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[Yosemite]

Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Travelling to and visiting Yosemite National Park. How to get there, what to see or do, and other Yosemite trip advice.

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Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:14 pm

I am starting to put together what I hope is a phenomenal 2 1/2 week (18 day) hiking trip in Yosemite in August 2013 picking what looks like the best Yosemite has to offer. Some requirements and notes. No backpacking other than staying at High Sierra Camps. We are strong dayhikers but need to acclimate to higher altitude. Can hike up to 20 miles in a day with an average of 12. We live in NY so coming by jet,my group (hopefully 6) would require all meals and would not have camping equipment with us. I have started plotting everything out and now I am ready to get into specifics. I have Jeffrey Schaffer's "Yosemite - Must-do Hikes for Everyone", and a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map. So now i am ready to get into the nitty gritty and over the upcoming month will start asking questions. So here goes:

Coming from either San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento (whichever rates and times look best - to be determined downstream) I plan on day 1 - air travel and stay in motel. Day 2 - Drive across park to Lee Vining. Hopefully find a kitchenette efficiency. Any reccommendations? En route grocery shop for 3 dinners & 3 breakfasts, do the Gaylor Lakes Hike which is something small (good for altitude acclimatizing - right?) and take in tourist attractions along Tioga Road as well as maybe an evening hike at Mono Lake. So here is the bait, now I hope I can catch some good advice. Lots more questions as I continue the planning process. Look forward to hearing from you.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:26 pm

Now day 3 - Elizabeth Lake or Cathedral Lakes?

Day 4: Would i be ready for Mt. Dana? or should I settle for Mono Pass?

So that is my plan for the three days in the eastern end of the park. Should I include Saddlebag Lake? Any other must do hikes i should do rather than what i have planned?

Next is the plan for the High Sierra Camps.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby dan » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:07 pm

I'll just answer the Tioga Road and Lee Vining questions.

Not many tourist attractions along the Tioga Road, except of course the incredible scenery! At the west end is a gas station. There's a burger stand with indoor tented seating at Tuolumne Meadows.

A few miles east outside the Park is Tioga Pass Resort. They serve meals to non-guests, but their capacity is very limited seating, so arrive early or reserve for dinner.

At the junction of the Tioga Road (120) and US 395, just south of Lee Vining is the Mobil gas station. Next to that is the Whoa Nellie Deli. Do not, do NOT miss that place--it's famous for it's good food! Tacos, ribs, pizza, salad--it's all good. http://www.whoanelliedeli.com/

Lake View Lodge in Lee Vining is probably the nicest. Motel style lodging. Don't know if they have efficiencies.
Lee Vining Motel is older, but reasonably kept up and has efficiencies, IIRC.
Yosemite Gateway is probably the cheapest. Needs a little more upkeep though, I think.

Mono Lake? It's pretty from a far and it's critical for wildlife (including Gulls). But to hike? I'm not so sure--lots of flys and it's hot. Visit early morning or late afternoon, if you wish. See the Tuffa Towers. But not a top priority.

Airports? Avoid Oakland or San Francisco--you have to fight the local traffic congestion and consume valuable time. Sacramento is a lot better.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:12 am

Thank you Dan for the info on Lee Vining. I will check out the Lee Vining Motel as well as Lakeview Lodge. Do you know anything about Panum Crater? Flight times/rates will probably be the most determining factor as to which airport I fly into and out of. I hope others will chirp in with more answers to my questions. When I stated tourist attractions, I meant scenic points of interest like Olmstead Point, lake Tenaya, maybe some falls to the east of Tioga Pass.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:20 am

I think you might be overthinking it. Olmsted Point has no logistics. You pull into a parking spot if you can find one, take some pictures, and move on. It's a great view, granted. Just not what you could call developed. Most of the overlooks from Tioga Road are just that, no museums, snack bars (unless you count the tourists feeding the marmots), or much beyond a helpful display sign identifying a peak or feature.

Taking a hike to points like North Dome, Mt Watkins, El Capitan - or on the other rim, Taft Point, Inspiration Point, Dewey Point, Crocker Point, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point (well, that one is a walk, has a snack bar, parking lot, etc) - is just a matter of you deciding how to budget your time. With 18 days I would do one per day, spend a day in the valley floor exploring, spend a day driving out to Wawona and do Chilnualna Falls, then go ride a tour bus or walk Mariposa Grove.

As you go from one point to another, when you see a pullout with a good view, take it. Move your car completely out of the road before parking. Enjoy the view, move on. Drive according to speed limits and don't hit the bears, please.

Oh, and don't feed the animals. Keep your food to yourself, follow food storage rules clearly posted, and have a great time.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:15 pm

Almost There: i think you are blowing out of proportion the stops I am making on my Tioga ride. Day 2 basically is a travel day and i agree with you. making quickie stops at Olmstead Point and Lake Tenaya as I drive across the park on tioga Road is sufficient. these are 5 minute photo stops (nothing more). Obviously with grocery shopping, traveling from one of the airport towns and hiking the Gaynor Lakes hike, how much time do I really have to hang out at the scenic tourist stops? I just ask if I were traveling along Tioga Road what several five minute stops would you make? I am trying to plan my trip better and see if i can get clear cut answers to my qustions to make the decisions that I need to make.This is primarily a day-hiking trip with some typical tourist stops thrown in. By the way the trip is actually 16 hiking days and i really have a problem squeeziing in a day for just touring the Yosemite Valley and/or the Wawona area. Too much other good hiking around. However, I might pick up a day if i can't get to hike Half Dome. so an alternate might be walking to the sights in the valley. Maybe as i unfold the rest of the trip, (check back in a month), you will see that i just don't want to miss any of the areas that are worth hiking to. But time does not allow me to see it all, so I ask for advice like Cathedral VS Elizabeth Lakes, Mono Pass VS Mt. Dana and more questions will follow. then I will add some items take others away from the first draft plan and i go from there in finalizing my plans. Also, my acceptance/rejection of Sierra High Camp plans will modify my schedule. In general if my vacations are well thought out and planned well in advance, I find I am happier in fulfilling my trip plans. I don't come home saying I should have done this hike or seen that. if I skip it i am aware I am missing it and with good reason. So be patient as my trip plans unfold and if you have answers to my questions, feel free to contribute . So I do have questions and hope the people that follow this board will help in making my final itinerary one i would look forward to following thru on without being completely overwhelming.

By the way I have questions about Chilnualna Falls and Mariposa Grove. But that I am saving for further along when I break down my schedule for the last couple of days.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:45 am

Now that I have finished my three days acclimatizing and visiting/hiking in the east end of the park. I am ready for the High Sierra camp Loop. I have numerous questions, so here goes:

1. Is there a set time for breakfast and/or dinner? What time are the meals served? What happens if late for the meal?

2. Can I climb Mt. Hoffmann and still hike from May Lake to Sunrise HSC?

3. Should I try to make a two night stay at Sunrise so I can do a circular utilizing the John Muir Trail down Sunrise Creek and then ascend up the ridge to get to Cloud s Rest making a circular hike? Is this loop too demanding because I lose over a 1000 feet of elevation gain. Is it worth doing this circular or should I hold off and save Clouds Rest for a separate dayhike up and back from Tioga Road a little further along in my vacation?

4. Lewis Creek VS Fletcher Creek en route from Merced Lake to Vogelsang. Opinions please. Are excursions to Babcock and Emeric or Bernice Lakes worth the extra mileage and effort?

5. Rafferty Creek VS Evelyn Lake/Lyell Canyon en route from Vogelsang to Tuolomne Meadows. Opinions please. Is an excursion to Ireland lake worth the extra mileage and effort?

6. Maybe do a figure 8 combining both routes in questions 4 & 5 and skip Tenaya Lake to Merced Lake via Sunrise. Again your thoughts.

Of course I might have to refine and change options based on whether I win occupance at the High Sierra Camps via the lottery. But if do option 6, I have to rethink what HSCs I try to reserve for!

It all seems win-win but I would love to see so much and you would think in 16 days of hiking I could, but the more I delve the more it looks to me that I will only scratch the surface. Anyway, I'd love to hear your expert opinions.

Thanks.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby Beerbecue » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:11 pm

askus3, I registered on this forum today just to respond to your question. I live a 3 hr drive from Lee Vining (near Oakhurst CA) and have been there many times. If you want to see some spectacular High Sierra scenery away from the Yosemite crowds, drive to Virginia Lakes basin just ~30 mins drive north from Lee Vining. The road takes you to nearly 10,000ft and from there you can take a relatively easy day hike to several subalpine lakes that few people besides fishermen only see). Gaylor Lakes basin is a great choice too with awesome views. Have fun!
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby paula53 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:00 pm

Reno is a 2 hour drive to Yosemite on hiway 395. No traffic like you would find in Sacramento. Its a beautiful drive, passing thru little towns , seeing Mono Lake and Lee Vining.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:54 pm

Really hoping someone will answer various questions in my post from July 28. I would love to go from Reno, but $, jet arrival time and route schedules from New york area will play alot into the decision of where I fly into and which route I take to Yosemite.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby Grzldvt » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:24 am

What you are asking is somewhat nebulous and based on our own personal opinions. Ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers
See my answers below
askus3 wrote:Now that I have finished my three days acclimatizing and visiting/hiking in the east end of the park. I am ready for the High Sierra camp Loop. I have numerous questions, so here goes:

1. Is there a set time for breakfast and/or dinner? What time are the meals served? What happens if late for the meal?
Yes there are set time 7:30 AM for breakfast and 6 PM for dinner. Some camps will hold your place up to a certain point of you are late for dinner. I suspect it is a 30 minute time limit, beyond that you may be on your own. It could be Top Raamen versus an incredible marinated steak, baked potato and veggies with brownies smothered in chocolate sauce

2. Can I climb Mt. Hoffmann and still hike from May Lake to Sunrise HSC?
Know one knows the answer but you. It depends on your physical conditioning. As a long distance runner who has completed 40 marathons, and someone that has done both climbs I wouldn't give it a second thought. For others, it is an absolute struggle to go directly from May Lake to Sunrise without suffering. You say you can do 20 miles a day, but at 8000+ feet is a whole different ball game than 3-4000 ft.
Just last week, we stumbled across a older couple doing the HSC route, and went from Glen Aulin via Murphy Creek to May Lake. I don't consider that odd route a big deal,, an odd diversion, yes. They were clearly suffering coming up the May Lake trail and 25 minutes past 6 PM,they were in trouble for dinner at the camp and it was very obvious they were struggling at the altitude.



3. Should I try to make a two night stay at Sunrise so I can do a circular utilizing the John Muir Trail down Sunrise Creek and then ascend up the ridge to get to Cloud s Rest making a circular hike? Is this loop too demanding because I lose over a 1000 feet of elevation gain. Is it worth doing this circular or should I hold off and save Clouds Rest for a separate dayhike up and back from Tioga Road a little further along in my vacation?
Once again it depends on your physical conditioning. However you do cut off several miles to Cloud's Rest from the High Sierra Camp, so your option would be my choice.

4. Lewis Creek VS Fletcher Creek en route from Merced Lake to Vogelsang. Opinions please. Are excursions to Babcock and Emeric or Bernice Lakes worth the extra mileage and effort?
Having done both several time, I prefer Lewis Creek as you can hit Toulumne peak on the way in. However keep in mind you do extra climbing and then drop down to Vogelsang. Not a big deal for most. The excursion to the side lake. Hmmm been there, done that and these are your typical mountain lakes with a few peaks. I am a bit jaded as I did them but would not go back as I did not view then as incredibly scenic. For someone that was into mountain lakes, they might be a gorgeous place
5. Rafferty Creek VS Evelyn Lake/Lyell Canyon en route from Vogelsang to Tuolomne Meadows. Opinions please. Is an excursion to Ireland lake worth the extra mileage and effort?

