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Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerras

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

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Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerras

Postby Tyler200 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:10 am

HELLO

I had a backpacking trip planned (Aug 12-19) for Yosemite but the current fires/smoke look like a problem. I was planning on trying to get a walk up permit for anywhere I got. (Party of 3)

I'm flying into LAX and getting a rental car. I'm open to drive anywhere. Was Hoping to get a high Sierra Mountains view for our trip. We have never been out west before

Question:
What places could you recommend to go backpacking in California. Preferably a loop OR longer trail as we will have 1 car.


Flying in early on the 12th and flying out on the morning of the 19th both at LAX.

Thanks so much!
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Justin-T » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:35 am

Kings Canyon - Sequoia NP might be your best bet, also closer to LA than Yosemite. You will get a similar experience to Yosemite there and there are walk-in permits available for each trailhead. Couple questions - do you live at elevation, also how many nights do you want to do - sounds like in practice the best you could do is maybe 4 (13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, drive back to LA on the 18th so you can catch your morning flight on 19th), but are you planning to do a day hike or two to acclimate before you start backpacking?
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Phil » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:12 am

They're still estimating having the Ferguson fire contained by August 15th, so even a little before that, the smoke should be clearing substantially. If not, you'll still want to check conditions anywhere you go. We have no shortage of fires and smoke.

So, Justin, where'd you end up going?
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Tyler200 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:11 pm

I was looking at the Rae Lakes loop in Kings canyon any experience, advice or recommendations for that?
Loop looks really cool, elevation would be a concern. Thoughts??? other trails?

Justin I do not live at elevation so altitude sickness/thinner air is a concern.
As for how many nights, the 13th starting if a permit was obtainable and then through the 17th possibly the 18th night too would be fine as long as i exited early-mid day for time to get back

Day hikes in prep for altitude? I was hoping to go on 1 trail and do that for the short time i'm there. Rae lakes starts "fairly low" but then climbs to 12k. Don't how long it takes to get that high, Maybe it climbs over the course of a few days to acclimate? I'd prefer to jump into something since i'm not there too long but I know what ignorance can do so i'm trying to play it safer

Phil You think there could be the possibility of Yosemite clearing with smoke and fires ending around the 15th? possibly before? Or should I just cross that off completely
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:20 pm

Rae lakes is probably pretty booked, especially since everyone else with permits for Yosemite will head to the other park.

Best bet is likely having a few possibilities in mind for other trailheads from another office - they do not let you pick up permits for trailheads outside Kings Canyon at Roads End, so you severely limit your options by going there, to Bubbs Creek, Woods Creek, Lewis trail or Copper trail - all some steep, hot, hot hot hoooooottttt hiking. From Lodgepole you can get permits for Jennie Wilderness trailheads and into the park, for Twin Lakes/Silliman Pass, for Wolverton (two trailheads there technically - Lakes trail, Alta trail) from which you can access the High Sierra trail, the lakes (pear/emerald) and if you are conversant with cross country the Tablelands, Alta Meadow... Go to the Giant Forest and you can get a permit for Crescent Meadow out the High Sierra trail from that trailhead.

Some moderate elevation loops with slower climbs out of Jennie Wilderness. For a no-permit option, do the loop in Jennie - very leisurely if more than two days, but as long as you stay in that wilderness you need no permit.

The fire in Yosemite is across 41 and burning along Glacier Point Rd. ALL employees have been evacuated from Wawona and the valley, and 120 is closed at Crane Flat. No one is getting in there to get a permit from any office until the evacuation is lifted. I don't know what trailhead you were trying to access, but it's unclear what smoke will be like mid-month at this juncture.
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Tyler200 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:31 pm

ill check those out thanks! as for permits, as long as there is at least 3 walk up i'm honestly fine getting there at 2am and just waiting until they hand them out
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:33 pm

