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1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

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1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby Gabili23 » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:06 am

Hello everybody,
I am planning a first time trip at the beginning of September and started to do some research about Yosemite.
So I understand that I’ need to apply for a wilderness permit. I also saw that I will have to put a trailhead and exit. For this reason I would highly appreciate your recommendations and help.
We are 3 ladies, fit and used to hiking. But this will be the first time backpacking in the wilderness. From what I read and heard the trailheads in the Tuolumne Meadows sound interesting. Maybe Lyell Canyon, Cathedral Lakes or Sunrise Lakes.
- I don’t understand how to decide and find out which exit I would need to put on the wilderness permit application. Makes me feel stupid, sorry for this rookie question.
- Which of these would you recommend for a moderate 2 or 3 nighter.
- I read that one can hike from Tuolumne Meadows to LYV. Which option would be fairly moderate. And is it possible to then spend the 2nd night in LYV. Which trailhead and exit would I need to put for this?
- I saw that some of the posts in this forum say, that a first- timer should reall spend time in Yosemity Valley. What could be a fairly moderate option from the valley?
Here is my personal catch and please don’t laugh: I have vertigo and drops are a challenge for me. I work on it but some things I cannot do. No Half Dome for me ever :shock:
Thank you all so much for your help. This is a great resource and I am grateful for it.
Gabi.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby WanderingJim » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:57 am

What's the longest you've backpacked before? You shouldn't have your first backpacking trip in the Yosemite Wilderness. At the very least, an overnighter or two locally to test your gear out. Where do you live?

You'll need a bear canister for your food.

- Which of these would you recommend for a moderate 2 or 3 nighter.
Sunrise Lake or Cathedral Lakes to the Valley via Happy Isles exit would probably be good. Little Yosemite is good for camping, but personally I prefer to find more isolated campsites when I backpack.

- I don’t understand how to decide and find out which exit I would need to put on the wilderness permit application. Makes me feel stupid, sorry for this rookie question.
It all depends on where you want to end up. The entry trailhead is the one that will be affected by quotas, the exit trailhead is usually just up to you and where you want to exit. You can even leave from a different trailhead if your wanderings take you elsewhere. On your application, the exit trailhead has to be somewhere logical to your intended route. Don't exit at Hetch Hechy if you're going south from TM.

- I saw that some of the posts in this forum say, that a first- timer should really spend time in Yosemite Valley. What could be a fairly moderate option from the valley?
If you've never been in Yosemite, yes you should spend a couple days playing tourist and see the highlights in the Valley. A couple days doing day hikes from Tuolumne Meadows is worthwhile too. Hiking wise, you can spend a day hiking around the entire Valley floor. There are day hikes up to the top of Yosemite Falls and Vernal/Nevada Falls. The 4 mile trail (closer to 5 miles) takes you up to Glacier Point the hard way (but more enjoyable way).

-Here is my personal catch and please don’t laugh: I have vertigo and drops are a challenge for me. I work on it but some things I cannot do. No Half Dome for me ever
You'll have to be careful around a lot of areas in Yosemite then. :) Depending on your level of vertigo, Glacier Point, Clouds Rest, and the edge of the top of Yosemite Falls could be a challenge. The Mist Trail has some steep areas that might be hard to stomach (you can always go down the John Muir Trail, which isn't as steep or wet as the Mist Trail). But as long as you don't get too close to the edges, there's usually no safety issues.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:03 pm

I am planning a first time trip at the beginning of September and started to do some research about Yosemite.
Wise choice on timing as the mosquitoes are done.
So I understand that I’ need to apply for a wilderness permit. I also saw that I will have to put a trailhead and exit. For this reason I would highly appreciate your recommendations and help.
Yes, a wilderness permit is absolutely required if staying overnight in the Yosemite wilderness. There are strict quotas as to how many backpackers are allowed to enter each trail head (TH) per day. You may want to "reserve" a permit (always good to do for a larger party) - you should apply ASAP as the most desired TH quotas do fill up.
60% of all the ( TH quota) wilderness permits are designated "reserved"...the other 40% are "next day only"...on the latter you get in line at the permit office in Tuolumne Meadows - (TM) - (or at any of the Yosemite permit offices) before 11:00 AM and hope. Anyway, as to the entry TH, to be legit, your number (or less) of hikers must be there/enter at the TH listed, on the exact day it says... your backpacking "Entry Date".