I prefer Lyell Canyon as the drop from Vogelsang is much more scenic with views of the peaks off to the left side. Excursion to Ireland - Yes

6. Maybe do a figure 8 combining both routes in questions 4 & 5 and skip Tenaya Lake to Merced Lake via Sunrise. Again your thoughts.
This question is confusing to me, guess I am missing something... Have to admit I have been consuming some of California's finest, so the brain might be a bit fuzzy at this point :mrgreen: You are going from where to where? Merced to Vogelsang to Toulumne back to Vogelsang?

Of course I might have to refine and change options based on whether I win occupance at the High Sierra Camps via the lottery. But if do option 6, I have to rethink what HSCs I try to reserve for!

It all seems win-win but I would love to see so much and you would think in 16 days of hiking I could, but the more I delve the more it looks to me that I will only scratch the surface. Anyway, I'd love to hear your expert opinions.

Thanks.
Steve
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby askus3 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:37 pm

Steve,

thanks for answering.

What I am saying in question 6 is to go from Tuolomne Meadows to Merced Lake as a figure 8 with stops at Vogelsang each way combining both choices offered in questions 4 & 5. in other words:
Day 1 - Tuolomne Meadows to Vogelsang via Rafferty Creek
Day 2 - Vogelsang to Merced Lake via Lewis Creek thru Vogelsang Pass
Day 3 - Merced Lake to Vogelsang via Fletcher Creek.
Day 4 - Vogelsang back to Tuolomne Meadows via Lyell Canyon.

Then skip Sunrise and do May Lake/Mt. Hoffman as a day hike from Tenaya Lake and hike from Tuolomne Meadow to Glen Aulin up and back as a 2 day hike staying in Glen Aulin HSC. Just so many choices. If this would help get spots in the lottery, I would be acceptable to do this route. What i am trying to do is figure out what I want to do in the time frame of 6-7 days in the High Sierra Camps area. So if I do this four day option then the Tenaya Lake to Merced Lake via Sunrise gets cut from my plans and what would work best with reservations that I am able to obtain at HSC.

Also, you mention you would go to Ireland Lake but not the others. Just curious what is special about Ireland Lake to go 3 miles (1.5 each way) to see, especially since you state that you aren't really big into lakes.
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Re: Trip Planning - Lodging - Lee Vining

Postby Grzldvt » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:49 am

askus3 wrote:Steve,

thanks for answering.

What I am saying in question 6 is to go from Tuolomne Meadows to Merced Lake as a figure 8 with stops at Vogelsang each way combining both choices offered in questions 4 & 5. in other words:
Day 1 - Tuolomne Meadows to Vogelsang via Rafferty Creek
Day 2 - Vogelsang to Merced Lake via Lewis Creek thru Vogelsang Pass
Day 3 - Merced Lake to Vogelsang via Fletcher Creek.
Day 4 - Vogelsang back to Tuolomne Meadows via Lyell Canyon.

Then skip Sunrise and do May Lake/Mt. Hoffman as a day hike from Tenaya Lake and hike from Tuolomne Meadow to Glen Aulin up and back as a 2 day hike staying in Glen Aulin HSC. Just so many choices. If this would help get spots in the lottery, I would be acceptable to do this route. What i am trying to do is figure out what I want to do in the time frame of 6-7 days in the High Sierra Camps area. So if I do this four day option then the Tenaya Lake to Merced Lake via Sunrise gets cut from my plans and what would work best with reservations that I am able to obtain at HSC.

Also, you mention you would go to Ireland Lake but not the others. Just curious what is special about Ireland Lake to go 3 miles (1.5 each way) to see, especially since you state that you aren't really big into lakes.

Got it, yes I really like the Figure 8 you have.
In my opinion, yes skip Sunrise. Been there many times and just don't find it as scenic as May Lake, again it is a personal opinion.
As far as the other Lakes, they are great, and again it is a personal opinion. For me, some lakes are worth visiting, others not so much.
Ireland Lake is small but has a very cool backdrop.
What makes this difficult to give opinions on, is the fact that I have been banging around the park for many years, as have many on this forum. We all have very, very different opinions of what we like and want to see.
Steve
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