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[Yosemite]

4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

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

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4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby dgilman » Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:25 pm

Hello. Newbie (to Yosemite) seeking the advice of the wise.

I'ms planning my first solo backpacking trip next weekend and figured I'd see if the fine folks here could offer some suggestions to make it better, or let me know I'm not about to kill myself in wild.

Plan right now is:
Fri - Drive Berkeley-Yosemite Valley // Get Permit // Hike to LYV (~6 Miles)
Sat - Hike LYV - South of CR and make camp // Hike around CR (~5 Miles + detours)
Sun - Out and back day hike to Teyana Lake (~13 miles with daypack)
Mon - South of CR back to Yosemite Valley (~10 miles) // Drive back to Berkeley

I figure this gives me Fri and Sat to take it easy on the climb up. This also gives me a few nights in one place and not have to make camp all over again.

So, questions...

Any thoughts on how crowded it will be this time year? I'm hoping with the cold, but not winter conditions, it will be less crazy.
Should I make my base camp on the south side of CR, or go over and make camp on the north?
Should I make Sat longer and take a detour down the Merced river to Echo Creek and then over to CR?
It's my first time backpacking in bear country - I'm renting a cannister locally but any other tips?
Given that I have 3.5 days and my only real desire is to check out Cloud's Rest, and have a good place to see the Super Moon Sun/Mon, any other route suggestions?

I am bringing a Spot3 just in case the shit hits the fan.

Thank you - and promises on a full trip report if you folks are into that sort of thing.

David
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby dgilman » Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:32 pm

...and of course I just saw the Happy Isle Loop thread - http://www.yosemite.ca.us/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3767

Would still appreciate any advice but apologies for the double post.

David
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:16 pm

1. Watch for local conditions. There may well be ice or snow on the trail--at least at the top of Clouds Rest. Ice would make that a higher risk adventure. It's a long way to the bottom of Tenaya Canyon. A cold snap could also close the Mist Trail for ice.

2. There will always be people on that trail, and during the weekend there will be more people than during the week. If you want to avoid crowds, take a different trail. Seriously. This is the single most popular trail in the single most popular park in California.

3. There are campsites on either side of Clouds Rest. You should make this decision based on how you feel and what the conditions are like.

4. DO NOT expect that the SPOT will save you if you get into trouble. Weather can change quickly, and rescue operations can be derailed by rain, snow, fog, wind, etc. If the weather goes all to hell, it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe, and get yourself back to the trailhead safely. A better way to think about this is that SPOT will indicate where SAR should start looking for the body.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby Phil » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:25 am

Not a big fan of the SPOT. More a real PLB that sends a distress signal directly to the Copas/Sarsat system devotee.

Whatever on that. Be prepared for the worst is the best advice. No "maybes" about your intended route. Pick it, write out your intentions clearly and concisely, leave it with someone you love and trust, stick to it. Balzaccom is absolutely right: it's up to you to be able to get yourself out of trouble if it happens. If you don't have the gear or the skills to hunker down and do that, reconsider. Smart people will bail if they need to. Sadly, not very far east of where you're going, there's a very experienced backpacker with a SPOT somewhere on his body that's not ever going home, despite the best efforts of all the air and ground SAR resources that can possibly be thrown at trying to find him.

Know the weather and trail conditions, because if it turns, gets bad, and stays that way, they'll have no choice but to leave you and try to recover whatever's left in the Spring if you can't make it out on your own. Just be prepared, know what you're doing, be smart, have a good trip.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby dgilman » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:49 am

balazaccom and phil, thank you for the reminder that my fate is in my hands. Definitely not relying on the SPOT to keep me out of trouble.

balazaccom, you mention how popular the trail is. Any suggestions for a loop that is more off the beaten path?

Any other thoughts from the peanut gallery are greatly appreciated.

David
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby Phil » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:43 am

For what you're going to be able to access this time of year with the road closures and/or parking restrictions, try that Echo Valley route up from the Valley. You go past LYV and the crowds are going to thin out considerably. Head up along the Merced to Echo Valley, then either along Echo Creek over to Sunrise HSC and on to CR from there, or go up and over to the JMT and pick up the Forsyth Trail up to CR. Four days should be a ton of time to go at a relaxed pace for either. Don't worry about crowds. You might see a few people, but it's not going to be anywhere near as big a deal as August or Sept. Most people have packed it in for the year. No snowpack to deal with yet, but just keep a close eye on the forecast and have the right gear for the conditions. Cold is the operative planning word to keep in mind.

