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Re: Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days

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Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days
December 28, 2014 04:30PM
I have never been to yosemite and am very excited about this trip. We would like to hike 6 to 8 miles a day and hang out a bit. Then move on. If there is a hike where we can stay for several days and do day hikes that would be perfect. Just starting to plan and very excited. What maps should I get, areas that are best, etc! Wide open for ideas. Thanks and happy new year all.
Re: Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days
December 28, 2014 05:06PM
Welcome to the forum. I'm sure you'll get a lot of suggestions.
Perhaps you'll get better answers if you tell us some more about you.
What level of backpacker are you ? Have you been on a 10-12 day trip before ? Where ? Have you hiked at altitude ? Are you going solo or with a group ? Do you have a bear can ?
(you can rent if you don't).

For a first time visitor to Yosemite, I generally recommend the "tourist" things...Yosemite falls, Nevada falls, giant sequoias, etc.
To answer one of your questions, get the Tom Harrison maps (google it)
And...don't forget about permits. You'll need a permit for a backcountry trip. If you're lucky you can get one in advance. If not, you can probably get a walk up but keep your options open.

Are you set on staying in Yosemite ? You can hike the JMT(or other trails), starting in Yosemite, but it will take you out of the park. Or vice versa, start somewhere and hike into the park.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2014 05:08PM by The Other Tom.
Re: Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days
December 29, 2014 05:46PM
Tom makes some good points. If you haven't visited Yosemite, you should plan on seeing some of the basic sights that are NOT in the backcountry.

But let's take you question at face value. By July, most of the trails should be open and not too covered with snow, assuming our weather pattern doesn't take a major (and positive!) turns towards a lot more precipitation.

If you say you want to hike 6-8 miles a day, for ten days, with a few layover days, then you are looking at something like 60 miles. Here are a few options, all starting and ending in Yosemite. Tom is right---there are other options that are also pretty cool that would go outside the park.

1. Start at Glacier Point or Mono Meadows, head up Illilouette Canyon, over Red Peak Pass...explore the upper reaches of the Merced Canyon, and the come back down via Merced Lake, little Yosemite Valley, (a quick trip up Half Dome?) and ending either at Happy Isles of back to your initial trailhead. 50-60 miles.

2. Starting at Tuolumne Meadows, hike up Rafferty Creek over Vogelsang, and then down Lewis Creek until you can take the trail up the eastern side of Merced Canyon to Isberg Pass. Near the pass, cross over and then come down Merced Canyon to Merced Lake, then up Fletcher Creek and back to Vogelsang, cross over through Evelyn Lake and down Lyell Canyon back to Tuolumne Meadows. 50 miles or more depending on which way you go.

3. A bit longer would be the lollipop loop starting at Tuolumne Meadows and heading north to Glen Aulin and then up the PCT all the way to Kerrick Canyon...then continue up Rancheria Creek to Peeler Lake or Snow Lake, then over Mule Pass and Burro pass, down Matterhorn Canyon, and back to Glen Aulin. About 70 miles? And if I were doing this trip, I would to the loop counterclockwise, just because hiking up Matterhorn Canyon is better than hiking down it.

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
avatar Re: Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days
December 29, 2014 06:12PM
Wow...where to start...

What That Other Tom said.

During the summer season there are three transportation hubs that might be of interest in your trip planning, being Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Mammoth. The YARTS system goes back and forth daily from the Valley up to Tuolumne and on to Mammoth, and provides an easy way to do a point to point trip if you wish, or to have an exit strategy if the need arises (always a good idea on a longer trip, imo). Each of those locations also has food and lodging, etc. which can make for a nice break from the trail.

You should also be aware of the High Sierra Camps in the Yosemite High Country, details here. The loop trail through these camps goes through some spectacular scenery, for sure. On the down side, those trails are generally pretty heavily used and the horses and mules that help supply the camps do leave plenty of evidence of their passing on the trails. The camps, although a bit expensive, could also provide a nice one night break from trail life if you were interested in that (and could get a reservation!). Any one of the camps could be a good place to use as a home base and to day hike from. But there are plenty of other great places with fewer people that would also be as nice, if not nicer, to use as a base camp.

Also be sure to get your permit, as T.O.Tom said. If you have your trip planned and dates set, you can reserve permits in advance...recommended, especially for the popular trailheads, which you will likely be starting out on.

Since you have not been to Yosemite, you will have to visit Yosemite Valley to see its sites. Be forewarned that the Valley can be quite busy during the summer, so expect crowds and get reservations to stay there as early as possible to avoid having to stay outside the park, perhaps many miles away. I would suggest doing the Valley first, getting used to the lower altitude (4000ft) before heading up to the high country (8000 ft). Rather than starting your backpack trip in the Valley, which requires a 3000 foot climb to get out of, I would suggest driving or taking YARTS to the high country and starting your trip there.

