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[Yosemite]

A Week in Yosemite

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

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A Week in Yosemite

Postby Treadstone0014 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 2:36 pm

I read about a +/-65 mile hike in Backpacker that begins at Sunrise Lakes Trailhead and includes: Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Illilouette Creek Valley, Red Peak Pass, Triple Peak Fork of the Merced River, Lewis Creek Valley, Vogelsang Pass, Rafferty Creek, JMT/PCT, and finishes at the Rafferty Creek/Lyell Canyon trailhead.

Does anyone have any advice as far as planning for this route? I have about 6-7 days in late July that I could be on the trails. Any advice is appreciated.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Phil » Tue Feb 09, 2016 3:57 pm

That's a nice route. So is doing it in the reverse order. And that's a really nice time of year to do it, albeit peak season and more people. You'll briefly get into some altitudes close to 12,000 feet, and much longer at around 10k, so be prepared to spend some time acclimatizing if you're coming from lower. A couple days in advance of your trip in or around some of the camps up near Tuolumne Meadows is good for that.

Are you looking for campsite recommendations and reliable water sources mainly? Also, if you're going alone, you'll need to plan ahead on how you're going to load your bear canister strategically since you won't be be passing any front country trailheads and bear lockers for re-provisioning en route. If with someone else, definitely each carry cans.

Tough work, long haul, but beautiful territory and worth every step.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Treadstone0014 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:06 pm

Thanks, Phil. As far as which order, I am pretty open if you feel one direction has advantages over the other.

I plan to have 2 nights in Yosemite before I set off, do you think that will be enough time to acclimate?

Yes, I am mainly looking for campsite and water source recommendations. Also a rec on good maps for the trip. Will be my first time to Yosemite.

It is looking like this will be a solo trip. How would you recommend I prepare my bear canister all things considered?
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:33 pm

Bear canisters are required in Yosemite.

This is a lovely trip---you can see most of it, in sections, on the various trip reports we have on the destinations pages of our website (note the link in my signature)

Campsites? Depends on how far you feel like walking each day. So first night might be somewhere between Clouds Rest and Half Dome. Second day could be Illilouette Canyon has plenty of sites along the creek once you get a few miles up the canyon. Lower Ottoway Lake is stunning. Washburn Lake is nicer than Merced Lake, if only because there are fewer people. Once you head up Lewis Creek, go ahead and make the climb to camp at Bernice Lake if that fits your mileage that day--although that might be a bit short. But you should be able to do Bernice to Tuolumne Meadows in one day, since it is mainly downhill.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Phil » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:35 pm

I'm running out the door, so I'll post again with more details, but a few basics to get you going.

The map: Tom Harrison 1:63,360 "Yosemite High Country", no doubt in my mind.

Acclimatization: I'm assuming you're meaning the Valley when you say "Yosemite". Too low. Head up to Tuolumne if you can and do a couple days hikes and rest up. It's about 4000 feet higher, and will get you ready faster.

Direction: It's sort of a push on initial altitude gain either way, but I'm more inclined to start at Rafferty and go up to Vogelsang or somewhere thereabouts on day 1. There are a few climbs that you might want to get around by changing direction, but climbing is going to be the order in any case. I'll have to think on this one a bit more.

Bear can: the Garcia 812s they rent in the park hold about 6 man days of food. That's tight, and doesn't leave much room for morale-boosting treats or other toiletries and scented items. Be good with a little less hygiene and more food. First day's dinner and lunch don't have to go in the can, but be careful leaving your pack unattended, and make sure the garbage fits in the can too. Plan your meals and repack them in more compressible form. If you're using freeze dried packages, poke a pinhole in them right below the zipper and squish the air out of them completely, that should get a couple more in the can. Minimize garbage you're required to store in the canister and hike out whenever you can. If possible, get your canister ahead of time and pack it on the kitchen table until you get it right and know that everything's going to fit. You might also see if you can rent one in advance from Bearikade that's not only lighter (carbon fiber), but maybe taller (Expedition) in order to get more volume. Here's that link: http://www.wild-ideas.net/rent-a-bearikade/

How far can you realistically go in a day? Tell us that and we'll find you good places to camp. You'll have a few areas where you'll need maybe an extra liter or so beyond what you normally carry, but you should still have no problem refilling your bottle when you need to that time of year with just a little planning ahead. Unless you need to camp at the summit of Red Peak or something, there are plenty of lakes and creeks to choose from.

More later....
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:54 pm

One correction. You should make the pinhole just ABOVE the ziplock seal. That allows you to let all the air out, and still seal the package with the ziplock. And do this with everything from freeze dried dinners to pre-packaged dried apricots, etc.

Even better, repack all of your freeze dried meals into 1qt baggies, which pack much small than the freeze dried envelopes. And remember that you don't need to get your first day's lunch or dinner into the bear can...you'll eat your lunch right out of your pack, and you'll do the same with your dinner--but that means you can't leave your pack somewhere and go off exploring. if there's food in it, it should within arm's reach---or on your back!
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:27 pm

Rent the can from Wild Ideas, by mail, and you can get their larger-than-the-Garcia Expedition and pack it at home, where you have better control over packing it than the back seat of the car where any extra will have to be left inside a bear locker for the duration of the trip. (Keep your car clean when parking in Yosemite - bears break into those.)

