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Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)

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Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 03, 2014 06:48AM
We're arriving in Yosemite next week for two extended backpacking trips, each eight (8) nights (w/1 night campground between trips): 1) White Wolf, Tuolumne River Canyon, back thru Ten Lakes, then; 2) up Yosemite Falls, North Dome, Tenaya Lake, Cloud's Rest, Half Dome, Happy Isles. (Got some forum help herea while back!)

We're from out east (NY), only low-moderate backpack experience: myself, 53 yrs, and daughter, 16+yrs. I've pared down pack weight but still plan on bringing my butterfly chair (back getting old) and such. Sadly, all gear w/o food is now 50ish pounds (25/25 father/daughter, inc. weight of 2 bear cans). At two pounds food/day EACH we're looking at adding 36 pounds (61/25 father/daughter). Ouch - my back! To carry this much we would need at least another bear can (or even two by the time we can our trash, toiletries, sunscreen, bugspray), so add another 3-5 pounds (now 61/30 father/daughter).

Therefore for each trip I had hoped to cache half the food at a trailhead box, pick it up day 3 or 4. Reading previous posts here and elsewhere I'm still not clear: can I leave 20# cache at a trailside box (with name, dates, etc)?

There seem seem to be bear boxes (at campsites), trailhead boxes, hiker boxes (in backcountry), and food lockers (Tuolumne). Did I get this right?

For the first trip I was planning to cache at Murphy Creek trailhead, spending the night at Polly Dome Lakes with quick sidetrip to retrieve food. Alternative is to leave things at Tuolumne Meadows (where/how?) but this adds more mileage (I'm concerned about our meager 6-7 miles/day as terrain varies and enjoying the trip is our first priority and I'm just not sure of our capability). Would TM be worth the extra miles as a day trip anyways?

Second trip planned to cache at Tenaya Lake trailhead: we hike up Falls to North Dome then p/u cache before going on to Clouds Rest/Half Dome. Don't see another option without losing at least a day or so ( I could cache at TM again, maybe even catch shuttle(?) to get from Tenaya to Tuolumne and back). But a day shuttling for supplies is a day less for our journey. And I really don't want to see us (me) getting up Yosemite Falls with over 60#.

Other questions:

We leave the car at WW (1st trip) and Yosemite Valley (2nd trip) for 9 days. I have 2 or 3 suitcases that we traveled with, now empty. Is it safe to leave them in the trunk or will bears smell something (they must have some stink on them) and try to gain access? We would have our travel clothes, now worn all day on the plane. Will the bears go after something like this? Is there someplace at Tuolumne to leave bags locked up? Anywhere?

Reading posts on bears, do we really have to worry about leaving our packs (with all food definitely in cans) on the trailside while we swim, take pictures, pee, or anything else? Seems like we'd likely leave sunscreen, bugspray, and such casually in our pack pocket. Is this crazy? For even short breaks like this, a swim or a quick 20 min hike up the rocks for a view, should I make sure the bear cans are far removed from the rest of our equipment or is this overkill?

If we remove all the food and sundries (put in bear cans away from camp) should I worry if we do an all day hike and leave most things behind? How should i leave the packs (w/o food) so the bears won't rip them open to investigate? The packs will stink, the clothes will stink, sleeping bags will smell, food odors remain in our pockets, etc.

I bought some new equipment for this trip, specifically two nice bivy sacks (mostly I wasn't sure of the temperatures and didn't want to upgrade sleeping bags and our summer tent -- plus, small footprints when bushwacking back here in our eastern forests will be nice). What are the chances they will 'walk away' if left unguarded? How about when we spend the night in a backpackers campground and we leave them, and the packs, for dinner or for an half-day outing, would everything need to be locked up (cameras, of course, but what about bivys, stoves, packs, even poles and such)? Would a pack get rifled by humans in the campground? In the backcountry?

Food: yes, i did the calorie count spreadsheet and wound up with a LOT of food. Didn't want to wing it on such an extended trip(s) and wind up famished. Also, we're vegetarians and daughter is very picky eater besides. I could use some encouragement on bringing less food (I'm keeping the chair even over my daughter's stern admonishments as well as the double-walled coffee mug -- she's young and just doesn't understand -- yet).

The only way i could figure to get to Yosemite from a Bay area airport, reasonably, was rent a car for the whole 3 weeks. Other ways involved way too much hassle and lost time, with real costs anyhow. Did I miss something?

Very excited, leaving in just one week, been thinking (planning) of nothing else for a while now. Maybe you can tell!

Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 03, 2014 09:19AM
I can try to answer some of this.

Problem bears are mainly a problem at night. However bears are opportunist, and will rip open your pack if they come across it unguarded. Put the pack where you can see it when you swim. If you are well above tree line you can usually leave the pack, but it is always safer not to leave food and cosmetics in the pack.

As for the suitcases in the back of the car, as long as there is no food, cosmetics, etc. you sound be all right. I routinely leave clothes and camping gear including pots and pans(clean) in my truck while I'm off for a week or so backpacking, and I have never had a problem.

I usually find I need a 1 to1.5 pounds of food per day per person. I am also a vegetarian. Any less and the fantasizing about food becomes the dominate theme of the hike.

I leave food in bear boxes at the trailhead with a date and time on it and have never had a problem. That's not a guarantee, but the odds are in your favor.

You might skip the chair. I pick campsites based on the boulders and logs available to sit and lean on. I'm 58.

Sometimes renting a car is worth the convenience. There are other ways. Also with a car if you get tired of backpacking you can car camp and hike. The Sierra has many beautiful areas.

The various boxes- bear boxes, trailhead boxes etc. are just names for the same thing. You'll figure it out.

I have never had tents, sleeping bags,etc walk from the backpackers or the car campers campsites, but I would take the cameras and small electronics with you.

Have fun, take the bug spray, and try not to worry.
Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 03, 2014 09:22AM
Wow. Lots of questions. Let me ramble a bit.
Regarding bears, I'd be surprised if you see or encounter one. Possible yes, but unlikely in my experience. I don't worry about leaving my bear can in my pack if I want to drop it and do a short hike or take care of personal business. I keep my sunscreen, etc out of the can during the day. Again, no issues.
Don't worry about people stealing your stuff. Remember, they would have to pack it out, and their pack is probably full to begin with. Besides, most people in the backcountry are there for the same reason you are...to enjoy nature. I've ever had a problem with theft.
Double check the locations of the bear boxes. Some campsites have them, some don't. Some trail heads have them, some don't. There are a bunch at TM at the lodge and also at the wilderness center where you pick up permits.
In my opinion, your pack weight is way too heavy. You don't want it so heavy that you don't enjoy your trip. I find that I'm not so hungry the first few days out, but YMMV. What kind of bear can do you have (or are you renting)? You can rent the light weight carbon fiber bearikade, which I would recommend.
avatar Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 03, 2014 10:45AM
The Other Tom is right to express concern for the weight you will be carrying. I speak from experience when I say your "low to moderate backpacking experience & coming from back east" is going to be a wake-up call starting on day one. I hit Yosemite like that in 2009 w/ 40-lbs. and knew by noontime I was about 10-lbs. overweight. I'm not sure what advice you got earlier on this forum but your hiking plan is fairly aggressive for your experience, especially given the weight factor. Yosemite's dry high altitude hiking will eat you up. Perhaps you can handle the hiking plan but the extra weight has got to go, seriously! I would take a close look at everything you are carrying, including the weight of your empty backpack, tent, sleeping bags, mats, clothing, cookware, and types of foods. I say this with tongue and cheek but you have to leave that 12" iron skillet at home! Backpacker
Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 03, 2014 12:34PM
Everyone else is right about the weight. I am fairly new to backpacking (Though a veteran at hiking in general) and I went out on a 2day with some friends recently to see how we liked our gear and what we wanted to add/remove ect. Basically a test trip. I knew going in that I didn't want to be carrying anything over 30lbs on my back being that 30lbs is about 1/4th my body weight so I paired down pretty well imho and got down to about 31lbs with my food and water. My friends however didn't follow the same advice and ended up carrying packs that were between 40-50lbs. The different in the end was that I felt great and wanted to do more hiking and check out farther vistas and they were so sore and tired that we ended up going back early.

Don't think you have to have anything super fancy to be able to lighten your load either. Personally the whole ultralight thing kinda gets on my nerves sometimes because some people tend to feel that you have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on gear to have a good experience when backpacking. I personally haven't spent more then 100$ on my gear and I believe that I will still be able to lighten my load by about 5 more lbs giving me a total out the door weight for my next 2 day of about 26lbs. I still own my synthentic 5lb sleeping bag, a fairly heavy backpack, I don't have any fancy hiking clothes (Blue jeans and a cotton T-shirt are all I wear because thats what I am use to wearing when working), I spent 8$ on a trangia alchohol stove, I made a pot stand out of an aluminum coffe can, I carry 2 -insert brand name of your choice- water bottles that weight nothing, ect. The trick is to bring only what you really need, so no metal axe, crampons, ice axe, ect if you are not going to be using them. The other thing is to shave weight by doing simple things such as replacing that metal army shovel with a simple plastic trowel, bring 1 or 2 mini bic lighters instead of a large long handled one, don't bring a whole roll of duct tape just bring a few feet rolled onto something you were already bringing (Hiking pole, pencil, pen, or just a piece of a straw,) Bring a travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, Don't bring the whole 100ft hank of paracord just bring 25ft or so, small spray thing of deet instead of a giant can, travel sized sunscreen. There are a lot of things you can do to lighten your pack without spending to much time or money if you think about it for a bit.

