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[Yosemite]

Advice for our first overnight backpack trip in yosemite?

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

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Advice for our first overnight backpack trip in yosemite?

Postby madmike » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:57 pm

My 17 yr old son and I are planning our first overnighter in June from clouds rest to half dome to happy isles. We have done many day hikes in yosemite but never camped. We are looking for advice as far as what to pack, where to camp, etc. Is this route too much for a one night camping trip? I would really appreciate any help. Thanks
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Re: Advice for our first overnight backpack trip in yosemite

Postby Phil » Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:32 pm

I assume you're going to be coming up from the Sunrise trailhead. Bear in mind that June (even toward the end of it) is still early and Tenaya Creek is usually still fairly charged up, and crossing is up to you and how you feel about the conditions (you will get wet to some extent or another), but it's the fastest way to Clouds Rest. You're also going to have A LOT of mosquitoes around, so the first things on your list should probably be repellent and head nets. Other than that, typical gear: tent, sleeping bags/pads, bear can(s) are required, extra day's food, a couple extra water bottles, stove and fuel, headlamps, a couple pairs of heavy socks, rain gear, warm clothing, first aid kit, map, compass...pretty regular stuff. Go as light as you can, but don't short yourself by not having what you know you'll want and need. Also, depending on how it goes this winter, you may run into some snow pack, so keep on top of trail conditions and weather forecasts before you fully commit to going out.

The Sunrise trail is only about 2.6 miles, but it's a climb, so you might want to think about making it a 2-night trip in order to give yourselves a rest when you get to the top. From there, go ahead and turn left and camp the first night at Lower Sunrise Lake less than a 1/4 mile away. Or, you could head immediately right and up at the trail junction toward Cloud's Rest, but campsites (especially with fire rings) are much more limited once you pass the flats at the trail junction there, and if you get too near the summit, they're going to be quickly reduced to small cramped spaces that aren't much more than places to hunker in, eat and sleep. The summit offers great views, but it's not the friendliest place to camp. If you do decide to go up and find a closer site to camp, get all the water you'll need for hydration and cooking from the obvious creek you pass a little way past the pond. As you descend the other side, if you're comfortable going cross country, you can plot a route from the trail that will shorten your distance to Half Dome. If not, just stay on the trails and be sure. Make sure that in addition to your regular wilderness permit, you also have your Half Dome permit. You'll probably be pretty tired by the end of day two after coming down from Half Dome, so you might want to seriously consider staying overnight at Little Yosemite Valley (LYV) and head down and out to Happy Isles on your last (3rd) trail day. You could do it as an overnight trip I suppose, if you're into pushing hard, okay with the altitude, and not really taking the time to enjoy it, but it's not particularly realistic. It's gorgeous up there and you'll probably have it almost to yourselves. You only get one very first trip together, so make it a good one. Take a little more time and do it right.

That's the basic deal. If you want more info, ask.
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Re: Advice for our first overnight backpack trip in yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:28 am

To back up a bit -

Watch the weather in winter. In a normal snow year, when there is not a drought raging, the pass may not open until July. If it does open in June, there may still be snow on the ground even if the road is plowed. June is normally very early for higher elevation trips. Crossing creeks may be impossible if snow melt is at its peak, as well.

Take the food storage rules very, very, very, very seriously and follow them to the letter, to prevent issues with bears. That area is extremely popular and the bears are very, very, very, very good at sneaking food from people who think rules are for other people.
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Re: Advice for our first overnight backpack trip in yosemite

Postby madmike » Wed Oct 21, 2015 5:41 pm

Thanks for your replies . I really appreciate it. I apologize though, I typed in "clouds rest" but meant to say Olmsted point to half dome to happy isles. Would this hike be unrealistic to do in a single overnight trip? I understand that the possible snow could present a problem. Thanks again for your time.
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Re: Advice for our first overnight backpack trip in yosemite

Postby Phil » Wed Oct 21, 2015 6:49 pm

No worries, Mike. Just minor adjustment, but the route and the time you need to do it doesn't change. You''ll still have to go up Sunrise, and at least in the general area of Cloud's Rest, if not up and over it, to get where you're wanting to go. You need to know that you can't park overnight at Olmstead Point though. No bear lockers for storing anything from the car with a scent there either. You're going to end up having to park at the Sunrise trailhead at the south end of Tenaya Lake anyhow by default. And yes, getting there to begin with is all going to be contingent upon plowing being completed and Tioga Rd being open for the season, which varies annually.

Almost There and I both pointed out a big factor for June in that Tenaya Creek is charged up and potentially dangerous. The flow is usually slow, but it does have a current, is a lot of water, and is going to probably be at least knee-waist deep for close to 50 yards or more. There is no other way across it unless you want to pick up the trail along the other end of the lake by theTenaya Lake picnic area. It's daunting when you stand there and look at it, and it's nothing to take lightly. You can possibly die there if you lose your footing and get swept, so keep that in mind. We have made the crossing some years, and we've also been turned back in others. It's a snow melt crap shoot.

If I may: Another route I would strongly recommend for that time of year that can be pulled off in June and as an overnighter, is a great test run trip to work out inexperience and kinks in your routine, keeps you out of higher altitudes and quite likely snow pack, has creek crossing with bridges where it counts, is scenic, has plenty of awesome campsites with absolutely incredible views of Half Dome and Cloud's Rest, and subjects you to less of an unrelenting onslaught from mosquitoes, is Snow Creek-Yosemite Valley, exiting Mirror Lake. And, there are a lot less bears, if that's something you might be considering as a factor.

Again, if it sounds interesting and you want more details or other trail suggestions, ask. Make Sunrise, Cloud's Rest and Half Dome your second trip for later in the season and be happier for it.
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