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[Yosemite]

East Coast Eagle coming to visit

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

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East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby Acheron » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:41 am

I'm in the process of planning a 2 week trip to California from NY in early January with my girlfriend. We both backpack and canoe often, wherever we go.

Part 1:
First time out west for me since I was a teenager, so I would like tips/recommendations for what I can do and what I should bring differently than camping in NY. I have all gear needed for winter backpacking in Canada and summer camping in the Everglades. Just bought a snake bite/scorpion kit and I've always used throw ropes to hang food away from blackbear here. Do I need something more robust?

Part 2: Within the 2 weeks, we'll be spending days in cities and with friends, so we would like to see Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley. Ideally Backcountry camping, but was thinking of car camping for death valley. For 1-3 days for each park with a total of 5/6 days what are some of your recommendations for how long to spend where, which trails would be good for vistas and January camping,? Keeping in mind we'll only have one rental vehicle available so likely needing a shuttle or a looped trail.

Caveat* I like to be away from other hikers, and my gf wants one full day of no hiking somewhere to chill in camp.

Covid19 restrictions pending**
Thanks in advance for your help!
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Re: East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:04 am

Acheron wrote:I'm in the process of planning a 2 week trip to California from NY in early January with my girlfriend. We both backpack and canoe often, wherever we go.

Part 1:
First time out west for me since I was a teenager, so I would like tips/recommendations for what I can do and what I should bring differently than camping in NY. I have all gear needed for winter backpacking in Canada and summer camping in the Everglades. Just bought a snake bite/scorpion kit and I've always used throw ropes to hang food away from blackbear here. Do I need something more robust?

Part 2: Within the 2 weeks, we'll be spending days in cities and with friends, so we would like to see Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley. Ideally Backcountry camping, but was thinking of car camping for death valley. For 1-3 days for each park with a total of 5/6 days what are some of your recommendations for how long to spend where, which trails would be good for vistas and January camping,? Keeping in mind we'll only have one rental vehicle available so likely needing a shuttle or a looped trail.

Caveat* I like to be away from other hikers, and my gf wants one full day of no hiking somewhere to chill in camp.

Covid19 restrictions pending**
Thanks in advance for your help!


sounds like you have some pretty intense drive time in store. Hope you are budgeting a day to drive between parks so you can stop to use the bathroom and eat a meal here and there. You won't be going over Tioga Pass in January, so you'll end up driving all the way south to Tehachapi and then up to Death Valley on 395. That's going to be some miles.

Any vehicle you drive in January into the Sierra will need to carry appropriate chains/cables. Rental companies generally frown on people using those on their cars. You'll want to check with the company.

Backpacking in winter is different, depending on how much snow we get. Some years during the height of the drought it's been minimal. If I based it on the last couple of years, there will be snow. Low elevation routes are less likely to be icy to the point of dangerous. Not sure how the wilderness permits will work - if the online reservations are the same for winter, you'll find all the details available on the websites for how to get permits for backpacking.

Speaking of which, you'll need to spend some time also on the Yosemite and SEKI websites. Food storage in Yosemite year round in the backcountry is a short list of bear canisters - no hanging anywhere, no Ursack, no substitutes, only the canisters on their list of approved containers. SEKI it will depend on where you go but generally I take bear canisters there also, there are no trees that are really good for bear bagging and it's much easier to use the can. SEKI has a wilderness planner pdf that you should read - lots of info about trails, trailheads and so forth. There is also a winter specific page on the website.

No shuttles available. They don't run in winter anyway.

The best maps for the Sierra are the Tom Harrison versions - I believe they also have a Death Valley map. The maps will help you plan.

You will not need snake bite/scorpion anything in January. :)
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Re: East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:22 am

AlmostThere wrote:You will not need snake bite/scorpion anything in January.


Just be sure to have a really big knife.........
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Re: East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:28 am

Phil wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:You will not need snake bite/scorpion anything in January.


Just be sure to have a really big knife.........


LOL.

The standard protocol for snake bite is to leave, and go to a hospital. Per NOLS medical trainers. Suction, cutting, etc all do more damage than good. Scorpions are easy to avoid in winter. Both snakes and bugs make themselves scarce, when temps at night drop into the teens.
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Re: East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:43 am

Really big knives have no real functional purpose, they just look cool. And if you do happen to want to find snakes and scorpions in January, they can actually come in pretty handy.
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Re: East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby Acheron » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:13 am

Thanks for all the quick replies! Yes travelling times are budgeted between. I drive 18hrs a day some days for work so I'm used to it. We'll be renting a large SUV or ram. I'll avoid higher mountain trails for that reason. As far as the snakebite kit, just rather have and not need than need and not have xD

If I need a real big knife, my blades truncheon should do, but plenty of pocket knives for every bag (and a few pockets!) Can never have too many knives!

Thanks for the websites to checkout. I'll look into them.

I'll keep checking for any further input, much appreciated!
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Re: East Coast Eagle coming to visit

Postby balzaccom » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:54 pm

In January, I would focus more on Death Valley and Yosemite Valley. Most of Sequoia will be under snow (at least, we hope and pray it will)

In Death Valley, unless is you get bad luck with a storm, you can lots of places, see lots of things...and add Joshua Tree or Mojave Preserve to the trip for not many hours or miles. If you want ideas, check out our website in my signature line, or do a web search for Steve Hall Panamint City---the absolute best website on Death Valley.

Yosemite is a full day's drive away, and you will only be able to visit the valley, and possibly the Mariposa Grove of Sequoia's in Wawona. You will certainly need chains for your car to do that. Glacier Point and Tioga Pass Roads to Tuolumne Meadows will be closed until June or so. Yosemite Valley in winter is stunning, but you will not be able to do much more than see the sights there...the rim of the valley is at about 7500-8000 feet and should be under a few feet of snow by then.

Another option, if you want to see massive sequoias, is Calaveras Big Trees State Park, on Highway 4, north of Yosemite. It is at a slightly lower elevation and consequently more likely to be open in winter.
Check out our website and blog at: https://www.backpackthesierra.com/home
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