Most important though imho is just have fun. I personally am not use to carrying much weight on my back so I like having a light pack. I do however know some people who will out hike me with external frame packs loaded with 60lbs of stuff because that is what they are accustom to. There are a couple different sayings that hikers have 1. Your Mileage May Vary (ymmv) and 2. Hike Your Own Hike (hyoh). In other words get out there and do what you think will be fun and don't feel pressured to keep up with someone else, have the same gear or pack weight as someone else, just hyoh and have fun. smiling smiley
Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 04, 2014 06:03AM
Thanks for the feedback, glad to know that bears aren't quite the problem that some posts make it seem. Relieved to know that caching my food is fine, that was the big one. I had thought i was okay on both counts but then read some posts last week that got me anxious.

Those bear cans are limiting, especially having to put all those non-food items in. I have a Garcia I've had a few years and just bought a Bearvault. I thought of renting but I wanted to test the space I'd have beforehand; also didn't want to rely on so many things all working out when we arrive -- flight times, travel, permits, unknowns (known and unknown unknowns) makes planning from this distance worrying if not more difficult. Once we're there I guess a good idea is to look at what the NPS Rangers have to offer and make a last minute switch-over if it seems best as cost is minimal.

Trips are ambitious, yes. The 1st, WW-GA-TenLakes, can be pared to WW-GA-TM with a shuttle bus back to car. The 2nd, YF-TL-CR-HD, is more challenging and difficult to pare: Day 1 up Yosemite Falls is hardest and can't avoid, also CR-HD are something we don't want to miss yet they are the tail-end of the trip. By the time we're ready to start the 2nd trip I figured we will know our capabilities and can adjust as best we can. Do Rangers ever let one vary the permit, i.e., come in to North Dome from Highway 120 rather than up Yosemite Falls. Do they ever give the wink and the nod to that kind of change or is it just the grim Stare-of-Rebuke and "you should have got the right permit when you signed up".

I did start paring the food list after reading everyone's responses, that was a help. Not sure if I can live on 1 to 1.5 pounds/day like Ischaaf. I tried to stick to high calorie (& protein) but I wanted some variety here. Tess, the youngun, may be finicky, but along with that she can also eat the same thing days on end (3 years of just peanut butter sandwiches in grade school, a switch to cheese sandwiches, just cheddar, going on 4 or 5 years now, so for lunches we're bringing Wasa & Tortillas to have with our asiago and powdered cheddar cheeses and dollops of peanut butter -- hmmm, I'm not sure what she was eating those other years).

Okay, I hear the need for bugspray. A couple of years back Tess and I went to the Adirondacks in early July, the western part, not very high up, lots of marshes, bogs, lakes. I didn't know, but this area in early summer still had trails under water, footbridges dissappeared in marshes, and we hit the tail-end of a delayed blackfly season: the buzzing inside our heads didn't stop until 3 days after we got home though the wounds took much longer. We learned: Permethrin, DEET, headnets, and we've got our longsleeves and light gloves if necessary.

Question: Clothes -- Yosemite literature says be prepared for cold. We have 1 windbreaker/rain shell, 1 fleece/jacket, 2 short-sleeve/1 long-sleeve shirt, 1 shorts, 1 long pants, 1 longjohns, 1 sun hat, 1 beanie hat, & pair light gloves (eveything is synthetic). This is a little more than I'd bring here in the east, and I don't want to overpack, but seems like this might even be light if we really hit COLD as the literature says to prepare for. I'm wanting to add 1 long-sleeve shirt/underwear but should I bring more?

