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Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer

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Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 15, 2008 08:52PM
Myself and two friends are heading to Yosemite for the first time on May 1 for 4 days. We're all in decent shape and are fairly experienced hikers. We're wrestling with where to spend our time. We'd prefer to do 1 long loop (thinking only 9 or 10 mile a day) instead of several day hikes. We're also trying to balance finding a trail that's not over-crowded and finding a trail that offers views of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and the North Dome. My guess is that there's a trade-off there (it's either one or the other), but hoping maybe we're going earlier enough in the season that crowds won't be as much of an issue.

For the above reasons, at first glance we are considering taking the trail to Yosemite Valley Big Oak Flat from Foresta trail (18 miles one way).

So, a couple of questions:
1. Interested in your opinion on this trail, especially considering what our goals are on the trip. (i.e. crowds, views, difficulty,etc)

2. Any good ideas for a more scenic trip of similar length?

3. Do you foresee any reasons (i.e. closed roads or passes) that we couldn't make this hike on May 1?

Thanks a bunch for your expert advice. Can't wait to get to Yosemite and experience the grandeur for myself....
Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 15, 2008 09:47PM
ryandasan wrote:

> Myself and two friends are heading to Yosemite for the first
> time on May 1 for 4 days. We're all in decent shape and are
> fairly experienced hikers. We're wrestling with where to spend
> our time. We'd prefer to do 1 long loop (thinking only 9 or 10
> mile a day) instead of several day hikes. We're also trying to
> balance finding a trail that's not over-crowded and finding a
> trail that offers views of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and the
> North Dome. My guess is that there's a trade-off there (it's
> either one or the other), but hoping maybe we're going earlier
> enough in the season that crowds won't be as much of an issue.
>
> For the above reasons, at first glance we are considering
> taking the trail to Yosemite Valley Big Oak Flat from Foresta
> trail (18 miles one way).
>
> So, a couple of questions:
> 1. Interested in your opinion on this trail, especially
> considering what our goals are on the trip. (i.e. crowds,
> views, difficulty,etc)
>
> 2. Any good ideas for a more scenic trip of similar length?
>
> 3. Do you foresee any reasons (i.e. closed roads or passes)
> that we couldn't make this hike on May 1?
>
> Thanks a bunch for your expert advice. Can't wait to get to
> Yosemite and experience the grandeur for myself....

I am not sure that the trail you suggest would get you the views you seek - Yosemite Falls and North Dome are at the other end of the Valley. If you really want classic views of these features in a single hike, the best route is probably a combination of the Valley floor hikes. They are not at all hard, but you can make them as long as you like. The lower end will not be too crowded.

On the other hand, a dayhike that WILL give you great views of Yosemite Falls and lots of other things, and give you all the exercise you could possibly want, would be the Yosemite Falls Trail, and extend that to either North Dome or Eagle Peak if you like something longer. This one will be popular, but not to the extent that you feel cramped.

Despite its high level of popularity, you should not miss the Mist Trail/John Muir Trail loop up to Vernal and Nevada Fall. One of the world's great walks. You will fortunately have plenty of time to do all of these, and maybe part of that first one you suggest too.





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 16, 2008 10:38PM
valley floor...snow creek trail to north dome...yosemite falls ... eagle peak ...el cap ..... and back down yosemite falls trail to valley smiling smiley
Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 17, 2008 08:45AM
Lucrativ wrote:

> valley floor...snow creek trail to north dome...yosemite falls
> ... eagle peak ...el cap ..... and back down yosemite falls
> trail to valley smiling smiley

Do you have a feel for how long this hike is? ;-) At least you can take the shuttle bus the last 1.5 miles if you get tired at the end! Make sure you do this on June 21!





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 18, 2008 12:19PM
i haven't actually done that hike , but it's far enough do as a multi-day . less snow on the north rim etc seems to match what the thread author is looking for ... his foresta trail hike sound bad for a first time visit .. the only crowds would be in mist trail / little yosemite areas anyway
avatar Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 18, 2008 01:31AM
That hike would be about the same as or maybe even more than the trip to Half Dome. It would be a great one though. Lots of views. Might be a bit of snow still behind Eagle Peak at that time but probably not enough to cause a problem.





Old Dude
avatar Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 18, 2008 02:06PM
ryandasan wrote:

> Myself and two friends are heading to Yosemite for the first
> time on May 1 for 4 days. We're all in decent shape and are
> fairly experienced hikers. We're wrestling with where to spend
> our time. We'd prefer to do 1 long loop (thinking only 9 or 10
> mile a day) instead of several day hikes. We're also trying to
> balance finding a trail that's not over-crowded and finding a
> trail that offers views of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and the
> North Dome. My guess is that there's a trade-off there (it's
> either one or the other), but hoping maybe we're going earlier
> enough in the season that crowds won't be as much of an issue.

You're not going to have a problem with crowds, depending on your tolerance. One of the sad facts of visiting a wonderful place like Yosemite is that you're not likely to have it all to yourself or anything close to it. I was in the backcountry for four days and three nights in May, and I wouldn't say it was ever really crowded. Even Half Dome wasn't too bad on a Thursday, although I have pictures showing it was a zoo the next Friday. I didn't see what the big deal was with Little Yosemite Valley either, and I was there on a Friday night. The only part of my trip where I thought it was crowded was when I got closer to the day hikers doing the Mist-John Muir Trail loop.

