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Re: Trip Plan Feedback?

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Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 12:49PM
I'm taking my son, 28, nephew, 20 and brother-in-law, 50 (active, but not super fit) to Yosemite for the Jul 4 weekend. Assuming we get our Wilderness Permit, I have 3 possible itineraries. Can anyone offer feedback, constructive criticisms? Other ideas?

Itenerary

I'm an intermediate skilled backpacker who has not backpacked in Yosemite. I'm pretty fit and active (competed in sprint and Olympic triathlons in 2014). I have backpacked in Sequoia/KC and other Sierra locations a dozen times over the past couple of decades. My traveling crew have virtually no backpacking experience. The younger two are both fit but inexperienced.

Of the three trips, the Lyell Canyon is my favorite for this crew. It's the longest but slowly takes up to high altitude (two nights at 8800' before one night at 10000'). I feel the daily distance is doable and we don't have to carry a ton of food if we eat at the High Sierra Camps when possible.

Here's my questions:

  1. Is there any reason this is a bad route through the high country?
  2. What is the latest time and location for catching the shuttle from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne?
  3. I have adapted hammocking for my preferred sleep arrangement (webbing around trees so they are never damaged). Are there any locations where hanging a hammock is not possible?
  4. What have I not considered as I make the plans for this trip?

Thanks for your help!

-Bob
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 03:04PM
Bob asks -
Is there any reason this is a bad route through the high country?
Bit confused here...TM is 8,800'. Up the Lyle to 10,000' gets you 1/2 the way up Donahue, return same way?
What is the latest time and location for catching the shuttle from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne?
Two buses - Evening bus (~$8.00) - Yos. Valley -> TM. Leaves 5:00 PM in front of the stone wilderness center near Valley Post Office - hits TM 7:00 PM, or... 8:30 AM Curry (or Lodge a bit later) - ($13.00)... for the extra $5, you get witty patter from the driver.
I have adapted hammocking for my preferred sleep arrangement (webbing around trees so they are never damaged). Are there any locations where hanging a hammock is not possible?
Above timberline (~9,500') is not good for hammocking.
What have I not considered as I make the plans for this trip?
Fishing? Experience? Ages?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2015 03:06PM by markskor.
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 03:10PM
I believe his Lyell Canyon route would take the trail towards Ireland/Evelyn/Fletcher into Vogelsang ~10,000ft.
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 03:08PM
I've done a very similar version of your Rafferty Creek trip. It was my first backpacking trip and I was a bit younger than your nephew--but I loved it. One variation to the trip was stopping for lunch at Bernice Lake--which was definitely a highlight for me. Regardless, I think that it is a very doable itinerary for the abilities of the hikers you mentioned. Also--your Lyell Canyon route would require a Lyell Canyon TH permit. Starts same place as Rafferty Creek, but is on a different quota and directional requirements differ.

I would pick up your permit on the Thursday that you get into Yosemite, and from the Valley Wilderness station. That will save you from having to go the Tuolumne station that would be a bit out of the way. The shuttle picks up there (valley wilderness station) too--I believe.

As far as meals go--I think it is a policy that you must have proof of a wilderness permit before you can make food reservations at both Vogelsang and Merced Lake HSC. Even then, the meals are not cheap. You're looking at $70.00 per person per HSC. That includes one dinner and one breakfast. For some, that is negligible. For me--I opt for carrying meals in.

Consider flying into Fresno International Airport (FAT).

I'm sure persons with much more knowledge will provide much better information and correct any inaccuracies provided by me.
avatar Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 03:30PM
Do you and your group all have experience jumping up to that kind of altitude first night?
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 05:13PM
Also a bit confused about the Lyell canyon option. Sounds like you intend to hike past the rafferty creek turn off, continue up lyell canyon, then hike back ?
I would take the rafferty creek turn off and continue to Vogelsang. Stop half way up the trail to camp if you don't want to go all the way to Vogelsang.
BTW Vogelsang is a nice area. I would spend an extra day there exploring.
Markskor is right about the hammock thing, but I believe there are enough trees in the Vogelsang backpacker's camp to hang a hammock.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2015 05:15PM by The Other Tom.
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 06:00PM
Torero has your answer. They are hiking up Lyell to the turn-off to Evelyn Lake, and camping in Lyell the 1st night. Second night is at Vogelsang...and then they can choose either Lewis or Fletcher Canyon for the route to Merced Lake.

