Home A - Z FAQ Bookstore Art Prints Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps Lodging About Search

1st Time / Backcountry Itinerary / June 2017

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

Moderators: Wickett, dan

1st Time / Backcountry Itinerary / June 2017

Postby kimbeaux » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:29 pm

Hey y'all,

My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon trip through California and we are setting aside 5 nights for Yosemite/Sequoia/Kings Canyon so we're thinking 3 nights in Yosemite. We will be there 6/20 - 6/22/17 (Tuesday-Thursday) and need to apply for our wilderness permit on 1/2/17. We're driving from San Francisco and plan to see Bodie and Mono Lake before heading to Yosemite early on 6/20. Should we camp at Mono Lake to watch the sunset/rise or plan to camp at one of the backpacker sites on the 19th?

Day 1 - Park car at Dog Lake. Hike Lembert Dome, Cathedral Lakes. Camp at Upper Cathedral Lake.

Day 2 - Shuttle to Sunrise Lakes Trailhead. Hike Cloud's Rest. Camp at Cloud's Rest.

Day 3 - Drive to Happy Isles. Hike Vernal/Nevada Falls. Drive Glacier Point Rd. Hike Sentinel Dome, Taft Point, Pohono Trail Loop. Not sure where to camp this night.

Would love to hear any thoughts y'all have re: feasibility, weather concerns, etc.! We are not experienced backpackers but we are active and do enjoy hiking. If carrying our gear to Cloud's Rest might be too much for newbie's where could we camp night two?

Thank you,
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:49 am

Re: 1st Time / Backcountry Itinerary / June 2017

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:03 pm

I hope you realize how much driving you'll end up doing between Yosemite and SEKI. More than most people coming from out of state recognize.... And unlike Yosemite the best parts of SEKI are seen by walking rather than driving. Many people drive through, see a few trees, and don't get to do much else.

You'll go see Bodie and Mono Lake after you head to Yosemite, actually, since those are on the other side of Tioga Pass. IF there is not enough snow to close the pass at the time, which is likely - it usually opens in May unless there are late snowstorms, which is possible.

You're going to need THREE permits if you do it as planned, and that will be tough to manage. Those are the three toughest trail heads to get permits for. The Pohono isn't a loop and the camping is at Bridalveil Creek -- can't camp at Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, or Taft. You cannot leave the trail and drive around, and keep backpacking on the same permit. You enter the back country and once you leave it, the permit's done. And no single permit is going to cover those three trail heads unless you tie the itinerary into a single hike.

I suggest a single permit from Cathedral, hiking up to Clouds Rest and down toward Little Yosemite Valley then across the Merced at Nevada Falls to the Panorama trail, staying the night in the Ilillouette drainage a couple miles east of the trail along the creek (only legal camping in that area before Glacier Point) then up to Glacier Point to catch the bus down to the valley floor. You can park there in trailhead parking and take a bus to Tuolumne Meadows if you can get the scheduling right.

That may be too much -- in fact, you don't say anything about whether you frequently hike at higher elevations which is frequently an issue as well as newbies who overestimate their abilities and bite off more than they can chew in general. If you don't backpack or hike, it very well might be better to spend the honeymoon not suffering long miles on the trails with the hordes of mosquitoes (if the snow is melting apace) or wallowing in suncupped crusty snow that turns to mush, trying to find the trail (happens in decent snow years) -- a nice room in Yosemite valley might just be a nicer option for you with all the day hiking you can do from there. Mariposa Grove will be open by then as well so you can go see some sequoias without driving all the way to Fresno and back up into the mountains.

I understand you're trying to see a bunch of stuff -- but you'd be better off choosing a park and staying there, rather than hustling around to all these different, far apart destinations. It's not as simple as you think -- just getting to Tioga Pass will take you 4-5 hours, much more if there is traffic in the bay area and RV traffic on the pass (there will be!!!! It can take hours in stop and go traffic on the freeways, even if there are no accidents halting things totally), and the Lee Vining/Mammoth area is very, very busy in summer. And then if you drive from Yosemite to Fresno via 140/49/41 or 41 from the valley to the south entrance, that's another couple of hours, followed by a couple more getting to the Sequoia/Kings Canyon gate, and then you choose a direction and drive for another hour, backtrack that drive time and go for another hour to the other park.... Just pick one. Do yourself a huge favor.
Posts: 1811
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 6:57 pm
Location: Central Valley California

Re: 1st Time / Backcountry Itinerary / June 2017

Postby Phil » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:00 pm

AT's advice is solid. You're trying to be extremely ambitious in your itinerary. Not just in the overall scheme of things, but within Yosemite itself. Narrow it down. See everything as a series of dayhikes, and stay at one of the lodges or hotels. Also, with the reservation system you're going into in January, there's a very good chance that you'll be disappointed unless you're both lucky and extremely diligent- it's a chaotic free-for-all with lots of fierce competition.

If you absolutely must backpack, as AT mentions, not only are you going to need multiple permits if you want to break the trip down, there's no way to pull off the route you're considering in the time you have. Your best bet is to go ahead and enter at Cathedral Lakes, hike that portion of the JMT, then exit in the Valley. That would be about a 3-night, 4-day hike for most people, especially people new to backpacking and in terms of the best camping opportunities. The alternative is to do short in-and-out overnighters, which is what I would recommend if the permits can be had.

Weather and conditions in late June are still variables that are almost impossible to plan for this early. Heavy mosquitoes are definitely the norm at most elevations.
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:02 am
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Re: 1st Time / Backcountry Itinerary / June 2017

Postby balzaccom » Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:36 pm

I'd add one more thought. If you DO get a permit for Cathedral Lakes to CLouds Rest...camping somewhere along that trail,. you will still need a place to car camp on the nights that you are not backpacking. That's where you need to camp at the backpacker's campground on the date either side of your permit. You get one night before, and one night after your backpacking permit to camp in the backpackers' campgrouds.

So aim your permit at the middle of your stay--otherwise you may not have a place to sleep in Yosemite when you want to day hike some of those places.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
Posts: 1271
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:51 am
Location: Napa CA

Return to Yosemite Hiking & Backpacking

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests