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[Yosemite]

4 day loop hiking suggestions

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

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4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Nowak1981 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:54 am

I have a two week vacation that I plan on spending in Yosemite. This is my first time to the area and I want to scout out the JMT. To see if it's something I can accomplish.

My vacation starts on the 11th of Sept to the 25th, it takes 3 days to drive there from Iowa, about 8 hours a day. I'd like to spend 4 days in the backcountry, preferably at the higher elevations, I'd like to go over at least one pass and end up back at my car. I prefer the more open spaces and I want to check out the sleeping conditions. Most of my experiences have been in Zion where it is half the elevation and much warmer.

The rest of my time there I will prolly check out the different resupply points, maybe half dome if I can score a permit. Some other day hikes.

I'd like to keep it around 10miles a day, I've found that if I can finish by 3 or so and resting and eating the rest of the day works well for me. I plan on spending a night in Denver on my drive over. Hopefully i will have sufficient equipment to handle the colder climate. If not I can get some on my way there.

Thanks for any advice you can provide.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:21 am

Have you backpacked before?
Or hiked? At high elevation? Crossing creeks that are fast and deep?
Or in snow patches?
When it's 30-20F at night?
Used a bear canister to store all food, trash, other items with scent?
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Nowak1981 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:55 am

I have backpacked before, I just came back from Zion doing the 5 day trans-zion trek. I've gotten my pack weight down to a comfortable 30lbs fully loaded.

The highest I have hiked and camped was the west rim in Zion at about 7200 ft. I do about 1.5 miles per hour based on that trip. I have camped once in the white mountains when it was about 35, I used a hammock and a really bad military sleeping bag. That was a cold night. I've made it a point to try and prepare myself for Yosemite. Purchased good rain gear and wool long underwear and a katabatic gear 30 degree bag. I do plan on renting a bearikade, I found one online, but can anyone recommend a place in town for one?

I'd like to avoid snow, i realize that it's late in the year but I didn't want to be bombarded by bugs either. Creek crossings, I have no experience with. I know your suppose to unhook your pack, face the flow and use your sticks.

Bears are also new for me, I know that you need to make noise to scare them off. Use bear can, don't eat food in or near tent. I'm curious about keeping snacks in pockets while hiking, or wiping pepperoni grease on your pants? Can I leave the pack outside or should I sleep with it? I have a big Agnes cooper spur ul1 solo tent. It gets kinda cramped in there with the pack in there.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:09 am

The Bearikades are better rented by mail unless you want to do more driving to the visitor centers in Sequoia - Kings. The Yosemite Conservancy rents only the Garcia.

By late September the bugs might be done - but everything is delayed, as the snow is still present and melting. I had planned to get to a lake at 11k this year, and it's still covered in ice and snow - I'm not even sure all the snow will melt, at this point. It's being very stubborn. But you shouldn't have an issue with the stream crossings if you are going out over Donahue Pass, or an alternate would be Mono/Parker Pass - less busy, easier to get permits, alpine scenery and quite a bit less traffic on the trail.

It might start snowing again, in September, but that's usually not the big dump of feet of snow, just an inch or so here and there. It starts to get colder at night at elevation.

In some areas the bears steal packs -- along the JMT there will be determined bears who are used to getting food from people, so emptying the pack and putting it in the tent when you aren't wearing it is probably a better idea. While you're hiking you can keep food with you, no problem, but when you go to bed it should all be in the can with the trash and the lip balm and anything else that smells like it might be food. They don't seem interested in you or your clothing even if you have been handling or eating food. They do like Power Bait, though, or lures that come into contact with it. I have a tooth hole or two in my tackle box after leaving it out.

