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]

Valley Highlights in One Day

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

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby embrookemd » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:30 am

Hi! I'm trying to put together a basic itinerary for a 6 night trip to Yosemite the first week of August. We are traveling from the other side of the country to CA, and are using public transportation to get around. The plan is to fly into Fresno, take YARTS to the Valley, then YARTS again that evening to Tuolumne, where we will overnight at the backpackers campground (hopefully they don't push back the Aug. 1 opening date again). Myself and two friends have managed to get permits for a 3 night backpacking trip from Cathedral Lakes TH to Happy Isles (LYV) with Half Dome permits. The night we end our hike, we plan to overnight at the backpackers' campground in North Pines, and then for the following night, we have (luckily) reserved a site in Upper Pines. We anticipate having about 5 hours in the Valley the day we arrive (where we'll have to also pick up our permits), and then about a full day and a half to explore the Valley at the end of our hike. Keeping in mind that we won't have a vehicle of our own so will need to rely on the Valley shuttle, what would you recommend we make sure to see while in the Valley? Since we will have just completed a longer hike, we'd prefer to keep day hikes short and sweet. We know the waterfalls might be fairly dry by August (though perhaps the heavy snowpack will help with this some), but would still like to check out whatever highlights we can.

Thanks in advance for your recommendations!
embrookemd
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:52 pm

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby Phil » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:21 am

You're right about the general state of the falls that time of year, but if they're flowing, you'll want to visit Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil, etc. Mirror Lake, El Cap Meadow. Wandering off into some of the other meadows along the Merced is also a nice way to spend a few hours. Maybe the Visitors Center and the Ahwahnee Hotel. There's also the Indian village and the old pioneer cemetery if you're inclined.

Going into your trip, if you want to get a little altitude and climbing time in you could also day-hike up to Vernal and Nevada Falls, but you're going to be descending those on the way out on the JMT, so you might take a pass on those. But if you're coming from back east and not used to altitude, a light itinerary and some extra rest might be in order. The Cathedral Lakes trailhead begins at 8500 ft and climbs about 1200 ft to the upper lake. Don't take the need to go through the process of acclimatizing to the altitude and exertion level in whatever limited means you can lightly.

On the way out, you have to understand that, while there's plenty to do as a tourist in Yosemite Valley, it's crowded, and you've come from much nicer environs, so it might be sort of anticlimactic. In case you weren't aware of it, while you must begin your trip on the specific date on your permit, exit dates are flexible, so rather than try to figure out what to do for a day and a half in the Valley, I would strongly suggest that you instead spend the time after your Half Dome climb in the area around Sunrise Creek, maybe taking in Cloud's Rest, which is by far a better all around experience than HD.
Phil
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 899
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:02 am
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby embrookemd » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:03 pm

Thanks! We actually do plan to do Cathedral-->Sunrise-->Clouds Rest-->LYV/Half Dome-->Valley. Part of our plan to stay in the Valley on our last night is because we need to catch an earlier YARTS bus the morning to get back to Fresno for evening flights. Phew! Definitely a whirlwind, but we're looking forward to it. We did a section hike on the PCT in OR last summer in the same manner (no vehicle, relying on public transport), and it was a blast!

Good tips on the altitude. We're definitely planning on overnighting in Tuolumne the day before our hike, and then will take it easy when we start out. We have some experience at 10,000'+ from hikes in CO, so are definitely planning to take it easy, but always helpful to be reminded. Thanks!
embrookemd
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:52 pm

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby jtmann » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:51 pm

Hey, I have the same trip planned with a permit beginning on July 30th. We're going to take 4 nights and have the same camping arrangements as you when we exit into the Valley. My big question right now (and I know it's really hard to answer because there is still some snow season left) is whether or not there could possibly be snow on the trail out of the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead at that time this year. Thoughts anyone?
jtmann
First-timer
First-timer
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:44 pm

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:08 pm

Yes.
AlmostThere
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1699
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 6:57 pm
Location: Central Valley California

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby Phil » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:57 pm

embrookemd wrote:Thanks! We actually do plan to do Cathedral-->Sunrise-->Clouds Rest-->LYV/Half Dome-->Valley.