My only comment is that it is lovely country, but you are going to see a lot of people at the High Sierra Camps. We general aim for more secluded areas.



Balzaccom

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Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 06:10PM
Balzaccom, thanks for the thought about people. If it was just me, I would avoid the HSCs. But with several inexperienced backpackers, I'm thinking the well-worn path is okay for this group. That we won't have to carry as many meals means a lighter load on their backs (although the cost is a serious consideration).

-Bob
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 06:03PM
Wow! Great feedback and questions. Thank you!

I have three possible iteneraries, based on what permit I get. First one was rejected today. sad smiley

markskor and the other tom were confused by my first proposed route. This is the permit I really want. It would leave Tuolumne via the Lyell Canyon TH, hike the canyon to the Ireland Creek junction. If we sleep one night at Tuolumne and another at this junction, that is two nights at 8800 ft before we head up to 10000 ft. I will have real sense if any of the team has altitude problems and if anyone does, it's much easier to get back down fast. I fixed the spreadsheet to show we are leaving by Lyell Canyon for this trip. The permit request actually did list Lyell Canyon. Did that clear the confusion?

JRinGeorge asks if any of us have experience at that high altitude. I have been to Sonora Peak 11,400" without problems. Except for skiing at ~8300', no one else has been at this altitude for any amount of time. It is a concern for which I will pay close attention. Thanks for mentioning it.

Markskor ask about age and experience. I actually mentioned this in the first message, probably too spread out in the text. Here's a summary:

My son, age 28, fit but not super active. Hiking but little backpacking experience.
My nephew, age 20, fit but not super active. Hiking with no backpacking experience.
Brother-in-law, age 50, active, but not super fit (he's showing his age). He has limited, no recent backpacking experience.
I am 53 with a dozen backpacking trips in Sequoia/KC and Mendocino NP over the past 20 years. Not super-experienced but confident enough to travel solo occasionally. I am the most fit of this bunch because I swim, run, bike or something everyday.

Torero suggested a lunch stopping point and a suggestion for picking up our permit. Thanks for both. I didn't realize that we could pick up the Tuolumne permits in the valley. Thanks for that tip.

I am looking forward to picking lunch locations once I know our route. Lunch at Bernice Lake and swimming at Boothe Lake are on the list. Planning that level of detail will be fun, as will just stopping when we get hungry and enjoying the scenery.

Yes, those meals are expensive. More than I thought. I'll have to see how that fits in our budget. ($70 x 3 camps x 4 people = $840. Ouch!)

You guys are great! Any other thoughts?

-Bob
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 16, 2015 07:54PM
Those prices are for vogelsang and Merced lake. The food prices at Tuolumne grill are standard fast food/ diner-ish.
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 17, 2015 01:41PM
"($70 x 3 camps x 4 people = $840. Ouch!)..."

Could be I am wrong (a usual), but those prices quoted above include all meals - B, L, and D.

Suggest just purchasing the dinner option -
It was ~$30 pp (and well worth it too! - BTW, includes a shower at Merced HSC). You would need to carry just one bear can though - your breakfasts, snacks, lunches, etc...(and maybe a bottle of something medicinal too?)
Just a suggestion...

BTW, you can ship anything via mule to the HSCs - Believe it now runs runs $7/pound/ was $5.
Many guests pre-ship (they hold your stuff sack, food bags safe at the HSC -) wine or single malt - (You sit 6 to a table - family service style)...big trays/ salad bowls/pitchers...great discussions.

Also, the HSC crew does take tips!

Just one more thing -
HSCs often have room for the occasional Yosemite hiker without making a reservation. When passing through, (if time permits), always stop in and ask the chef if there is any room at the dinner table. As a solo, I stopped by Merced HSC a few years back and asked - yes there was! Also asked if they needed any kitchen prep-work done - (reducing my bill by half - BTW). After a shower, I found myself in the back kitchen facing a mountain of potatoes, joining a sweet, silver-haired, 75 year old woman, also on designated KP duty.

"Got you too?" was her greeting - with a smile.

Turns out she was a PHD in Physics from MIT - We sat there for an hour, peeling spuds, and solving most of the world's problems along the way...(Might have been a little Grand Mariner involved too.)
Good times - fond memories!
avatar Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 17, 2015 02:25PM
Quote
markskor
"($70 x 3 camps x 4 people = $840. Ouch!)..."