Overall weight, I hear everybody's concerns. I cut the bino's. My butterfly chair is 1 lb 2 oz, and I've started seriously mulling this over. Just hard to look at much else; it's even hard to not start making excuses while writing this (ex., my 1 lb tarp: we don't need but we would enjoy shade from rain and sun as we only have bivys; my primus stove works well but is almost 1 lb, I could buy something lighter but that costs; I don't need a 1 lb daypack but when we go up Half Dome it sure would be nice). Funny, as when I write up my excuses it can get even harder. I'm thinking that I'll have to re-evaluate when we're ready to go up Yosemite Falls, I'll know what is worth carrying up that face. Of course, ha-ha, I might use my 16 yr old porter to carry my sedan chair up.
avatar Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 04, 2014 08:34AM
Looking over your questions:

You mentioned cheese, tortillas, and peanut butter. These are good choices health wise but one must acknowledge they are also heavy choices, particularly flour tortillas. I very much wanted to take tortillas on my last trip (for a change) but standing in the supermarket hefting a pack in my hands lead to a hard choice of "no way". I'm not being critical here; I'm just pointing out that some of your food choices weigh a lot. The other side of this is that food consumption is one of the more pleasurable and anticipated events of each day in the back country. To each their own. Finding lightweight food and snacks that you will like is a challenge. In Walmart of all places I found some lightweight dried fruit choices and lightweight crackers and tuna and also crackers and deviled ham that helped out at lunchtime. Some of the snacks sold in sporting goods stores are very enticing and even tasty but they weigh a ton! I depend more heavily on freeze dried suppers than perhaps most hikers, not because I particularly like them but because they are lightweight. One delightful alternative in the freeze dried foods is Packitgormet.com . Their foods are much tastier and the have a variety of both one and 2-person meals.

I bring one pair of long pants, just the ones I wear and I live in them night and day. Extras are really unnecessary. Yes, it's a little gross but that's a major item of weight in a pack. I also carry no short pants. This is a highly personal choice but long pants eliminate a lot of extra bug repellant and sunscreen needs. One or two pair of extra socks are sufficient. Wash one pair each night and dry them overnight. Eliminate the extra short sleeved shirt for the same reason. Eliminate one hat. Two is a luxury.

Forget hauling a daypack up Half Dome; you are not going to be up there long enough to need it. Find a way to strap water to a belt and stick small snacks in your pocket or windbreaker/rain jacket. Also, be prepared not to make the final ascent if the weather looks the least bit threatening. One does not want to get caught on top or on the cables during a thunderstorm. By the way, does your permit reservation specifically include Half Dome?
Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 04, 2014 11:56AM
What tomdisco said regarding clothes. You don't need all that extra stuff. I bring one extra tee shirt and one extra pair of socks. I wash out the ones I wear during the day and put on the clean ones. The Sierra are dry and the washed clothes dry overnight. I do carry a pair of rain/wind pants but no long johns. If it gets cold, wear both pair in your sleeping bag. I've never slept in a bivy but I suspect it will hold in heat, thus making for warmer sleeping.
How much does your empty pack weigh ? If it's more than 2-3 lbs, it's too heavy. Invest in a light weight pack. How about your sleeping pad ? Neo-air makes light weight blow up pads.
Regarding stove, fuel, etc...I don't carry that stuff. I use cheese , pita bread, and bars (Cliff Builder bars are good). Plenty of fat/protein/calories with those foods.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2014 11:57AM by The Other Tom.
Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 04, 2014 06:37PM
Yosemite rangers are not know for a wink and a nod. They can, however, be very helpful. If you need to change you itinerary, stop by the backcountry office the afternoon before you go in. I've found they have a frequently have a spot except for things like Half Dome.

The haul out of the Valley to Little Yosemite Valley isn't that bad if you pace yourself. Starting early helps to.

The 1.5 pounds of food is calorie dense stuff. Nuts, bars, cream of wheat with brown sugar. I repackage freeze dry meals in ziplock sandwich bags to save space in the bear can. I also stretch them by added instant brown rice or cous-cous.
A little plastic 2 oz or so bottle of olive oil can really help freeze dried food. Parmesian cheese is good also. Don't forget salt. You don't need a lot, but you will want it.

If your 16 year old porter has a small music player let her bring it. A little distraction can be helpful.

I like a pair of long johns. Good weight to warmth ratio.

Take the camera. I look forward to the trip report.
avatar Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 06, 2014 08:21AM
If you are still listening.... and if someone said this already... then forgive me...
But... I beg of thee...
I would very very very highly recommend that you do not hike up Yosemite Falls
to start a backpack trip this time of year. I implored on JR in Georgia not
to do that or Snow Creek start last year... and I would hope that he PM'd
you or would chime in.
After your first trip I very very very highly recommend that you take a couple
of days "off" and dayhike with camping in a campground along Tioga.
White Wolf would be ideal since you are ending there.
You can dayhike North Dome from Porc. Creek TH ... and drive
down to the valley and hike up to Columbia Rock and around to base of Upper Yose.
Or drive up to Glacier Pt. and hike up to Sentinel Dome and/or Taft.
Anywho. 4 days to get to TM... pick up stash.. 4 days back to White Wolf.

