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[Yosemite]

Backpacking Yosemite

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

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Backpacking Yosemite

Postby jlbrown4 » Wed May 25, 2016 12:45 pm

Hello, my husband and I have just started planning a trip to Yosemite for mid-August. We have backpacking experience on the east coast, but have never been to the west coast. I'm quickly realizing how busy Yosemite is during the summer months, and how much effort it takes to plan a backpacking trip there. We're doing lots of blog reading and researching, but are having trouble putting together a plan. We will be in Yosemite 3-4 days and are wanting to hike Half Dome, camp in the backcountry at least 2 nights. I need advice on planning day trips, and planning on camping along specific trails. Any advice would be greatly apprecited!
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Wed May 25, 2016 1:46 pm

There are quite a few threads along these lines here, so I will try to summarize a few things. Bear in mind that in August the waterfalls are going to be less impressive than they are right now....but they'll still be cool.

1. Don't overlook dayhiking. Many of the truly stunning parts of Yosemite are easily available as day hikes, and you should make a real effort to see the following:

> Glacier Point and its nearby hikes of Sentinel Dome and Taft Point--and if you have time, Dewey Point for a stunning view.
> The Giant Sequoias at Wawona--also visible in the Mariposa Grove. Add in the hike to Chilnualna Falls for a real workout.
> Tuolumne Meadows and its local hikes: Lembert Dome, Pothole Dome, Gaylor Lakes, and Elizabeth Lake.
> A day in the Valley to watch the climbers on El Capitan, view Bridalveil, Yosemite, and the other falls, hike out on the trails into the main meadows, where you will be amazed at how quiet and peaceful it all is...in the middle of everything.

Longer dayhikes not to be missed:

> Merced Canyon past Vernal and Nevada Falls (Half Dome if you can get a permit).
> Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake (a better hike than Half Dome, and when get to Clouds Rest you are looking down on the people on Half Dome.
> North Dome from Porcupine Creek--the best view of Half Dome in the Park
> May Lake and Mount Hoffman, one of the best views anywhere, period.

2. Now, once you've done all of that, you can look for a backpacking permit to some nice locations. You'll need a permit for a trip. The most popular sites fill up quickly, but I would recommend the following:

> Ten Lakes Basin is a great hike. And it's only two days---leaving you some time to explore the hikes above.
> Young Lakes, for the same reason.
> Cathedral Lakes, for the same reason---explore Echo Canyon from there, just over the pass, if you have time.
> Glen Aulin pass through permit to go downstream of the High Sierra Camp to see even more waterfalls.

>> What I would NOT recommend is a high up to LIttle Yosemite Valley where there are so many people. Not exactly a wilderness experience.

What you will need is a campsite, and those can be hard to find during the middle of the summer. A backpacking permit helps, because it allows you to stay in a backpackers campground the day before and after your backpacking permit. But you can probably find a site at Tamarack or Porcupine if you get there earlier in the day...

Does that give you enough to get started? We have photos of most of these hikes on our website, in my signature line, if you're interested in poking around.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby Phil » Wed May 25, 2016 4:24 pm

Hi,

Gotta do the obligatory disclaimer:

Don't discount the altitude as a big factor in your performance. The east coast has nothing like it.

Secondly (more of a word to the wise than a disclaimer): Think outside the box and off the wildly crowded, beaten path. Half Dome being iconic, but definitely in that category.


Ten Lakes! Yes! Awesome through-hike or in-and-out from Yosemite Creek. And, besides being absolutely gorgeous with, as Balzaccom says, lots of day-hiking opportunites and places to explore, there are still wilderness permit reservations available for the trailhead pretty much exactly when you want to be there.
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby AlmostThere » Thu May 26, 2016 6:20 am

Mariposa Grove is closed til next year....
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby balzaccom » Thu May 26, 2016 8:15 am

Thanks AT. That makes Wawona an even better bet for someone who has never seen those trees.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby gardel » Thu May 26, 2016 9:32 am

As a fellow East Coaster who did my first backpacking trip in the Sierras last summer, I have two pieces of advice:

Plan for shorter distances than you would on the East Coast. I found that going 10 miles at 8000 feet took about as much energy as going 15 miles at 2000 feet -- even after several days of acclimation

Be sure to get a good map. Trails are seldom blazed, and you might go one or two miles without seeing any formal signage. Since there aren't a lot of deciduous trees, the trails are typically pretty obvious, but that gets less true if you're crossing extensive rocky patches or heavily forested areas.
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby MadDiver » Thu May 26, 2016 10:20 am

gardel wrote:As a fellow East Coaster who did my first backpacking trip in the Sierras last summer, I have two pieces of advice:

Plan for shorter distances than you would on the East Coast. I found that going 10 miles at 8000 feet took about as much energy as going 15 miles at 2000 feet -- even after several days of acclimation

Be sure to get a good map. Trails are seldom blazed, and you might go one or two miles without seeing any formal signage. Since there aren't a lot of deciduous trees, the trails are typically pretty obvious, but that gets less true if you're crossing extensive rocky patches or heavily forested areas.


I will respectfully disagree. As someone who does most of their backpacking in the White Mountains of NH, Yosemite was a dream come true. I was able to do way more mileage in the High Sierras than the Whites due to much easier terrain in the Sierras. I guess it depends what is "normal" to each of us.

+1 on the map, trails are easy to follow normally but a good map should always be carried. The two most popular for Yosemite are the NatGeo Trails Illustrated and Tom Harrison.

My couple bits of advice: Big shady hat, long sleeved shirt, lots of water. It's DRY up there compared to the east and lots of sun through a thinner atmosphere. Drink more than you think you need to, you won't feel nearly as sweaty as you would in the east.
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Re: Backpacking Yosemite

Postby Phil » Thu May 26, 2016 11:47 am

MadDiver wrote: I was able to do way more mileage in the High Sierras than the Whites due to much easier terrain in the Sierras. I guess it depends what is "normal" to each of us


Right, it really does come down to what "normal" is. But that's subjective, and you also can't uncouple terrain and altitude physiologically. With AMS at just about any level, there are only two ways to deal with it; either you acclimate, or you go lower. 8,000 ft is generally considered the cut off point where symptoms will either begin to diminish or exacerbate. That said with regards to YNP, at that altitude, you haven't even gotten out of Tuolumne Meadows yet.

As for navigating open granite: if you lose the trail, STOP, note where you are and where you came from and had it (LKP), stay calm and rational, look for markers or signs of the trail you might have missed previously, if it doesn't become obvious directionally, radiate out from there until you find your trail again. Don't go forward until you have it.
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