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Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April

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Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 08, 2017 09:51PM
Hi guys, my girlfriend and I are planning a backpacking trip to Yosemite valley in April 7-12 and have questions which trails we can take. We plan to backpack for 2-3 days in the valley and camp along the trails. This is our first time visiting Yosemite and have been doing our best to research which trails we can hike. However, it's been extremely overwhelming and we need some help.

We are novice hikers and plan to do a few practice backpacking trips around Texas and Oklahoma. We've done our research and have all our gear and pretty much able to keep all our gear and food for 2 days under 40 lbs between the 2 of us. We are both in our late 20's and are in good shape. I'm weigh roughly 175 but my gf is 105, so I'm imagining I'll be carrying most of the weight.

So we've been reading that this year there is a lot of snow. What trails are we able to hike and camp overnight? We have waterproof hiking boots but definitely do not want to use snow shoes. We'd like to hike through scenic views of the valley and waterfalls if possible. Also, how does overnight camping work on the trails? Do we just camp anywhere along the trails as feasible?

I understand the dangers of bears smelling food from far away, but I've read that they can smell canned foods and dry food in sealed foil bags. Is this seriously true or are the websites trying use extra precaution? We plan to bring canned foods and pre made dried foods in sealed bags that you buy from REI. We really don't want to bring a bear canister because of the size and weight. Is it safe to hang out backpack with the food 10 ft up and not near any trees or objects for the bear to climb up? Also, is it safe to leave canned foods in the car or will the bear somehow smell that as well? I apologize for my skepticism, but I don't understand how any smells can leak through canned foods.

Any advice is greatly appreciated
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 08, 2017 10:32PM
Quote
Backpacker87
Hi guys, my girlfriend and I are planning a backpacking trip to Yosemite valley in April 7-12 and have questions which trails we can take. We plan to backpack for 2-3 days in the valley and camp along the trails. This is our first time visiting Yosemite and have been doing our best to research which trails we can hike. However, it's been extremely overwhelming and we need some help.

We are novice hikers and plan to do a few practice backpacking trips around Texas and Oklahoma. We've done our research and have all our gear and pretty much able to keep all our gear and food for 2 days under 40 lbs between the 2 of us. We are both in our late 20's and are in good shape. I'm weigh roughly 175 but my gf is 105, so I'm imagining I'll be carrying most of the weight.

So we've been reading that this year there is a lot of snow. What trails are we able to hike and camp overnight? We have waterproof hiking boots but definitely do not want to use snow shoes. We'd like to hike through scenic views of the valley and waterfalls if possible. Also, how does overnight camping work on the trails? Do we just camp anywhere along the trails as feasible?

I understand the dangers of bears smelling food from far away, but I've read that they can smell canned foods and dry food in sealed foil bags. Is this seriously true or are the websites trying use extra precaution? We plan to bring canned foods and pre made dried foods in sealed bags that you buy from REI. We really don't want to bring a bear canister because of the size and weight. Is it safe to hang out backpack with the food 10 ft up and not near any trees or objects for the bear to climb up? Also, is it safe to leave canned foods in the car or will the bear somehow smell that as well? I apologize for my skepticism, but I don't understand how any smells can leak through canned foods.

Any advice is greatly appreciated

Responding through phone, so will update with trip suggestions when I get home but a few things...You cannot "backpack" the valley but you can leave from the Valley and go up and out of it to your campsite. Here's a trail map https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf . If you zoom into the valley part, you'll see all the possible trails you can take and how far you need to travel before you can camp.

Regarding bears and food, you cannot hang food in Yosemite. Must use a bear can. I believe the park rents out the black Garcia ones if you need one!
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 12:51PM
Thanks for great info guys.


KevinD:
On the trail map with the highlighted arrows, you are only able to camp beyond the end of the arrow near the trails correct? It doesn't mean that you can came anywhere on the highlighted arrow, only beyond it?

