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Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park

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advise for a two day hike

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advise for a two day hike
December 30, 2007 10:46PM
Hi there, I'm a newbie to snow camping (I just moved from a warm Country) and I'm looking for a somewhat easy overnight hike (it will be my first on snow). After reviewing some maps of Yosemite Valley I came up with going to the area of the Little Yosemite Valley campground avoiding the closed parts of the Mist and John Muir trails, camp around there and just come back the next day. I'm travelling with my wife (who's not really experienced camping in any conditions), does this sound like an easy enough hike? could you give me any other recomendations?

Thanks a lot,

Re: advise for a two day winter hike
December 31, 2007 06:31AM
Bad idea. The hike from Yosemite Valley floor to Little Yosemite Valley is up-up-up 2,000 feet. It's definitely not easy. It is difficult without a backpack. It is difficult with a summer backpack. It would be extremely difficult with a backpack filled with winter gear. You (or your wife) may get sick working that hard at high altitudes if you haven't spent time at that high elevation. When dealing with winter conditions, you're going to want to bring extra food in case you get trapped in a storm. If it was snowing, it would make it even harder on the acscent or decent.

I wouldn't recommend snowcamping with someone who doesn't have camping, let alone backpacking, experience. My husband and I took a snowcamping training class through the Sierra Club before attempting snowcamping in the mountains http://snowcamping.org

The thing that made me feel the most comfortable and safe was being with a group of people.

Do you have snowshoes? Do you have winter gear? Will you spend some time acclimating to the high altitude? Snowcamping can be very beautiful, but can turn scary fast if you are unprepared. Sleeping in a tent is cold. Bring hand and foot warmers.

If you are still set on snowcamping backpacking with someone who is inexperienced, I would suggest starting from Badger Pass up on Glacier Point Road. Possibly to Dewey Point (you can't camp on the point itself, you have to be back in the woods a bit). There is a beautiful view down into Yosemite Valley, particularly El Capitan, from there. You hike out on a fairly level road (though there are some up and downs which can be difficult if you are not acclimated to the high 8,000 foot altitude). After awhile you go off the road to get to the point. There is a steep but not super long hill before you reach Dewey Point.

You can talk to the people at the ski/snowshoe rental about conditions and other possible places to camp. If you can't make it all the way to the point, you can probably camp anywhere off the trail along the way. Call Badger Pass at (209) 372-8444 for up-to-date conditions or other suggestions on where to camp.

Here is a link with brochure download for marked winter trails: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wintersports.htm

They are good brochures for anyone considering outdoor winter activities. The difficulty descriptions are somewhat more geared toward skiers. What's difficult on skis would be less dangerous on snowshoes. It's good to go on winter marked trails because other Yosemite signs are buried by snow.

Booking a trip to ski to Glacier Point in winter is fun if you are in shape and know how to cross country ski. Then you can stay in the lodge at Glacier Point overnight after a LONG (10.5 miles) day of skiing.

Have fun and ask more questions if you like.
For your own safety, be prepared for the worst-case scenario when snowcamping. Go to well-traveled areas for your first trip, it's still not as crowded as summer.
Re: advise for a two day hike
December 31, 2007 06:40AM
You may also want to consider going on a trip with the Sierra Club Backpacking section (not the Snowcamping section), they usually do a trip to Yosemite every year. That way you are going with a group. I don't know if you live in the area or only have a particular weekend you want to go.

Mar 15 · Sat through Mar 16 · Sun · Backpacking Section
Dewey Point - Yosemite Backpack and Winter Camping. A winter wonderland awaits those who join Cathy Dezendorf, Lloyd Sawchuk and JoAnne Lauer on this moderate snowshoe adventure. Sleep on a blanket of snow, help to dig a snow kitchen and feast on hearty central commissary meals while experiencing the stillness of Yosemite at this magical time of year. Call or email Cathy for details. . Leader: Cathy Dezendorf, (415) 383-2926, or cdezendorf [at] mindspring [dot] com.
Re: advise for a two day hike
December 31, 2007 06:53AM
If you're loaded, they offer quite a few guided trip$ in Yosemite listed on the page linked to below. You can even rent a lot of gear if you are traveling and don't want to bring it all.

avatar Re: advise for a two day hike
December 31, 2007 08:20AM

Before you even think about winter camping you and your wife should go to Badger Pass with your best winter clothing and day packs for an all day trip up
Glacier Point Road. I would suggest you be on the road by 9am and slog until noon. Have lunch and then head back to Badger Pass. If you love the trip, were able to handle the snowshoes, didn't freeze your gazitsas off, and really want to do it some more then go on an organized overnight trip.

I've done a fair number of trips on snowshoes and skies for four and five days at a time and the conditions can and will get harsh. Cold is a killer and you should ease into winter camping slowly.

Leterknit's advice is right on.

Old Dude
Re: advise for a two day hike
December 31, 2007 11:46AM
Yeah, actually the fun stuff is the snowshoeing, hiking, and sightseeing during the day. So you might want to just go snowshoeing or skiing for the day and head back to a rustic tent cabin in the valley that night. Then go back out the next day. The night is really the least fun part of it. You can get cold as soon as you stop hiking/skiing. I always slept like crap when snowcamping. In addition, as a woman, peeing when snowcamping SUCKS, especially at night. And I've tried it all.. peeing in a ziploc bag while kneeling in a tent, a bottle (total disaster), trying to squat in a snowcave that wasn't tall enough, heck I even bought one of those "Feminine Urinary Directors" http://www.rei.com/product/407267 to make peeing in a bag or bottle easier. I think I ended up peeing all over myself and my Thermarest using that, too. Squatting seems to be the only thing that works. But you have to get out of your nice warm sleeping bag, put on your boots, go outside, etc.

So unless your wife is 100% gung-ho on it, I'd say skip it. She will not have fun. And isn't fun what you're going for?
Re: advise for a two day hike
January 18, 2008 04:40PM
Wow, Thanks a lot for all the advise, I didn't mean to be rude, I just didn't get the notifications of answers. I'm heading this weekend to Point Reyes to test some gear and I guess I'll try to follow your advise closely in a few weeks when I plan the trip to Yosemite. Judging from a first read, I guess Badger Pass will be then.... thanks again.


Edit: Ooops, just forgot, as for the height, both my wife and me grew up in a town about 11000 feet in the border between Argentina and Bolivia, the height won't be a problem as much as the cold weather, but the worst that can happen is just one bad night if we don't go too much in... and if we never try, well.... we'll never now!

Post Edited (01-18-08 16:43)
avatar Re: advise for a two day hike
January 21, 2008 02:31PM

Another option would be to camp in the Valley. There aren't many campers this time of year.

THis would be cheaper than a cabin, would give you the opportunity to get the feel of winter camping without the dangers, and give you and your wife bathroom access.

I camped at Upper Pines at the beginning of this month and had a splendid time. Night doesn't need to be a bad experience. I use two sleeping pads, two sleeping bags and wear clothes to bed. Yes, it's a lot of gear, but when I backpack/snowcamp I haul a sled.

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