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Pothole Dome (Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park)

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (100% of Full)


Re: Where to now?

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Where to now?
November 05, 2014 05:09PM
Hey guys, I'm looking to pick your brains on the subject of Fall/Winter camping up in the sierra. I have to admit I have done basically 0 backpacking, camping, or hiking in the later side of fall or in winter for that matter. I would like to change that this year and get out there and see some of the different sites and such but I really have no idea where to go. I know that once we get anykind of snow pack 108 will be closed from Snow park on up, and I know most of the forestry roads that are below that close around that time as well. I have some gear collected so far for colder weather camping but I don't think I am quite ready for camping in much more then a few inches of snow yet. I got out and did 1 trip up out of Crab tree road out to Y meadows lake last week just before the rain/snow and I thought that was rather enjoyable even though it did get down to the mid 30's at night. My only probably being that we were at about the 8,500ft mark the entire time so it was rather difficult to find any kind of dead and down wood to burn. I'm looking to do anothing 2 or 3 day trip this month if at all possible as well as maybe a few day hikes or an overnight next month weather permiting. To be honest though I have no idea where to go. I'd like to keep it within the Highway 4, 108, and 120 areas because of limited time and money. I was looking at maybe checking out the Cooper peak, and cooper meadow area but am not sure how that will be and even cooper meadow is at the 7,000 mark. I'm curious about how the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne would be this time of year and if its a good place to overnight at.

All in all though I am curious about what you guys do this time of year and later? I know a lot of you hike around the high country in the emmigrant and upper yosemite which is mainly Granite and very few trees during the spring and summer but what do you do during the fall and winter?. I rather like having a nice warm fire when its cold and sleeping in a sheltered area with trees rather then exposed out on granite when its cold so that kinda seems to narrow down where I can hike this time of year a good bit.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/05/2014 07:23PM by randomsteve95370.
Re: Where to now?
November 05, 2014 08:49PM
I'm in your boat. Typically, I head toward the coast, do trips like Pt. Reyes, Ohlone, and Henry Coe. I am thinking about snowshoeing this winter and trying to head to Sierras too.
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 06, 2014 07:23AM
Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne has the access problem - overnight parking along the Tioga Road is not allowed after October 15. However, you could try an overnight from Hetch Hetchy - that's open year-round, Laurel Lake would be one possibility, I've hiked there in November a few years ago before the real snows came in. Hopefully the recent rain put some water in Rancheria - Rancheria Falls is another, lower-altitude option.

Last weekend I camped at Wildcat in Point Reyes - advance reservations are required, it's designated-site backpack camping (with piped-in water), but quite pretty. Point Reyes Pictures.
Re: Where to now?
November 06, 2014 01:46PM
Didn't know that about Tioga road. Thanks. Laurel lake looks like it would be a fun place to visit. Looking at the map some more and thinking about what you said with Hetch Hetchy being open year round I am starting to think a hike out to eleanor may be in my future.

I haven't camped at Point Reyes but I know which campsite you are talking about. Me and some friends went down there a few months ago and hiked from The visitors center out to Arch rock and then up the beach Limantour road so needless to say I have some of those exact pictures tongue sticking out smiley Pretty place for sure.

I'm really curious to know what the Pink one does during winter as I know he constantly has to stretch his wings.
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 06, 2014 05:43PM
Between Arch Rock and Limantour you hiked past Coast campground - Wildcat is south of Arch Rock, between it and Alamere Falls.

I've snowshoed into Ostrander Hut in February a couple years ago - that was nice if you're looking for something where you're out on big snow but aren't camping in or on it. Last winter I snowshoed into Sequoia NP's Pear Lake Hut. I posted pictures from both on here - you can search. Both options require advanced reservations and have a lottery. In both cases a long weekend is nice, they're both full-day trips and it's nice to have a day in-between to explore around the area.
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 06, 2014 06:31PM
Depends on conditions. But the only trails that are closed in the winter in Yosemite are Mist and 4 Mile.
Pretty much everything else you can go for. Conditions vary greatly depending on this that or the other.
Avalanche dangers do exist. But nothing like the eastern sierra...
Been up pretty much every trail out of the valley in winter with varying degrees of deliciousness.
Cherry is open year round... been there over Thanksgiving and Xmas and other times.
Don't think fires in winter.... typically you are not allowed to have them ... think 4 ft. of snow...
and where exactly you building a fire???
Starr King area... Merced Lake a couple of time... Emeric... Echo...

North Rim trails are nice up to rim... due to southern exposure usually means you don't have to
shoe all the way up...

anywho... gotta run... can say more nxt week

have fun

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 07, 2014 04:58PM
But the only trails that are closed in the winter in Yosemite are Mist and 4 Mile.

And the JMT from Clark Point to the top of Nevada Fall.
Re: Where to now?
November 08, 2014 05:02PM
Thanks for the Ideas guys. Looks like with a bit of planning and maybe getting some new gear I will be able to keep myself busy through the winter with some fun outdoor activities.
Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 01:41PM
It was at most 24 degrees by my wonky thermometer this past Saturday at 10k'. Last time it read 27, a more trustworthy thermometer read 16. Given the amount of water that froze in the bottle, I'd say we were in the teens Saturday. Done that a fair number of times. With the right gear, it's not an issue, and I run COLD at night, and I didn't even have my full winter kit. But I ended up sleeping warm. We have never made wood fires backpacking in winter. Basilbop has made more fires when he hikes with others than when he does with me. I don't like fires. With temps like that and the gear I wear/use, I don't think fires are really practical or safe. Staying dry and warm, with the ability to make warm/hot fluids, that's key. Take an igloo-making class or something like that. You'll learn about what gear is useful (and more importantly) how to use it, while you have experienced people showing you the ropes. It may help you (or anyone else) get jump-started into the winter thing.