Qumqats:

Yeah I'm thinking we may have to try to get a campsite at camp 4 for walk ins and then take the day hiking and see how it goes and ask park rangers around there for conditions of backpackable trails.

I don't think we have much of an issue with hiking in snow as we do with camping on snow. We worry about how cold it'll be and if the snow will melt and we will get wet inside the tent. However, we have a pretty decent tent, the REI camp dome 2 and plan to bring a tarp to place underneath and we have the thermal sleeping pads and the REI lumen and Lyra sleeping bags. We even have the sleeping bag liners too for some additional warmth. I've gone skiing several times in breckenridge on black slopes and she's been skiing before, so I'd imagine we'll be okay with altitude. But none of us have gone hiking in high altitude. Have you camped on snow before? How is it and any advice?

Troutwild:

The link doesn't seem to work
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 12:53PM
Thanks for great info guys.


KevinD:
On the trail map with the highlighted arrows, you are only able to camp beyond the end of the arrow near the trails correct? It doesn't mean that you can came anywhere on the highlighted arrow, only beyond it?

Qumqats:

Yeah I'm thinking we may have to try to get a campsite at camp 4 for walk ins and then take the day hiking and see how it goes and ask park rangers around there for conditions of backpackable trails.

I don't think we have much of an issue with hiking in snow as we do with camping on snow. We worry about how cold it'll be and if the snow will melt and we will get wet inside the tent. However, we have a pretty decent tent, the REI camp dome 2 and plan to bring a tarp to place underneath and we have the thermal sleeping pads and the REI lumen and Lyra sleeping bags. We even have the sleeping bag liners too for some additional warmth. I've gone skiing several times in breckenridge on black slopes and she's been skiing before, so I'd imagine we'll be okay with altitude. But none of us have gone hiking in high altitude. Have you camped on snow before? How is it and any advice?

Troutwild:

The link doesn't seem to work
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 01:43PM
Quote
Backpacker87
On the trail map with the highlighted arrows, you are only able to camp beyond the end of the arrow near the trails correct? It doesn't mean that you can came anywhere on the highlighted arrow, only beyond it?

Correct--you must camp beyond the arrow, which is (generally) 1 mile from most roads, and 4 miles from Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, or Hetch Hetchy, or Wawona. There are other restrictions regarding proximity to trails and water--these will be described when you pick up your permit.

Quote
Backpacker87
Yeah I'm thinking we may have to try to get a campsite at camp 4 for walk ins and then take the day hiking and see how it goes and ask park rangers around there for conditions of backpackable trails.

I don't think we have much of an issue with hiking in snow as we do with camping on snow. We worry about how cold it'll be and if the snow will melt and we will get wet inside the tent. However, we have a pretty decent tent, the REI camp dome 2 and plan to bring a tarp to place underneath and we have the thermal sleeping pads and the REI lumen and Lyra sleeping bags. We even have the sleeping bag liners too for some additional warmth. I've gone skiing several times in breckenridge on black slopes and she's been skiing before, so I'd imagine we'll be okay with altitude. But none of us have gone hiking in high altitude. Have you camped on snow before? How is it and any advice?

Camping on snow is fine--but make sure to stomp down the snow before you set up your tent on it. Or better yet, look for a nice exposed bit of granite that is free of snow. The temperatures will be mild compared to Brekenridge in winter--anything colder than 25F or so at night would be exceptionally cold, but you could also have a night that doesn't drop below freezing. Staying dry will be more of a challenge than staying warm.

On the other hand, walking through deep spring snow without snowshoes can be... interesting. Wet feet are almost unavoidable--there will be a lot of snow, but also a lot of it will be melting, so there will be water everywhere, including under the snow. And the snow will be at the state where you can sometimes walk on its crusty surface, but occasionally you will break through many feet of snow ("postholing" ). This is a slow and frustrating way to hike, and this year you can probably expect this for anything above 6000'. Another thing to consider: many trails in Yosemite are poorly marked for winter travel, so navigation can be tricky when the trail is under several feet of snow.
avatar Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 02:53AM
Early April is early season. It's possible that there will be quite a bit of snow at the higher elevations. And Yosemite is a valley. All the trails go up out of the valley to higher elevations.

