Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Yosemite Valley

The Moon is Waxing Crescent (32% of Full)


Advanced

Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 07:49AM
Hi,

I'm thinking of spending a about week backpacking and wild camping somewhere beautiful. My flight from the UK gets me into LA so the Sequoia national park seemed like a fair bet as I will be relying on public transport. I was also looking at Yosemite, too, but I don't mind as long as the place is beautiful. I have never been to any mountains in the US, so is there somewhere I should really be considering that's within 1 day travel from LA?

I am quite experienced with winter mountaineering in Scotland so I'm not phased by 15 mile hikes in deep snow over mountains, though I won't be carrying ropes or crampons and I will be alone. Are there any places that anyone could recommend I head for that are really amazing and truly remote?

Also what kind of conditions underfoot should I be preparing for? Will snowshoes be essential/very useful, but not essential/complete overkill and a total pain in the backside to carry? I would like to get to the top of some mountains, but it would depend on avalanche conditions. Does anyone have any tips?

Thanks very much in advance
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 08:05AM
Archie,

You can't go wrong on the beauty issue with either park.

When are you planning to be here? Right now, even though it's still "winter" there is very little snow. By June there will probably be none.

Check the webcams at the bottom of the forum page and you'll get an idea of how little snow there is.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 09:48AM
Quote
mrcondron
When are you planning to be here? Right now, even though it's still "winter" there is very little snow. By June there will probably be none.

I would assume by the subject line of his post that he is planning to visit in late April. wink

.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 10:26AM
It's not nice to make fun of old people.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 04:36PM
Quote
mrcondron
It's not nice to make fun of old people.

Since when? Grinning Devil
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 10:32AM
Have you ever been to the US?

If not my recommendation would be to pony up and just rent a car.
Then drive to any of the our National Parks. They all are beautiful... and all
worth the visit. That is mainly why they became National Parks.
You can't really go wrong with any of them. You can easily spend a week
travelling to and visiting all the ones in Arizona, Utah, and California.
And still need another month...

By late April ... with the year we are having... my guess is that all the roads
will be open. It's just that bad out here. With that have at your access
pretty much the entire Sierra. If you cannot find solitude... then you need
only step off the trail for 1/10th mile and you'll have it.

Dunno what exactly your goal is. To get away from it all... or say you went up
such and such mountain... or to see some beautiful places...

if it's the later... then Id go back to simply ... you have to rent a car and just drive.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 01:11PM
Tips ? Assuming weather permits:
Make your way to Tuolumne Meadows. Hike up to Vogelsang area and spend a few days. Then continue your hike to Yosemite Valley and take in the falls, which should be, well, good in late April. Either take the shuttle to Glacier point and the shuttle to the Mariposa grove of giant Sequoias.
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 10, 2015 06:05AM
Thanks for the route idea. I plotted it out on a map and it looks pretty doable, but that really does depend on weather and conditions. It might be wise for me to plan a circular route so that if conditions are trickier than expected, I can cut my route down to suite.

I will have about 10 days, but that'll probably be more like a week of actual hiking/backpacking when I take into account getting to and from the national park and the first and last night at the trail head.

This may sound stupid, but National Parks in the UK seem to differ from the US, so forgive my ignorance. In the UK, it's allowed to pretty much camp and walk wherever you like (within reason) when above the walls/fences that de-mark the boundaries between farmed land and open moors/fells/mountains. I say within reason as obviously, it's best to be out of sight for everyone and it's not good to camp more than a few days tops. And it's tolerated as people tend not to take advantage. As for walking, you can walk on paths or not, it's up to you. How does this work in the US? Do you have to stay on the paths from one designated campground to another or can you climb a mountain that looks appealing? Can you camp at a nice spot that you see or stop early if weather or tiredness dictates?
I'm aware of permits, but this is a new concept to me. Do you need to apply for a permit to walk a specific route that you have planned before you set out? What if you want to change your route or need to stop at different places?

Sorry for so many questions.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 10, 2015 07:10AM
Ok, you seem serious about actually backpacking.
(sorry, so many ask n then never come back and such and such)

Please read all about backpacking in Yosemite here:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/backpacking.htm

Read the wilderness permits and food storage and everything...
pretty much...

The beauty of Yosemite and most of Sierra is that you can pretty
much hike and camp to your hearts content. You can climb
pretty much whatever you have your heart set on... and hike wherever
you like w/i the park. You are responsible for keeping yourself
safe and alive. Where you go is up to you. There really aren't that
many rules ... and they are simple to follow.
Nothing difficult to follow. And if you are Leave No Trace then it's trivial.

