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Re: 2-3 Day Backpacking in early Dec?

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2-3 Day Backpacking in early Dec?
November 21, 2013 10:16AM
Hi All -

New to the forum and looking for suggestions for a backpacking trip during the first or second week of Dec. Myself and a buddy are not working at the moment so we are thinking of a couple days off the grid in Yosemite. However, neither of us have been before so looking for the pro tips.

We are coming from the Bay Area and from what I can gather by this point Tioga road will be sketchy at best and more likely just outright closed, so that would imply that we need to start from Yosemite Valley. From a bit of online research I have identified Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake as an interesting possibility but at 13-14 miles I wonder if that is a bit much to tackle in one day, and if so, what would be our options for setting camp along the way.

With that background let me pose a bit more open question - what would be a some good options given our constraints? Are there other good options for 2-3 days starting out of Yosemite Valley? Are there camping options along the Merced Lake route? And what are the extremes we need to be prepared for at this time of year (e.g. snowshoes?)

Thanks, everyone. Really looking forward to experiencing Yosemite for the first time!


avatar Re: 2-3 Day Backpacking in early Dec?
November 21, 2013 03:36PM
There's no overnight parking along Tioga road beyond Oct. 15th. So.. unless you get dropped off... then
you have to start outside the park on the east... or from Yose Valley... or Wawona... or Chinquapin...
or Old Big Oak Flat Road TH... Or Hetch Hetchy...

You should keep track of the storms flying thru from now (one just flew thru)... until you go so you
have an idea of how much snow you will have to deal with and what conditions you will be seeing.
If we get a couple more storms or a really good one then getting to Merced Lake in a day is very
very difficult at best. If no storms and the trail is free and clear... and you're in great shape and
you start at a reasonable hour and The Mist Trail is still open... then Merced Lake is do-able.
Seems most peeps take JMT regardless of Mist Trail with a backpack though.
Be aware that if it dumps feet of snow then the switchbacks near Bunnell Pt. can give you a problem.

Regardless of all this... you can always get to Little Yosemite Valley year-round.
And that is what I would recommend. Get to LYV and camp there and dayhike around.
Be prepared for LONG COLD nights. sun sets by 4:30pm. You should be stopping by 4pm
and being prepared for near 0 temps for ... well... hmm... 4pm-ish to 7am-ish or longer.

LYV is probably the easiest backpack for Dec. timeframe from the valley.

Have fun and stay warm... that's my 12 dollars worth... and I'll be out there too.. I don't hibernate

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: 2-3 Day Backpacking in early Dec?
November 22, 2013 05:41AM
Thanks, Chick-on! Will check out the options around LYV. Seems prudent to take the more manageable approach the first time around, especially with the potential for storms to change the playing field from tough to impossible with little notice.

avatar Re: 2-3 Day Backpacking in early Dec?
November 22, 2013 07:04AM
You just have to be flexible and be prepared to not go / slide trip this way or that-a-way
to avoid the major storms. Last year in Dec. we had a large number of storms
which precluded backpacking trips from beyond first week of December til end of
year. Huge amount of snow made getting to LYV quite a challenge:
If interested some stuff from last year here:

And then Jan came around... and we received nuttin.... which turned into this:

Anywho. Just go to LYV and go from there.
Take the left (north) trail thru / to LYV campground area. And be aware that
the JMT heading up out of LYV can be free and clear for most of the winter
due to the angle of the dangle... so once you get thru to there... you
may be flying up the JMT towards Z Big Old Dome.
(same principle as to why Yose Falls and Snow Creek trails are a lot of free
and clear and good to do in winter too)

Have fun and be safe and warm

Chick-on is looking at you!
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