If you're still using the hammock consider a lower route. I've attempted hanging from trees above 10k, they are springy and drop you on the ground. And also put your pad in the hammock and it will be warmer. I use an underquilt instead - more comfortable, but you have to sure you can hang and don't have to go to ground.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Nowak1981 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:26 am

Thank you for a lot of useful info, I sold my hammock. I'm a fitful side sleeper and did not do well in the hammock. I may consider getting a 2 person tent but that might have to wait til next year. Should I consider gloves? I was thinking of just get those cheap 1$ stretchy pair. They don't do well with a lot of wind thou. Can you recommend anything? I have a TNF puffy jacket, not sure what temps will be like hiking, should I look into getting a fleece instead?
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:32 am

You don't hike in jackets, you wear them in camp. I have down jackets, gloves, a change of dry socks for sleeping in - dry clothes like a base layer to change into when you're done hiking helps keep you warm at night. I have a very light windbreaker to throw on if it's breezy or chilly during the day. It probably won't be, that starts to happen in October usually.

I love my hammock. I toss and turn and roll around all night in my sleep and never wake up. But it's a Warbonnet, made for sleeping in and shaped for sleeping flat, not an ENO or other simple gathered end. Only place I sleep on my back comfortably, ever. I also love the alpine, though, so I have a small light tent -- a Lightheart Gear that sets up with trekking poles. Sleeping on the ground when I get uncomfortable I have to wake up and roll over. Can't just do it the way I do in a hammock.

I use liner gloves, unless it's going to be below freezing, then I add a pair of fleece gloves to put on over the liners for warmth. In winter I have a waterproof overglove to put on over the fleece gloves or the liners. Layering is the way to go - several thinner layers instead of one heavy one over your clothes.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Phil » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:38 pm

You better look into the Donahue Pass exit quotas for the JMT.

Some altitude, about 3 days, 10-ish per day, lakes...I would suggest Ten Lakes Basin with an exit at Tuolumne Meadows via Glen Aulin. Hitch or catch the YARTS shuttle back to the car at Yosemite Creek (the entry trailhead).

Alternately, with a couple extra days, Mono Meadow trailhead, Ottoway Lakes, Red Peak Pass, exit Yosemite Valley via Merced Lake.

Rain gear?...eh ( I always have something lightweight like a pack cover, jacket, maybe pants), but you're tempting shoulder season, so that 30 degree bag might not quite cut it. It's not so much that you're going to be running into anything residual from this season as it is that a new Fall is beginning, and maybe the weather turning with it. And yes, down is for camp.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Nowak1981 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:39 am

The bag I have is the katabatic gear palaisade quilt 30degree. I have a thermarest xlite to go with that. My TNF Thermoball jacket, which I believe is synthetic. I also have a set of smart wool nts 150 and 250 weight wool base layers. And a Patagonia torrentshell set. Im hoping this will be enough. I plan on spending a lot more time in Yosemite, so I would like to make sure I can be successful my fist time out there.

Any idea on what kind of temperatures I can expect? I was thinking maybe low 30s at night, not sure how quick and warm it gets. Most reading I find people still wearing shorts during the day.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby ChrisA » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:10 pm

Nowak1981 wrote:
Any idea on what kind of temperatures I can expect? I was thinking maybe low 30s at night, not sure how quick and warm it gets.


Just returned from a week of volunteer in the Valley. But this is by far the hottest place in the park. Down there I was in shorts and t-shirt before sunrise at 6:00am. At night I could not stand being inside a sleeping bag of any kind. I used it for a pad. Mid day doing any kind of physical work in direct sunlight is not fun especially with the required long pants/shirt vest and gloves.

At Glacier point it was more bearable. Heat is not such an issue above 7,000 feet. I'd say shorts and tee shirt at 7,000ft and a bit above. So mid day at 7 to 8 K get it is comfortable and well above 30 at night. Lower at valley floor is like living inside an oven and cool at higher elevation but I LIKE it cool.

I would not worry about hypothermia in late July or August.

At high backcountry elevations, yes you need something warm on morning and evenings. Still I'd not take my winter sleeping bag. The heat has been melting the snow like crazy. Conditions changes a lot between July 1 and July 15

That said you MUST still prepared of a reasonable worst case. A storm can come at any time and dump some rain and wind on you, possibly even hale. But even if that happens Gortex and thin fleece will be enough if you are active and if not tent and any summer weight sleeping bag would work

This late in summer the sun might be more of an issue than the cold. Bring a large wide brim hat.

