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Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??

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Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 30, 2009 05:37PM
I am new to High Sierra hiking and I am planning to hike on the John Muir trail from Tioga Road to the Sunrise huts. And then to the May Lake the next day. I would like to talk to someone who has experience on these trails. I have questions about what the trails are like, and level of severity of the hike.

-Chuck
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 30, 2009 07:24PM
Old people do it.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 30, 2009 07:33PM
Quote
mrcondron
Old people do it.

Old people do Whitney too.
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 30, 2009 08:07PM
Quote
Chuck F
I am new to High Sierra hiking and I am planning to hike on the John Muir trail from Tioga Road to the Sunrise huts. And then to the May Lake the next day. I would like to talk to someone who has experience on these trails. I have questions about what the trails are like, and level of severity of the hike.

-Chuck

From Toulumne Meadows to Sunrise you pass Cathedral Lakes. It is a wonderful hike except the section out of Toulumne Meadows which seemed like a lot of switchbacks for about 2 miles. There is an extraordinary spring along the route in that section. Most people lunch at Cathedral Lakes. Some bit of climb out of Cathedral lakes to a pass(?Cathedral Pass). From Sunrise, the hike to Sunrise Lakes has some uphill (about 1/2 mile) drops down to the lakes then climbs a little to the junction with the trail that goes to Clouds Rest. There are some serious switchbacks downhill to Tenaya Lake, then you have a steady climb to May Lake. You can stash some gear at Tenaya Lake-May Lake trailhead and collect it or drop off dirty clothes in bearproof boxes at that spot if you want to reduce the weight your are packing. It is also possible to drive to a spot about 1/2 way between Tenaya Lake and May Lake on the "May Lake Road" off Tioga Pass. You could shave some hiking off the trip by leaving a car at Tenaya Lake and using the shuttle to get to the Cathedral Lake Trailhead your first day (shuttle does not go to past Olmstead Point or up the May Lake Road, unless that has changed).

Maybe if you could be more specific I could give you more appropiate information.

There is a good map/brochure available through the Yosemite Associaton http://www.yosemite.org/Prod-19-1-41/Guide_to_Yosemite_High_Sierra_Trails.htm on high sierra trails. It is not under the map section of the website for some reason. cost about $2.50 and shows mileage, elevation gain, etc. Worth the money. Also, usually available at stores on Yosemite.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/30/2009 08:17PM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 08:59AM
Chuck,

Should we presume you are talking overnight at Sunrise High Sierra Camp and possibly at May Lake HSC also? If yes to either one you need separate wilderness permits for each side of Tioga Road plus reservations if you plan to stay in the tent cabins (hard to get). If you are staying at the HSC designated backpacker areas you need only the wilderness permit(s). If day tripping each of those trails there are no permits or reservations required. Also, when do you plan to do this? All those trails are presently snow covered.

Jim
Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 09:13AM
Jim,

Thanks for the response.

We have reservations for the tent cabins at Sunrise and May. Our dates are early Sept, just after Labor Day. At this point our main concern is the difficulty of the trails. We are 2 couples ranging in age from upper 50's to upper 60's. All have hiked. The oldest in fact are the strongest hikers, and have no doubts about this itinerary. Our concern is the two weaker hikers, whether they'll be able to handle it.

Our understanding so far is one hurdle is the altitude. Don't know how difficult it is to get acclimated or whether some may not get successfully acclimated.

Also - the general terrain. Is it all "walkable"? We do not want to deal with "scrambling".

Finally - we know there is one steep downhill stretch between Sunrise and May. Just how difficult is this stretch? Again, is it walkable? Don't want to have to climb down.

In a nutshell, can occasional hikers, healthy but not necessarily athletic, handle this route?

Chuck
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 09:26AM
Chuck,

As far as I know there is no scrambling required. Stand-up switchback trail areas, yes.

As for stamina of the couple of concern, one can only find out. It might be wise for them to attempt some day hiking at altitude another time prior to this trip. Lembert Dome, using the Dog Lake trail approach, would be a good suggestion for introducing them to Toulumne Meadows area altitudes without overdoing it. Another choice for this purpose would be Elizabeth Lake. That one represents a steady climb all the way and would be a real measure of what they can handle. My wife discovered that she is very susceptible to altitude sickness around 9,000'. This came as a complete surprise to her and we are glad it was something we could discover on a short day hike (Lembert Dome). She also required far more frequent rest stops that I did. A day later she was fine on Sentinel Dome which is lower altitude.

Also, in respect to altitude effects, make sure they are well hydrated. This provides some alleviation.

Jim
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 09:33AM
Also... I would suggest taking ibuprofin after your hike every night (not before or morning of).
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 09:41AM
Quote
bill-e-g
Also... I would suggest taking ibuprofin after your hike every night (not before or morning of).
Part of my standard "geriatric trail mix" , which also includes vitamin D and docusate.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 09:31AM
Quote
Chuck F
Jim,

Thanks for the response.

We have reservations for the tent cabins at Sunrise and May. Our dates are early Sept, just after Labor Day. At this point our main concern is the difficulty of the trails. We are 2 couples ranging in age from upper 50's to upper 60's. All have hiked. The oldest in fact are the strongest hikers, and have no doubts about this itinerary. Our concern is the two weaker hikers, whether they'll be able to handle it.

Our understanding so far is one hurdle is the altitude. Don't know how difficult it is to get acclimated or whether some may not get successfully acclimated.

Also - the general terrain. Is it all "walkable"? We do not want to deal with "scrambling".

Finally - we know there is one steep downhill stretch between Sunrise and May. Just how difficult is this stretch? Again, is it walkable? Don't want to have to climb down.

In a nutshell, can occasional hikers, healthy but not necessarily athletic, handle this route?