So I would get a Harrison map and maybe a guidebook (there are plenty out there on Amazon), pick your dates, and provide us all with a few more details and you will get plenty of good recommendations, I am sure!
Re: Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days
December 30, 2014 02:54PM
Using the YARTS, as stated above...
Mammoth start at Agnew Meadows -
Over Donahue Pass - Tuolumne -
burgers/ beer and stay Tuolumne BP camp.
Rafferty Creek - Merced Lake - (Washburn?) - LYV
Half Dome and down to Happy Isles.
Overnight Valley BP camp and bus back to Mammoth...
A great 10 day adventure
avatar Re: Planning a backpacking trip next summer. Open for ideas? thinking 10 12 days
January 01, 2015 09:33AM
Regarding maps, I'm very partial to the Nat Geo Trails Illustrated Maps. They have one for all of Yosemite, #206. That one is O.K. for a total overview but not detailed enough for the hiking trails. This same map is broken down into four sectional maps more appropriate for backpacking. They are waterproof and tear resistant. They are called:
#306 Yosemite SW - Yosemite Valley & Wawona
#309 Yosemite SE - Ansel Adams Wilderness
#307 Yosemite NW - Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
#308 Yosemite NE - Toulumne Meadows & Hoover Wilderness
You can go to Nat Geo's website to get a closer look at these maps; just make sure you search the Trails Illustrated Map section.

The Other Tom presented some valid questions regarding hiking ability, experience at high altitudes, etc. that represent legitimate concerns. If you have never hiked at altitude the sometimes dry and rough trails in Yosemite can beat you up at 6-8 miles every day. As an older hiker I've often noted how easy it is to look at a trail map and say, "It's only 7 miles from here to here" but when I get out there with 30-lbs on my back that 7 miles can seem like 12! Also, if going in a group your top speed will be the slowest hiker, the one most susceptible to altitude sickness, blisters, fatigue, dehydration, whatever.

We often make the case for those who have never been to Yosemite to do the tourist thing first with lots of day hikes thrown in to get the lay of the land, a good dose of the trails without heavy packs, and enough introduction to provide a better idea where you would like to backpack on your return visit (there WILL be a return-you will find a way-we guarantee it).

If you are still dead set on backpacking from the get-go I highly recommend visiting the Nat'l Parks Yosemite website. You can get into the backpacking section by hitting "Things to Do" and then search deeper for things like trail permits, trail quotas, wilderness regulations, bear canister rentals, etc. There are many layers to this website. Note: 60% of trail permits are apportioned to advanced reservations (up to 180 days prior) and the most popular ones go very fast on the 180th day prior. The remaining 40% are first come first served walk-ins that require lots of flexibility on your part--particularly on weekends. If you go in without reserved permit please be kind to others waiting in line by being ready with a list of alternate choices without consuming lots of the ranger's time. Each trail has a daily quota for number of backpackers who can enter; there's no limit on day hikers. Trail quotas are in large part predetermined by the estimated daily impact on most likely camping areas, in other words, buried human waste and trampled grounds.

That's it for my advice. Others will provide more.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/2015 09:34AM by tomdisco.
Hello Charlene, welcome to these forums.

What transportation will you be using? Your own personal vehicle or public transportation?

You related 10-12 days which is a rather long trip. If you are novices would recommend a first backpacking trip of no more than 3 days. Will you have additional days in the Yosemite region to visit front country areas? If not, would highly recommend at least 2 or 3 days to do so. The crown jewels of the park are in Yosemite Valley that is a small part of the very large park. That is not a zone visitors backpack at but rather there are many short day hiking trails. A couple days in the valley and then a day visiting the roadside areas up to Tuolumne Meadows. If 12 days is total that still leaves time for a long backpacking trip.

What is your backpacking and hiking experience?

Is your experience only on hiking trails and not cross country?

Have you ever backpacked in areas with bears?

If experienced mountain backpacking, what kind of mileage and vertical uphill are you used to?

What approximate dates? Very important because there can be a lot of melting snow at higher elevations preventing access till melt out. Also early season can mean difficult stream crossing of high dangerous water and mosquitoes.

Do you have any special mountain interests like peak bagging, climbing, fishing, photography, natural science?

You mentioned hiking to a destination where you could then stay and have day hikes from. That is referred to as base camping and only a minor percentage of backpackers structure trips that way (I am a semi-base camper.) Most backpackers continually hike from one place to another and if out a week might have a single free day aka a layover. There are some classic areas of the park to basecamp at and one of the best is the Vogelsang area.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2015 10:53PM by DavidSenesac.
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