End of April typically would have snow everywhere where you would
perhaps want to go.
If Tuolumne Meadows is open then ... Tioga Road open, then you can
try to get up there and start there... if not then start from the valley
and hike up Merced River and beyond ...

But, I'm still gonna say... for bang for the buck... if never been to US
imo... you are making a mistake not going to Grand Canyon,
Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Yosemite.... and just driving...

Not all parks in the US you have as much freedom as you have
in Yosemite and Sequoia / Kings Canyon. They all vary as to
where you can camp overnight and backpacking regulations.
You need to really check each one separately...

Anywho. Lots of people on this forum backpack year-round in the
park and will have info on trail and roads being open and whatnot.
You may want to check back closer to the start of your trip.

The beauty of doing your trip in April is that permits should not be
an issue and you SHOULD be able to go a lot of places.
We could get a record snowfall in March though... at least we sure
as heck could use it... b/c the amount of snow we have currently
is just alarming.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 04:15PM
One thing to remember about the US is that distances are large and public transportation options can be limited and time consuming to use. When it comes to using public transportation, Yosemite is easier than Sequoia since Sequoia's shuttle from Visalia is not year round http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm Yosemite has year round options http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm from outlying communities. In both cases, you would still have to find public transportation from LA and it appears that it is easier to get to the Yosemite area than the Sequoia area.

You have not mentioned how much total time you will have in the US and you might not want to burn up your time using public transportation. As chick-on said, you might think about renting a car. I live in the LA area and if you are driving a car the travel time difference in going to Sequoia VS Yosemite is almost the same, approx 5 hours, depending on what part of LA you are starting from. This is because although Yosemite is further north than Sequoia, you stay on freeways longer so you make better time.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2015 04:21PM by parklover.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 09, 2015 06:33PM
Quote
Archie
Hi,

I'm thinking of spending a about week backpacking and wild camping somewhere beautiful. My flight from the UK gets me into LA so the Sequoia national park seemed like a fair bet as I will be relying on public transport. I was also looking at Yosemite, too, but I don't mind as long as the place is beautiful. I have never been to any mountains in the US, so is there somewhere I should really be considering that's within 1 day travel from LA?

I am quite experienced with winter mountaineering in Scotland so I'm not phased by 15 mile hikes in deep snow over mountains, though I won't be carrying ropes or crampons and I will be alone. Are there any places that anyone could recommend I head for that are really amazing and truly remote?

Also what kind of conditions underfoot should I be preparing for? Will snowshoes be essential/very useful, but not essential/complete overkill and a total pain in the backside to carry? I would like to get to the top of some mountains, but it would depend on avalanche conditions. Does anyone have any tips?

Thanks very much in advance


If you can't (or don't want to) drive, it's a lot easier to get to Yosemite than Sequoia via public transit. The most straightforward way to get to Yosemite from Los Angeles is via Amtrak using Amtrak's guaranteed connections thruway bus-rail-bus service that would drop you off inside Yosemite Valley at either the Lodge, the Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village or the Visitor Center. Amtrak offers three trips daily to and from Yosemite from Los Angeles. The length of the trips would vary between 8 1/4 hours to about 9 1/2 hours each way. The round-trip cost: about $120.

http://www.amtrak.com


In regards to the weather and ground conditions, the weather in April can be EXTREMELY variable from snowy and very cold to warm, sunny and pleasant. There's no way to predict how it will be so far in advance. I would suggest you keep your options flexible until within a week of your trip. Then you will have a much firmer idea what you might experience on your trip and what the snow levels will be up in the high country of Yosemite.

The good news in regards to backpacking inside Yosemite in April is that you don't need to reserve your wilderness permit. Until the end of April you can still self-register for your required Wilderness Permit when you arrive at Yosemite.

.
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 10, 2015 05:49AM
Wow,
That's really great information. Thanks everyone.

Yeah, looks like Yosemite is the place to go, then as ease of public transport will be beneficial. Unfortunately, I'm not able to drive (I imagine that sounds nuts to an American, but I've never needed to. For something like this, though it would be a huge benefit. Time to learn!)
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 10, 2015 07:16AM
For what it's worth... if it makes it easier.. you need not learn stick shift.
Rental car companies over here have all Automatic (or nearly so).
Unfortunately... you will be driving on the other side over here.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 11, 2015 07:31PM
Hi Archie - Here are a few other ideas for you. I have done a few Munros in Scotland so I have a bit of an idea of what you may be used to. I look at your request as similar to if I were to ask you...hey, I'm flying into London and it look slike the Cairgorn are pretty cool...where can I go walking, grab a few mountaintops,and see some really cool stuff. Am I close?