You better book it and plan on long days with not having the time to really see much more than where your next footfall is going to be. I guess that begs the question of what your plans are for each night's camping, how many miles you think you can do in a day, and what your anticipated pack weights are going to be. People generally allow 3 days alone for going straight through from the trailhead to the Valley, a day for CR, and definitely another whole day for HD. It's not that it can't be done, at least the principle route, but it's largely a matter of the best places to camp and water availability, now closely followed by avoiding spending the night in fire damaged areas. You've got to make that bus back to Fresno, but you've got two nights scheduled in the Valley between the backpacker's camp and North Pines. If altitude does a number on you, combined with what you want to get done, you're screwed on time. Seriously, in order to enjoy the trail, camp at better spots, see everything you want to see, and take it easier for any potential altitude problems, I would really recommend that you ditch the North Pines reservation, take the extra night on the trail, then spend that last night at the backpacker's camp before catching the bus the last morning.
Phil
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 899
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:02 am
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby embrookemd » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:26 pm

Phil wrote:
embrookemd wrote:Thanks! We actually do plan to do Cathedral-->Sunrise-->Clouds Rest-->LYV/Half Dome-->Valley.


You better book it and plan on long days with not having the time to really see much more than where your next footfall is going to be. I guess that begs the question of what your plans are for each night's camping, how many miles you think you can do in a day, and what your anticipated pack weights are going to be. People generally allow 3 days alone for going straight through from the trailhead to the Valley, a day for CR, and definitely another whole day for HD. It's not that it can't be done, at least the principle route, but it's largely a matter of the best places to camp and water availability, now closely followed by avoiding spending the night in fire damaged areas. You've got to make that bus back to Fresno, but you've got two nights scheduled in the Valley between the backpacker's camp and North Pines. If altitude does a number on you, combined with what you want to get done, you're screwed on time. Seriously, in order to enjoy the trail, camp at better spots, see everything you want to see, and take it easier for any potential altitude problems, I would really recommend that you ditch the North Pines reservation, take the extra night on the trail, then spend that last night at the backpacker's camp before catching the bus the last morning.


I'm confused about this. The route we're taking from Cathedral to the Valley is ~24 miles. Add in 7 miles RT from LYV campground to Half Dome, and we're at 31 miles in 4 days. I suppose this depends on hiker experience, but the day splits don't seem that long at all. This is 25 miles shorter than previous hikes we've done in the same length of time. We have UL gear and experience (one of us is even an ultra-marathoner). I think our original plan of 3 nights/4 days for the backpacking portions is plenty of time for us, but don't understand what you mean about the camping. Our first day in the park will be in the Valley until the YARTS bus to Tuolumne at 5PM. We'll overnight that night in the Tuolumne BP's campground before setting out for the trail the next morning. Our first day in the trail, we're going to begin at the Cathedral Lake TH, will hike to Cathedral Lakes and evaluate how we're feeling with the elevation (as previously posted, we've hiked--and raced--at heights above 10,000' in RMNP and other regions). We'll decide then whether to overnight at Cathedral or hike on to overnight at one of the Sunrise Lakes. Day 2 we'll ascend Clouds Rest, and then will again decide whether to camp there or continue on to either the JMT junction or LYV campground. Day 3, we'll get up early, do Half Dome, and then overnight at LYV campground. Day 4, we'll pack up and head to the Valley Floor, likely via Mist Trail. We should be there by lunch time, and then will have the remainder of that day for showers, food, relaxing, and some Valley exploring. Overnight that night in the North Pines backpackers' campground, then spend the next day in the Valley. Final night in Upper Pines, and then bussing out in the morning. Maybe I'm missing something? Seems more than doable to me.
embrookemd
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:52 pm

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:31 pm

Pacing is one thing that's highly variable. Some focus on camping and stop early, others hike dawn to dusk.

I know a few who consider that route a day hike. Others would slow it down and spend a lot of time meditating on any rock they found appealing.
AlmostThere
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1699
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 6:57 pm
Location: Central Valley California

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby Phil » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:03 pm

As I said, it can be done, and yes, trailhead to the Valley as a day hike.

I'm one of the people that breaks it down to camping and water, and I also have the luxury of no schedule to meet when I hike. If I have to go dawn to dusk, I will. If I go only a few miles, that's fine too.

If you guys want to make time and don't anticipate any issues with altitude, you should be good (but you never know, even ultra-marathoners and mountaineers succumb sometimes when they least expect it). It's all subjective.

That said, I'm assuming that you're flying all this way to "see" and "enjoy" Yosemite. To me, that doesn't necessarily mean meditating on every rock, but at least slowing down and meditating on at least a few.

My breakdown of the trip would look something like this:

Night 1- Upper Cathedral Lake- Lovely

Night 2- One of the Sunrise Lakes (preferably middle or upper)- great sites, again, lovely, good position for CR the next day.