(for calibration, I noticed about 25% of the people I see typically have more clothing on than I do during mornings and night.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby ChrisA » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:01 pm

Nowak1981 wrote:My vacation starts on the 11th of Sept to the 25th, it takes 3 days to drive there from Iowa, about 8 hours a day. I'd like to spend 4 days in the backcountry, preferably at the higher elevations, I'd like to go over at least one pass and end up back at my car.


One of your biggest issues will be getting a Wilderness Permit. I think all reservations are taken and you will have to get in line in the morning before and accept whatever is available. A lot depends on what the people in front of you in line wanted. So detailed planing is hard. Likely you plan a trip then have to change plans and make an instant route decision when the person handing out the permits says "here is what we have". The permits from trailheads leading to passes heading to Yosemite valley are the most popular and fill up faster. Any route on the JMT fills up fast too. So read up in advance, the Ten Lakes Basin is really nice and not as popular. Same for trails starting near White Wolf. Be prepared to make a decision in 10 seconds.

Actually this is my exact plan for next month. I'm just going to drive up there with no route in mind and and ask at the permit window "What's available?" Twice I found out about trails I'd not considered by asking "where are there the least number of people?".

You can TRY sending FAX requests starting now and hope to get a reservation but the popular routes are popular and about 1/2 are held for the walk-up window. So I've taken to using the window.

OK, just re-read. "higher" elevations I guess means you are going past Little Yosemite Valley and Merced Lake. So yes it likely will freeze at night in September. It will get chilly above 10,000 feet. Still this is not winter. Likely you will be in shorts but you must be prepared for a blast of freezing rain and wind.

There are MANY places to go. It you like higher, start from Tioga Road.

Snow is melting way-fast. There was a lot on July 1 and much less by July 15. I've not seen it this week but I'll be back there going a 2 or 3 day backup in August. I'd guess that by late Aug. there will only be patches remaining and areas of full coverage gone Last week the rivers were all back in their banks, high but no flood. Water will be lower in September.

Ask about weather a week before you leave, not now. But ALWAYS be prepared for the worst case of a summer storm that brings freezing rain. But your plan for dealing with it can be that you put up a tent and get in the sleeping bag and wait. The worst case is unlikely. I've seen hale in September and then four hours later back to wearing a t-shirt. It's unpredictable more then a few hours in advance.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:45 pm

ChrisA wrote:
I would not worry about hypothermia in late July or August.


Statistically speaking, summer is exactly when you should worry about hypothermia. People presume that summer means hot, or at least warm. They work up a sweat and yes, you can wear shorts and short sleeves. And then they stop hiking, breezes kick up, and their core cools down too rapidly. Hypothermia is NOT feeling cold, it is when your core temperature drops -- it starts slowly and works its way cooler over time, until you are starting to lose mental acuity. There are more cases in summer, when it is 50-60F outside, than there ever are in winter. Your body requires that it maintain a steady temperature for your brain and organs to function at optimum levels. You are sweating or wet, cold breezes come up in the afternoon, you are a little dehydrated from being in the arid high elevations, and you don't realize that you're becoming chilled.

This is the true danger of solo hiking -- no one to notice when you are mumbling, stumbling, fumbling, your way into severe hypothermia and there is no one to stop you and throw you in your sleeping bag. Or rescue you from bad decisions. You think they are good ones when you make them, think you are going the right way on the right trail, but not really.

I have a windbreaker. I don't hike in shorts - mainly because of sun exposure, but also because I am female and feel cold quicker than men most of the time - and I don't let myself get chilled. I change into dry clothing when I stop hiking at the end of the day. Sleeping in sweaty clothes keeps you chilled. I don't stop drinking in the late afternoon to avoid the get-up-to-pee chill at night, I just get up, because a little activity gets the blood flowing through the capillaries and increases warmth, not decrease just because I am out at night. Eat well, drink more than you think you need -- if you are thirsty that's mild dehydration -- and manage sweat. Have layers and remove/add them to keep your core warm enough. Depriving your body of calories increases risk of hypothermia, dehydration increases risk of hypothermia, and not recognizing the symptoms early and doing something about it increases risk of more severe hypothermia.

