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Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?

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avatar Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 05, 2008 01:34PM
For the Yosemite high country backpacking veterans what is your preference? Do you plan your trips around use of the High Sierra backpacker's campsites when possible or do you prefer the privacy and solitude of your own off-trail sites? Also, are bear intrusions far less likely away from the High Sierra sites?

I'm planning on some overnighters next July near Glen Aulin, Sunrise, Merced, and Vogelsang but I have not done any backpacking in Yosemite for more years than I care to admit (pre-dating permits). I'll be traveling alone and do not look forward to congregating with the masses if they are likely to keep me awake at night. I'm an exceptionally fit 63-year old but still need my beauty sleep!

Prior experience was all at lower elevations like Little Yosemite Valley so all of these overnight trails from the Tioga Road portion of the park will be new to me. Your insight and reasons for camping site preferences is most welcome.

Jim

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 05, 2008 02:18PM
Bear intrusions are far less likely the farther you get away from campsites that see people on a regular basis.

I met a woman on horseback once that told me she always camps away from highly traveled trails; and had never had a bear encounter.

I have stayed in some of the HSCs though; a positive is that they are often located in places of great beauty: Vogelsang and Sunrise really stand out in this regard. Merced, IMO, is nothing special. I don't think that you'd have a problem w/ fellow backpackers making too much noise as they generally seem to have more respect for why you (and they) are out there than you find in car campgrounds.

I'm kind of a loner. Though I have been in crowded HSCs I've always been comfortable staying to myself; but have also felt that if I wanted to socialize w/ other groups I would be welcome. It's a fine community.

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 06, 2008 12:56AM
Thanks, Jon. The 3-nighter I've planned just makes Sunrise, Merced and Vogelsang logical destinations for each day but I would like to stay flexible. The toughest part of that circle trip will be Merced Lake to Boothe Lake near Vogelsang, 9.5 miles and essentially all uphill. I may stay at Sunrise and Merced but have to allow for the possibility of running out of steam before Boothe Lake. The latter part of that day is mostly flat or minimal upgrade but the extra miles may take their toll after climbing out of Merced Lake.

On the other overnighter I had initially planned to go all the way to the bottom of Waterwheel Falls in one day, camp there, and return to TM the next day. Then I decided this is likely one of the most attractive hikes in the park so why rush it just to occomodate another day hike somewhere else. That made this a 2-nighter in the Glen Aulin area.

The first and last days of this vacation will be day hikes to Mt. Hoffman summit and then Gaylor Lakes/Granite Lakes. All in all it's a pretty ambitious plan for my age and my wife thinks I'm biting off more than I can chew. Hoffman and Waterwheel will tell me if I need to modify my plans. For me Yosemite is the most beautiful place in the world and I want to do this while I still can.

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 06, 2008 01:01AM
We never ever stay near the High Sierra Camps or Little Yosemite Valley.
Kinda think of those places as "car camping w/o the car".

One of the really great things of Yosemite is that you can camp
wherever you want (w/i some very simple guidlines...) so, to the
chagrin of the people who may come w/me, I usually spend alot of
time finding the "perfect site" after we have already decided to stop
for the day. (view and solitude) (I can carry the water...)

As far as bears go... you are required to carry a canister now... so
no matter where you go there should be no issue...
The hotbeds though are still:
Glen Aulin
Headwaters of Lyell Fork
Little Yose Valley
Lower Cathedral
This is due to bears still getting food due to disregard of the rules in place.
So, the answer is... the more people that camp in an area the greater
the bear encounter chance... The bears that I have seen this year
all were "wild" still and just booked their butts fast away from me
as soon as they heard me... (and, for heavens sake, do not wear those
stupid bear bells)

Anyway, welcome back!
Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 06, 2008 01:47PM
I did myfirst backpack trip along the high sierra route this year, and planned it around staying at the backpack sites at the HSC's Glen Aulin was indeed at bill mentioned, car camping without the car. It is close enought that people who really shouldn't be backpacking can backpack to it. Folks showed up who had lied about having a bear canister, and one group kept throwing their leftovers out on the ground. As a result there was an incredibly pesky and persistent bear roaming through the campground at all times. My guess is that because of the bad habits that bear is learnign (it appeared to be a juvenile) it will eventually have to be destroyed, all because of the idiocy of the campers. My next trip I will definitely plan around stops away from the HSC's.
Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 06, 2008 02:02PM
And if you call anyone on their foolish behavior, they will get all pissy about it and act like YOU are the ass and not THEM.
avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 07, 2008 12:38AM
O.K., guys. I've already heard enough to change my plans regarding HSC's. The trip to Waterwheel Falls will be on a Glen Aulin pass-through permit instead of Glen Aulin itself. I'll camp somewhere within a mile one way or another to avoid the idiots.