2nd trip just start at Rafferty or Sunrise or even Lyell (and maybe even just
dayhike Clouds... then Lyell will work).
You should be able to get from TM to Valley via HD in 6 days at a nice
pace and see a whole lotta the park.

If this helps great... if not... sorry.
w/r to bears... just take your can out of your pack and any smellables...
and you'll be fine. There's a lot of doomsday talk at times about the
bears... just be bear aware and follow the very simple rules and regs
on your permit and you'll be fine.

Have fun and ask more if need be

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 09, 2014 05:23AM
All the answers really help, I've been following along observantly. I've been so busy getting ready, not only all the food/supplies/gear, but also trying to get home situated for my absence, like gassing up the mower for my wife, getting the hedges clipped before the end of summer, picking up my vast array of 'stuff' so that I'm still thought of fondly when I'm away.

I really have considered what you say Chick-On, both in this post and in February's post (on tackling Ranchierra), about the Yosemite Falls hike. I'm not sure how to escape the permit limitations however, that's why I asked about the Ranger's tolerance for helping us. I don't want to wind up taking the shuttle to Porc. Creek or Tenaya, cutting out the Falls hike, and ignominiously getting thrown out of the park. (any input?)

Seems like we've been packing forever, but today we're finally putting it all into the suitcases. I'm not sure what weight this will all tally up to but I did cut back on the food: we're leaving some oatmeal (w/TVP) behind as well as some Kathmandu Curry, Chana Masala, and Louisiana Red Beans dinners. My loss, as my daughter's limited culinary taste is limited to Backpackers Pantry Spaghetti and their Pasta Veggie Parmesan (all repacked from bulk into larger serving sizes). I had almost decided to use this trip, use her hunger, to get her to eat some more variety ("sorry honey, all we have is the curry or the cajun tonight," said with a devilish twinkle) but luckily my wife intervened with sage counsel. A wise latina woman, though she's actually mostly Italian. The peanut butter, tortillas, crackers, are for the finicky girl too; I've never carried that before but it was suggested in a backpacking book.

Here's a funny over-the-top in trying to be prepared: I bought and read 'Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite', a 'gripping account', more a chronicle, of all the deaths in the park in history. I wanted to be aware, clear, wary of the real dangers. I tend to like to bushwack, be adventurous (such as going cross-country with my 16 yr-old for 19 days of backpacking!), but I want no serious mistakes or miscalculations this trip.

My weatherspark.com page indicates good weather, almost same as what we have here in way-upstate NY. This is great weather, I'm super-happy. Half Dome, though, shows high 90's; wWe do have the permit -- in fact, my daughter's seen our Half Dome honeymoon '93 pics and would no way not go up even if it was over 100.

I'll post my pics when I get back. Huzzah!
avatar Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 09, 2014 06:58AM
Sir. No worries. Things will work out.
No matter what you end up doing. Take a nice map with you and on your first
trip I presume you will have a lot of time to contemplate life and enjoy the
view and look at the map and plan and scheme and rethink and double think
and triple think the 2nd trip.
It's good to have a plan. It doesn't mean you have to stick with it.
You'll have a great time no matter how much or how little you end up doing of it.

Have fun and enjoy the views.
Kindest Regards,
Chick-on is looking at you!

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 09, 2014 10:28AM

My weatherspark.com page indicates good weather, almost same as what we have here in way-upstate NY. This is great weather, I'm super-happy. Half Dome, though, shows high 90's; wWe do have the permit -- in fact, my daughter's seen our Half Dome honeymoon '93 pics and would no way not go up even if it was over 100.

Those must be Yosemite Valley temperatures. It'll probably be 20 degrees cooler a few thousand feet up, with night/early morning temps in the 50s.

The current NWS forecast says there's a 20% chance of thunderstorms over the next two days. While those may not materialize, or may hit a safe distance away, if one did pop up while you were on Half Dome you could have a big problem.

Good luck!
avatar Re: Caches, Cars, & the Trip(s)
July 09, 2014 12:16PM
Chick-on made reference to your next trip after this one. You do realize of course there will be many trips to follow, no matter what the cost? Yosemite is addictive! Again, have fun.
Jimhot smiley
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