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[Yosemite]

Last minute trip to Yosemite

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:38 am

I visited in Yosemite Valley for two days in June 2014. I really loved it but because we had no campground reservations, we had to camp outside the part and make day trips in everyday.I have since wanted to return to the park for a backpacking trip.It turns out, I should be able to get about a week or two off work in late May or early June. I don't have specific dates yet as I am finishing off a work project and so this would be a last minute trip. I should be flying in to Fresno and taking the Amtrack to Yosemite Valley. Considering my limitations due to the wilderness permits, I am wondering if anyone could make any suggestions as to a good trail to hike in Yosemite. I have hiked quite a bit in the Adirondacks (upstate New York) but on this trip, I would be alone and since this is my first solo hiking trip, I am looking for an area halfway between the Yosemite Valley crowds and the lone wilderness. In other words an area where there may be a few backcountry campers around but not completely filled with day hikers. I am mainly looking for good photography ops and great views. Since I don't think I could reserve backcountry permits more than a week in advance, I am wondering what my options are. I am also open to backpacking areas outside the park. Any suggestions?
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:03 am

have you got backpacking experience ? do you know how to pack a bear canister for a longer trip? do you know how to deal with snow covered trails?
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:34 am

Yes I have backpacked before. No problem with the bear canister, equipment etc. As for snow covered trails I have often hiked them but only on day trips or overnight trips in shelters. I am trying to avoid really cold night temperatures since my sleeping bag is only rated to 40 degrees. I could probably manage 30 degree nights but not much more than that.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Grzldvt » Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:09 am

For newcomers I always recommend the High Sierra Loop because it pulls in the best the park has to offer. This year the snow level is so low, this trip won't be a problem in late May early June.
First day - Toulumne Meadows to Glen Aulin - Interesting trip along the Toulumne River - Won't be real exciting this year but a nice trip none the less.
Second Day - Glen Aulin to May Lake - Very neat scenery, great views of the high country, but a pretty steady climb. Wildflowers should be in bloom and add a nice feature.
Third Day - May Lake to Sunrise - This is a BIG climb, with some nice scenery - do not push this as the climb can nail you of you go to fast.
Fourth Day - Sunrise to Merced - OK hike with some cool scenery along the way. Merced Lake is not exceptional but not bad.
Fifth day - Merced Lake to Vogelsang - Be prepared for an incredible back country hike with simply awesome scenery
Sixth Day - Vogelsang back to Toulumne.
If you have more time and can pack an extra da. I would recommend spending an extra day at May lake and doing Hoffman.
Steve
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:31 am

Thanks Grzldvt.

Do you know if it is easy to get last minute permits for this area? Also do you know if the night temperatures are really cold? Like I said I could probably manage down to the 30s but not much colder.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Sat Apr 04, 2015 8:27 pm

Grzldvt has a good suggestion for you--because while you will be backpacking, you will never be far from other people near those High Sierra Camps.

One thing he didn't mention is that you can do that trip from lots of different trailheads. You don't NEED to start at Tuolumne Meadows and go to Glen Aulin, You could just as easily go to Vogelsang first...or Sunrise...or May Lake. Keep those ideas in mind when you apply for your permit. All of the camps are within a day's hike, so once you get your permit to any trailhead that connects you to one of the camps, you can continue on to the other camps easily.

It's as if they planned it that way....grin
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Sun Apr 05, 2015 7:50 am

Thanks for the link. Really great blog by the way.
Yeah I'm getting a little bit more familiar with the whole permit system. One thing I am wondering though is if I need to exit at the same trailhead as where I started? I'm also wondering if I could get a permit to hike up Half Dome the day before my departure? I could do a five day hike and then camp close to Half Dome for an early morning departure and head back to the Yosemite backpackers campground after that. Finally, is it possible to leave your gear set up at a backcountry camp site and to do a day hike and return to your site in the early evening? This is what I often do in the Adirondacks but I do not know if it is safe to leave your gear unattended or if this is permitted in Yosemite.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:26 am

You can exit pretty much where you want...but you will have to state that on your permit. Lots of people enter at one trailhead and leave at another.

And yes, people do leave their camps set up and go for day hikes. Of course you need to leave all your food and "smellies" in the bear can---and leave that OUTSIDE your pack. In fact, the best practice is to leave everything out on the ground and visible, so that if a bear (or raccoon) does find your camp, it doesn't destroy your pack pulling out a stick of gum.