As for the 3-nighter, I've replanned my first 2 nights for camping about 1.2 miles beyond both Sunrise and Merced Lake. This also reduces the amount of ascent and miles to deal with on the third day en route to the Boothe Lake area. Between National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps and Google Earth it's much easier to check out possibilities for alternate nightly destinations.

One saving grace to my plans is that all the overnighters except the last one near Boothe Lake will be on week days instead of weekends. Anyway, thanks for the input. It's very much appreciated.

Jim

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 07, 2008 03:59AM
Boy, I must've really been fortunate. I've only had one negative experience with rude fellow backpackers, that being at LYV....some "hoods" packed up a couple 12 packs of beer!! They looked and acted more like they should be in a bad section of a city than backpacking.

But other than that, all has been fine; and I wouldn't describe myself as being especially forgiving of rude behaviour.

I guess this thread shows the benefit of getting more than one person's experience/feedback.

Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 07, 2008 01:29PM
Last year I went up to Vogelsang for a few days the week after the HSC camps closed for the winter (September). Other than avoiding the dung on the trail from the mule trains used to haul all of the camp equipment down, the trip was very enjoyable. The HSC takes on a spooky, ghost-town appearance, but all of the sites and camping places are yours to enjoy. We camped a ways off the trail overlooking Fletcher lake with Vogelsang peak in the background; no large throngs of people anywhere it site. Just another thing to consider if your dates are flexible...
avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 07, 2008 02:18PM
I don't have enough data to accurately comment on being less likely to encounter a bear out by yourself as opposed to closer to the HSC camps, but it sure seems that you're almost assured of being fine as long as you follow the bear rules.

I look more for solitude rather than crowds, and while I've visited four of the camps, I've never stayed in one - I've camped out along the river upstream from Glen Aulin, and out on the ridge above Sunrise Lake rather than near Sunrise, and along May Lake away from the Camp - splendid spots all! I think I'd always choose to be at least several hundred yards from a camp, and for sure I always like to be a short walk from water.

Distances can be deceiving, especially if you're not well acclimated - I was way more exhausted than I expected in a trip along Murphy Creek - Glen Aulin - Cathedral Lakes - Sunrise two years ago, when I was 46; I had driven up from my house at sea level. Good luck!

Ron
avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 08, 2008 12:02AM
Ron,

I hear you on distances. Unfortunately, I live about 500' above sea leavel in NC so nearly anything in the way of serious hiking in Yosemite is a challenge. I'll be operating out of Lee Vining and summiting Mt. Hoffman is planned for my first day on a Sunday followed by the 2-nighter in the Glen Aulin area. Pacing myself and proper hydration are absolute priorities. At my age after those first 3 days I will either be toughened up or beat up.

After that I'm prepared to accept the possible need to do 1-nighters and forget about Merced Lake area. Sunrise via Cathedral and outbound past Sunrise Lakes to Tenaya Lake is an option. Vogelsang could be a 1-nighter or maybe a 2-nighter circle route via Lyell Canyon/Evelynn Lake. I just don't want this trip to degenerate into a bunch of day hikes and a big motel bill. Got to justify the new tent and Gregory backpack just purchased.

Jim

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 08, 2008 02:16AM
tomdisco wrote:

> After that I'm prepared to accept the possible need to do
> 1-nighters and forget about Merced Lake area. Sunrise via
> Cathedral and outbound past Sunrise Lakes to Tenaya Lake is an
> option. Vogelsang could be a 1-nighter or maybe a 2-nighter
> circle route via Lyell Canyon/Evelynn Lake. I just don't want
> this trip to degenerate into a bunch of day hikes and a big
> motel bill. Got to justify the new tent and Gregory backpack
> just purchased.

If you just want that, you might try staying the the backpackers campground at TM or the Valley. As long as it's one night before your departure or the day you get back from the trailhead, you should be OK. I think there might be limits on the total number of nights, but I doubt you reach it doing it this maybe 3-4 times in a week.

The biggest cost might be getting the shower, now that they're cracking down on payment.