Back when, a previous edition of Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book also had useful information (i'll have to check out the newest version).

Summer is much more forgiving than winter. Read and learn and be prepared best you can before you attempt is my basic advice.
Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 04:23PM
I appreciate the tips. I opened this thread mainly to see what you guys do because of closures and such come winter but I do appreciate being able to hear what each of you guys do when it comes to winter backpacking. I know in my neck of the woods up 108 they pretty much shut down every forestry road by december 1 and around there they close the entire pass at Snowpark just above strawberry so unless you like walking snowy highway for miles and miles or you have a snowmobile your not gonna make it very far up 108.

I've got some snow gear just not a ton. I've just never really had any reason or motivation to get out there once it gold colder then 30 or there was more then a foot of snow. That said I have done some snow camping and I personally like having a nice fire (doesn't need to be large) when i'm out there. Kinda just a mental thing I suppose, something to take care of, something to sit near, something to watch. Hyoh and all you know, each their own I suppose. Anyway, even though I live about an hour and a half away from Yosemite I know very little about their restrictions, closures, where to park and such. So its very nice to be able to jump on a forums like this and ask you guys and find out all the little ins and outs that I would probably never learn otherwise.

Me and some friends have been talking and we are hoping to head out to Eleanor for 3 nights sometime during thanks giving weekend. I know from asking ealier that the only way out there is the 9 or so mile hike from Hetch hetchy. Anything you guys think I should know before going out there? Where exactly am I allowed to park for 4 days there? We plan on making a base camp at Eleanor somewhere so if you know where the best spot to set up for 3 nights would be please let me know. We plan on day hiking the few days we are there so if there is anything within day hike distance that we should see I would love to hear it. Anyway hopefully everything works out so we can get out there this month.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2014 06:55PM by randomsteve95370.
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 05:16PM
Regarding your parking question, if you're leaving from Hetch Hetchy you will be required to park in a backpackers lot at the crosshairs on this map. You'll see day hikers parking right near the dam but that's not allowed overnight. You'll also have to watch the hours for the Hetch Hetchy entrance - as this Yosemite Road Conditions page indicates, the Hetch Hetchy entrance is only open from 8 to 5 during winter - there's a very stout gate at Camp Mather which is locked at other times. During spring summer and fall the entrance is open longer hours. At the entrance you'll get your permit, your license plate info will be recorded, and you'll be given a parking placard to put in your windshield.

Regarding other stuff some of us do...once the Badger Pass Ski Resort opens the Glacier Point Road re-opens out to Badger Pass and the snow is groomed the rest of the way out to Glacier Point. I've camped by Sentinel Dome, by Taft Point, and out on Illilouette Ridge - in addition to the Ostrander Hut trip I mentioned above.
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 05:41PM
A few other "where to go" ideas...

If you're OK w/ snow, that is...
(edit) A 0 degree sleeping bag would be recommended for these options in winter, except for the Rancheria one which is lower elevation.

Mt. Lassen's South Entrance has some nice options (March 2014)

Late October/Early November trip, 2013, Rancheria Falls

The Sentinel Dome trip I mentioned.

There's good options on both sides of Carson Pass - here's an April 2013 trip to Fourth of July Lake, I've also snowshoed into Showers Lake and Meiss Lake on the north side.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2014 05:44PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 05:53PM
And here's a Pear Lake (Sequoia NP) trip, as mentioned above.
Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 07:03PM
Wow thanks ttilley. Loads of places to go! Also thanks for telling me about the gate times at hetch hetchy, didn't know about that. Would you happen to know roughly how long it takes to get to the gate from the overnight parking area you pointed out? I would very much like to have things planned out so that I get back to the car the last day in time to drive out before they close the gate and lock me in. tongue sticking out smiley

On a different note: could anyone point me to the style of snowshoe that they prefer? I haven't snowshoed in a long time and the ones I used were not mine nor were they very good in my opinion. Gonna look around this year at getting a pair but I know that there are a few different styles for different applications. What do people use around here for their backpack trips?
Re: Where to now?
November 12, 2014 09:29PM
We've used XC skis for years, finally using a good modern design with full metal edges, that could be used on groomed (track) or off-piste, rented MSR EVO snowshoes for our first snowshoe/igloo trip years ago. We ended up buying and loving our Northern Lite Elite snowshoes for both day and backpacking trips. Really handy, for something like the North Rim traverse in a day. Dry up Snow Creek, so packing them, then great and nimble for the snowy traverse and then back on the pack for the drop down Yosemite Falls trail. (Kahtoola Microspikes are carried for the icy sections not suitable for snowshoes.) For more aggressive (icier/steeper) snowshoe conditions, we bought the MSR Lightning Ascents a bit ago because we'd pushed our Northern Lites further than they were intended.. and probably caused at least a year of the drought by doing so...Sorry!
avatar Re: Where to now?
November 13, 2014 05:37PM
I have a pair of Atlas 1030s - fairly happy with them.
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