Night 3- After descending CR, down to the CRxJMT junction to camp at Sunrise Creek and position for HD in the morning. With proper food storage and site prep, avoiding bear issues, leave packs/camp and do HD as a day hike with only what you need for the day, not everything, even UL gear. Staying here, you also avoid not only LYV, but eliminate a 2 mile re-climb back to the HD spur trail.

Night 4- Skip LYV entirely and remain in night 3's site....LYV is not as nice...apartments without walls and, too often, bad neighbors.

Day 5- Exit at Happy Isles and head to the backpacker's camp

Of course, you could always remain on schedule and go to LYV or exit on day 4, but if you want to stay where it's infinitely nicer and avoid the thundering herds (August? You better believe it!), I like my way better. If you guys have two days scheduled at the end of your trip in the Valley, I would just think that it would be preferable to allot one to being somewhere nicer than Disneyland with daypacks.

With time, it's not so much about making it, it's about enjoying it and strategy.
Phil
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 899
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:02 am
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby MadDiver » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:35 am

Cathedral Lake(s) are only about 3.5 miles and +1000' from TM. With even a mid-morning start, I believe, most of us would be there before noon. It's also an "easy" trail by my standards. Continuing to Sunrise Lakes is about 9 miles, and +2200' total. That sets up a pretty easy day 2 up and over CR then down. As the others said: why go down to LYV? Stay up high and camp below the switchers (there are many posts about camping up there) or further down near Sunrise Creek if need be for water. Yes, altitude plays a role, but it seems the OP has dealt with it previously and has scheduled accordingly. Oh, personally I'd just rent a car and not be at the mercy of the bus schedule, but your trip, your $$, do it your way :)
MadDiver
Very frequent poster
Very frequent poster
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:26 pm

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:39 am

Fishing and swimming are definite afternoon activities one can embrace... Brook trout generally don't care what they eat and make good fish fry.

A friend of mine likes to stop for the day at 3 so he can wash the sweat out of his clothes after changing into his non-hiking base layer for the evening. Having some down time to fiddle around, gather campfire wood (9600 elevation and above, no fires allowed, and in Yosemite they want you to not build rings, use only established ones please), pitch a spinner in the lake (or a fly in the stream) or bask in the sun on open granite for a while is one of the perks of the less intense Sierra trip, IMO.
AlmostThere
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1699
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 6:57 pm
Location: Central Valley California

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby embrookemd » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:35 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. We are definitely keeping our agenda less rigid and can/will adjust as desired, but the Valley is something we'd still like to see. We understand that it is crowded and touristy, but we're also from a very rural area and as such, most of our local backpacking and camping trips are already very secluded (Allegheny & Adirondacks areas, mostly). Definitely a personal choice, but for me, being able to people watch and have amenities like restaurants and the campground experience is a novel change of pace from our regular lives, and something we welcome in small doses after a backcountry hike. Another personal choice here, as well, but when I go backpacking, part of what I enjoy about it most is the actual hiking. For us, we definitely differentiate between backpacking and camping. We absolutely plan to take time to check out the areas around camp, but the desire to sitting in front of a campfire after dark isn't high on my list of favorite activities. In fact, we never made a fire once on our Oregon hike last summer, and were in bed when the sun went down most nights. It just a different style of backpacking, surely, but I do appreciate the suggestions. Hike your own hike, and all that! (My husband is more of a fishing and campfire kind of guy, which is why I do backpacking trips with my like-minded women friends, and he goes on fishing hikes with his group.)

Anyway, regardless of how we split our daily itineraries, we look forward to visiting Yosemite. We chose it randomly from a list of several potential destinations, just in the knick of time to get our permit applications and campground reservation in! It's really been after we made our basic plans that we're been looking more in-depth into the details, and we're all excited that we made an excellent choice for our girls-trip this year! Having too much to see within our time constraints is the best kind of problem to have!
embrookemd
Newbie
Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:52 pm

Re: Valley Highlights in One Day

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:52 pm

AlmostThere wrote:Fishing and swimming are definite afternoon activities one can embrace... Brook trout generally don't care what they eat and make good fish fry.

A friend of mine likes to stop for the day at 3 so he can wash the sweat out of his clothes after changing into his non-hiking base layer for the evening. Having some down time to fiddle around, gather campfire wood (9600 elevation and above, no fires allowed, and in Yosemite they want you to not build rings, use only established ones please), pitch a spinner in the lake (or a fly in the stream) or bask in the sun on open granite for a while is one of the perks of the less intense Sierra trip, IMO.


Oh yeah. Count me in for that, AT. Pretty much describes how we spend every afternoon on a backpacking trip. (Only for me it's a fly either way, lake or stream!)
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
balzaccom
Veteran-poster
Veteran-poster
 
Posts: 1179
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