Any backpacking requires a Wilderness permit. You can get them before hand online at Yosemite Wilderness Permit info. However you can usually have pretty good luck getting walk-in ( as compared to pre-reserved ) wilderness permits in the valley on the day of or the day before you want to enter the wilderness. Get there early and be flexible in your plans in case you don't get your first choice. Each of the trailheads has a pretty small number of pre-reserved and walk-in permits allocated. The popular trailheads fill up very quick. This is one place where early April helps you. You'll have an easier time with crowds, getting permits, getting campgrounds.

Even with the permit you're restricted where you can camp. First off you have a minimum distance from the trailhead before you can set up camp. And then there are some no-camping zones. I can't find a map online, and I'm not sure how to describe the rules. I'm hoping others will have more to say.

Once you get a Wilderness permit you're allowed to stay at the Wilderness Permit campground the day before and the day after you enter the Wilderness.

If you don't have a reservation for a spot in one of the car camping campgrounds ( Upper Pine, Lower Pine, North Pine ) there are only two choices.

1) campground cancellations - I've never done this, but this is how I think they handle no-shows for the car campground sites. They wait for the people to show up at the camp site. When they DON'T show up, they give the empty sites out to people on the waiting list. To get on the waiting list you go to the campground office which is in a back corner of one of the parking lots. There's always more people on the waiting list then camp spots, so to be fair they randomly pick people on the list. ** someone please correct me on the details of how this works **

2) camp 4 walk-in campground - There is ONE non reserved, first-come-first-served campground in the valley, Camp 4. This is a shared camp site campground. They fit up to 6 people per site meaning you're sharing the bear box, picnic table, and space with others. It's also 'walk-in' meaning you park you car and you have to carry everything you need to the site. This can be anywhere from 100 to 400 feet away( or farther when the main parking lot fills up ). Every morning they know how many people are leaving. This many people in the front of the line at the kiosk get into the campground. So it's important to get to the kiosk early and be in the front of the line. Camp 4 has a very different feel from the Pines car camprounds. It's largely students, foreign tourists, and rock climbers. You get to meet and interact with some interesting people.

*BEARS* *BEARS* *BEARS*
this can NOT be OVER emphasized
be bear aware
bear proof your car, your tent, your backpack, your hippack, your campsite, your . . . .
ANY food, ANYthing with a scent, canned food, toothpaste, deodorant, perfume, bug spray
anything the bears associate with food, ice chests, backpacks, hip packs, bottles of anything even non-food ( i've seen bear teeth marks in hair product bottles, they'll bite things to see what's in them )
it all has to go in the bear box or bear canister.
any time you get back to camp and put things away, anytime you leave your camp, your car, your whatever, check everything and make sure you didn't forget about that granola bar! ( surgically precise slice made by a bear claw in the corner of the tent where the hip pack was that had a forgotten granola bar )
When I leave a car I like to clean it out so that there's no clutter in the car. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have to wonder sometimes if they see a bunch of junk in a car they don't break in just to see what it all is.
Don't leave the bear box open any longer then is needed. Open it, get what you need, close it. If you have your back to the bear box and are doing something like fixing or eating dinner they will sometimes will sneak in and grab something from an open bear box. In general, keep everything within arms reach.
Make sure the latch is snapped shut on the box. They've learned how to open shut, but not latched boxes.
There are bear boxes at all the campgrounds and at the trailhead parking lot. Use them, don't leave caned food in the car! The bear boxes at the trailhead are communal bear boxes, they're shared by everyone, don't put a lock on a bear box.
Don't hang your food, you'll lose the food and might get a ticket from a ranger.
Don't go backpacking without a bear canister, you'll lose the food and might get a ticket from a ranger.
You can rent a bear canister for $5 when you get the wilderness permit.
With all this said, worry about the bears and your food, but not yourself. They're generally scardy cats and you are in little danger. You have more to worry about from the deer than the bears when it comes to injury.


