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[Yosemite]

Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

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

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Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:00 am

So you want to go because you have a permit. Some food for thought... How much do you enjoy water? Mosquitoes?

Stream crossings while the deep snow melts, even in streams that are not identified as "the usual difficult spots" will be dangerous and potentially deadly. Plenty of thru hikers have figured that out and taken alternate road-walking routes that aren't going to kill them or steal their gear when they fall in and have to ditch it.

You'll be wading streams in boots because flimsy flip flops, sandals, etc are dangerous in water like this -- rushing, white water you can't see the bottom in, and boulders and sticks lurk waiting to hurt unprotected feet. Your feet will be numb because it's snowmelt --- ICY COLD and stealing warmth from you every second you're in it. Save flimsy shoes for camp. Keep your boots on.

Meadows and trails will be flooded. If you like walking in a foot of water for miles, squish squish squish, this is a great time to hike. No, Goretex won't save you. It'll compound the issue -- Goretex does great at keeping water INSIDE your shoe/boot, and you'll have wet feet for the duration.

Or wait until September. The mosquitoes will be done sucking your blood by then, too. All that standing water in meadows is a mosquito factory. Temps have risen so there will be eggs laid and while they lay eggs, the female mosquito wants your blood, and everyone else's, and the buzzing clouds will descend on you any time of day at their peak -- and it will be progressive, they'll be out at different elevations in waves, one week at 8k, the next at 9.... No escaping them.

Long lasting banks of snow will be getting progressively thinner -- but you won't know it until you fall through that four inches of crust and plunge into ponds of ice water. Snow melts out from the bottom first.

Sure, if you're smart and turn back at the dangerous stream crossing, like everyone says, you're fine. But this is also about your vacation time. How much comfort level do you have with these conditions? If you are a fair-weather hiker, perhaps you would rather go hike in the redwoods on the coast and hike unencumbered by ice water and protracted wading through mud and standing water. And gnats. Lots and lots of gnats who don't give a flip about how much DEET you have on -- the only thing DEET repels is mosquitos, sometimes ticks -- though I've watched a tick walk over DEET treated skin, I rely on Permethrin treated clothing for that....

Do you enjoy this stuff? I'm going out anyway, but it's not for everyone.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:31 am

It really does all boil down to what your expectations and desires are in having a good time. Some thrive on adverse conditions, and more importantly, know how to deal with them. Some can get around water hazards, snow and other obstacles, or at least have the sense to know when they're outside their element and get back into their comfort zone, but most either can't or don't really want to. You can avoid it all with common sense or waiting until later in the season, but I'll tell you from experience what the single biggest things are, even with all the 100% DEET you can carry or "waterproof" gear you can buy, you can never escape the absolutely mind-numbing swarms of mosquitoes or the misery of being soaked and staying soaked. For those that have the foresight and wisdom to take their own inventories and know, without a doubt, where in the spectrum they fall, this is the year to do it with no delusional BS at all, for not only the sake of safety and survival, but in having the best possible chances of actually enjoying themselves.

You have a permit? Yeah, so? Awesome, you're a winner. You have permission to exercise that option, not a mandate for suffering. What you do with it is up to you.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:30 am

Trying this again with new links!

Image



M was feeling a bit under the weather this past weekend, so we tabled plans to go backpacking. Instead, we found a nice local trail in the Stanislaus Forest below Kennedy Meadows, and took off on a day hike. It was warm (it was hot everywhere else, but we were up about 7,000 feet, so it was a bit cooler) the sky was blue, and the scenery was a treat.

we hiked up a few miles, had lunch, and then wandered around in the forest a bit before we headed back to the car. On the way, we were accompanied by at least a score of swallowtail butterflies. We even got one to sit still enough to get a good photo:

Image

And once back at the car, we couldn't resist going up to Sonora Pass to see exactly how much snow is up there.

Image

A lot. This is about 9,000 feet, and you can see that snow covers just about everything but the most southerly facing slopes. People were snowboarding and snowmobiling along the road here. That should give you some idea of what kinds of conditions you'll find if you start hiking anytime soon...

Image

And by the way, this is the Stanislaus River at full flood stage. Amazing. Yes, that is solid whitewater.
Last edited by balzaccom on Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:53 pm

Nuts. try this for the photos: https://goo.gl/photos/8KnD4atMcLravz827
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:49 am

Sounds like we're gonna have a great time? :?
We are hiking in at glacier point at the first of July. Planning to do 6 nights with half dome, clouds rest, and tuolumne meadows, exiting at Yosemite falls. I am definitely concerned reading about all the snow and mosquitos. I'm wondering if I should bring my winter zero degree bag? I think we'll carry yak tracks too. My husband did most of this trail 2 years ago during a drought, so he isn't aware of any stream crossings.
The bug spray I plan to bring is natrapel which has picardin, not deet. Is that a mistake? I purchased it because I read deet can melt equipment.
We aren't new to backpacking, but it sounds like this will be a very different experience than what we had last year on the Teton Crest trail.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:52 am

You think it will be cold - exactly the opposite. It is HOT. HOT HOTHOTHOTHOT. And the snow is melting fast and hard, see the white water in the pictures? Hiking in 70F weather is HARD, and it's in the 80s right now up at 9000+ feet.