I don't know if you have been to the Alps or other similar places and dealt with really high altitudes...if not, be prepared. Yosemite Valley is at 4000 feet and is a good place to stay for a day or two. The "high country" (Tuolumne Meadows, for example) is at 8000 feet, and the "really cool" stuff that I would recommend would be anywhere in the 7000 feet to 13,000 feet range. So pretty high. Beware altitude sickness as it can hit anybody, anytime. From your descriptions of what you have done I am pretty sure that you have walked longer in worse weather than I have. But I can't tell if you have experience at altitude. So be careful.

The big question related to your timing is whether the Tioga Road, that goes up to Tuolumne Meadows and over Tioga Pass, will be open. If it is open, it would be an early opening record. But we have had (so far) a record low rain winter, so there is not much snow up there. I like TheOtherTom's suggestions. You also might check out the area generally south of Tuolumne Meadows, see trip reports here and here for an idea of that area. More details could be provided if you are interested, but again, any trip out of Tuolumne Meadows is dependent on the road being open, which is a big "if" at this point in time.

If you get to Yosemite Valley as has been described in other posts above, there are a bunch of great loop hikes you could do. They all start with 3000 ft climbs out of the Valley. One of the classics heads up Illiluoette Creek (start at Happy Isles, Four Mile Trail, or even up at Glacier Point) and head south to the Merced Pass Lakes, then up over Red Peak Pass to Washburn Lake, and then down through Little Yosemite Valley and back to your trailhead. Again, more details could be provided on this loop if you are interested.

I will throw one more option at you for your consideration, one that gets you to Devils Postpile and the John Muir Wilderness just east of Yosemite. The town nearby this area is Mammoth Mountain, and there are a ton of public transportation options to get to Mammoth from LA, as lots of Angelenos go there winter and summer. So get yourself to Mammoth, get down to Devils Postpile by way of the shuttle bus (seasonal), and first check out the Postpile, its pretty cool. The area between Devils Postpile and Yosemite has a lot of history...check out John Muir's tale of his ascent of Mt Ritter, and also check out Steve Roper's more recent "Sierra High Route",...I highly recommend the section he describes from Devil's Postpile to Thousand Island Lake, and then you can circle back to Devils Postpile on the John Muir Trail. Amazing scenery and a combination of trail and off trail walking.

All of this is subject to weather of course. April is usually a pretty sketchy month to be up high...lots of snow and high water in creek crossings. But this year...its just a terrible snowpack so far and April might shape up to be pretty good. So I would plan on having a couple of options, just in case the weather gets bad. Heck, if a big storm comes in to the mountains, you might even consider heading east from LA to Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego to do some desert walking and climbing, and it would be a great time of year for that. And less travel time from LA.

Keep an eye on postings here until right before you leave so you know what the current status is. And, most importantly, let us know how your trip was after you finish!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2015 07:38PM by Bearproof.
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 31, 2015 08:09PM
Thanks for all the information. That's very much appreciated.
I think I am just about coming up with a plan now, but I was a bit concerned about how it works with the permits and camping the first night etc.
I won't be getting to Yosemite valley until after 8pm on the last YART bus, and as it isn't possible to reserve a wilderness permit at this time of year, what do I do about staying in the backpackers campground for the first night? How full is this likely to be do you think? Or is camp 4 likely to have any spaces? There are some spaces in some of the reservation sites for the day I want to arrive, but they are $26. This system seems remarkably complicated.
If I was just to turn up and pitch my tent in the backpackers campground and then go and get my permit in the morning, before heading off up to Merced Lake, would that be fine?
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 31, 2015 09:50PM
Quote
Archie
I won't be getting to Yosemite valley until after 8pm on the last YART bus, and as it isn't possible to reserve a wilderness permit at this time of year, what do I do about staying in the backpackers campground for the first night? How full is this likely to be do you think? Or is camp 4 likely to have any spaces? There are some spaces in some of the reservation sites for the day I want to arrive, but they are $26.

You could get the official word by mailing the rangers with what you just said.

But I think they're flexible, if they even bother to visit the backpackers' camp this time of year, esp. if you are equipped for backpacking. Just pay the $5 and tag your tent so you don't get woken at 2am. I don't expect it'd be busy now. It only gets busy when people who aren't backpackers use it. Unlikely, if there are reservable sites elsewhere. I think Camp 4 would be busier, and I've heard they check more thoroughly there.