With the snow this year, and it being early April, you may be better off just staying in the valley and doing day hikes.
How comfortable are you with camping in snow? This is the hikes off the valley floor. Snow shouldn't be a problem in the valley.
How much hiking at altitude ( 5 to 8 thousand feet ) have you done? First time visits to altitude can sometimes have unexpected results.
If you are determined to overnight backpack my suggestion would be to go up John Muir Trail ( JMT ) to Little Yosemite Valley ( LYV ). This will take you past Vernal and Nevada Falls. This is probably the easiest of the choices out of the valley ( not easy, just easiest ). There is no camping between Yosemite valley and LYV, you must make it up to LYV. From LYV you could try some day hikes in the area.

Ok people on the board, pick this apart, where am I being reactionary? wrong? what new info have you to say?

Backpacker87, have a safe and fun trip. It's pretty hard not to have a good trip when it's to Yosemite.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 09:21AM
Here's KevinD's map link with Yosemite Valley highlighted in green, perhaps giving you a better perspective of the "Valley" versus the "Park".




Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2017 05:15AM by troutwild.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 06:58PM
Not sure why my link doesn't work. You can right click and "open in new tab" though.
avatar Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 11, 2017 04:54AM
Quote
qumqats
Any backpacking requires a Wilderness permit. You can get them before hand online at Yosemite Wilderness Permit info.

Technically no, you can reserve a permit beforehand but not get the permit itself ahead of time, you must get the permit in person in the park and no earlier than the day before entry date. Either way, you don't get the reservation online, you can download the application from online and then fax it in.


Quote
qumqats
Even with the permit you're restricted where you can camp. First off you have a minimum distance from the trailhead before you can set up camp. And then there are some no-camping zones. I can't find a map online, and I'm not sure how to describe the rules.

I'm pretty sure it's 4 trail miles in from the trailhead, 1 mile from any road, and 100 ft from the trail or any water source. Beyond that there are some specific restrictions and exceptions (i.e. no camping top of Half Dome or on the Panorama Trail, camping allowed at Lower Cathedral even though it's slightly less than 4 miles from the trailhead, specific permit for camping 1st night at LYV, etc).

Also fire restrictions, LNT practices, bear can requirements, etc.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 05:07PM
Based on your description of your experience, the length of your trip, I believe the best suggestion is finding a way to camp in the valley and doing day hikes. There are plenty of AWESOME day hikes that you will not have time to finish them all. I would suggest something like one day for Yosemite Falls and another day for 4 Mile Trail and perhaps Panoramic Trail, and finally depending on if you are able to do the 4 Mile-Panoramic Trail Loop in one day you could separately do Vernal and Nevada Falls on another day. Those hikes are going to give you everything you want as far as spectacular vistas and views of waterfalls. You will be able to travel light and carry only food for the day and not have to worry about snow camping gear.

My only concern with the plan I outline above is the amount of snow could potentially even hamper some of these "day hikes". The 4 Mile Trail remains "closed" for most of the winter so my suggestion may not be possible unless conditions are suitable---which you will need to inquire about after you arrive.
avatar Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 05:59PM
Consider hiking to Rancheria Fall out of Hetch Hetchy. No snow due to southern exposure, pretty easy trail, great camping spots, lots of scenery, permit quota rarely full. I presume you will have a car.