That's the Bearikade Expedition, for your googling pleasure. Lightest bear canisters for the money. And you can mail it back to them when you're done.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Treadstone0014 » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:40 am

I'll definitely check into the Expedition canister considering the length of my trip and that I will be alone.

Realistically I think i can cover 9-10 miles per day. Could do more if necessary, but also don't want to rush through everything while I'm there.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Phil » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:41 pm

9-10 miles per day is a good pace, just remember the altitude.

I'm going to take you from Rafferty/Vogelsang out at Sunrise for camping and water, but you can reverse and go in your original direction and get about the same results in that itinerary.

Head out from Raffery. If you want to visit Vogelsang, camp there, but it's going to be crowded. You'll go to about 10k. From the trail junction at Tuolumne Pass you'll need to decide if you want the lower trail down Fletcher Creek or upper trail past Bernice Lake. If you're going to stay the first night at Vogelsang, you can either head down a little south of the HSC to pick up the lower trail if you decide that's the way you want to go, or stay up higher and go the other route along Lewis Creek. If you have the energy and the altitude isn't bothering you too much, bypass Vogelsang and head to Bernice for the night, or on the lower trail, head to Emeric Lake, or better yet, IMO, Babcock. Pushing that last bit to either overnight spot is also going to shorten day 2. Depending on the snow and rain this season, you should have no problems finding water when you need it, and I've never seen either Fletcher or Lewis dry out to where I couldn't pump whatever I needed.


Balzaccom is absolutely right about Washburn Lake being better than Merced for beauty and less people. As with Vogelsang, Merced Lake is a backpacker's camp, and it's going to be crowded. Going to Washburn takes you out of the High Sierra Camp loop and considerably fewer people with it. Staying at Washburn on night 2 also keeps you from having to backtrack from Merced to get back on route. You'll only be at about 7600 feet, so you should get a chance to enjoy a little easier breathing until you do a fairly strenuous 3rd day. From Washburn up to the trail junction up to Isberg Pass is about 7-ish miles of varying pitch. Not too bad, but if that distance is all you can pull off, you'll find some good sites and plenty of water near the trail junction up to Isberg at Triple Fork. If you go past there and want to call it a day, you'll also come to a decent sized tarn right along the trail on the way up to Red Peak Pass that has a few good spots. From here, you can also drop down to Red Devil Lake off to your right about half a mile away, which you can see from where you are. Not much after that, but if you absolutely hit the wall and can't make that last push to the pass and beyond, there are some small, exposed lakes beyond that and that side of Red Peak, but camping is limited and you'll be on rock in most places, but at least you'll have water at hand for dinner and breakfast. Skip the hassle and either hang back or push through, depending on how you're feeling. If you're alright altitude-wise and feeling ambitious, and have the time, seriously consider a push up and over Red Peak Pass to Lower Ottoway Lake that day. It is gorgeous, and it's much better camping than Upper Ottoway, which really has no good sites at all worth even looking for. Good fishing though at both lakes. If that original push up from Wasburn is your limit, go ahead and hang back at that trail junction at Triple Fork or the tarn that 3rd night to be sure. No rush, right? Another word about Lower Ottoway: even though the distance is going to be shorter than what you might be capable of the next day, by hanging back at Triple Fork or the tarn and only hiking to the lake that day, it's worth the schedule tweak for the beauty and the experience, and it'll give you some time to explore the area without your pack on.

Now you get to do some downhill. Oh boy! You can pretty much call it for sites and water all along there at Illilouette Creek, but distance-wise you might want to go ahead and head down trail to the area around the Clark Fork for great campsites and better position to head down Panorama and up to LYV-ish the next day. If you want to see the falls and the Panorama Trail proper (above the cliffs), you can also split of below that and take the Mono Meadow trail to your left. You'll find some spots near the junction of the trail to Glacier Point along Illilouette Creek, but you'll also find more competition and quickly come into restricted camping areas not too far below that. Speaking of LYV...skip that hole and head up to the area by the trail junction of the JMT and Cloud's Rest trails at Sunrise Creek for the next night's camp. Remember too, if you want Half Dome, you need to get a permit. I get the whole iconic landmark/sense of accomplishment thing for first time visitors to the park and all, but Cloud's Rest is nicer, less crowded, and you've already spent 5 days seeing better.

Now Cloud's Rest- you get to climb some more. A lot! Sort of an insult to injury thing. You might find the trail-side spring active for extra water on the way up, but better to carry that extra easy liter from camp that morning to be safe, especially since your food weight is going to theoretically be next to nothing by this point. You also have to remember that camping at/near the summit of Cloud's Rest is going to be dry camping unless you're hauling what you need for the trail, dinner, and next morning- the next invariably reliable source is a creek about 2 or so miles beyond there along the Forsyth Trail headed toward Sunrise, so unless you really need to overnight it on Cloud's Rest, just hang out, look at the view, take some pictures, move on.