FWIW, I would skip the detour down to Tenaya and instead go ahead and put the energy toward going up Echo Creek to the HSC. With the latter, you're only going to walk down, pick up maybe a few views (that will be better from the top anyhow), then just have to turn around and immediately climb back up. Not really worth the effort. Although going past and maybe camping at Sunrise Lakes is. You'll have a logical looped route, and essentially cover that entire area as far as seeing the best of what there is to see goes.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:52 pm

I refuse to use the two way devices (InReach and SPOT) precisely because I was on the anxiety end of it -- I got a text that someone was lost, while I was back at home. I got NOTHING FOR HOOOOOOUUUUUUURRRRRSSSSS, and then I got a message that had been sent frickin' five minutes after the first message!!!! Saying that they stopped being lost, and all was fine. HOURS feel like YEARS when you think something is wrong. YEARS. Electronics are all that and a bag of chips until they SUCK. Who knows why the message was so delayed. But it was.

F**k that. Never doing that to anyone I love. I have a straight-up personal locator beacon, and there's reconn.org for the itinerary details.

There is snow in the high country, and ice is sealing up the lakes as we speak. Expect and pack for the low 20s at night, and be happy if it's warmer. If you end up camping high and in snow, remember that Yosemite declares NO FIRES in winter unless you are in absolute survival mode.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby Caminante » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:31 pm

That's my thread you referenced - we wound up w/2 nights and bypassed CR. If I went back, I think I would try Phil's itinerary w/4 days incorporating Sunrise Lakes and coming back to CR from there. If you get your permit by mid-morning, you should be able to pass-through LYV and make it close to Echo Valley (or maybe to Echo Valley if you're faster than me). While my overall experience was amazing, LYV is a little disappointing due to lots of inconsiderate "backpackers", so I'd pass-through if possible. Or maybe it's different this time of year.

Here is our GPS track from our trip - if you filter on the waypoints, there is one near the "8" which was a fantastic campsite for night #1 just north of the trail tucked up against the cliff in trees, before you cross two footbridges and after the burn zone. Fire ring, benches, just like home with a better view.
http://adventures.garmin.com/en-US/by/d ... 10-01/#top

Super Moon: will look pretty much like any other full moon to the naked eye, but full moons are always cool when they're just cresting the horizon. I use the Photographer's Ephemeris for scouting shots where I want to see exactly how the sun or moon will interact with features:
http://app.photoephemeris.com/
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby Phil » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:08 pm

Now I'm curious about what kind of PLB you're using, AT. I always carry an ACR ResQLink+. I never found it necessary or beneficial to chit-chat or send superfluous messages, and figure that if I ever need to deploy, I'm screwed and want best chance possible for help to actually come because my signal actually went out on the one device that actually had the best chance of working the way it's supposed to. Way back in the day before I bought my first ACR, I read all the reviews of the SPOT. By the time I got a few hundred horror stories in, I kinda figured it wasn't what I really wanted. The safest I am is on the days you don't hear from me.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby dgilman » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:57 pm

Phil, I think you're recommending something like this -

http://imgur.com/gallery/YZPSJky

Which seems great to me.

Caminante, thanks for the GPS track and campsite recommendation. Most of my backpacking has been in designated areas, even in the backcountry, so the more ad hoc nature of this will be a fun challenge. Although it sounds no fire in the fire pit from what AT wrote. My last winter camping was 16F overnight in the Adirondacks, so I should be good on gear.

Thanks all for welcoming the noob with some great info and please keep the suggestions coming.

David
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby Phil » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:43 pm

That's exactly the one. As I said, it's a big loop that 4-ish days should be about perfect for, and that gets you into and through some nice territory. It's also nice in that it gives you lots of places to stop and camp, whether you're good pushing more or need to hold back. And if the weather turns, or you need to cut it short for any reason, you have quite a few options for bailing out and scrubbing altitude fairly quickly.

If you pack your bear canister properly, that Garcia 812 you rent should give you about 5-6 man-days of food, so plenty of leeway with a day in reserves.

Altitude might be a factor for you if you're not used to it. That said, I would think your itinerary should look something like this:

Night 1- Merced River @ Bunnell Cascade upslope from footbridges
Night 2- Sunrise HSC if you need to, but preferably one of the Sunrise Lakes (you'll pass them all en-route)***if you come up short, sites along Echo Creek are just above the second footbridge.
Night 3- really short day to north slope of CR if you can add a day to your schedule (don't try to camp on the summit!), or up and over to the JMTxCR junction***if CR looks bad, cut down the Forsyth and pick up the JMT just a couple miles up from that JMTxCR junction and stay the night there (great views). The other alternative would be to overnight it down at LYV.