You do need a bear canister...do not buy as you can easily rent and return them at any permit office (you are there anyway) for $5 per trip.

As to what exit - most that hike down from Cathedral or Sunrise THs to LYV to the Valley, put down Happy Isles (HI). However, once you legally enter at the designated TH on the exact date it says on the permit, you can change your mind on trail (many often do) and then go almost anywhere Yosemite... if.
As to number of days...how many nights are you really intending to be out? Again, this is always subject to trail change too. I always add a day. Look at a Yosemite TOPO.

My suggestion...Try for a reserved permit out of Tuolumne...the Valley is a zoo and too hot in September. If successful, arrive in the Valley, pick up your reserved permit/bear can, park your car there at Curry, and take 5:00 PM Yarts to TM. Stay over 1st night TM backpacker and do Cathedral or Sunrise THs and ~25 miles back down to your car.
Or, if no reserved permit...forget the Valley. Drive straight to TM, overnight there (TM backpacker) and do one of many available out-and-back adventures. Ask the permit ranger what's available.

BTW, my summers working cashier up at the TM store...maybe we can help if needed...stop by and say hi?
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby Gabili23 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:04 am

Hello and thanks a lot for your answer.
I am currently in Germany and have done 2x 100 mile walks in Spain and Portugal. Not very difficult just long. We walked an average of 15-20 miles a day on those trips.
In March I will move to El Paso, Texas and plan on doing some backpacking trials in Texas & New Mexico before September.

[/quote]
Sunrise Lake or Cathedral Lakes to the Valley via Happy Isles exit would probably be good. Little Yosemite is good for camping, but personally I prefer to find more isolated campsites when I backpack.

Which of those 2 TH is more likely to fill up faster for the permit? I had them high on my list and wanted to watch out for the 1st day I can apply for the permit. How many nights would you take for these before getting to LYV? Would 2 be reasonable? Do they contain big challenges with regard to vertigo?

[/quote]
If you've never been in Yosemite, yes you should spend a couple days playing tourist and see the highlights in the Valley. A couple days doing day hikes from Tuolumne Meadows is worthwhile too. Hiking wise, you can spend a day hiking around the entire Valley floor. There are day hikes up to the top of Yosemite Falls and Vernal/Nevada Falls. The 4 mile trail (closer to 5 miles) takes you up to Glacier Point the hard way (but more enjoyable way).

If I get a permit for a TH would it actually be possible to arrive 2 days earlier and do 1 or 2 day hikes from Tuolumne Meadows? Is it possible to stay there before starting the backpacking walk to LYV?
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby Gabili23 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:12 am

markskor wrote:I am planning a first time trip at the beginning of September and started to do some research about Yosemite.
Wise choice on timing as the mosquitoes are done.
So I understand that I’ need to apply for a wilderness permit. I also saw that I will have to put a trailhead and exit. For this reason I would highly appreciate your recommendations and help.
Yes, a wilderness permit is absolutely required if staying overnight in the Yosemite wilderness. There are strict quotas as to how many backpackers are allowed to enter each trail head (TH) per day. You may want to "reserve" a permit (always good to do for a larger party) - you should apply ASAP as the most desired TH quotas do fill up.
60% of all the ( TH quota) wilderness permits are designated "reserved"...the other 40% are "next day only"...on the latter you get in line at the permit office in Tuolumne Meadows - (TM) - (or at any of the Yosemite permit offices) before 11:00 AM and hope. Anyway, as to the entry TH, to be legit, your number (or less) of hikers must be there/enter at the TH listed, on the exact day it says... your backpacking "Entry Date".