Quote
Archie
This system seems remarkably complicated.

It's a busy place. Everyone wants to camp in the Valley.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
April 01, 2015 01:16AM
Info on backpacker campgrounds is here:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bpcamp.htm

You need not worry about having a permit. Since you have ARRIVED BY BUS
you are allowed to stay there one night on your arrival without any worry.
So find your way there and pay the $6 and you are good to go.
Camp 4 will be very busy.

Good luck and have fun

btw...
Backpacker Campground is right about here:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.744572,-119.566677&z=15&t=t4

Camp 4 is here:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.742230,-119.601696&z=15&t=t4

YARTS will drop you off at
Yosemite Lodge:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.742196,-119.598949&z=15&t=t4

or
The Ahwahnee:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.747219,-119.575045&z=15&t=t4

or
Curry:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.738124,-119.571483&z=15&t=t4

Personally I would get off at The Ahwahnee and hike the approx 1/2 mile to the
backpackers campground... but Camp 4 is much closer to your drop off at Yosemite Lodge.

Good luck and have fun
An Yose Valley map can also be found here:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/YOSEmap2.pdf



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
April 01, 2015 02:54PM
Thanks for all this help everyone. Im really appreciating it.
What maps do you folk use? Are the best maps out there really the high resolution topo maps (I don't know how better to describe them) such as this: http://donsnotes.com/places/california/images/yosemite-topo.png?
In the UK we are spoilt with Ordnance Survey maps that are really great for navigating in total white-out, but some sections of the topo maps I have been looking at don't even have grid lines on them. How does that work with a compass?
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
April 01, 2015 05:40PM
Quote
Archie
What maps do you folk use?

I use Tom Harrison (printed) maps. The National Geographic maps seem better. I use the USGS maps if I'm going off trail. (I don't go off trail solo.) These are also on CalTopo.

Some use a smartphone and download maps. Then you need a battery charger.

The Nat'l Geo software makes the best paper maps I've seen. Printing from CalTopo was a bit wonky last I tried.

Quote
Archie
Are the best maps out there really the high resolution topo maps (I don't know how better to describe them) such as this: http://donsnotes.com/places/california/images/yosemite-topo.png?

Best I've seen. That's USGS.

Quote
Archie
In the UK we are spoilt with Ordnance Survey maps that are really great for navigating in total white-out, but some sections of the topo maps I have been looking at don't even have grid lines on them.

The USGS ones used to, but now I draw my own UTM lines using the ticks. Software like CalTopo or Nat'l Geo lets you choose.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
April 02, 2015 12:40PM
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 23, 2015 12:45AM
Quote
Archie
My flight from the UK gets me into LA so the Sequoia national park seemed like a fair bet as I will be relying on public transport.

Ugh. A car would make life easier, but if you really can't do that, I've heard that there are commercial tour bus operators that service Sequoia from L.A. Don't know which. They may have limited off-peak season service, too, though.

Yosemite is a bit easier to access but would still take a whole day via Amtrak. You'd probably want at least the 4pm arrival, so that you can talk to the rangers and plan your next day.

You might try scouting the Meetup groups in L.A. to see if you can get a lift, or maybe plan a whole trip with someone who knows the area.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2015 01:00AM by Sierra Miguel.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
March 23, 2015 08:37PM
Another option, probably even easier if the schedules work out, is to take the train to Lancaster, then take the bus up the east side of the Sierras. Lots of options on the east side. Most require hitching to the trailhead, but in Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, the trailhead is right there.

You might want microspikes or cramp-ons in addition to snowshoes.
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
May 03, 2015 05:51PM
Thanks to everyone who helped me plan my trip. The information you gave me really helped a lot and I had a really successful trip.
I thought that it might be useful to others reading here and maybe just for contributors interest for me to write some kind of trip report, so here goes:

I managed to book transport via Amtrak from Palm Springs to Curry Village and then back to LA. It worked out surprisingly cheap considering the long travel time. $74 out (7am to 8pm), $58 return (9am to 7pm). I was concerned initially about how much luggage i would be able to take on the Amtrak bus that took me from Palm Springs to Bakersfield (to get the train on to Merced) as the size restrictions were pretty close to what I had, but the bus driver was really cool and really wasn't bothered.

