. Both are walk-in only campgrounds (no automobiles). See
http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/wildern ... ialuse.htm

I'm thinking of Pohono Trail and Sentinel Dome (upwards) then down on Four Mile Trail in two days, sleeping near Bridalveil Creek, then Half Dome cables (in two days, camping in Little Yosemite, I'm not in such good shape :-()

Great views along the Pohono Trail and down to Little Yosemite Valley.

Cloud's Rest? or Yosemite Falls? or what else?
Or is this plan already too strenuous?

Cloud's Rest is strenuous heading up from Little Yosemite Valley and it's mostly in forest with little or no water. You get a great view of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome once you are at the top of Cloud's Rest.

Yosemite Falls Trail can be done in one day (up and down--a long, tough day. It's 7 miles/11 km. round trip and took myself and my wife 9 hours. We spent about 1.5 hours on top though. You can also backpack up there.

Spend a day or two in the Valley. There's trails all over, and if you stay away from the shops, hotels, and restaurants, it's not too, crowded.
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Postby thranduil » Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:19 pm

After spending some days surfing the web and reading the Lonely Planet's "Hiking in the Sierra Nevada" guide... I modified my battle plan.

The time is early June, 2008 (not exactly next week, unfortunately)

Day 1(Sunday): drive from San Francisco (not Frisco, I'll keep this in mind :wink: ), enter NP from South/Wavona entrance, visit Mariposa Grove, drive to valley floor, camp (I have to reserve this night, I know)

Day 2 (Monday): bus to Glacier Point, hike to Taft Point, Sentinel Dome and then to Little Yosemite Campground (wilderness permit required, right?), camp

Day 3 (Tuesday): Half Dome Cables! Then back to Little Yosemite Campground, and here my doubts begin:
a) spend a second night in LYC or
b) struggle down to the valley floor?

I'm reading on the net reports of Half Dome climb ranging from "a nice one-day hike" to "a strenuous three-day experience" :?

If the cables were not that hard a second night in LYC would be a waste of (precious) time, but what if I plan getting back on Day 3 and I fail? All my further reservations would be useless, isn't it?
But...are resevations really mandatory in early June, away from weekends? :?:

As usual, thanks a lot for your patience :D
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Postby dan » Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:56 pm

thranduil wrote:Day 3 (Tuesday): Half Dome Cables! Then back to Little Yosemite Campground, and here my doubts begin:
a) spend a second night in LYC or
b) struggle down to the valley floor?
I'm reading on the net reports of Half Dome climb ranging from "a nice one-day hike" to "a strenuous three-day experience" :?

It's nice (in a scenic way), but strenuous. Three days?--that's very slow and leisurely (and you end up taking a lot more food). Most people start from the Valley floor (Happy Isles trailhead). If you start at LYV Campground, you have a head start of 2.5 miles and 2000' feet up in elevation (roughly 4km distance, 650m elevation). So, if you start from LYV Campground, it's much easier. I would still start early to avoid the crowds and perhaps afternoon thunderstorms.

Bring some cheap cotton gloves ("garden gloves") for the steel cables (the cables are turn bare hands red).

Going down is much easier, so the extra miles downhill to Yosemite Valley, after climbing Half Dome is worth it.
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Aargh! Trailhead quota is full!

Postby thranduil » Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:29 am

unfortunately I could try to reserve glacier point to LYV (or happy isles to LYV) only after being sure about my holidays, and of course it's too late. :(

there should be some more "free places" still available on a first come - first served basis, isn't it?

any tip on how to get this last chance of getting on half dome?

are these permits available at any ranger station/park entrance or only near the trailhead? (according to NP website the closest stations have priority)
is it possible to simply wake up early and wait for the ranger station to open?
I'd like to start hiking on monday (june 2nd), so I will have to queue on sunday morning (or on monday to sleep in LYV tuesday night), isn't it?

thanks a lot, as usual :D
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Re: Aargh! Trailhead quota is full!

Postby dan » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:50 pm

Most people do Half Dome as a day hike, although it's a sunrise to sunset kind of long day. No permit needed for a day hike.

If you want a first-come, first-serve wilderness permit, get in line very early in the morning before the wilderness permit office opens. Better yet, get in line early the day before.

Look at the Yosemite Wilderness webpage for the exact rules--you want to line up at the right place and the right time:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/backpacking.htm
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Postby thranduil » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:06 pm

and what if I get a wilderness permit for tenaya/sunrise lakes to yosemite valley? (this i a tip I got from lonely planet's guide)

do I have to actually hike from tenaya or may I simply start walking from glacier point? :twisted: (hiking from tenaya to LYV would be mostly downhill, if you avoid cloud's rest, anyway)
in some other posts I red that trailhead information are for statistic use only.

...on the other hand this simply seems too easy a way to avoid trailhead crowding limitations...

PS: I'll need a much better shape to do half dome as a one-day hike! :cry:
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Postby dan » Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:44 pm

[quote="thranduil"]and what if I get a wilderness permit for tenaya/sunrise lakes to yosemite valley? (this i a tip I got from lonely planet's guide)

You are supposed to start from the trailhead that's on the permit.

That said, you might get away with it as long as you're not checked by a Ranger near the wrong trailhead, Glacier Point (because it's obvious you didn't start from Tenaya Lake).

Most of the time you're checked for Wilderness Permits at campgrounds and in heavily-traveled Little Yosemite Valley. About 2/3rds of the backpack trips I'm on I'm never checked, but that's because I often go to little-traveled areas of Yosemite.
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Postby thranduil » Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:54 am

Hi dan!
glad to see the forum is back on-line
I could not connect for many days!

Good news: I got a wilderness permit reservation glacier point -> lyv on june 3rd.
this is rather strange, because I'm sure all reservations were gone more than one month ago, but when I checked again there was misteriously some room left, and I did not miss the chance! 8)

with a wilderness permit I can camp in upper pines campsite one night before and one night after my permit, so the (hopefully final) update of my plan is:

june 1: drive to wavona, grab permit, and sleep here (reserved campsite)
june 2: visit sequoia grove, drive to YV, sleep in upper pines
june 3: bus to glacier point, hike to sentinel dome & taft point, then to LYV, camp.
june 4: half dome cables, back to LYV, pack tent, hike down to valley floor, sleep at upper pines.
june 5: drive to tioga road, hike from hwy 120 to north dome and back, exit park and sleep somewhere near mono lake.

what about this program?
any suggestion?
anything obviously wrong?
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Postby dan » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:58 pm

It looks fine, but you have some long days as I said before. You always have options to cut things out, such as Sentinel Dome.
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