Could be I am wrong (a usual), but those prices quoted above include all meals - B, L, and D.

They do not include lunch: "Overnight accommodations at Yosemite's High Sierra Camps include a full dinner and breakfast,". A box lunch can be purchased for an addition fee.
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 17, 2015 05:20PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
markskor
"($70 x 3 camps x 4 people = $840. Ouch!)..."

Could be I am wrong (a usual), but those prices quoted above include all meals - B, L, and D.

They do not include lunch: "Overnight accommodations at Yosemite's High Sierra Camps include a full dinner and breakfast,". A box lunch can be purchased for an addition fee.

This is correct. I found the web page the describes the meal options and prices for 2014. I assume that 2015 will be in the same range.

Yosemite HSC Rates

Our longest trip is actually just two HSC (Vegelsang and Merced). I was assuming meals at Tuolumne would be similar, Torero corrected me on that, so the HSC food isn't as bad as I first thought: $70 x 2 camps x 4 people = $560., include lunches and it's $16 * 2 * 4 = $128 for a total of $688.

My wife said "New backpackers don't know how to pack light. All three of those guys are going to bring everything but the kitchen sink and you want to introduce them to this with a good experience. Don't make them kill themselves with a heavy pack loaded with food. Buy them the meals that they don't have to carry, make a great memory that will last a long time."

Still a painful bill, but she has a point.

-Bob
avatar Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 19, 2015 07:46AM
My two pennies worth r... any way you can take these guys out closer to home and make
them carry a pack for some good distance?
July 4th is prime mosquito season. Be prepared! Also don't have anything really
planned as far as Boothe and Bernice imo. Just play it by ear. Bernice is a steep
climb up which your group may not want to partake in ... have lunch at Vogelsang Pass
instead... don't "have" to be anywhere ...
w/r to hammocking... my wife uses a hammock... and treeline is more like 11,000 in
The Sierra. Foxtails make just find hammock trees... and Lodgepoles are even better.
She has been with me many many times aboute 10K and hammocked. And never in
Yosemite have we not been able to find suitable trees for a hammock. Certainly you
will be able to find suitable hammock spot... the issue would be your buddies...
you might have to search around for a spot ... and ur buddies may not be right next to
you...
Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 20, 2015 05:30PM
Thanks for the additional info, chick-on.

I do plan to get all of these guys to hike with their packs loaded with similar weight before we go. I don't want to hear a lot of whining (even from myself :-)

Good tip on being flexible. I'll play it by ear as I hear how everyone is doing.

Also, thanks for the direct experience regarding hanging a hammock. Good to know I'll be able to find spots all along my expected route.

-Bob
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 23, 2015 03:20PM
Hello Folks,
Thanks for the helpful info. I received confirmation of a wilderness permit this morning. My trip date is set and now I'm getting down the details.

Start at Lyell Canyon TH on Jul 10
End at Happy Isles on July 14

Since some of my traveling companions are remote, I've put together some docs to help us get on the same page. I thought I would throw it out to this forum for anyone to get ideas or suggestions for their own trip. I really appreciate your help.

Trip Overview

Schedule

Packing List (look for "Stuff" and "Food" tabs - food is in planning process)

-Bob
avatar Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 24, 2015 09:54PM
Hi Bob,

I've done the "meals only" thing quite a few times and it is really enjoyable! Be sure to check the website on Feb 3rd to see what kind of availability there will be for meals. It is a popular option and may be difficult to get. I always check the list in February to see if there are any dates that I can make work!

http://www.yosemitepark.com/high-sierra-camps-availability.aspx

Be nice to Didi, she's one of the sweet people who manage the reservations for the camps. She has always been super helpful in getting my trips planned.

Best of luck!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
Re: Trip Plan Feedback?
January 28, 2015 10:59AM
Quote
Jayabrams
.. check the website on Feb 3rd to see what kind of availability there will be for meals...

Be nice to Didi, she's one of the sweet people who manage the reservations for the camps. She has always been super helpful in getting my trips planned.

Best of luck!

Thank you! I will most certainly be nice to Didi. That's automatic but unfortunately needs to be said from time to time. Thanks!

-Bob
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