Home A - Z FAQ Bookstore Art Prints Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps Lodging About Search
CalHotels.US--online reservations now CalHotels.US Lowest Hotel Rates Guaranteed. Click Here For Yours!
Hotel photos, maps, reviews, & discount rates.

U.S. Hotels in California (Yosemite, L. A., San Francisco ), AL, AK, AR, AS, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, FM, GA, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OK, NV, MH, MP, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, PR, PW, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, VI WA, WV, WI, WY

[Yosemite]

Trip to Capture the Sierras

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

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby mdewey12 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:28 pm

UPDATE:

Sorry to bump an old thread. But I just wanted to let all backpackers know to listen to the advice of the posters here! We booked our permit for backpacking, but I had the words of AT, Phil, and Balzaacom in my head when camping that first night....

What if we DID do a whirlwind car tour of Yosemite? Why didn't I realize it would be thirty degrees at night, for my GF's sake? Why did I pack so much food.......?

Instead of the loop mentioned in the thread we did the following:

Day 1: Gaylor Lakes
Day 2: Cathedral Lakes
Day 3: Cloud's Rest
Day 4: Tenaya Lake BEACH DAY
Day 5: Lyell Canyon
Day 6: Mt. Hoffman
Day 7: Vernal/Nevada Fall
Day 8: Glacier/Washburn Pt., Yosemite Fall
Day 9: Nelder Grove of Sequoias

Loved it. I can't wait to come back and backpack this place. Thank you to everyone here for the advice that truly helped us enjoy our trip.


I created a (possibly corny) video of our experience, uploaded to YouTube. Please forgive my rant about White Wolf--a beautiful campsite, but we were being babies and I totally understand its utility. Mostly, I was going for a fun video.

Enjoy, and feel free to skip around! I would highly recommend any number of these hikes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UGx8yXqmBc


================
Hello!

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to California in July or August, and bracing ourselves for the January 15th date of permits being reservable in Yosemite.

If you had to recommend one backpacking trip to truly capture the essence of Yosemite and the Sierras, what would it be?

Parameters:

  1. Planning this far in advance gives us spectacular flexibility! We want to go for about 10 days, but 14 days is not out of the question. Figure a few days will be spent travelling.
  2. The sweet spot is anywhere from 2-4 nights. We have done 2 night backpacking before.
  3. We want to spend some time of our trip seeing San Francisco, as my girlfriend has never been to California. I'd also like her to see Sequoia if possible, but not definite.
  4. I WANT TO CLIMB MT.WHITNEY! My major point of conflict is wondering if Mt.Whitney is worth sacrificing time from backpacking Yosemite.
  5. We have backpacking experience, and regularly hike and camp the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
  6. My girlfriend has no experience above 6000ft, save our time spent at Grand Canyon last summer.
  7. No climbing experience, save some beginner rappels while canyoneering.



My current plan is Tuolumne Meadows to the valley, with two nights spent camping and hitting different side trips along the way for a total of three days. And then later hiking Mt.Whitney, or backpacking the lakes trail in Sequoia.
I played with the Sierra high camps, but felt like that wouldn't show us enough variety. I went to Yosemite a few years back, and I remember the falls being incredible--I would love to experience them again, but with my girl friend.


All help is appreciated! Thank you!
Last edited by mdewey12 on Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
mdewey12
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:13 pm

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby balzaccom » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:55 pm

Those are all good options. You'll need a permit for Whitney, and those are harder to get than just about any other permit in the Sierra. (Note that it's singular, for those of us who are picky about such things.) Tuolumne Meadows up Rafferty Creek, down Lewis or Fletcher Creek to Lake Merced, then down into the valley is a great hike--but you will not be alone in the backcountry for that one. It's one of the most popular routes in the park.

It all depends on what you want to do and see--waterfalls or mountains, lots of people or nobody at all. How many miles a day do you want to hike.

Fill in some of those details, and we can give you better advice.

And BTW, driving from Yosemite to Whitney Portal is a full day's drive--it's not a couple of hours.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
balzaccom
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1173
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:51 am
Location: Napa CA

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby Phil » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:17 am

I would think that Tuolumne Meadows to Catherdral Lakes via the JMT would give you a good taste, albeit, more people. This would entail your plan, and should be about 3-4 days. Another variation of that plan, adding more time, but seeing more of the park (some of the best of it) and the Sierras is to go past Sunrise High Sierra Camp, cut across at Sunrise Creek to Echo Valley, then up to Merced Lake, then up to Red Peak and over to Ottoway Lakes, follow Ottoway/Illilouette Creeks down to Panorama Trail and exit Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. Stay overnight in the backpacker's camp, easy shuttle back to the car. Depending on your speed, maybe 5-6 days.