Setting up my tent in the backpackers camp was no problem, there was maybe only 3 other tents there and there is space and bear containers there for maybe 40 tents. In the morning, I packed up and intended to move on to Camp4 so I could spend a few days getting to know the valley by doing some day trips. I walked over to the visitors centre and was blown away by the amazing views that I had missed on the way in in the darkness the night before. My intention was to get my wilderness permit to start in a few days time, but it turns out, you can only get your permit for the following day. As I was right there, I just decided to start my hiking trip the next day and have more time to hang around in the valley when I got back. I picked up my bear canister ($5 for the week plus $95 cash deposit or no deposit if paying by visa) and permit and then headed back to the backpackers camp. I hurriedly dumped my gear in a bear box on the camp site so I could make may out and get a proper day's hike in.

I did a great days route, up to Mirror Lake, up the 100(?) switchbacks and then over towards North Dome, then back via Yosemite Falls and down the Yosemite Falls trail, walking back along the valley to the backpackers camp. I started about 11.30am and ran to the 2 miles bottom of the switchbacks to make time. It was surprisingly hot (25 degreesC or so) and strong sunshine and there is very little wind. The ground was bone dry and pretty rocky with the rock being pretty light in colour so I felt pretty baked going up the switchbacks. I saw loads of lizards and almost shat myself seeing my first ever rattlesnake just by the path. I went to sit on a rock to calm myself and there was another right under that. I have never jumped so much. I spent the next hour terrified that on the other side of every rock i stepped over or walked past there was going to be another. Of course, I didn't see another snake for the rest of the trip and soon realised I was wasting energy being scared.
By the top of the switchbacks, I was entering shadier woods and it started to cool a bit. I started running again as electrical storms were forecast for the afternoon and I didn't want to be too high too late in the day. As I got out towards North Dome, there was already plenty of thunder and dark clouds rolling in. It was around 3pm and I decided not to bother making the dogs leg out to the dome. I was also feeling pretty tired (lack of caffein, water or altitude, I couldn't decide, but I felt shit).

Taking the path back to Yosemite falls was the first time I needed to get out my GPS (http://topomapsapp.com on iphone4 totally invaluable and much better than the standard map set that comes with a garmin, it would seem). For the most part, the paths are pretty obvious, but they often cross bare rock. On popular paths these sections are well marked by lines of boulders but sometimes not. The paths in general zig zag a lot to avoid steep bare rock sections and try to keep a gentle gradient for pack animals, so one has to be very aware of changes in direction. Often there are rainwater drainage channels contracted across the path and these can be confused for a switchback and in the dark or snowy conditions really cause confusion. Walkers are actively told NOT to make way markers or cairns, which seems a bit mad to me as on certain sections, they would have helped a lot. I soon realised that looking for cut log ends, where downed trees crossing paths had been cut by rangers, to make way, was a great path marker when the path was buried under 2ft of snow. There is also a system of cut marks in tree bark. Some may be a couple of lines, some diamond shaped (and others I assume). Someone told me there were different systems made by army or loggers or someone, I forget the details now. Anyway, I found myself resorting to GPS to find the exact route of the path much more often than I would have expected. In the UK it's usually cloud and mist that makes navigation tricky, but all the above and the virtually constant trees was the issue here. The maps generally have very few features marked on them compared the British Ordinance Survey maps, so I found GPS a massive help in the conditions I faced later on in the trip. To be honest I would have been struggling without it. Maybe people with orienteering skills would fair better.

The next day I set off on my big trip with my big heavy bag. one word of caution to people who haven't carried one of the bear proof food canisters before, don't make the same mistake as me: I figured as my food was the densest thing in my bag, I should pack it at the bottom of my rucksack. Bad news. The bear canister is like a small barrel about 10-12" high. Just about the shittest shape to pack efficiently in a rucksack. I put it horizontally at the bottom of my bag. the problem was that the wider middle pressed into the base of my back where my trouser waste band was. It was unnoticeable at first but after a sweaty 10miles, climbing up to Nevada Falls, I was starting to feel like i was losing a small patch of skin resulting me walking the next 8 miles somehow trying to push my hands between my waist belt and my back. It seems a better position for the canister is higher up at shoulder height, though this does make your pack pull a lot more on your shoulders. Maybe I should have tried to strip down on weight a bit more, a 35kg (80 pound) bag is really no fun, but I was really glad of all the stuff I had later on as conditions worsened.

