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Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:18 pm
by SapoBravo
Backpacking in Yosemite is a bucket list item of mine and I've signed my family up for a 4-day walk through the backcountry. I need some advice on a few finer points of our trip for sanity sake as well as safety.

Our planned itinerary.
- Sunday, July 23rd 8am, enter Yosemite and drive to Half dome parking lot. Pick up permit, bear canisters and catch the 5pm YARTS to Toulumne Meadow area and stay in backpackers campground.
- Monday, hike up Rafferty Creek to Boothe lake or vicinity. Not sure where the best place to bed down for the night but after reading a bit about the voraciousness of mosquitoes, maybe we should head somewhere drier. Suggestions?
- Tuesday, hike to Merced Lake Backpackers campground via Fletcher Creek. Plenty of downhill. Is any of this trail precarious? How packed does the Merced Backpackers campground get? Are there bear lockers at this campground?
- Wednesday, hike to either just below Moraine Dome the East or to Little Yosemite Valley Campground. Pros/Cons of either? Bear lockers? Crowded?
- Thursday, hike to half dome village via the John Muir Trail not the Mist Trail. Not too crazy about lots of people on a slippery trail.
- Friday, see traditional sights in the valley.
- Saturday, leave in the AM.

So the questions I have are:
1. YARTS - I've noticed that you can prepay for tickets online. Is this necessary? How full does it get? How reliable? Any other options?
2. We plan on eating at the Toulumne Meadows Grill Sunday night. Any good?
3. During the last week in July, how high can I expect the water in Rafferty creek and coming down Fletcher Creek and really all water crossings along the route.
4. If I park my car in the valley and leave for 4 days, I can't keep the food in my car. Are there bear lockers I could place food during our time in the backcountry? Or are all food items doomed to be thrown away that don't go with us?
5. How bad could the mosquitoes be or will flies be more of a problem in late July?

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:17 pm
by AlmostThere
Do you have a permit already reserved? If not, that complicates your life a lot.

Yes, there are bear lockers at the High Sierra Camp backpacker camps, but it won't be open for business, if that matters to you. None of them are going to be open this year.
Do you have a place to stay Friday night? YOu can't stay in the backpacker camp more than one night after your hike.

1. Probably should reserve.
2. If it is open - it may not be, everything is delayed in opening as Tioga Pass is only opening this Thursday to traffic for the first time - it will taste very good.
3. If the snow is still melting you might expect it to be on the high side.
4. There are bear lockers in the parking lot.
5. They will be present and bothersome, possibly insane, as the snow will be melting for a few more weeks and they love all the standing water in meadows that results from that. Flies not so much an issue until you are lower in elevation.

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:45 pm
by Phil
...and camping is prohibited at Boothe Lake. There are a series of tarns (ponds) along that trail (it's called Fletcher Creek Trail). They may still be a bit buggy though. didn't say how old the kids are. It makes a difference.

If not the tarns, get ye to Babcock Lake if everyone is doing okay for the first night. Skip Emeric Lake. If you guys come up short, when you get to the pass, head up to the backpackers' area at Vogelsang. There's water in the lake up there.

A little of the trail down from Vogelsang to Merced Lake is somewhat steep. Not dangerously steep, just that your toes are going to be packing into the fronts of your boots. Makes sure everyone is wearing heavy socks and that their boots are laced up tight. The backpackers' camp at Merced can get crowded. Nobody owns any particular spot (group camping), so wedge in where you can. Yep, lockers.

Don't bother to go down below Moraine Dome to camp for the third night. It'll work, but it's too sandy for my liking. Stay up higher and along the river in the area of the twin footbridges above Bunnell Cascade. Much, much nicer. Be willing to walk around a little to find a good site.And there are some nice ones...better than anything below Moraine. If you can, stay away from LYV. It's not particularly nice, it's crowded, and it's kind of obnoxious at times.

Most backpackers that know don't go down the Mist Trail with full packs. It's narrow, kind of sketchy, crowded, and with limited ability to pass other people comfortably. A little longer, but the JMT portion of that descent is the way to go, especially with kids hauling loads on their backs.

If you have kids, make sure they're aware of the fact that if they go in the water, they die. Also, kids are notorious for being a bit slack in terms of following food storage and handling . No leftovers or dirty dishes left out. And, make sure they check their pockets for food stuff before bed, including wrappers and whatnot.

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:06 pm
by Phil
My last post was...other things.

To answer the questions you only thought covered everything:

Yes, you can pre-buy tickets for YARTS. The buses are full size. Sometimes they get crowded, but there are lots of seats. They're very safe and reliable. Don't be late for the departure time. In fact, be early.

The grill at Tuolumne is fine, typical grilled food...burgers, etc. If you've been out a week, it tastes like something God would eat.

As you know, lots of snow and water this year. Just a couple minor crossings on Rafferty, then everything is bridged. Meadows will probably still be boggy, and Echo Valley below Merced Lake will definitely be messy. Bring lots of DEET...more than you think you'll need, and headnets for everyone. There will, undoubtedly, be times when the mosquitoes will be nothing short of mind-numbingly relentless. You just make do, keep moving, or retreat to the tent.

Yes, no food or trash in the car, or coolers. Not even in the trunk. Even if the bears can't smell it, they know what kinds of things generally hold food, and they'll sometimes break windows just to check out a grocery bag. Yosemite Valley has bear lockers all over the place. Where you park before your hike definitely will have lots of them.

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:05 pm
by SapoBravo
Thanks for the quick reply. This forum is awesome. We already have the permit for the hike as well as reservations in Half Dome village for the two nights following our excursion. To answer the question on kids ages they are 14, 12 and 9. I am a little concerned about my 9 year-old solely because of swift water. He won't be carrying much weight.

The nice thing about mosquitoes is it makes the kids keep hiking. :)

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:12 pm
by Phil
Big water is potentially a problem for anybody that's not paying attention or takes it for granted. But yes, you're going to need to really stress the risks. ....., you die,....., you die...., you die. "Hey Billy, what happens if _________?' Well, Dad, I die. Boom! You've done your job.

SapoBravo wrote:The nice thing about mosquitoes is it makes the kids keep hiking.

Or cry, hate you, need therapy when they're older.

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:20 pm
by AlmostThere
By the way... water does not care how tall you are, how heavy you are, or how careful you are. ... reams.html

If in doubt TUUUURRRRRNNNNNN ARRRRRRROUNDDDDD and do not cross!!!!!!!!!!
More than 20 deaths so far in California due to people underestimating water!!!!!

The park will be there next year, make sure you are.

Re: Family Backpacking Trip

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:22 pm
by AlmostThere
And if you aren't worried about mosquitos, look up West Nile virus.

Also, kids can have serious reactions to bites. ... quito-bite