For some acclimatization to altitude, before you head into the backcountry, I would recommend a night or two up at White Wolf Campground. Car camping (get there early!) or backpacker's camp. Take a couple short day hikes in the area, and get plenty of rest. If you go the alternate route, you'll hit almost 11,700 feet at Red Peak, and even with your plan, you'll spend some time at or around 10k. It can be rough going if you're not used to it, so you'll need all the acclimatization you can get, and White Wolf might be only 7,400 feet, lower than Tuolumne (8,500-ish), but much nicer.

Also, as another alternative, check your maps and maybe some online photos of 10 Lakes and see what you think. That's a great 3-4 day trip, too. You guys could also consider Desolation Wilderness and areas around Lake Tahoe.

And yeah, Whitney access is almost exclusively decided by lottery. You bag a peak if you win (unlikely...people often wait for years to get a spot), but I still consider YNP a nicer experience with more to offer.

Oh, and if it's falls you want, better to visit earlier than later.........
Phil
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 894
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:02 am
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:03 pm

mdewey12 wrote:Hello!

[*]Planning this far in advance gives us spectacular flexibility! We want to go for about 10 days, but 14 days is not out of the question. Figure a few days will be spent travelling.
[*]The sweet spot is anywhere from 2-4 nights. We have done 2 night backpacking before.
[*]We want to spend some time of our trip seeing San Francisco, as my girlfriend has never been to California. I'd also like her to see Sequoia if possible, but not definite.
[*]I WANT TO CLIMB MT.WHITNEY! My major point of conflict is wondering if Mt.Whitney is worth sacrificing time from backpacking Yosemite.
[*]We have backpacking experience, and regularly hike and camp the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
[*]My girlfriend has no experience above 6000ft, save our time spent at Grand Canyon last summer.
[*]No climbing experience, save some beginner rappels while canyoneering.[/list]



If you truly want the ESSENTIAL Yosemite, you will spend time in the Valley itself - not a backpacking trip - and in Tuolumne Meadows. It would be easy to pack in an overnight backpack from Tuolumne Meadows to the Valley and do Clouds Rest - harder to get the additional permit and do Half Dome. But ESSENTIAL big name views and sights are accessible by car and/or day hiking. You can visit the Muir Grove of Sequoias (the Mariposa Grove is more impressive, but closed for the year for construction) and not have to drive for a day to Sequoia NP to see the big trees. You can day hike Yosemite Falls, North Dome, and the Mist Trail. You can day hike from trailheads on Glacier Point Road to Taft Point and Dewey Point, or backpack the Pohono trail and get more views from the south rim. Day hikes that are not backpacking trips but are fantastic in their own ways from Tioga Road -- Gaylor Lakes and Peak, Mt Dana, Mono/Parker Pass - the lakes outside the park are the first available camping for an overnight, no camping within 4 miles of the trailhead on this one and that means no camping inside the park.

Is a 22 mile round trip to 14,000 feet possible for you? Do you hike at high elevation often? Do you hike 5000+ elevation gains often? Do you know how you react to high elevation? People die up there a lot. Part of that is the extreme popularity of the trip -- hundreds go every week. Some small percentage don't realize what altitude sickness is and need to be rescued. Search and rescue is very busy there.... Same in Yosemite, average of 7 searches a day in summer.... so very many people go out there. A very few of them have issues -- altitude, or getting in water that's flowing too strongly, or injuring themselves.

Don't worry about climbing experience. You don't need it to do Whitney, and you don't need to do any climbing at all to see a peak. Nothing I've mentioned is anything requiring more than a pair of hiking shoes.
AlmostThere
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1695
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 6:57 pm
Location: Central Valley California

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby balzaccom » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:35 pm

As usual, AT raises good points. If I had five days to see Yosemite, I would spend one day racing around the valley and hiking up to Nevada Falls. I'd spend a second day in Tuolumne Meadows, hiking to Gaylor Lakes and the top of Lembert Dome. I'd spend on day driving to Glacier Point and Wawona and hiking the Wawona grove of Sequoias.

And then I'd take MAYBE one overnight to Echo Lake...

But it would be just as much fun to hike Yosemite Falls, and spend some of the day exploring the meadows on the floor of the valley--amazing how quiet and serene it can be in the middle of all those people. And the second day I would climb Mt Hoffman or Clouds Rest, both of which have much better views than Half Dome.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
balzaccom
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1173
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:51 am
Location: Napa CA

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby mdewey12 » Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:54 pm

Thank you for the detailed replies.