Again the weather was really hot for me (25 degrees plus) and I set off early to get to Nevada fall and the majority of the climbing out of the way before midday. The Mist Trail is a lovely walk and though it was quite busy with people it was still great. I imagine later in the season it might be a bit overcrowded. The surface is asphalt for the first section then a mixture of built rock steps and good paths. No route finding difficulties here at all. After lunch at Nevada fall, I continued on up to Merced lake. From that point on, I saw only 1 person! So as soon as you are away from the day traffic, you really start to feel alone. The walk from here is a lot more flat and through lovely woods. Unfortunately there was a 3 to 5 mile section where a large fire has hit, though it did create an interesting, eery atmosphere. I found that the tracks through the woods had quite a deep grit on them, almost like walking through deep course sand. Slightly energy sapping over the day, but also small amounts would kick up with each step and land in the back of my boots creating a pretty abrasive powder that threatened to cause blisters. I have never suffered with those boots before then.

The continued walk on up to Merced lake was beautiful, but very tiring with that bag. Some amazing views at Bunnel Cascade. The weather had started to cool and I got caught in a brief rain/hail storm, but it brightened up again. Unfortunately my plan to swim/wash in Merced lake before my evening meal was scuppered by another hail storm that came in just as I had put up my tent. I pitched my tent right by the lake edge which I read later may not be allowed. There is a camp ground with bear boxes in the woods near the High Sierra Camp, but I really wanted a picturesque spot.

There was more hail/snow overnight, but only a light sprinkling yet the ground was still frosty in the morning. The morning sun was hot, though and I warmed up quickly.
My route this day was just a day hike up Fletcher Creek up to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, over Vogelsang Pass and back down to Merced Lake through Lewis Creek. I left my tent and as much weight as I could by Merced lake and set off, meeting a ranger and his mucky-faced colleague on horseback just by the camp-ground. I felt slightly interrogated, but I suppose he was just doing his job even if it was in a bit of an officious way. He just asked if I had a permit and a bear canister, where I was going, which trailhead I'd started at etc. He didn't ask to see any evidence. I didn't see any other people for the next 3 days. Again, it started of really hot, but by midday it was starting to could over and by the time I had reached Vogelsang High Sierra camp at 2pm, it was snowing. Heading up from the camp over to the pass meant crossing lying snow which meant I lost the path immediately and using GPS was necessary, though the route was pretty straightforward and the cloud, though descending was not really too bad on visibility. The snow was around 10" deep so impeded progress a bit. I was used my lightweight crampons (http://hillsound.com/hillsound-product/trail-crampon/) for the first time. It is hard to say if they were helpful or not at this point. They gave more security when I had to negotiate snow over steep smooth rock sections when I went off path (treacherous without crampons) but they balled up so easily in this snow that they caused problems in other sections. I guess the reviews were right. I'm sure I can fashion some simple anti-balling plates, though.
Coming over the pass was pretty simple, but it's quite steep down the other side and the path was really unclear. I didn't want to go cross country and find myself trying to descend steep smith granit, so finding and staying on the path was pretty essential. I'm not sure if my GPS was out of whack here or if it was the map background that was inaccurate, but the path I followed was some distance (30m) from where I expected to find the path and it appeared to continue up towards fletcher peak (from the south side). It seemed like it may have been a newly laid path and my map was just out of date. The snow was coming down much harder now and I kept the pace pretty high so I could lose as much height as possible before the trails became hard to see under the snow. It wasn't such an easy route to follow but I made it back to Merced lake without incident feeling a bit soggy.

The next day was a cold but sunny start again. I headed up the Merced River towards Washburn Lake and later on towards Red Peak Pass. I decided to go for a wash and a swim in the river while the sun was out so I'd have chance to warm up again and my clothes dry out a bit. It felt great, but a little bit chilly, I have to say! The lake might have been a little warmer.
I had planned to camp by a small lake at 9860ft just south of Red Devil Lake. I was making great time after my 'rest-day' starting the final climb leaving the path intersection at triple peak fork at around 4pm. I should have been camping at about 5pm, but the increasing snow lying on the ground and the less distinct path started to cause more problems. Those last 3 miles took me at least 2 hours and I was quite ready for a rest.

The camping spot by the lake (frozen) was beautiful and I wasn't the first with the same idea as there was already a small fire pit (not that I was having fires). It was pretty much the only section of snow free flat ground that i could be bothered to look for at that time, though. I was slightly intimidated by the cloud that was stuck over Merced Peak, Red Peak and most importantly Red Peak Pass. The wind was a little stronger now (though not by UK standards) and it started to snow again as I quickly made some food. As I went to sleep, the snow was getting stronger and when I woke later in the night, I realised it hadn't stopped even though the noise had. It was just collecting on top of the tent and insulating the sound. It was my first time camping as high as that and also in the snow, so it felt pretty exciting to have to go and clear snow off the tent at 2am. I decided to review my plan to cross Red Peak Pass in the morning depending on the conditions. I knew snow was forecast, but my weather report was now a good few days out of date and I thought the worst of the weather should actually have already passed.