If you're going to be doing this as a backcountry loop, then you're going to need to secure a wilderness permit.

> For the above reasons, at first glance we are considering
> taking the trail to Yosemite Valley Big Oak Flat from Foresta
> trail (18 miles one way).
>
> So, a couple of questions:
> 1. Interested in your opinion on this trail, especially
> considering what our goals are on the trip. (i.e. crowds,
> views, difficulty,etc)
>
> 2. Any good ideas for a more scenic trip of similar length?

Your best views are going to be from the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail. I took this shot of Half Dome and North Dome:



> 3. Do you foresee any reasons (i.e. closed roads or passes)
> that we couldn't make this hike on May 1?
>
> Thanks a bunch for your expert advice. Can't wait to get to
> Yosemite and experience the grandeur for myself....

There's going to be snow. When there's snow, I'd prefer a trail that fairly well travelled. You see plenty of tracks on the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail during the winter.
avatar Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 18, 2008 03:14PM
You really do not want to even consider trying Lucrativ’s proposed route in one day (21 June won’t be long enough either unless lat. 37.5°N has recently been relocated north of the Arctic Circle).

Running that trip through TOPO! shows it to be almost 25 miles (Park Headquarters to El Capitan to Park Headquarters) even without the spur trips to Indian Rock (not mentioned, but you would want to do it as long as you were there), North Dome, and Eagle Peak; add another 3+ miles if those spur trips are included.

More importantly, it calculates the total elevation gain (and, of course, loss for the loop) as 10k; add another 1k if the spurs are included. I have never quite been thoroughly convinced that TOPO!’s discreet elevation change summation program doesn’t result in an overstatement of all the short term elevation changes, but eyeballing the route profile indicates at least 6k of major elevation gains along the non-spur route. Even if the short term summation is 100% off, you are still looking at 8k (9k with spurs) both up and down.

Also, going steeply downhill at the end of a grueling day when you are dog(coyote)-tired and racing the clock toward nightfall is a recipe for disaster – don’t do it. We prefer that the Yosemite wildlife not feed on human carrion.



Post Edited (04-18-08 15:45)



THE YOSEMITE POST
Voice of the Rocky Marmot Empire
avatar Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 18, 2008 04:05PM
szalkowski wrote:

> You really do not want to even consider trying Lucrativ’s
> proposed route in one day (21 June won’t be long enough
> either unless lat. 37.5°N has recently been relocated north of
> the Arctic Circle).

The original poster didn't specifically mention it, but it sounds like the plan is to turn this into a 3-day backpacking trip of between 9-10 miles per day.

If that's the case, perhaps there needs to be a bit more talk about possible camping locations.
avatar Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 19, 2008 11:42AM
y_p_w: I missed that part in the original post about actually backpacking rather than day hiking.

The kicker, of course, is where the snow line is going to be that early in the season. According to the last Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Update (04-17-08), it was past the footbridge which is about 0.5 mi. above the Snow Creek Trail switchbacks; that would place it at about 7k as of that posting. The trail kisses the 8k level as it circles around to the north of Indian Rock. Since Indian Rock is at 8.5k, I don’t see them making it up the spur trail to the natural arch. However, if the weather remains warm over the next 10 days, they may be able to negotiate that trail loop without crunching too much snow. If the Sentinel Dome webcam is showing traces of bare ground in the foreground come 1 May, they will probably be OK.

Overnight camping spots:
(1) Carrying packs, they will be fairly wasted on their climb out of the valley on the first day, but should be able to get to the area about 1.5 mi. past the switchbacks where the trail leaves Snow Creek and begins its loop around Indian Rock; this is only a total of about 6 trail miles, but with an elevation gain of 3k.
(2) Another 8 miles on the second day (plus the spur trail detour to North Dome) will get them to the Yosemite Creek/Upper Falls footbridge. Either camp upcreek by the Eagle Peak Trail intersection (does anyone know of any camping restrictions in this area?) or go on to someplace in the area of Eagle Peak Meadows. Unless you enjoy being eaten alive by bugs, I recommend that you camp away from the meadow.
(3) Do a flying column day hike to Eagle Peak and/or El Cap the morning of the third day, return and break camp, and proceed back down to the valley that afternoon.

Other comments. The creeks are going to be running high and swift; recommend that you carry at least 150 ft. of shock cord that you can fashion into a “rope” if needed. A trekking pole or walking stick can also help with creek crossings and on any snow-covered trail sections. Don’t forget the insect repellent, sunscreen, insect repellent, camera, and insect repellent.



Post Edited (04-20-08 23:56)



THE YOSEMITE POST
Voice of the Rocky Marmot Empire
avatar Re: Expert Trail Advice for a First-Timer
April 20, 2008 09:50PM
This weekend there was 1-3 feet of snow with pretty much 100% coverage from 6100' and up in the Aspin Valley area including the trail to Bald Mountain and to the South Fork of the Tuolumne River. Two weeks ago the snow level was about 500' lower. At this rate it will be a while before things clear out between the north rim and 120 so if you have any plans to hike there in the next few weeks be ready to slog. Trails might very well be obscured.



Post Edited (04-23-08 12:23)



Old Dude
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