Hm. Okay. It seems I should hold off on Mt. Whitney then.

So I would think a two night trip from Tuolumne to the Valley...

Or, driving in from the west, spend some time hiking the valley, and do a 2 night backpack up to Tuolumne, then do some day hiking in that area. Lot's of decisions to make.


I definitely would love to spend time in a secluded meadow during this trip, and hopefully see/camp by a beautiful lake. From what I can tell, backpacking between Tuolumne and the valley would offer this and I just need to choose a direction.

EDIT: If you all think I can get most of that from Yosemite, I would definitely consider skipping Sequoia and spend my days exploring Yosemite.
mdewey12
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:13 pm

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:59 pm

You might get a secluded meadow, if you are sufficiently far enough from the trail. Frankly, if you are within a day's hike of Half Dome, you'll see nearly as many people on the trail as if you're sitting in a parking lot.

Secluded would be hiking away from Half Dome. Say, turning northeast toward Merced Lake, and continuing eastward instead of going along the High Sierra Camp Loop toward Vogelsang.

I never expect seclusion within a day's walking from any trailhead in Yosemite. Two days out gets better.
AlmostThere
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1695
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 6:57 pm
Location: Central Valley California

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby Phil » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:19 pm

I would have to agree with AT and Balzaccom on the "essence" being the whirlwind car/dayhiking tour of all the major sights from the Valley to Tuolumne, but if backpacking is what you want....

I would really consider 10 Lakes-- it fits your desires, but it is more people unless you're willing to head out cross country to visit some of the more remote spots.

Another hybrid alternative to what AT and I mentioned would be to head up from the Valley along the Merced River up to Merced Lake on night one. From there, head over Red Peak Pass and spend the second night at Lower Ottoway Lake. From there, head down and camp along Illilouette Creek and exit on day four right back at Happy Isles. You'll still see some people throughout the entire route, but the masses will really taper off past Merced Lake and the junction up to Vogelsang. Past that point, you'll meet the more dedicated "backpackers" (everyone will actually know how to pitch their tents), but they're looking for the same thing you are, and will be respectful enough to try their best to make it happen for you and themselves if possible. You'll just need to be ready to do some long, hard days of ascending and the altitude that's going to go along with it. You'll be here in July or August-- you're going to see people if you go to Yosemite. It's inevitable. The trick is to be willing to find a trail that's far enough out and that requires the effort that most of them aren't really inclined to put into it.
Phil
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 894
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:02 am
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby mdewey12 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 9:39 am

You are all awesome people. Thank you for taking the time to help me out and leave detailed responses.


EDIT:

Fly to Sacramento

Day 1: Camp Tuolumne
Day 2: Explore North of Tuolumne
Day 3. Hike to Sunrise
Day 4. Hike to LYV/Merced
Day 5. Valley, camp in valley
Day 6. YARTs to car, drive back to valley and stay in lodge for a nice break!
Day 7. Explore valley
Day 8. Leave

I think this looks good!
mdewey12
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:13 pm

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby mdewey12 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:35 pm

Sorry to bump an old thread. But I just wanted to let all backpackers know to listen to the advice of the posters here! We booked our permit for backpacking, but I had the words of AT, Phil, and Balzaacom in my head when camping that first night....

What if we DID do a whirlwind car tour of Yosemite? Why didn't I realize it would be thirty degrees at night, for my GF's sake? Why did I pack so much food.......?

Instead of the loop mentioned in the thread we did the following:

Day 1: Gaylor Lakes
Day 2: Cathedral Lakes
Day 3: Cloud's Rest
Day 4: Tenaya Lake BEACH DAY
Day 5: Lyell Canyon
Day 6: Mt. Hoffman
Day 7: Vernal/Nevada Fall
Day 8: Glacier/Washburn Pt., Yosemite Fall
Day 9: Nelder Grove of Sequoias

Loved it. I can't wait to come back and backpack this place. Thank you to everyone here for the advice that truly helped us enjoy our trip.


I created a (possibly corny) video of our experience, uploaded to YouTube. Please forgive my rant about White Wolf--a beautiful campsite, but we were being babies and I totally understand its utility. Mostly, I was going for a fun video.

Enjoy, and feel free to skip around! I would highly recommend any number of these hikes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UGx8yXqmBc
mdewey12
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:13 pm

Re: Trip to Capture the Sierras

Postby balzaccom » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:43 am

Wonderful! Glad you had fun. Looking forward to seeing your video...
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
balzaccom
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1173
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:51 am
Location: Napa CA


Return to Yosemite Hiking & Backpacking

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

cron