By morning, the cloud cover had not changed really with it coming down to possibly around 10700ft (so around 300ft below the pass). I took my time that morning hoping the weather would clear. The sun came out on me helping me dry out my wet tent, but it didn't shift over the pass. In the end with the positivity generated by a good cup of coffee and the desire to not be beaten, I decided to go for it safe in the knowledge that even if I had to retreat and camp at the same spot again that night, I'd still have 3 days worth of food left to retrace my steps and maybe take in another day loop.
I probably set off around 11am that day and didn't really bother with the futility of trying to follow a path. It was buried under a foot of snow and since there were few/no trees now, it was just a matter of making my way up to the pass. I felt much more at home now. This was like many winter walks in Scotland. Just plowing through a blizzard with goggles on and using poles to keep balance and move steadily. The snow was getting deeper and deeper the higher I got and by the time I was on the steepest final ascent to the pass which should have been a path with switchbacks, I was struggling through 3ft of powder. The visibility was about 10-20ft now and i was feeling pretty disorientated. Needless to say it was exceptionally hard work to make any progress and I felt the altitude may have added at least a little to that. In the thick cloud I managed to make a slight navigational error rather than reach the actual pass, I made it to the dip in ridge line a little closer to Red Peak. The way down on the other side from that 'pass' looked like certain death so I was faced with 3 options: climb the stegosaurus-like ridge line to the actual pass, traverse the rocky section or descend the re-ascend to come around below it on the deep snow. Thoroughly exhausted, I decided to go for the traverse which was actually followed by a 30ft down-climb. This shouldn't really be anything worth writing about, but given that I was alone, very remote and the conditions and that I had a huge pack on my back, i took it very seriously. A slip here would have been very serious indeed. Needless to say, I made it and I was very pleased indeed to see the switchbacks that ran down the other side of Red Peak Pass. I had figured that since the switchbacks were on the windward, South side of the pass that there would be no where near as much snow there and the path should be more obvious. If I was wrong the avalanche risk would have been considerable and finding the route through the rocks and crags would have been tricky.
From this point on the route past Ottoway lake was beautiful, though the cloud and snow didn't lift. I decided to camp by the path intersection by Upper Merced Lake as I was worn out and it was already getting dark.

The next day I had planned to camp somewhere in the Illouette Valley, but when I woke at 7am, I was panicked to find the tent squashed 6in from my nose under 2ft of snow that had fallen overnight. Id been too lazy to get up and clear it this night. I'm happy my tent held, though a couple of poles suffer a slight extra bend now. It's a great 4 season Hilleberg tent (http://hilleberg.se/product/tarra) but the large flat roof sections don't shed snow as well as they should, possibly exacerbated by the external poles that stop the snow from sliding off easily. It is unbeatable in strong winds and is exceptionally fast to put up as the inner and outer stay attached together and are put up as one and are just clipped to the poles after they are slotted into their half sleeves. It's also great in hot weather as there is a huge door at either end so there's a great breeze that blows through. It's probably a little heavy for single person use, however. I was pretty glad of the security on this occasion, though.
Given the increasing and persistent snow, I decided to make a fast exit before the going got even harder. My breakfast was a snickers bar while I walked and I forewent the morning brew. I had at least a 16mile walk (if I didn't get lost) through 2ft high and rising snow. Nedless to say, I lost the path after the first minute of walking. Half an hour of frustration and constant GPS consultation followed trying to negotiate sensible places to cross now swollen and very cold looking streams. At this point I was beginning to calculate how long the walk back to Yosemite Valley might take me if things continued like this and I was depressed by the prospect of struggling through this for the next 15 hours. And then, from somewhere, I have no idea where, some footprints appeared. Judging by how filled in they were, they had been laid an hour or two earlier so someone had been up early, but they were going my way and whether they were following the path exactly or not, they were far quicker to follow than constantly consulting my GPS. Whichever superhero had laid this tracks for me, I am so grateful to. As it continued to snow, I kept the pace as quick as I could and didn't rest as I didn't want the tracks to fill in. Unfortunately, I never caught up with the person who made them. I have no idea where they came from as I was camped right at the intersection and I wan't aware of anyone passing when I got up, so it's a bit of a mystery.
A few tiring hours later, the tracks gained another set of prints and I finally caught up with the two guys who'd made those. They had parked up the night before on the Glacier Point Road near Mono Meadows, walked in a 6 miles or so and camped, but had decided to turn back the next day after all the snow. They were super kind and offered to give me a lift back to Yosemite Valley so that I could knock a few miles off that days walk. I was just as glad of the company and good cheer they had. The walk was still bloody hard work and according to my GPS watch was actually 18miles that day. It also involved a boots-off river crossing in bare feet which was, surprisingly, another first for me. The river felt warm compared to walking around in the snow and icey gravel on the riverbanks. It was pretty damn painful, but kind of fun, too.
Thankfully when we got to the car, the Glacier Point Road, though closed to traffic, had been ploughed and the rangers had left the code for the gates under the windscreen wipers. Still, the 60ft out of the carpark was deep in snow and we spent a good hour clearing a path for the car. Bald tyres didn't help much, but the kind passing cyclist more than compensated for the lack of traction the car had.
I have to say that the cold bottle of Lagunitas that my new friends gave me was probably the best tasting beer I have ever drunk!

