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[Yosemite]

Trip report - High Sierra Loop

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

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Trip report - High Sierra Loop

Postby Justin-T » Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:24 pm

First a quick thank you to everyone who's answered all my questions here over the past two seasons.

My son (17) and I just finished a great 10-day trip, I want to do a quick(ish) report because it might help others thinking about the same route.

Day 1 - arrived SFO at noon (Friday Jul 22), quick cab ride to the San Bruno Enterprise car-rental. Its a 5 min ride that cost $20 with generous tip, saved about $200 over using the same company in the airport, staff there are great (note: cabbies are used to driving people to the city so have to be shown the way). Drove to TM, stopping only for white gas at Sunrise Mountain Sports in Livermore (hard to find anywhere selling it, TM store didn't have any, so glad we stopped for it), this looks to be a great store for outdoors equipment, very convenient to the highway. camped in regular TM site (cold overnight! needed hat, socks, extra shirt, even in 20-degree bag)

Day 2 - hiked Lembert Dome and around Dog Lake (about 5 miles total) with daypacks to acclimate, both recommended, lots to photograph; camped same site in TM. Surprised to see how weak the range of food for back-packers is in the TM store, much is aimed at car-campers/RV folk, glad we brought most of what we needed.

Day 3 - transferred to the backpackers campground in TM, got site #01, eventually there were 6, yes, six other tents on that site with us, no idea if they paid the $6/person too...! No issue with noise though even if it was fairly tight. Fantastic 10 mile hike with daypacks on the Mono Pass trail, wildflowers and views really spectacular (make sure you go beyond the end until you get the views over Mono Lake). Got back in time to get our wilderness permit at 4:55pm (closes at 5), when there was no line at all. Parked the car in the wilderness station lot - good idea because it meant we hit the car earlier at the end of the trip.

Days 4-9 - classic High Sierra Loop trail, campsites and hiking details as follows:
1) 7 easy miles to Glen Aulin HSC backpackers. Nice site towards the back. Pretty busy but I'd guess there were at least 7 or 8 sites not used up in the far back. I would stay there again despite the "holiday camp" feel with lots of people swimming in the river. We had planned to camp near McGee Lake but ranger said "Glen Aulin is better and permit not being pass-thru means we have to stay at the HSC". After seeing McGee Lake the next day we were glad we didn't stay there, would have been very buggy. At the beginning left stuff (food/smellies/dirty clothes etc) in a bag in a bear locker at the GA trailhead (it was all still there when we returned at the end).

2) 8 miles to Raisin Lake, not too hard, some mosquito-rich sections in the Cathedral creek area, last part climbing up towards Raisin Lake has spectacular views, great wildflowers. We found a spot between the trail and the north side of the lake. Two other small groups (2 each) also there but it was very quiet, many useable sites south of the lake were empty. Highly recommended alternative to May Lake.

3) 8 miles to the middle Sunrise Lake. Mostly easy hiking except for the infamous half-mile climb near the end, up to the junction with the trail towards Clouds Rest. Camped in a grassy area in the small wood north of the lake. Two other small groups at/near the lake. After dinner climbed up the small ridge just northwest of the lake for fabulous views to Half Dome and points west, avoided most of the mosquitoes at the lake too. Great place to camp.

4) 11 miles to Merced Lake HSC backpackers. Long day, middle section is in recently burned area but ground cover has returned and pine forest beginning to regenerate. Only ranger check of permit occurred 1.5 miles beyond the HSC. Humid day, sprinkles around dinner time, mosquitoes were bad enough to prevent us going back to check out Merced lake after dinner and forced us into our tent pretty early. Backpackers campsite pretty uninspiring, but there aren't great alternatives.

5) 8 miles to Vogelsang HSC backpackers via Fletcher Creek (northerly) side. Considered stopping at Emeric Lake but wanted to keep our last day short. Hard day due to the massive elevation gain in the first 3 or 4 miles, but beautiful. Backpackers campsite seems to be in a brand new area about 200 yards beyond the HSC, we got a nice spot with views overlooking Boothe Lake below and longer views to north of Tioga Rd (Ragged Peak etc). All water had to be filtered from Fletcher Lake (i.e. no safe spigot).

6) 8 miles to our car at the Wilderness Permit Office lot. Easy hiking, basically steady downhill, largely the same view to the north all the way. Drove to Best Western in Oakdale, huge burrito at Cafe Bravo, left for SFO 7am next morning (Sunday) with very light traffic, only 1hr 45min, we were very early for our 1pm flight back East, even including returning the car to San Bruno Enterprise (free ride to the airport after car return, we got to Enterprise before it opened at 9am!).

Had a great time overall but for our next trip I would plan in at least one extra day so we could do 2 nights somewhere and a shorter day-hike to explore and recharge the legs. The two days acclimation seemed to be enough for us. If you like wildflowers, late July is a killer time to be in the 8,000-10,000 foot range, really spectacular almost everywhere we went.
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Re: Trip report - High Sierra Loop

Postby balzaccom » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:31 pm

Thanks for the nice report! Sounds like you had a great time!
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Trip report - High Sierra Loop

Postby Grzldvt » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:51 am

Great trip I like to recommend the High Sierra Loop for first timers, it really covers a great part of the park.
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