Old Dude
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 09, 2017 08:55PM
What do you guys think of camping at Wawona for our first day and hiking around the trails there first before moving into Yosemite Valley the second day to get a campsite at camp 4 for walk ins? My gf is worried that we won't be able to wake up early enough to reserve a spot on Saturday morning for camp 4. I plan to get to camp 4 around 8-9am but she thinks its too late. Is wawona a good place to stay in April? Is there a lot of snow in the area at Wawona?
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 10, 2017 05:44PM
Wawona is about the same elevation as Yosemite Valley (~4000 feet) and not likely to have snow on the ground in April. But since you've never seen Yosemite, you'll want to prioritize the Valley sights that folks have mentioned. Plus a key attraction in the Wawona area is the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, but that is closed for construction until the Fall. The Wawona hike page is at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wawonahikes.htm .

There are also campgrounds outside of Yosemite such as Indian Flat as well as motels such as Yosemite View Lodge and Cedar Lodge that can be reserved allowing you to drive in and out each day and are closer than Wawona. That can free you up from concern over getting a spot in camp 4.
avatar Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 10, 2017 09:02PM
Quote
Backpacker87
. . . snip . . .
My gf is worried that we won't be able to wake up early enough to reserve a spot on Saturday morning for camp 4. I plan to get to camp 4 around 8-9am but she thinks its too late.
. . . snip . . .

In peak season during summer that would be WAY too late.
I'm not sure what it would be like in April.

When does Camp 4 go from self-registration to the ranger directed registration out of the Kiosk? Would it still be self-registration in April?

During the winter and slow part of the year they don't man the Kiosk because the campground never fills up. You get an envelop and tag from the bin, the money goes in the envelop and the tag goes on the tent. You drop the envelop in a drop box. Once a day the ranger comes around, checks to make sure all the tents have the tag, and pulls the money out of the drop box.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2017 09:07PM by qumqats.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 15, 2017 10:26AM
Regarding bears: Yes, they have a great sense of smell but they can also see and are very intelligent. This might be stating the obvious, but focusing on their incredible olfactory qualities loses sight of their other abilities. For example, just like when we look at a can we know it contains food without smelling it, a bear can do the same. Also, focusing on a can of food and being able to smell the food ignores the bigger picture. You'll have to cook the food at some point which will create a lot of odors. They might not smell the can from miles away, but they'll certainly smell you cooking it. Those odors will transfer to many items as you cook, clean and handle your food. Then the outside of the can could smell much more than anything in it. You'll have trash too, which will obviously smell. You'll probably won't only have canned food for all your meals or snacks, which will have odors. All that is stored together or roughly in the same vicinity. Once a bear is in camp, they can investigate everything up close. Bears are very curious and even if they don't know where the food is at first, by trial and error they can figure out it.

This unfortunately probably wouldn't be the first time the bear has rummaged through a campsite and know where to look. This knowledge is even passed down through generations. Compare human food like canned food or freezed dried food to a bears typical diet, plants and insects. Which one do you think tastes better and more importantly has more calories? Even if a bear spent an hour or two getting your food, how long would it take them to get the same amount of food/calories by foraging? There is a strong biological incentive to get human food. Once they get human food, they can associate humans with food. And this starts the loop back over again and why even canned food needs to be properly stored.

While this explanation is a simplification and is missing lots of parts, I hope you get the overall idea.

This is meant with a tone of constructive criticism:
Quote
Backpacker87
We really don't want to bring a bear canister because of the size and weight. Is it safe to hang out backpack with the food 10 ft up and not near any trees or objects for the bear to climb up?

This is the reason why Yosemite still has bear issues. I don't know how or on what you are going to hang something 10 ft up that is not near a tree or other object. People don't want to do the inconvenient thing but don't know the situation and have a half-baked alternative.

Kudos to you for trying to reach out and learn more about the bears. However, ignoring the official word, particularly for convenience sake, and asking an internet forum about why you should or shouldn't do something might not be the best approach. I think this happens to be a good forum with good information but that might not always be the case for other places.

