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[Yosemite]

Planning a backpacking trip, lots of questions

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

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Planning a backpacking trip, lots of questions

Postby ecables » Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:00 pm

So I am planning a backpacking trip (August 20th -> August 24th) to Yosemite (duh), and have just begun my research on what trails/destinations the trip will entail.

As I'm sure most of you can relate, it is a bit overwhelming. So many trails, so many destinations, and so many logistics. I've started browsing through threads here, but feel like I don't have the necessary reference material to make sense out of all the trails and points of interest that are mentioned. Are there any good PDFs/maps available specific to backpacking in Yosemite?

Another question I have is regarding the best choice for our limited time frame. Originally I had predicted we would find a single ~4 day loop, but after reading posts it seems that it might be best to hop around between different trail heads. What is the general consensus?

On top of everything, I'm a little confused on where backpackers are actually allowed to setup camp while on a trail. Can we setup camp anywhere, or do we need to stop in defined areas?

The number of people in my group is 4, and we are all young and fit, so I'm not too worried about difficult hikes, as long as the destination is worth the trip. I'd like to get in as many lakes / waterfalls / scenic views as possible, while not having to hop back in the car every day.

Thanks in advance!
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Postby bill-e-g » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:08 pm

I understand you being overwhelmed. It is a huge park... It's taken me nearly 10 years to hike all the trails in the park.
As for maps you should pick up the National Geographic Yosemite Trails Illustrated Map (#206). This is he one you will see at the Wilderness Center. It has trail mileage so you can gauge your destinations.
I hike alot and 15 miles is alot in 1 day. So don't plan more than that.
You want some time to do some exporling where you camp.
You can camp almost anywhere in Yosemite. It is true wilderness camping. The Wilderness Ranger will go over the rules with you when
you get the permit.
As far as the Route you take it depends on if you want to do a loop or
can do some sort of shuttle. Permits can be an issue but at least
you are leaving Wed instead of Fri-Sat. You may have to burn a day
just to get a permit so you should have a couple of routes in mind.
My suggestion is a 30 mile loop starting from Tenaya (Sunrise Trailhead).
Head over Clouds Rest and down to Sunrise Creek. Camp there.
Get up early next morning and climb Half Dome. Back Down... go down
to Little Yose and then up towards Lake Merced. Maybe go check out
Lake Merced (there are camping restrictions there and from LittleYose to Moraine Dome). then go up Echo Creek. back north. Defin go check out
Echo Lake. Echo Peaks and Mathes Crest is incredible.
Then back towards Sunrise HSC. and to Sunrise Lakes and back to car.
This is approx 30 miles. Maybe you could do it in 3 days if you needed to.
Regardless, as I like to say... there is not a bad hike in Yosemite.
Hope this helps.
Again, have a number of options / ideas because getting a permit may
frustrate you if you have not done it before.
(you need to get there when it opens ... even then there may not be
much available since you can get a permit for the next day)
Check out the wilderness site... nps.gov/yose/wilderness
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Postby ecables » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:49 am

Thanks so much for your reply, it was very informative.

One question about the "Sunrise Trailhead". I was not able to find that on the reservation or availability listings for trailheads. I did see the following, though:

- "Sunrise Lakes"
- "Happy Isles-Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass through"

Since you mentioned Merced Lake, does that mean we'd start from the Happy Isles trail head?
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Postby ecables » Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:40 am

I think I found my answer at the NPS trailhead link for Yosemite:

Why isn't the Tenaya Lake trailhead listed?
There are two trails that leave from Tenaya Lake, one that leads to the north and one to the south.

* To hike north to Murphy Creek and Poly Dome Lakes: Murphy Creek
* To hike south to Clouds Rest, Sunrise Lakes, or Sunrise High Sierra Camp: Sunrise Lakes

Note: The Olmsted Point trailhead does not provide access to the Clouds Rest area.


So based on your itinerary, we'd head out from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead?
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Postby bill-e-g » Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:21 pm

Yes, you would start and end at Tenaya Lake. The Sunrise Lakes trailhead.
Clouds Rest is nearly 10,000 ft. So if you hike Clouds Rest from the valley it is 6000ft. If you hike from Tenaya it is 2000ft.

Since I think you have never been bping in Yosemite pretty much any
loop will be really nice and I'm sure you will enjoy it.
The reason behind that suggestion is because of the number of Domes
that you will see and you get to climb Half Dome and Clouds.
You won't go by a huge number of Lakes though.
The mention of Merced Lake was just because it's nice and it's only
approx. 1.5 miles from Echo Creek. You can camp on granite or
near the river before you get to Lake Merced but not once you reach it.
Another suggestion along the lines of Echo Lake is to xcountry all the
way from the trail to Echo Lake and then up to Cathedral Pass.
You could go down to upper Cathedral Lake and camp and then you get
to see Cathedral Peak too. I have no idea how comfortable you are
with xcountry travel though.
From there you'd go back south to Sunrise HSC and over to Sunrise Lakes and out.
That whole trek is 42 miles.
Anyway, this is your trip. Have fun planning!
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Postby ecables » Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:44 pm

I think the first step I need to take is to go and get the map you recommended. Do you think I could pick it up at a local REI or Adventure16 shop, or would I need to order it online?
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Postby bill-e-g » Wed Jun 25, 2008 1:59 pm

You local REI will carry it.
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Postby john » Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:30 pm

Just another bit of important info for you reguarding camping.

You cannot have a campfire over 9600 feet.