I'm taking it easy - no hard climbs, no long days. Because it is HOT and you do not survive heat stroke in the wilderness.

30% DEET does the trick fine, and is much less likely to melt your stuff than 100%. Long loose sleeves, a head net, and long pants do the rest. Your largest risk, other than heat stroke, is the water -- the small streams are dangerous, the rivers and the problem spots are suicide.

Mariposa, a town near Yosemite, between 5-7000 feet, is setting up cooling centers. We're roasting. I went out overnight last weekend in the sequoias and was roasting with the 25F quilt I use. Don't even think about a 0 degree. Think about how much water you'll need to drink, how many rest stops in the shade you'll need to take, and UGH just the thought of being up in open granite right now gives me the shakes -- talk about sunburn and feeling like the world turned into a sauna...
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:59 am

Headnets are so cheap, so easy to find, and so effectively.

Just remember that you have one on when you are eating your oatmeal...
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:00 am

Thanks for the response, I appreciate any feedback. I saw where it's been hot during the day, but thought it was going to be in the 30s and 40s at night, so wasn't sure if I'd want the summer or winter bag. Any idea if we can get around the trails at the west side of tuolomne meadows without going through water? My husband doesn't remember anything but ponds in that area, but I'm wondering this year if the whole area will be flooded. I'm not interested in crossing any water unless there is a bridge.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:02 am

Everything will be flooded. I'm going to be hauling around kayak socks for a while. You'll be wading a lot in meadows - the stream crossings you'll be lucky to stay upright...

You'll get used to being wet.

At night it's running 40-50F - yuck. Give me 30 anytime..
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Pianogirl » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:07 am

Looking at the map, I didn't think we had any stream crossings, except for at least one that I know has a bridge. Eeek!
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:08 am

You'll run into some creeks that are not on the map. There's not likely to be any random runoff that's dangerous to cross.

Standing water happens, in the trails and meadows, where there are no creeks -- in a standard snow year with average snowpack there are places famous for that. This year is wholly different and ponds are going to be everywhere.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:22 am

DEET works, but it is brutal on plastics and soft tissues around eyes nose and mouth. I've got a bear can that melted from a leaking spray bottle, trashed sunglasses, cookware, some clothing...and here at home, I usually spend a lot of time outside on my porch (including right now) and I can't read the screen on one of my cordless phones anymore, as well as my laptop being all irreparably pitted. Honestly, I'm sick of how much collateral damage DEET does.

In the field, it works to prevent actual bites, but the huge factor is psychological as the swarms are relentless and thick no matter what you do. Headnets, long clothing and keeping moving help, but there are times of the year and places where there's no respite unless it's raining, windy, cold, or you just retreat to the tent. This will be one of those years, and those places are going to be everywhere there isn't snow for quite some time to come.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:27 am

Oh, yes, there has been a time when we turned around because of the mossies -- we got to the lake at 10k, no snow around, just bogs and lovely clouds of mosquitos in the middle of the day. Spray on the deet and they would land on it! Buzzing in the ears, flying up your nose - the only place to go was in the lake, and when you come up for air, there they were again. We sat playing cards in the mesh inner of the tent -- it was frikkin' HOT up there, too -- and realized that if it was that bad at 3 pm, dusk would be indescribably epic. So we hiked back down - dropped a couple thousand feet of elevation. And the hordes went away.

I had a head net - it somehow fell off the pack before we got up there. Found it in the trail as we returned to the car. A bear had torn it up a little. Probably liked the smell of the deet.

Mossies will be following the melt and oh, it will be interesting...
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:32 am

Oh, and did anybody mention that it's HOT, as in HOT, as in REALLY HOT, UGLY HOT?

I'm north in Sonoma County. Sunday it was 111, yesterday was 105, today we'll hit 115. If this heat wave persists, leave half your gear at home, because you'll need to offset the weight of all the water you're going to need to carry to not stroke out and die. And I'm only kind of kidding. Don't underestimate how hot it can get in some places on that route and what it's going to do to you.
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Re: Backpacking in June-July 2017 - how it will be

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:37 am

Just the thought of going up granite steps (thousands of those in Yosemite) in the open sun ... the Panorama trail in the midday heat... OH BOY. Everyone's going to be so tempted to get in that ice water racing by.

I've stopped and given water and trail mix to sad people collapsed, red faced, etc on Yosemite trails before -- SAR is gonna be sooooooo busy....
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