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 08, 2008 04:50AM
y_p_w,

Given the choice between TM backpacker's campground and Lee Vining, I would take the motel. As far as Yosemite Valley is concerned I will not be in that portion of the park at all for this trip. Everything will be done from the Mono Lake/Tioga Road end. For years we always did the valley, saw the same sites, and climbed Vernal & Nevada Falls. In June my wife and I did this again and ventured to Tioga Road for only the second time in our lives, including the modest Lembert Dome hike. Now that I got a tiny taste of the high sierra area that's all I'm interested in next time. Unfortunately, she experienced nosebleeds and dizziness at 8,500' and required 4-5 times as many rest breaks as I did. That's why next time will be a solo trip.

Jim



Post Edited (09-08-08 11:51)
avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 11, 2008 02:49PM
Jim,

Overall, I'd consider planning the longer hikes with bigger altitude gain for later in the trip (give yourself time to acclimatize) and shorter distances on days 1 & 2; so if Hoffman (or whatever) is your big push, maybe save it for the last day or something.

FYI, the hike to North Dome is pretty nice, but making it out & back on the day I drove up from sea level was much harder than I expected:
1:00 start north dome hike
4:30 top of north dome, with ~1 hour at indian rock
4:50 leave north dome
7:45 back at car

I did stop for a LOT of photos - here's one:
http://gallery.me.com/ronrosano#100008/_D2C1813

Cheers,

Ron
avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 11, 2008 03:31PM
Ron,

After some careful thought I've revised the hike schedule to accomodate realities of my age, altitude adjustment and distances I may not be up to. Hoffman has been dropped entirely. The first day will be the short hike to Gaylor and Granite Lakes. Follow-up will be the 2-nighter in the Glen Aulin area w/ Waterwheel Falls which will be my lowest altitude trek. The toughest day will be Cathedral Lakes to Sunrise area, a 1-nighter coming out past Sunrise Lakes to Tenaya Lake. I'll follow that with a 2-nighter down Lyell Canyon and up Ireland Creek a short ways, a day 2 to Vogelsang area, and day 3 out to TM. The loop to Merced Lake has been dropped due to the heavy hiking distances each day. Last one will be a day hike to Saddlebag/20 Lakes if I've got any gas left or a shorter hike elsewhere.

I wish to h--- I'd discovered all these trails when I was young and full of boundless energy. I'm obsessed. I sit here pining over the National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps of hundreds of square miles of beautiful pristine high sierra sights but I would have to live out there to find the time and economics to explore them the way I would like to. I suppose most of us feel that way. Better to attempt some of the best of it in moderation, take lots of photos, soak in as much as possible and be thankful for it.

Jim

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 07, 2008 04:44PM
I know some people like them for the bear boxes. Still - I heard of one person asking if they might be able to go without a canister. I would never recommend that given the availability of space and because it can be difficult to deal with people who get territorial about them. I've seen communal bear boxes in the Valley with locks placed on them; they were cut off quickly by park rangers. Don't know how quickly that would happen in the backcountry.

avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 08, 2008 12:27AM
Jim,
Here's my other 2 cents:
I'd recommend you give yourself a little more time from what I've heard
you saying. If you are going all the way to Return Creek then maybe
give yourself 3 days for Glen Aulin.
I'd recommend you do Hoffman after Glen Aulin or include it in something like:
Day 1) Glen Aulin (camp around Calif Falls)
Day 2) Check out Glen Aulin to Waterwheels then to May Lake
Day 3) Mt. Hoffman - then ?
Day 4-7) Rest of your Loop

So, really what you just did was the High Sierra Loop...

Hoffman after you've been at elevation should be easier....

As far as camping... my only point was that you can camp anywhere you
like... so unless you want to camp w/alot of other people...
avatar Re: Backpacker's campgrounds or anything but?
September 08, 2008 04:40AM
Bill,

I'm well aware that a 2,050' climb to the 10,850' summit of Hoffman on the first day may not be to smart for a 64-year old, no matter how good a shape I think I might be in. My thinking was that if I don't get that out of the way the first day that I may not want to at all later.

The last 2 days in the park are designated for day hikes. Considerations are North Dome/Indian Rock, Saddlebag/20 Lakes, Gaylor Lakes/Granite Lake, and Lake Elizabeth. Perhaps Gaylor Lakes/Granite Lake might make a better first day choice instead of Hoffman. It's high elevation but less milage and only about 700' in ascent. Then Hoffman could be pushed to one of the last 2 days if I still want to do it. Saddlebag/20 Lakes would be my other preference near the end.

Jim



Post Edited (09-08-08 11:51)
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