Again, I don’t know what you were actually planning on doing if you hadn’t gotten an answer here or in another circumstance, but none of us is perfect and I think we need to be reminded of that sometimes.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 15, 2017 11:57AM
Backpacker87,

If you plan on camping or backpacking at this time of year, your best strategy is to have some options. I would strongly recommend that you try and book one of the valley campgrounds, they usually get booked up as soon as the booking window opens but people often cancel before the two week cancellation window closes so keep checking the website.

I don't believe you can pre-book wilderness permits for trip before the 1st of May because there are no quotas so you can just walk up to the ranger station and get one the day before, you can also rent your bear canisters here. There is also another benefit of having a wilderness permit in that you can camp in the backpackers campsite a night before and after you trip. The risk is this site maybe closed if the river is high.

Another option is Hodgdon Meadows campground, this is opposite the Hwy 120 Entrance station and is a walk in site at this time of year, it is higher so there is a higher risk of snow, definitely a plan B or C option.

If this is your first time and you do want to backpack. Little Yosemite Valley is a good option with some impressive views, the campground gets very busy in summer but in April it will be quiet. It has a couple of communal fire rings and the best pit toilets in the park. There are also metal bear resistant lockers. The hike from the valley is around 6 miles with a 2000ft climb, the trail can be icy so be prepared.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/16/2017 02:31PM by Bilko.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 15, 2017 02:56PM
Quote
Bilko
I don't believe you can pre-book wilderness permits for trip before the 1st of May because there are no quotas so you can just walk up to the ranger station and get one the day before, you can also rent your bear canisters here. There is also another benefit of having a wilderness permit in that you can camp in the backpackers campsite a night before and after you trip. The risk is this site maybe closed if the river is high.

At least for the past few years, quotas have been enforced for overnight trips that originate in Yosemite Valley during winter. All of the "self-register" permits available from the other permit stations clearly state that they are not usable for Yosemite Valley trips--you have to pick up a permit at the visitor center in the valley. Also, it is not possible to reserve permits during the off-season, even for the quota-bound Valley trailheads.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 16, 2017 02:30PM
Basilbop,

Thanks for the clarification, I have always picked them up from the Valley Visitor Center, its always a good idea to go they and get a conditions update from the Rangers anyway. I have never had a problem with availability even for Happy Isles at weekend.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
March 14, 2017 10:52AM
Quote
basilbop
Quote
Bilko
I don't believe you can pre-book wilderness permits for trip before the 1st of May because there are no quotas so you can just walk up to the ranger station and get one the day before, you can also rent your bear canisters here. There is also another benefit of having a wilderness permit in that you can camp in the backpackers campsite a night before and after you trip. The risk is this site maybe closed if the river is high.

At least for the past few years, quotas have been enforced for overnight trips that originate in Yosemite Valley during winter. All of the "self-register" permits available from the other permit stations clearly state that they are not usable for Yosemite Valley trips--you have to pick up a permit at the visitor center in the valley. Also, it is not possible to reserve permits during the off-season, even for the quota-bound Valley trailheads.


I called a couple weeks ago about a permit to Little Yosemite Valley beginning on April 29 or 30, starting at either Happy Isles or Glacier Point (if the road is open). In the conversation they mentioned that it's walk-up only, so I'm assuming that includes Happy Isles-LYV.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 17, 2017 10:05AM
Quote
mrcondron
Consider hiking to Rancheria Fall out of Hetch Hetchy. No snow due to southern exposure, pretty easy trail, great camping spots, lots of scenery, permit quota rarely full. I presume you will have a car.

Thanks for the suggestion Mrcondron. We looked at the map and decided we’ll stay in the Yosemite Valley area and find a campground for camping instead of backpacking. Hetch Hetchy is too far up north for us

Quote
Dave_Ayers
Wawona is about the same elevation as Yosemite Valley (~4000 feet) and not likely to have snow on the ground in April. But since you've never seen Yosemite, you'll want to prioritize the Valley sights that folks have mentioned. Plus a key attraction in the Wawona area is the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, but that is closed for construction until the Fall. The Wawona hike page is at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wawonahikes.htm .

