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Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans

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Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 25, 2014 01:10PM
Hello Everyone!

My father introduced me to this forum when I told him that my buddies and I were planning on taking a trip to Yosemite next summer. Personally, I have been to Yosemite a few times and have hiked the section of the JMT from Devil’s Postpile to Tuolumne Meadows with my Dad and brother (this is a beautiful section of the JMT by the way!). Also, I have had the chance to go up Half Dome.

Now I am, along with one of my roommates, planning a backpacking trip for crew of 5 guys for next summer (after we all graduate from college). I think we were planning on a doing a 4-6 day trip, anywhere from 40-60 miles. Right now, we are trying to figure out if our tentative itinerary is any good, we would love any advice that you all have to offer!

For starters, we have the majority of our itinerary planned as follows:

Day 1: Leave car in Yosemite Valley, take TM Tour bus to Tuolumne Meadows, hike 9 Miles
Overnight: Sunrise Lakes
Notes: On JMT, head west at Sunrise Lakes trail junction

Day 2: Backpacking - hike 12 Miles, see Half Dome and Clouds Rest
Overnight: Little Yosemite Valley
Notes: Head south along trail to Cloud’s Rest (approaching from North), continue south and join back with JMT, head up Half Dome before camping in Little Yosemite Valley

Day 3: Backpacking - hike 10+ Miles, see Glacier Point
Overnight: Dewey Point/Taft Point
Notes: Head west, take Panorama trail west at junction, take Pohono Trail west at junction
Where is the best place to camp here? We looked at the maps and it said that there was no backcountry camping permitted on this section

Day 4: Backpacking - hike 5-8 Miles, Leave backcountry
Overnight: Yosemite Valley
Notes: Continue heading west along Pohono trail, leave trail at Wawona road and hike to the Valley

http://www.mapmyhike.com/workout/704924569 This is a map of this hike, it’s about 40 miles in length. For clarification purposes, I had to log the workout in order make it viewable by everyone (I did not do the hike already!). Any opinions/suggestions are greatly appreciated, including the question under Day 3.

My buddy and I were also considering other possibilities concerning the start location. Instead of just starting in Tuolumne meadows, starting farther North. This itinerary would go as follows

Day 1: Leave car in Yosemite Valley, charter bus to Virginia Pass Trailhead, hike 9 miles
Overnight: McCabe Creek
Notes: Is it possible to get a bus to this area? Could we simply use some backpacking charter company?

Day 2: Backpacking – hike 12 Miles to Tuolumne Meadows
Overnight: Tuolumne Meadows

Days 3 -6: Continue same path as the previously listed itinerary

http://www.mapmyhike.com/workout/704925209 Here is the map of the hike.

The main question here is that is it worth the time and money to get a bus up to the Virginia Pass area and hike the extra approx. 20 miles? Does this area make for good backpacking? I just thought it would be cool because it covers part of the Pacific Crest Trail and I personally wanted the trip to be a little bit longer! Any suggestions appreciated!

Other Questions/ Discussions:

We plan on taking this trip in early July of next year (weeks of July 3 and July 10). Is this a good time/late enough that there wouldn’t be any problems with snow in the areas we are hiking/ Tuolumne Meadows bus will be definitely running.

I understand that permits are required for hiking in the backcountry and for ascending Half Dome. How likely is it that I can get these permits for 5 people?

Thanks in advance for all of your help! None of this is set in stone, so we are up to any and all suggestions, don’t hold back! If someone else has a hike that is far superior to this one, we would even be up to changing our entire itinerary!

Best Regards,
James B.
avatar Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 25, 2014 02:37PM
There are lots of other 4-6 day itineraries, too many to mention. You've picked a good one. I did nearly that same trip, plus more, last year.

Yes permits are required. Odds of getting permits for 5 -- depends on what day of the week and especially in early July if you are straddling the July 4th holiday. The application allows you to indicate alternate trailheads so don't be fixated on entering only at Cathedral/JMT because it is a very popular trailhead. Unfortunately, most of your alternates for that route are also very popular. One idea is to do the route in reverse -- start at the Tunnel View end of the Pohono, that is not as popular and thus more likely to be available. Another idea is to go Budd Creek, which involves cross-country and some easy route-finding, taking it to Echo Lake effectively parallels the JMT through the Cathedral Pass and then you could cut over and pick up the JMT.

Also keep in mind that only 60% of the permits are reservable so 40% are held for walk-up. Walk-up permits are available starting 11am the day before, so if you want to do a walk-up plan to arrive a day early for your best shot at your desired permit.

If you want to do Half Dome while backpacking there is a separate permit for that. If you apply to reserve a backcountry permit then you will see on the application form how it asks if you want to add HD to it and if HD is not available whether you still want the backcountry permit or not.

Also be cognizant of altitude. I would advise against arriving at YNP, shuttling up to TM, and then hiking out all in the same day, which if camping at Sunrise you will be close to 9,000'. Take a day in the Valley at least before starting out, or if you do the itinerary in reverse then you would not be camping so high the first night. Unless everyone in your group has experience with jumping up to altitude, with a group of 5 you are flirting with the odds that someone will feel the affects and slow the group down (or even force you to turn around).

On the Pohono the best camping spot is indeed at Dewey Point, it's allowed there and you'll even find some campsites there.
avatar Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 26, 2014 06:37AM
Some random comments that are chick-on brained order.