The views from the road back into Yosemite Valley on this day were so special. There was a little cloud hanging in the valley and it created such an amazing scene. My photos didn't do it justice, but there were enough photographers out that I'm sure there are many around to be seen on the web.

The next days in Yosemite valley were spent enjoying the hot sun, pizza and beer in Curry Village with a great run up El Capitan and Eagle Peak. I was pleased to meet another couple of Brits doing some fell running whilst there. Eagle Peak is probably the most exciting view point I have ever been to. No words describe how amazing it is, but if you haven't been there and you get the chance to go, it is so worth making the extra few miles from Yosemite Falls.
This was the day that I also discovered the free showers in Curry Village (bring a towel or drip dry). It was certainly preferable to washing in the river.

If I was to go back again, I don't think I would really change how I did it. I thick the time of year was perfect or at least I was lucky, despite the most snowfall the whole season. In summer, never mind the crowds being unbearable and the permit system being so retractive, but the heat would have totally killed me. Being on any of the climbs out of the valley after 11am was such a killer. When I was running down the Yosemite Falls path in the afternoon, the heat was killing me, I have no idea how the people coming up were coping. And summer??? That's just insane, you'd be cooked.

Now I'm back in the UK, I'm enjoying the cold and the rain again. I might get bored of it soon and be back, though.
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
May 04, 2015 04:03AM
Great report ! Glad things worked out for you. Thanks for posting. It's an interesting read and will help others in the future.
avatar Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
May 04, 2015 09:40AM
The only thing better for any of those who gladly share thoughts on somebody's upcoming plans is to get a fabulous trip report like yours, Archie. Thanks so much for sharing.

And if you can promise storms like that every time you come to visit, we may take up a travel collection for you...we need more of them!
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
May 04, 2015 02:56PM
I always seem to bring the rain with me. If California would pay my rent. I'd happily live there until the water stocks were replenished.
Re: Yosemite in late April? Conditions/wild camping??
May 05, 2015 10:55AM
Archie...wild camping

...Maybe I should have tried to strip down on weight a bit more, a 35kg (80 pound) bag is really no fun, but I was really glad of all the stuff I had later on as conditions worsened
...small amounts would kick up with each step and land in the back of my boots creating a pretty abrasive powder that threatened to cause blisters
..my evening meal was scuppered by another hail storm
...by the time I had reached Vogelsang High Sierra camp at 2pm, it was snowing
..The snow was coming down much harder now and I kept the pace pretty high so I could lose as much height as possible before the trails became hard to see under the snow.
...I decided to go for a wash and a swim in the river while the sun was out so I'd have chance to warm up again and my clothes dry out a bit. It felt great, but a little bit chilly, I have to say!
...This was like many winter walks in Scotland. Just plowing through a blizzard with goggles on and using poles to keep balance and move steadily.
... I was panicked to find the tent squashed 6in from my nose under 2ft of snow that had fallen overnight.
..It also involved a boots-off river crossing in bare feet which was, surprisingly, another first for me. The river felt warm compared to walking around in the snow and icey gravel on the riverbanks. It was pretty damn painful, but kind of fun, too.
...The next days in Yosemite valley were spent enjoying the hot sun, pizza and beer in Curry Village with a great run up El Capitan and Eagle Peak. I was pleased to meet another couple of Brits doing some fell running whilst there.


wild indeed (: ...Dave



http://www.davidsenesac.com
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login