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[Yosemite]

Backpacking Ideas...help!

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

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Backpacking Ideas...help!

Postby Halebopp » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:10 am

First off let me say sorry to be such a newbie, but I have no experience with Yosemite.

My friend and I want to plan a 5 day or so backpacking trip at the end of this coming May. We want to go 12-15 miles a day. I have no idea what the best routes to take would be, nor where in the park is most scenic. We just have heard amazing things about Yosemite and want to experience it.

Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions about how to go about planning this/where to go?

Thanks.
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Postby bill-e-g » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:50 am

End of May is very early. You are making it difficult.
At that time of year the snow level will still be around 7.5K.
What I mean is that you are almost guaranteed to hit snow at that
elevation and at 8K there will probably be nearly 100% snow coverage.
Also, there is a chance that both Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road
will still be closed.
So, if that is the time you want to go then you pretty much should
plan on starting at the Valley Floor and hiking.
Either go from Happy Isles up to LYV and beyond.
Or go up Yosemite Falls to North Dome and/or El Capitain.

Believe me you would really really enjoy those trips.
The wife and I have done those trips in early APRIL in 2 separate years.
We stayed near Eagle Peak one year.... and that was 100% snow
coverage after Yose Falls.
Last year the snow was very low (not alot of snowfall) and we hiked all
the way to Echo Valley and then back and stayed on Quarter Domes..

If you want to go from Tuolumne Meadows then you probably want to
hold off until late June. ...

Maybe your head hurts more now.. ??

I can't recall exactly but that time of year I think is still self registration
except for Little Yosemite Valley.
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Postby john » Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:05 pm

You might also consider cutting your daily distance expectation down a little also. I've done 15 miles in a day before with a full pack, and while it was doable, I was wrecked at the end of the day. Keeping this pace up for multiple days might be tough. Of course I have no idea what your fitness level is, but unless you are in very good shape you might want to consider 8-10 miles a day. Yosemite is all about ups and downs. Have fun!
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Re: Backpacking Ideas...help!

Postby ChrisA » Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:11 pm

Halebopp wrote:First off let me say sorry to be such a newbie, but I have no experience with Yosemite.

My friend and I want to plan a 5 day or so backpacking trip at the end of this coming May. We want to go 12-15 miles a day. I have no idea what the best routes to take would be,


I'm thinking about the same thing but I'm looking at the end of October. Looks like we both will have the same problem: Uncertainty about if there will be snow or not. If I know there would be snow I could plan for it and take skis. The troble is that in May you could be hiking in slush in the lower elvations and hard ice-like stuff higher up. In my case (October) It will likely still be clear of snow but I'd have to have a good "plan B" for what happens if we wake up one morning to find 4 feet of new powder.

If you are new to Yosemite, what you should expect with early season backpackiing, and by "early" I mean June 1st. is that there will be "snow melt" meaning high creeks to cross and ankle deep mud in the trails and swarming clouds of mosquitoes. Snow can turn an easy on-trail backpacking trip into a cross country navigation exercise. I walked over Cathedral pass once when it was covered with 20 feet of snow in June.

If you plan for snow and plan a route that is safe (i.e. without the potential to fall 1,000 feet onto rocks if you slip on the ice.) then snow is nice. I'm looking forward to the snow season. Some ideas are the Snow Creek trail out of Mirror lake. It stays mostly clear or when there is snow the roads become trails. You can hike/ski on any snowed over road. The problem is just the un-certainty so it is hard to plan.
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Postby Halebopp » Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:24 am

Thanks for the replies. The snow is what I am concerned about, but that last week of May through June 2nd or so is really the only time we can make the trip. What is the weather like on the valley floor at that time? Thanks for the route suggestions Bill, any trails in particular that we should look at?
And we might lower our daily distance expectation to maybe 10-12, however we're both collegiate cross country athletes so our fitness isn't bad.
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Postby bill-e-g » Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:56 am

What I would suggest is that you do this:
Happy Isles all the way up to Merced Lake. Coming back hang a right
in Echo Valley and take the high trail back to Clouds Rest Trail Jct.
Dayhike Clouds Rest. Dayhike Half Dome. Hike back down to Valley.
All told that is approx. 35 miles. I'd say it's about 95% chance you
will be able to do that at end of May. It's lower elevation and the
face up Clouds is south facing.
You are coming when the water will be screaming. You will really
enjoy this. To be safe reserve yourself a permit for maybe 4 days.
I think you can reserve up to 24 weeks in advance. Check out the
wilderness section in the nps.gov/yose website for more info.
If you can do this hike in 3 days then if Tioga Rd is open you can
go explore Tuolumne Meadows. Don't be in too much of a rush,
take it in. The section from Moraine Dome to Merced Lake is
gonna have you going, "wow, wow, this is cool...".
Enjoy
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Postby balzaccom » Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:13 am

This is great advice--but also bear in mind that you will hit lots of snow---and maybe not be able to follow the trail in some areas--particularly those on north-facing slopes.

Don't always assume that those foot prints in front of you follow the trail---they may be just as lost as you are!
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