Day 4- back out at Happy Isles
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:11 am

Phil wrote:Now I'm curious about what kind of PLB you're using, AT. I always carry an ACR ResQLink+. I never found it necessary or beneficial to chit-chat or send superfluous messages, and figure that if I ever need to deploy, I'm screwed and want best chance possible for help to actually come because my signal actually went out on the one device that actually had the best chance of working the way it's supposed to. Way back in the day before I bought my first ACR, I read all the reviews of the SPOT. By the time I got a few hundred horror stories in, I kinda figured it wasn't what I really wanted. The safest I am is on the days you don't hear from me.


I use an ACR, of course. The person who sent the text had an InReach.

SAR teams everywhere will caution you about electronics, and are absolutely right to do so. They are misused, left behind, lost, or malfunction a LOT. The current search is par for the course -- one ping from the guy's SPOT and then, nothing. And he wasn't found anywhere close to where the ping was logged.

I've been told by people that GPS replaces maps, that two way devices are "reliable" and all kinds of confabulations -- if it has a battery I'm not likely to trust it much. When I have to filter for people whose SteriPen fails, show them a map when their GPS fails, search for them without a lot of info because their SPOT fails, you can see why that might be so.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby dgilman » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:13 pm

Thank you thank you thank you.

I really appreciate all the advice and commentary. I had a great three days in the backcountry.

Caminante, thanks for the GPS waypoints and campsite recommendations.

Phil, thanks for the advice on the route.

I ended up doing three days, making from Sunrise Lake #2, over Cloud's Rest, and back into the Valley one long day. I was a bit cold at Sunrise and figured I might as well just go up and over, and save having to make camp again.

It was beautiful and amazing, and I can't wait to go again. If you're interested, photo are here - https://goo.gl/photos/BDQAL5yT1LcQhyvv8

Where should I go next? :)

Random thoughts and observations:
I'm really happy I knew there was a good campsite through the burn zone. Between getting up at 5:30am and driving, and then hiking, the only thing that kept me going up and over was knowing there was a good place to stay.

Bunnell to Sunrise Lakes was a long day given the short amount of sunlight. I probably should has stopped at the HSC and camped there, but again, knowing there was a good campsite and having a waypoint gave me the strength to keep going.

I'm not so good with the posting of tracks, but there is actually some water (seasonal?) after the listed "last water" when heading south to CR from the north. It's at N37° 46.904' W119° 27.917'

Having never solo backpacked before, I put tons of book and music on my phone to keep me company. I never ended up using any of it. Just the trail and the camp was enough.

Took a bit getting used to the Bearvault. Especially when I was all tucked in and realized I still had an energy bar wrapper in my pants. Argh.

Speaking of the Bearvault, pretty sure the big bruise on my back is from cinching my waist belt and pushing the cannister against my spine. I had the vault in the bottom of my bag, but maybe should have moved it up more towards to the middle to avoid this.

Camp chores take twice as long when you're by yourself. This led to some late starts and setting camp by headlamp in Sunrise Lakes in the freezing cold. Brrr.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby Phil » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:38 pm

No problem. Glad to help.

I don't want to pull out my map and plot that coordinate on the "last water", but I'm assuming you're referring to the split-creek just past the pond? The YNP website listed the pond as the last place back in Sept I think it was. I didn't quite buy that though. You came after some recharge, but in many years and many trips along that trail throughout the seasons, I've never seen that creek so dry that it didn't have at least a slight flow, certainly something you could pump from. I've never really ever considered it as anything but year-round for practical purposes. Also, did you happen to notice if the trailside spring on the south descent of CR was flowing when you went by?

Did you encounter any snow up on CR or in the vicinity? And how was the walk up Echo Creek? Nice area, huh?

And with the BV or any canister- low to middle of the load, as close to your back as possible, but ideally also easily accessible from the top. I carry mine vertically sitting on top of my bag and most of my clothing. Try to get it to where it fits into the natural curvature of your spine and a bit higher up on your pack frame than what your hip belt is going to immediately draw in tight.
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Re: 4 days solo in Yosemite next week - Suggestions?

Postby dgilman » Tue Nov 15, 2016 9:03 pm

The water I found was flowing under a large rock, maybe .2 miles from the listed last water.

I didn't notice the spring on the other side of CR. I was booking it down after deciding somewhat last minute to go all the way back to the Valley.

No snow at CR (and actually it was quite warm with the sun at the top), but plenty on the trail from Sunrise Lakes. Those bear print photos in the snow were from that route. There were a few snowed over switchback-esque areas where I almost put on my microspikes. And from the HSC to Sunrise Lakes was almost all frozen snow. Very glad I had tracks (and the GPS) to follow as it was getting dark.

The hike up Echo Creek was definitely a highlight and incredibly beautiful. Stopped for lunch somewhere in there and it was pretty magical.

Thanks for the advice on the bear cannister - my Gregory has nice bottom access so I sat it all the way in there, and then of course didn't put 2+2 together on why I had this knot in my spine...

David
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