There are also campgrounds outside of Yosemite such as Indian Flat as well as motels such as Yosemite View Lodge and Cedar Lodge that can be reserved allowing you to drive in and out each day and are closer than Wawona. That can free you up from concern over getting a spot in camp 4.

Thanks Dave. I’m glad someone mentioned that is better to stay in Yosemite Valley if it is our first time to the park. I didn’t want to spend half our time in Wawona and miss out all the great views at Yosemite Valley especially this trip being our first time there and not knowing when we’ll be back again.

Quote
qumqats
In peak season during summer that would be WAY too late.
I'm not sure what it would be like in April.
When does Camp 4 go from self-registration to the ranger directed registration out of the Kiosk? Would it still be self-registration in April?
During the winter and slow part of the year they don't man the Kiosk because the campground never fills up. You get an envelop and tag from the bin, the money goes in the envelop and the tag goes on the tent. You drop the envelop in a drop box. Once a day the ranger comes around, checks to make sure all the tents have the tag, and pulls the money out of the drop box.

Looking at the national park campground reservation map, there a backpackers campground listed just above North Pines Campground. We might try that campsite out and see if we able to a site there. This is my first time hearing that campground, has anyone else tried it out?

Quote
buster
Regarding bears: Yes, they have a great sense of smell but they can also see and are very intelligent. This might be stating the obvious, but focusing on their incredible olfactory qualities loses sight of their other abilities. For example, just like when we look at a can we know it contains food without smelling it, a bear can do the same. Also, focusing on a can of food and being able to smell the food ignores the bigger picture. You'll have to cook the food at some point which will create a lot of odors. They might not smell the can from miles away, but they'll certainly smell you cooking it. Those odors will transfer to many items as you cook, clean and handle your food. Then the outside of the can could smell much more than anything in it. You'll have trash too, which will obviously smell. You'll probably won't only have canned food for all your meals or snacks, which will have odors. All that is stored together or roughly in the same vicinity. Once a bear is in camp, they can investigate everything up close. Bears are very curious and even if they don't know where the food is at first, by trial and error they can figure out it.
This unfortunately probably wouldn't be the first time the bear has rummaged through a campsite and know where to look. This knowledge is even passed down through generations. Compare human food like canned food or freezed dried food to a bears typical diet, plants and insects. Which one do you think tastes better and more importantly has more calories? Even if a bear spent an hour or two getting your food, how long would it take them to get the same amount of food/calories by foraging? There is a strong biological incentive to get human food. Once they get human food, they can associate humans with food. And this starts the loop back over again and why even canned food needs to be properly stored.

Thanks for the great info Buster. I never saw it from that perspective. I’ve always thought that bears only break through things because they smell something, not because they associate canned food or sealed containers as food items or that they’re curious and try to break it open. Seeing it from that perspective, I’ll definitely hide all my food items in a bear storage or bear canister.

Quote
Bilko
Backpacker87,

If you plan on camping or backpacking at this time of year, your best strategy is to have some options. I would strongly recommend that you try and book one of the valley campgrounds, they usually get booked up as soon as the booking window opens but people often cancel before the two week cancellation window closes so keep checking the website.
I don't believe you can pre-book wilderness permits for trip before the 1st of May because there are no quotas so you can just walk up to the ranger station and get one the day before, you can also rent your bear canisters here. There is also another benefit of having a wilderness permit in that you can camp in the backpackers campsite a night before and after you trip. The risk is this site maybe closed if the river is high.