Keep this in mind as you plan your overnights...unless you can tolerate not having a campfire
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Postby ecables » Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:06 pm

So I got the recommended map at my local REI, and started researching different loops, and came across one that looks good -- the Buena Vista Loop.

There are a few trail heads that are available, giving us some slack in online/1st come reservations should one of the trail heads be booked.

- Bridalveil Campground
- Ostrander (I think)
- Mono Meadow

The loop looks to be about 30 miles, and we're planning on taking it counter clockwise, averaging 5-7 miles per day (5 days total).

Has anyone done this loop?
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Postby ecables » Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:09 pm

john wrote:Just another bit of important info for you reguarding camping.

You cannot have a campfire over 9600 feet.

Keep this in mind as you plan your overnights...unless you can tolerate not having a campfire

Thanks, I'm aware. I do want campfires, and the loop I'm looking at does not exceed 9600'.

Do campfires need to be in pre-made/existing rings, or can new rings be made if need be?
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Postby Grzldvt » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:28 am

ecables wrote:So I got the recommended map at my local REI, and started researching different loops, and came across one that looks good -- the Buena Vista Loop.

There are a few trail heads that are available, giving us some slack in online/1st come reservations should one of the trail heads be booked.

- Bridalveil Campground
- Ostrander (I think)
- Mono Meadow

The loop looks to be about 30 miles, and we're planning on taking it counter clockwise, averaging 5-7 miles per day (5 days total).

Has anyone done this loop?

I have and I would pass on it. It does involve some cross country out of Ostrander. You are hiking in a viewless forested hole. Not a trip I will ever do again.
Take a look at
- Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley
- Little Yosemite Valley to Washburn Lake
- Washburn lake to Red Devil Lake
- Red Devil Lake over Red Peak Pass down Illiloutte Canyon
- Illiloutte Canyon to Glacier Point
or better yet do it in reverse. Illiloutte Canyon is a bit of a forested hole and all the really decent scenery is along the Merced River canyon.
your mileage will be more along the lines of 8-9 miles a day, but the scenery will be incredibly tough to beat.
Another option
- Head up to Vogelsang via Rafferty Creek out of Toulumne.
PM Me for an awesome campsite near Evelyn Lake
- Spend a day at Vogelsang day hiking over Vogelsang pass, etc, explore the area.
- Pack up the next day, and head down Lyell Canyon
- Camp at the head of the canyon and day hike to the top of Donahue Pass.
- The next day hike back out to Toulumne Meadows

I can come up with more, if you want.
Fires should be in existing fire rings.

Please follow that, I have spent many volunteer hours cleaning up and hiding camp fire rings that should have never existed.
Seeing as how you are starting on a Wednesday I doubt you will have permit problems. I have never had any permit issues doing a spontaneous trip during the week.
Steve
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Postby bill-e-g » Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:41 am

DO NOT BUILD NEW FIRERINGS.
And seriously consider not having a fire at all. (Leave no trace).
You would not believe the number of firerings in Yosemite.
I do alot of offtrail and always come across some "nowhere"... and shake my head...

Anyway, Beuna Vista IS nice... but I pretty much gave you my best recommendation... You go by a huge number of domes and geo
features.
(as for BV Loop Ostrander is nice, Buena Vista Lake is really nice, as is Royal Arch.. but, yes you will be in the "forest" for awhile... but "hole"... cmon)
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Postby bill-e-g » Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:47 am

Forgot to mention... I don't recommend Rafferty just for the fact it is
a main thurofare (spelling?) for the High Sierra Camps... and tends to
have an inordinate amount of Horse Crap, is wide, doesn't feel like
wilderness with all the people, etc.... hmm... I'd call IT a hole..
(another reason I did not include it in my recommendation)
hahaha
After Vogelsang HSC that issue seems to disappear though.
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Postby BadPepsi » Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:12 am

I second the suggestions for more scenic trips. If you've already got your permit for Buena Vista, hold onto it. That way, you can stay in the backpacker's campground the night before your trip, and then simply be in line at the wilderness permit office by 7am to change your trailhead to something more spectacular.

As for bill-e-g's comment on the Rafferty "highway", I agree, and therefore I suggest reversing the loop: start at Lyell Canyon and exit at Rafferty. The Ireland/Evelyn lakes area is wonderful (complete with wide, sandy beach at Evelyn, which will be wonderful in late August), and the area feels remote even though you are only a mile or two from the Vogelsang HSC. The next day, when you hike out past the HSC and down Rafferty, you can fly down the trail and past the crowds relatively quickly.

-BadPepsi
________
Zx14 Vs Hayabusa
Last edited by BadPepsi on Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Grzldvt » Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:39 am

If they go out of Mono Meadow or Ostrander, they will have to drop down into Illiloutte Canyon, which is a deep forested hole until they climb back out. I went from Ostrander cross country down to the Mono Meadows trail and we saw nothing but thick brush and heavy trees until we climbed halfway out to the trailhead. It's ugly :D
If you do Vogelsang, you can go up and down Lyell, but heading up Rafferty first and gets the crappy junk out of the way and is an easier climb. Going down from Vogelsang to Lyell has the scenery out in front of you, not behind you, and going up to Vogelsang from Lyell is a bit tougher.
I have the distinct impression he is looking for easier trails, hence my recommendation.
Either way works, I just prefer to hit the big scenery at the end of the hike versus the beginning.
Next year we are planning the Red Peak Pass trip and going cross country out of Ottaway Lakes, across the BV crest, to Ostrander and out to avoid Illiloutte Canyon. It was that bad.
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