You can pick any of the THs n of 120 and you can't really go wrong. Twin Lakes, Green, Virginia, 20 Lakes,
(haven't done Lundy myself yet... ) Anywho... Fourth of July can be early for Green and Virginia especially
Virginia... since you starting at nearly 10K as it is. If you go to Summit and then head south you are really
missing out the best part of Virginia Canyon (hint: the further you go up nearly every canyon... the more
open it gets and the better the views and the nicer it is ... imo)
So... I would recomment if you start at Virginia to go up to Return Lake for a day... and then you can bop around
and maybe go up Stanton Peak (pretty simple peak)... provided you got there and you happy and there
isn't 100% snow cover on account we got another huge snow year...
Anywho... just some great stuff in that area...
Coming in from Green you have other options... but Virginia Pass on the north more than likely will be
yummy... and I really don't recommend a huge amount of xcountry if you haven't been in the area..
which brings me to the Budd Creek comment by Billy Joel... I personally recommend to not take these
type of permits since you will almost assuredly trying to get right back on the trail and if you haven't
done the trail and all then ... well.. anywho... I always rec. hiking the trail first... if never been in
area unless you are a xcountry afficianado... and have trouble staying on a trail...

Ok, so if you got this far... um... Pohono... yeah, well... I recommend that you don't hike up to GP and then
do Pohono... since you can easily hike your booty back to your car... and then get a McGurk permit
or Taft Permit and then hike the most scenic portions ... (Taft to Dewey)
Um... if you got ur car... you can v v quickly go up Sentinel Dome. Get back in car... hike out to Taft...
come back... get back in car... drive to McGurk... and then out to Dewey... and then shoot me.

As for the hike to Half Dome and all... July timeframe... bugs are always an issue... and The Merced
is really flowing ... so I highly recommend that you put into your plan a trip along the Merced.
Clouds Rest is a dayhike that you could do afterwards or before.

Yeah, this is too much. You can do it all. It will just take a decade or longer.
smiling smiley

But no worry. You be college edumacated then. smiling smiley
You can't really go too wrong.

Have fun planning ...

o... I would not camp at LYV or at Tuolumne Meadows... unless you looking for the Swedish Bikini Team...
for a backcountry backpacking trip...

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 26, 2014 11:54AM
If you go to Summit and then head south you are really
missing out the best part of Virginia Canyon (hint: the further you go up nearly every canyon... the more
open it gets and the better the views and the nicer it is ... imo)

What chick-on said. Here's how it looked a few days ago:
avatar Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 26, 2014 01:46PM
Hey James...here are my 2 cents worth:
First...a group of 5 is always slower than a smaller group. Even 5 Chick-ons would be much slower than 1. Its just the way it works. Everybody has a different need to stop (pee, snack, rest, band-aids for blisters) at a different time. And even at that you are only as fast as your slowest guy. Keep that in mind.
You have been to Yosemite but not sure about your buddies...prob not I am thinking...so you have to see the Valley. And the Valley is the easiest to get to with public transportation.
So I would suggest a variation on your first trip idea. Keeps it simple, and you have plenty of bailout possibilities if one of your group has an issue.
Take the hikers bus up towards Tuolumne, get off at Yosemite Creek campground and follow the creek trail down towards Yosemite Falls. Should be lots of good swimming holes along the way to cool you down if needed, and the walk is generally flat/downhill...a nice way to break everybody in. From the top of Yosemite Falls head east...you can check out Indian Rocks, North Dome and Mt Watkins on your way to Tenaya Lake. Go from there up the Sunrise Creek Trail to Sunrise Lakes or the fisherman's trail to Lower Cathedral and then back towards Sunrise. Then up and over Clouds Rest and Half Dome and back down to the Valley.

You can check out the mileages with the various trail alternatives. At that time of year there should not be snow to deal with and there should be adequate water on the route.

permits...check out the reservation system here. You will likely have no problem getting a reservation if you fax in the request at the first earliest allowable time. To add Half Dome you have to request that on your permit reservation according to the NPS website:

However, be sure to specify when making a reservation that you want Half Dome permits. If Half Dome permits are available and Half Dome is reasonably part of your itinerary, you will receive a reservation that includes them. Half Dome permits received in this way will be valid for all dates your wilderness permit is valid.
Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 26, 2014 09:39AM
Great points by Chick-on. Seems as if you are trying to do it all without renting a car...is that to save money? By the time five of you catch a shuttle bus, you'll have spent as much money as on a rental car.

Some of this territory is great day hiking: Sentinel Dome, Taft Point, Glacier Point, Panorama trail....all of that could be dayhikes. No permits, no problems. And remember that you get a free night in the backpackers campground both before and after your permit. So you could spend an extra day on each end camped either in Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows backpacking campgrounds and do some dayhikes.

Trailhead quota for Budd Lake is five, so you'd be pushing it to expect to get that permit anyway.

But there are SO MANY good hikes in Yosemite. You could go up Rafferty or Lyell to Vogelsang, down Lewis Canyon, explore, maybe back up Fletcher---or down to the Valley where ONE of you could catch the bus up to get your car while the rest of you do a dayhike or two,...

And as per Chick-on, the trailheads on the east side always get less attention. Wanna do one of the best parts of the John Muir Trail? Go up out of Silver Lake and head towards Thousand Island and Garnet. Or get a permit out of Walker Lake and head over Mono Pass and then south.

Lots of options. And if five of you share the costs, you could rent a car and do any of these...

We've got more info and trip reports on our website, if you are interested.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
Re: Tentative Yosemite Backpacking Plans
August 26, 2014 10:47AM
Here are some ideas to consider... (depends upon how much of tour guide you feel up to doing too!)
- Start in Yosemite Valley, and do the JMT (along with Half Dome) until Red's. Return via the YARTS bus to the Valley. If you have time, do a day hike/drive to Glacier Point and explore the area.

- Take the evening YARTs bus up to Tuolumne, stay overnight at the backpacker camp, and head out in the morning.

- Or do a loop from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows..

Snow coverage will depend upon the winter, but July is prime bug season

Sounds like a great trip with your buddies!
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