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CA Backpacking Trip

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

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CA Backpacking Trip

Postby coreypatd » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:07 am

Hi everyone. I'm looking to take a solo backpacking trip during Memorial Day weekend. I'm looking for any advice you have regarding what some of the best trails may be during that time. I'm thinking a 2-3 day trip. I've read online that it might be too early to do the Sierras (or at least too cold!) but please let me know if you think that's wrong. I read that the Smith Peak hike out of Hetch Hetchy might be good. Otherwise, I've read that the Lost Coast trail (either the north or the south portions) is great and also that the Pine Ridge trail to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur is great. Any advice? Thanks!
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Re: CA Backpacking Trip

Postby Phil » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:37 am

That's still pretty early for the Sierras, and Memorial Day is not the time to be looking for trails to hike in Yosemite, especially not without a wilderness permit reservation. It's Bedlam.

I've done the Lost Coast. It's an interesting and a unique experience for anyone primarily used to hiking in the mountains. There are actually what are considered two parts- the north from Mattole-Black Sands Beach. Then from either Hidden Valley-Usal or about 12 miles shorter, Needle Rock-Usal. I recommend the north, but again, Memorial Day isn't a good time to go because of crowds.
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Re: CA Backpacking Trip

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:50 am

They removed the tubs at Sykes. 300 people every weekend leaving trash and poop everywhere doesn't make that a healthy place to go, anyway. It is NOT great, it is a tragic crime perpetrated by hundreds of people who don't care about the wilderness. There will be idiots going out there to dig more tubs, which will have to be removed again, as the vain attempt to band aid the gaping wound in nature that Sykes is continues.

The Lost Coast is gorgeous, remote, hard to reach without a high clearance vehicle - there is an expensive shuttle that will get you to the other end of it.

You would have better luck heading down the east side of the Sierra, perhaps heading into one of the destinations reachable from Mammoth Lakes -- taking an overnight from Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island, Garnet, Ediza, one of the other gorgeous destinations along that section of the JMT, would likely be possible, as they are plowing TIoga and the melt will be going well by the end of May. You may hit snow as you go higher and higher, but you can set up camp in the legal areas whenever that happens. If the melt is sufficiently under way perhaps a trip in Hoover.

From the west side, you may be able to get into some of the lower destinations in Sequoia - Kings -- Paradise Valley out of Kings Canyon would be really nice, for a single night, though you are competing with everyone trying to do the Rae Lakes loop. You couldn't go wrong with heading out from Crescent Meadow or Wolverton on the High Sierra Trail to Hamilton Lake and back. Something in Sequoia National Forest might be workable -- Golden Trout Wilderness or Jennie Lake Wilderness would be mid-elevation and without dangerous river crossings.

A little more "civilized" than wilderness, but the Big Basin trail camps open in May. You have to call ahead to reserve a campsite. It's busy over Memorial weekend, but I have in past years reserved a couple of sites per night and hiked the entire Skyline to Sea with a large group - perfect for that time of year.
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