Here is a good resource: https://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/hypocold.shtml
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Phil » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:23 am

Nowak1981 wrote:Any idea on what kind of temperatures I can expect? I was thinking maybe low 30s at night, not sure how quick and warm it gets. Most reading I find people still wearing shorts during the day.


That's the thing about shoulder season; probably still warm, but prone to changes. The trick is to watch the weather patterns just before the trip, and then the forecast for when you're actually out. The permitting stations will have the 7-day forecast posted. For point forecasts, have a NOAA app on your phone that allows you to specify exactly where you'll be. Keep in mind that temps drop off or rise at a rate of 3 +/- degrees per 1,000 ft of elevation gain or loss. Have all the gear you might need in the car, be prepared to add or cull as required, but don't get caught unprepared. The Sierras are a wringer for precipitation...take all that Pacific moisture, lift it, cool it, drop it in the form of rain or snow. In late Sept, and with the addition of a bear can, plan on that 30 lb pack weight going up about 5-10 lbs.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Nowak1981 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:09 am

I don't suppose anyone could point out a few camping areas over there. I know there is a couple that are one night only. Are there any decent sites where I can camp for a few days before and after the hike?
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:53 am

Tuolumne Meadows? Reds Meadow and Mammoth and areas in between have campgrounds. There are no reservation campgrounds up and down the highway between Mammoth and the pass, as well. I suppose it depends on where and when you get back to the car -- if you're doing a thru, leaving the car at the end and riding YARTS to the trailhead would allow you to get out very late or early before shuttles and busses are running, and head into town for the celebratory beer.
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Re: 4 day loop hiking suggestions

Postby Phil » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:25 pm

Nowak1981 wrote:I don't suppose anyone could point out a few camping areas over there. I know there is a couple that are one night only. Are there any decent sites where I can camp for a few days before and after the hike?


The "one night only" before and after your trip are going to be the designated backpackers' campgrounds. There are going to be several, but if the main campground those are attached to are closed for the season, so are the backpackers' sections. The exception being, Yosemite Valley.

Which leads to another important point: Unlike a lot of people that are going to be caught out with late openings of the campgrounds this year (ie: Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf, etc), with your scheduled dates, your issue is going to be seasonal closures of those same campgrounds. That's typically somewhere in the Sept 15th range. They may end up staying open longer this year, probably not. With this in mind, you should monitor campgrounds that are drive-up, generally/entirely first-come, first-served such as: White Wolf, Yosemite Creek, Porcupine Flat, Tamarack Flat, Bridalveil Creek, Camp 4 (too disgusting for anything but a desperation play). You can mix and match, bop around night to night, spread out.

The other alternative is to do a little research on the areas surrounding Yosemite and maybe even just drive and see what you find in various National Forests and recreation areas. Some of the lakes east on Tioga Rd (Hwy 120), toward Mammoth, even north, up towards Tahoe on Hwy 395 come to mind.

One other alternative is to get new wilderness permits for overnighters on trailheads that are either typically not so impacted, you can get a walk-up permit for fairly quickly and easily, or where the impact is starting to wane for the season, and, that have camping available with just a short hike. Remember, you must be at least one trail mile off Tioga Rd, or, in some cases, a given distance out in order to camp legally. Here's a map, note the colored arrowheads for restrictions:

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... lheads.pdf

Along the lines of the latter, within Yosemite NP, I would be thinking May Lake, Murphy Creek, Glen Aulin, maybe even Cathedral Lakes, Ireland Creek up Lyell Canyon, Young Lakes, Glacier Point...places like that. Basically, if you don't need the car 10 feet away, since you have the time, take more short trips.
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