Chuck

Optimally, It is always better to spend a least at least a few days to begin acclimation prior to climbs above 6000 ft but Sunrise is not very high elevation and most individuals of reasonable health are unlikely to have problems. For optimum preparation, you shouldn't have a problem getting reservations at Toulumne for a day or two before if you would like to develop some acclimation prior to the hike. Full acclimation to altitude takes a least 30 days, but a day or two will begin the respiratory adjustments and reduce the chances of headache-nausea of Acute Mountain Sickness.

The trail from Sunrise to May Lake has a section with switchbacks but no steep scrambling. It is definitely walkable (only other option would be mules or horses). Knees can be challenged by downhill hiking. Most people are more troubled by foot problems (blisters) in my experience than anyother issue hiking in this section of the Sierras. September will be rather dry I suspect this year.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 09:52AM
Quote
Chuck F
Jim,

Thanks for the response.

We have reservations for the tent cabins at Sunrise and May. Our dates are early Sept, just after Labor Day. At this point our main concern is the difficulty of the trails. We are 2 couples ranging in age from upper 50's to upper 60's. All have hiked. The oldest in fact are the strongest hikers, and have no doubts about this itinerary. Our concern is the two weaker hikers, whether they'll be able to handle it.

Our understanding so far is one hurdle is the altitude. Don't know how difficult it is to get acclimated or whether some may not get successfully acclimated.

I acclimated in about one day in the Valley.

Quote
Chuck F
Also - the general terrain. Is it all "walkable"? We do not want to deal with "scrambling".

Finally - we know there is one steep downhill stretch between Sunrise and May. Just how difficult is this stretch? Again, is it walkable? Don't want to have to climb down.

In a nutshell, can occasional hikers, healthy but not necessarily athletic, handle this route?

Chuck

I don't think any of this trail requires scrambling. It's not Longs Peak crossing the boulder field. I did the stretch between Tenaya Lake and the junction to reach Sunrise Lakes (I was heading for the John Muir Trail on the way to Half Dome). There might be some creek crossings, but they're not too bad with the current water levels. It may be steep (I was going up, not down), but there won't be any scrambling. The typical terrain will be dirt trails, but the steep parts are typically carved and/or laid out granite shaped into steps. Adjustable hiking poles can help.

I would recommend a good map. This is the one I used:

http://www.natgeomaps.com/ti_206.html?searched=yosemite&highlight=ajaxSearch_highlight+ajaxSearch_highlight1
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 10:29AM
Quote

I acclimated in about one day in the Valley.


I have been doing some reading recently on altitude acclimatization.

What is acclimation?
1.changes in blood chemistry to influence how oxygen is picked up and released by hemoglobin

a. hyperventilation reduces CO2 in lungs and allows a little more “room” for O2 in the lung sacs (alveoli)
b. decreased CO2 from hyperventilation changes how oxygen is picked up by hemoglobin in the lungs
c. increase in blood molecule, 2,3 BPG , influences how O2 delivery to tissue will occur

2. changes in the mechanics of blood oxygen delivery capacity to the tissues

a. increased red blood cell count (takes weeks)
b. increased cardiac output (efficiency changes take days to weeks)


3.requires minimum elevation challenge, possibly as low as 5000ft but probably closer to
7000ft. {do not stop in Yosemite Valley and expect to “acclimatize” much}

Diseases of concern= Acute Mountain Sickness, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, High Altitude Cerebral Edema

Conclusions:
1. Under 5,000 ft, there is little compromise to physical performance in healthy, but un-acclimated individuals
2. Full adjustment to altitude requires weeks to months; limited acclimation may occur after about 3 days (the correction of respiratory alkalosis and some production of 2,3 BPG in blood)
3. Acclimation requires a minimal elevation, probably greater than 5,000 ft and possibly closer to 7,000 ft..
4. There are no predictors of altitude sickness, except prior AMS (some people more susceptible than others)
5. Pulmonay edema and cerebral edema are unpredictable but are more associated with very high elevation challenge
6. There is benefit of acetazolamide (Diamox) for those prone to AMS (also consider sumatriptan and dexamethazone)-- discuss with your physician

useful reference
< http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/3-97-6/ch1.htm#sec2par2>;



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2009 10:35AM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 11:24AM
Chuck,
It's seven miles between May Lake HSC and Sunrise HSC. At one mile per hour, a virtual crawl, it can be done between breakfast and dinner. You won't be carrying much more than a day pack.
Have walking sticks and don't hesitate to stop and take in the scenery every half hour or so for five to ten minutes. Find a rock and sit down for a while. Going either direction, May to Sunrise or Sunrise to May, isn't going to take acclimatizing outside of the hike. I would consider that hike acclimatizing in and of itself.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 11:49AM
In September, if you plan to use the shuttle as mentioned in an earlier post, be sure the shuttle is still running on the dates you expect it.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Question about Yosemeti High Sierra Hiking??
May 31, 2009 12:59PM
Hi Chuck,

If you find that there is a big difference between the hiking levels within the group, I strongly suggest that you discuss some "ground rules" before you even set out. It's a good idea to determine A) if you are going to stay together as a group on the trail, with a pace being determined by the slowest members, or B) agree to regroup along the way during intervals. I like the mandatory wait-for-the-stragglers at all trail junctions and creek crossings, always. Personally, I do not like to let one person straggle alone, so I will usually assign myself to the end of the group (years of tour guiding dictates that it saves me the weight of worry) AND, in the past, it was usually me who was the lone straggler, so I know how it feels to be "alone" on a group adventure. You can be flexible, of course, as some people are quite comfortable being alone, and they are happy to just regroup now and then. Either way, it will save potential hurt feelings if all of the minor logistics are worked out ahead of time.

Bee Cowboy
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