There are 5. The guy in front of you could take all of them. They are available starting the afternoon before, not the morning of. You will have to wait around and hope someone with reserved permits does not pick them up, and since the morning will start to heat up by that time, starting up either Bubbs or Woods Creek will mean hiking uphill continuously in 80-90F and often in full sun.
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Tyler200 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:48 pm

damn im just stumped. thought i had this all planed out a month ago but then the Yosemite fires broke out
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:58 pm

Most of the trailheads in other parts of the park are starting higher, at 7k, and don't require you to do 2-3k of elevation gain in the first day to camp. The temps will be in the 60s-70s at 7k and higher. This is why I'm recommending those over Roads End, which is at 4k - I was there in early July and it was 90F at nearly 10 pm in the campground, the day before we hiked very, very, very early in the morning up Bubbs. We got the permit in the afternoon.
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby balzaccom » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:45 pm

If you are flying into LAX, the other obvious option is to head up 395, up the East side of the Sierra. The trailheads in general start higher over there, so you are up in the high country almost immediately. And there are a bunch of trailheads, all the way up to the East side of Yosemite and beyond. For example, Hoover Wilderness East and North of Yosemite has no permit quotas for Leavitt Meadows, where you could hike up the Walker River for a wonderful trip. And some of the long, dry steep approaches on the East side never fill up their quotas---like Baxter or Taboose Pass. Once over those passes, you are in heaven.

SEKI right now is just packed, because all the folks who were planning to visit Yosemite are now there. I'd look at trails out of Lone Pine, Independence, and Bishop to start...and then keep going North until I found something that would work.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:48 pm

Going from Horseshoe Meadow to Golden Trout wilderness would be an easy one to get... don't believe GTW even has quotas. If you got Cottonwood Lakes over New Army to Rock Creek, that would be a really nice one as well.
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Phil » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:41 am

The thing about all this rethinking of trip alternatives is that it's slightly premature to be scrambling to salvage what you have now when it's smoke, not fire, in pretty much the vast, vast, vast majority of YNP. You're going all over the place in what you're considering as options, but there's smoke in all those places too. Like a lot. Like if it's east of the Ferguson Fire, it's smokey. So what you're doing is not trying to get around hiking in burned/burning areas, you're just trying to avoid really shitty air quality. You're going to end up in LA and the Sierras in about 9 or 10 days. OK, there you are. One way or another, you get this far, you're going to have to wing it on the ground or stay with what you have. Unfortunate timing, maybes all across the board, but you're trying to hit a moving target when nobody knows what that target is even going to be in terms of smoke from one fire, many fires, new fires, other fires, etc. You go some of these places, you're going to get tons of other people also second guessing things, hot temperatures, still smoke, and altitudes or climbs to get to where you're going that are going to wipe you out a lot faster than what I happen to think is going to end up being not as bad in a week or so as it is right now. But yep, you're winging it. Get here, see where things stand, adjust on-the-fly. Unless you head up 395, you're going to have to come through the park anyhow from somewhere or another anyhow. You'll be there, see what's up. I'm betting that you end up in Yosemite and have a great time, as planned, and I am not generally an optimist. You now have the best my two cents has to offer.

Keep apprised of the conditions shown on the webcams. They tell the story.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/photosmu ... ebcams.htm
Last edited by Phil on Sat Aug 04, 2018 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby woodhog » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:45 am

One great possibility would be from Devils Postpile TH to Minarets Lake. It's really stunning and not to strenuous.
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby balzaccom » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:52 am

There are reports now of a Donnell Fire, along highway 108 East of Pinecrest. That would change the game quite a bit.
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Where to go backpacking. Backup plan ANYWHERE in Sirerra

Postby Tyler200 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:18 pm

I appreciate all the feedback, especially from you Phil, thanks for your 2 cents.

I sure hope everything changes for the better, I was looking at smoke maps and live cams (http://www.rntl.net/sierralookoutcams.htm)
and it looked like all the sierras are smoky right now. There really are not to many places to find clearer air during fire season huh, like you said just trying to find areas less shitty.
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