You do need a bear canister...do not buy as you can easily rent and return them at any permit office (you are there anyway) for $5 per trip.

As to what exit - most that hike down from Cathedral or Sunrise THs to LYV to the Valley, put down Happy Isles (HI). However, once you legally enter at the designated TH on the exact date it says on the permit, you can change your mind on trail (many often do) and then go almost anywhere Yosemite... if.
As to number of days...how many nights are you really intending to be out? Again, this is always subject to trail change too. I always add a day. Look at a Yosemite TOPO.

My suggestion...Try for a reserved permit out of Tuolumne...the Valley is a zoo and too hot in September. If successful, arrive in the Valley, pick up your reserved permit/bear can, park your car there at Curry, and take 5:00 PM Yarts to TM. Stay over 1st night TM backpacker and do Cathedral or Sunrise THs and ~25 miles back down to your car.
Or, if no reserved permit...forget the Valley. Drive straight to TM, overnight there (TM backpacker) and do one of many available out-and-back adventures. Ask the permit ranger what's available.

BTW, my summers working cashier up at the TM store...maybe we can help if needed...stop by and say hi?
mark


Hi Mark,
Appreciate your taking time to answer.
I will definitely come and say hi once I make it to TM.
Would I need to reserve for the 1st night at the TM backpacker? It sounds like a great idea.
I am not sure I understand the “out-and-back adventures” option :oops:
Do you mean day hikes where I come back to TM every night? If so, what would be good options to spend the night without having to leave the park?
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby markskor » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:06 am

In Yosemite's frontcountry, (IE - on roads) there are a few "backpacker only" designated camping sites which are set up as a "first night before a trip or one night after a hike", These are "no reservation needed" to stay over here...no cars are allowed (can park close by)...never fill up/ always room for anyone...but they do require a wilderness permit to stay here legally. In the Valley backpack camp, (behind the stables), the rangers come around daily to check permits - in TM not so much. They are designated as one night only. You just walk in, self register there on site, ($6 pp a night) and bag a stretch of open ground - set up camp. They are a safe place to leave your gear set up for a day and you can go see the area....has large bear food lockers. They can get a bit crowded. These are specifically designed for the convenience of those intending on going out (or just returning from) overnight Yosemite backpacking trips. The one in TM is just a little hike behind the store.
There is also a main car campground in TM, also behind the store, 1/2 reservable (half first come), cars allowed, where you can say over for a week - ~$ 20 a night. These are the ones where you can go out for day hikes and return back to your camp/ car.

As for the "out and back" hikes mentioned - There are numerous hikes/ THs close by - May Lake, Glen Aulin, Young Lakes, 10 Lakes, Lyell Canyon, 20 Lakes Basin, Sunrise, Cathedral Lakes, etc where after you get a permit - you can hike in a few (4) miles - stay overnight or two, and return on a loop or the same trail afterwards...thus Out and back.
One again, look at a TOPO map...ask the permit ranger when there for info. They are there to help.

Send me a PM and will be glad to tell you a few more Yosemite secrets as how to stay over - under the radar.
Last edited by markskor on Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:10 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby balzaccom » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:01 pm

Markskor is giving great advice. You can also check our website for more ideas and suggested hikes:. Backpackthesierra.com
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby Gabili23 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:07 pm

markskor wrote:In Yosemite's frontcountry, (IE - on roads) there are a few "backpacker only" designated camping sites which are set up as a "first night before a trip or one night after a hike", These are "no reservation needed" to stay over here...no cars are allowed (can park close by)...never fill up/ always room for anyone...but they do require a wilderness permit to stay here legally. In the Valley backpack camp, (behind the stables), the rangers come around daily to check permits - in TM not so much. They are designated as one night only. You just walk in, self register there on site, ($6 pp a night) and bag a stretch of open ground - set up camp. They are a safe place to leave your gear set up for a day and you can go see the area....has large bear food lockers. They can get a bit crowded. These are specifically designed for the convenience of those intending on going out (or just returning from) overnight Yosemite backpacking trips. The one in TM is just a little hike behind the store.
There is also a main car campground in TM, also behind the store, 1/2 reservable (half first come), cars allowed, where you can say over for a week - ~$ 20 a night. These are the ones where you can go out for day hikes and return back to your camp/ car.