Depending on your schedule and what you have left, for one last night of camping I would go ahead and go past the trail junction down to the Sunrise trailhead a little further and check out Sunrise Lakes. Lower is nice, but probably crowded. Middle and Upper are better, IMO. On the last day, head down the Sunrise trail back to Tioga Rd, wait a few minutes at the parking lot, catch the shuttle to Tuolumne Meadows and be back at your car within the hour. Bam! Congratulations, you just accomplished one hell of an amazing trip!!

Like I said, if you want to go the opposite way, just reverse the order and adjust as necessary for mileage and how you're feeling. Remember your food storage regulations and that there are lots of bears all along your entire route.

Did I miss anything guys?
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:43 pm

I think you gave some good advice there, Phil. BTW, there is a lovely campsite right at the foot of the Isberg Pass trail, if you go cross-country about 1/4 mile to lake 10005, just east of the junction with the trail to Red Peak Pass. Camp in the trees west of the lake...lovely stuff. Here's a photo:

Image
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Treadstone0014 » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:00 am

Wow, thanks guys! I have two more questions for you:

1.) What is the best strategy for faxing in permit applications? I've read that some people just rely on walk-ups, but I am a little hesitant to do that considering the distance I will be traveling to get to Yosemite. Should I try and fax it in at 12:01am the first day I'm able to apply, or is that a little over the top?

2.) I would like to camp for two nights (if possible) at higher elevation to get acclimated before beginning my trip. I've read that you can stay in a campground the night before you start your trip, but I wasn't sure if you could 2 nights before, and if so, where is the best place to snag a spot?
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:10 am

The backpacker camps allow you one night before and one night after the itinerary on your permit. For two nights you should get a regular campsite. Backpacker campsites are $5 per person per night. For acclimation you should be in Tuolumne meadows or White Wolf backpacker camp. The valley camp is too low.

Just fax it in. They pull randomly from the pile. Do it that morning, early, as the permits go fast. No strategy whatsoever. Yes, walk ins work well, because so many permits reserved are abandoned and then made available the day of.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Phil » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:08 pm

As AT says, there is no strategy to really speak of, except just faxing it in as soon as possible. I think we've all been doing this for a long time and have gotten in the habit of avoiding the feeding frenzy of the reservation system and usually getting what we want (or adjusting on-the-fly) while we're standing at the counter for a walk-up. I understand you wanting to be secure though. Do what you can on the Res system, but, don't be overly concerned about winging it. You will backpack and pick up your route in some way. If you show up at say, the Big Oak Flat entrance station and hit the permit office a little after 11am the day before you plan to head out, you have a really good chance of being pleasantly surprised. If that doesn't work, get whatever permit is available for whatever so you can use it to piggyback your backpacker's camp rights for the night, then hit the permitting station bright and early down in Tuolumne the next morning. Also, if it's the only thing available, don't hesitate to get your entry from Lyell Canyon and access Vogelsang and beyond that way. So you end up with three trailhead possibilities: Rafferty Creek, Lyell, or reverse (your Plan A), Sunrise. You can also consider Cathedral Lakes and play mix and match with the trail systems. You could also tell the ranger what you want to do, and even though they won't plan your trip for you, you'll be surprised at how amenable they are to helping out real backpackers if at all possible. That's all about as strategic as it gets.

Yes, you get one night before and one after your trip at any backpacker's camp. Tuolumne is higher (~8500 ft), but White Wolf (~7400) is nicer. You get the one night at Tuolumne, but I can also pretty much guarantee that you won't find another site in the regular campground for a second night that time of year. White Wolf's other beauty is that it's largely walk-in and less of "destination" mob scene. We always end up going mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday...I would suggest you do the same for a site, and if need be, for a wilderness permit) in order to beat the weekend rush, and even though we know we can find space in the backpacker's camp, we usually end up taking a regular campsite anyhow so that we can charge headlamps and do a little final gear sorting in the car.
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Phil » Thu Feb 11, 2016 3:35 pm

I just wanted to add a couple of things:

With reservations, being solo is a good position to be in sometimes. Available single spots make it all so much easier, walk-ups included. Remember that 40% of all the permits are walk-up, and that after 11am the previous day window of opportunity is magical.

Also, if you do want to try to avoid the issues of acclimatization and even minor symptoms of AMS, there are a couple tricks without actually being at altitude.

Hike up hills- practice breathing control- in big through your mouth, out slowly through your nose. Lung capacity is everything.

The other is hypoxic swimming. If your local health club doesn't happen to have a 10,000 foot mountain next to its climbing wall, try this:

http://www.stewsmith.com/linkpages/high ... aining.htm

And don't forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!
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Re: A Week in Yosemite

Postby Treadstone0014 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 7:14 am

Sent in an application for wilderness permit a few weeks ago and it got denied, but it was my fault. I didn't follow the directions and tried to apply for a date that was already full (rookie mistake). On Saturday, February 13th, I applied again for a trip starting July 31, but I have yet to hear back from the office. Is it common to take this long to respond? The first time I applied, I received an email within 24 hours. I thought I'd give it one more shot before I relied solely on my chances of getting a walk-up permit.

Thanks again for everyone's help!
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