Yes youre right Bilko. We can’t seem to pre-book any wilderness permits before May 1st. Its first come first serve so I’m assuming the crowds are not large enough and they don’t have to worry about limiting how many people can backpack through the trails.
I checked out Upper pines yesterday night and there were a lot of available campgrounds this and next week. So I’m feeling we may have a good chance that we could get lucky and get a campground in April if someone cancels. We’ll continue to check it everyday and cross our fingers. If we can’t reserve one, we’ll try our luck at camp 4 or backpackers campground above upper pines.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2017 10:07AM by Backpacker87.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 17, 2017 03:12PM
Backpacker87 wrote, "Looking at the national park campground reservation map, there a backpackers campground listed just above North Pines Campground. We might try that campsite out and see if we able to a site there. This is my first time hearing that campground, has anyone else tried it out?"

The backpacker camps are only for use by folks with an overnight wilderness backpacking permit. You can stay in the backpacker camp one night before and/or one night after your valid wilderness permit. General use is not allowed. See https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bpcamp.htm for more info.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2017 03:23PM by Dave_Ayers.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 21, 2017 03:18PM
Backpacker87,

Dave_A is correct about needing a Wilderness Permit to use the back packers campground. You used to be able to stay her one night on the basis you were going to try and get a walk up permit the following morning. This rule was often abused so now you actually have to get the permit first, again this shouldn't be a big issue at the time of year you are planning to visit so you can at least get one night. The bigger risk this year is that the site could well be under water:-(

The back packers campsite is a great location and it has pit toilets, bear lockers, the problem is is gets crazy busy once the backpacking season starts. You often get groups of professionally guided trips using it as a meeting point and first nights stop, these guys get there mid morning and grab all the good spots. I have never seen anybody with a permit turned away but when its busy its a place you want to avoid.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
February 23, 2017 07:07AM
@Backpacker87,

I think camping and dayhiking is a good choice considering your constraints. One hazard that may not have been mentioned yet is the risk of high-elevation snowstorms. Probably unlikely in April at the elevations you're looking at, but potentially disastrous if you're not prepared.

I also want to chime in about bears. I've learned to be rather afraid of Valley bears, not through direct personal experience, but from the following:
* When you camp in the Valley, you will see photo displays of cars wrecked by bears, bears' heads sticking out of bear-resistant dumpsters, etc.
* On my last trip, our food didn't fit in the bear can on the first night and we hung the excess from a gnarled little lodgepole pine. Didn't have a problem. However, this was in a fairly remote part of Yosemite. The next night, we came down to Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, which is more densely populated. One observation that I found very striking is how brazen the chipmunks were. At our first camp, they generally left us alone. At Glen Aulin, they were after us constantly. I would suppose that there's a difference in bear behavior similar to this -- and Glen Aulin is still a far cry from the Valley.

Just stay safe and you'll have a great time. It'll be stunningly beautiful.
avatar Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
March 14, 2017 07:51PM
If you want to go backpacking, and don't have snow-camping experience - indeed, don't want to use snowshoes as you said, I would very strongly suggest following mrcondron's advice, Rancheria Falls is the only backpackable destination unlikely to be covered by snow (note the ambiguity w/ "unlikely", it's still the wet season, it could snow). Enjoying and day hiking the Valley, as you suggest, may be a good thing, particularly if this is your first visit, it's really quite impressive. Further, we don't know when the Big Oak Flat Road will reopen leading from the Valley towards Hetch Hetchy, it's still being repaired from a major washout.

You should know that April 1 is, historically, considered the peak of California's snowpack. This means the storms should be starting to wind down, but they're still around, and melting has only just begun to overpace accumulation by the time of your visit. This is a year where the high country is seeing 10, 20, more foot snowpack.

The wilderness permit information...there is a difference between summer, which has quotas and is reservable, and winter, which doesn't have quotas and isn't reservable. Your proposed trip is, calendar aside, most definitely winter. Though...I think March 31 is the end of the "don't have to use bear canisters (but probably should...)" period, meaning early April...bear canisters would be required.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/14/2017 07:52PM by ttilley.
Re: Backpacking in Yosemite valley this April
March 14, 2017 08:13PM
Rancheria Falls would be a good destination if the footbridge over Wapama falls was open, but according to the "Current Conditions" page it's still out of commission https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.
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