I think your plan is a good one--Take Amtrack to the park, get a permit to go up one of the trails out of Yosemite Valley, or take the hikers' shuttle towards Tuolumne Meadows and get off at a trailhead, and then hike back down to the Valley. Lots of hikes to choose from, and there are no ugly parts of Yosemite. In general, the High Sierra Camps, the John Muir Trail, and the North Rim have the best and most easily accessible views. But anything out of Tuolumne Meadows will blow your mind.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Apr 05, 2015 9:42 am

Imasphere wrote:Yes I have backpacked before. No problem with the bear canister, equipment etc. As for snow covered trails I have often hiked them but only on day trips or overnight trips in shelters. I am trying to avoid really cold night temperatures since my sleeping bag is only rated to 40 degrees. I could probably manage 30 degree nights but not much more than that.



I wouldn't take a 30 degree bag in the middle of July. You need warmer, and an adequately warm pad - a lot of people go with just a single pad in winter and get cold, then blame the sleeping bag. Pads need to be rated to the temps you use them in too.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Sun Apr 05, 2015 9:32 pm

a 40 degree bag is not enough, even in June. (This last weekend the temps were in the 20's at 8,000 feet). Of course it all depends on the weather during your trip, but it can easily be snowing in May and even June at those High Sierra Camps. You need something that will keep you warm enough to sleep. Our bags are rated 20 degrees, I think...
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:13 am

Thanks for the info on the bags. I guess I will go with rental sleeping bags in order to get something warmer than my present bag.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:23 am

Ok, so there has been a small change of plans. I will finally be going to Yosemite with a friend of mine. We will be flying to Las Vegas where we will rent a car and take the long drive to Yosemite. I am only hoping that Tioga Pass will be open this early but since there is very little snow, I might be lucky. We are arriving on May 26 mid-morning and leaving June 4 at night. One thing I did notice is that the Yosemite bus route from the valley to Toulumne Meadows is not in operation in May and June. We will probably be staying in the Valley backpackers campground on the first night so it would be fun to hike from the valley on the first day. There are still permits available on the 27th of May for Yosemite falls(kind of a long way off from Toulumns Meadows), Happy Isles to Illilouette (again far from Toulumne Meadows) and Mirror Lake to Snow Creek. This last one sounds like the best option, but on the map the first half shows a hell of climb out of the valley. The first backcountry campground is also at May Lake which makes it a 10 mile hike which is a lot for a first day of hiking. Is there another option up Snow Creek where we could camp before reaching May Lake.
Of course now that we have a car, I could also drive to Toulumne Meadows and leave the car there, but I would really appreciate being able to leave the car in the valley so we wouldn't have to take the long drive along Tioga Road.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:22 am

You won't stay in the backpacker campground without a permit in hand. Getting to the wilderness office in the valley early before 11 am on the 26th is very important for a walk in for the 27th.

You can use YARTS from the valley to get to TM.

First legal dispersal camping is above the rim. No doubt you will see campsites along the creek.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby Imasphere » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:40 am

AlmostThere wrote:You won't stay in the backpacker campground without a permit in hand. Getting to the wilderness office in the valley early before 11 am on the 26th is very important for a walk in for the 27th.

You can use YARTS from the valley to get to TM.

First legal dispersal camping is above the rim. No doubt you will see campsites along the creek.


OK but if I reserve my permit before hand,(fax and pay) I could stay in the backpacker campground and head off on the 27th right?
Also, the Yosemite NP web site states :
"YARTS provides limited service to Crane Flat, White Wolf, and Tuolumne Meadows daily during July and August (weekends only during June and September)."

So I don't think there will be bus service on a Wednesday in May. I think the Snow Creek trail is my only option, but those switchbacks seem nasty.
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Re: Last minute trip to Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:02 pm

I seriously doubt that YARTS or the hiker bus will be shut down til June, if the roads open in April. With a normal snow pack June is the earliest it would open. We're nothing close to normal.

If you reserved a permit and pick it up when you get there, you're fine. But they will check.

If doing Snow Creek I would be getting up at 4 am to avoid hiking up it in the sun. It's one miserable hump on a summer day.
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