As for the "out and back" hikes mentioned - There are numerous hikes/ THs close by - May Lake, Glen Aulin, Young Lakes, 10 Lakes, Lyell Canyon, 20 Lakes Basin, Sunrise, Cathedral Lakes, etc where after you get a permit - you can hike in a few (4) miles - stay overnight or two, and return on a loop or the same trail afterwards...thus Out and back.
One again, look at a TOPO map...ask the permit ranger when there for info. They are there to help.

Send me a PM and will be glad to tell you a few more Yosemite secrets as how to stay over - under the radar.


Hi Mark, great recommendations!
Thank you so much. I was looking at open slots for Lyell Canyon, Cathedral Lakes and Sunrise. The idea being to go in, camp out 1-2 nights and return the same trail. Like you recommended. I noticed that there are permits available at the beginning of June. It looks like the TM camp ground is still closed at that time. Would you recommend against early June (3-6)? Will the store in TM be open already?
Greetings,
Gabi.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby Gabili23 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:09 pm

balzaccom wrote:Markskor is giving great advice. You can also check our website for more ideas and suggested hikes:. Backpackthesierra.com


This is a great website!
I definitely will have a closer look at some of your recommended hikes. I love the section about lakes.
Thank you.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:18 pm

Gabili23 wrote: I noticed that there are permits available at the beginning of June. It looks like the TM camp ground is still closed at that time. Would you recommend against early June (3-6)? Will the store in TM be open already?
Greetings,
Gabi.

Gabi...You have to understand the subtle nuances of getting wilderness permits for Yosemite.
60% of the (a strict daily quota applies to all trailheads - THs) wilderness permits are designated as reservable. When you look on line at "permits available", what you are seeing are only those remaining "reserved" permit openings. Popular reserved TH slots do fill up fast...you mention that they show there are still a few reserved permits available early June. This is not the whole story however.
The other 40% of permits are designated as "Next Day". Now figure in all the reserved no shows, that means ~50% of the TH permits are readily available every day all summer long. You stand in line and get something good always...for tomorrow...maybe even can start out that very day (no show permits go out at 8:00 AM...can start immediately, next day go out at 11:00.) Other than maybe Sunrise or Donahue Pass (Lyell) - these are crowded and the most oft requested as JMT - even at that there are tons of unused permits available daily for almost everything. Weekends can get a little iffy but week days you just walk up at the permit shack and ask for what you want - BTW, they are free...95% will be wide open still.
As to when TM opens...all depends on the remaining snow conditions from the previous winter... when they can open the road (Tioga) and when they can get the water turned on in TM, both potable and for the toilets. Last year we opened up the store June 2...the year before it was mid July. You never know.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:37 pm

Even if the road opens in time that the trailheads in Tuolumne Meadows are accessible? It snowed several feet in the past week. There is snow falling on the coastal ranges, and more coming down to 2500 feet on Sunday. There are many feet of snow in the Sierra above 9000 feet. Early June will either see 9000+ feet still under snow, or a LOT of standing water creating mosquitoes by the million.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby Gabili23 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:49 pm

AlmostThere wrote:Even if the road opens in time that the trailheads in Tuolumne Meadows are accessible? It snowed several feet in the past week. There is snow falling on the coastal ranges, and more coming down to 2500 feet on Sunday. There are many feet of snow in the Sierra above 9000 feet. Early June will either see 9000+ feet still under snow, or a LOT of standing water creating mosquitoes by the million.


I think I will stick with my original plan and go early September. Thanks for your feedback.
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Re: 1st time backpacking for 3-4 days

Postby balzaccom » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:09 am

That's the best time for backpacking in the Sierra. Plus, there are fewer people and more chance for solitude--and trail permits!
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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