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Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?

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Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
February 14, 2017 02:01PM
A few friends of mine and I would like to see Yosemite this year. We've been slacking so we're figuring best time to try to get a permit for would be for August, which is cool because we'd like to avoid peak bug season.

A couple of us have some good backpacking experience, but most are new to it and none of us have been to Yosemite. I've been reading guides, other trip reports, and doing a lot of searching in this forum, but I think I'm just so unfamiliar with the area that I'm looking for more suggestions from people who know it well.

We want to do a 3 night stay, probably just hiking in to a good campsite and doing day hikes from there. I've been reading about lesser traveled areas of the park, which is what I always tend to gravitate toward, but we'd still like to see some iconic Yosemite landmarks. Should we just forget seclusion and stick to the valley? Are there any routes or loops (or general areas) that aren't too long or too short that would be suitable for those with lots of hiking experience but who are new to backpacking?

Thanks in advance!

Lydia in LA

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/14/2017 03:30PM by snackpacker.
Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
February 14, 2017 03:56PM
If you can secure a permit for any of the High Sierra Camps you could easily do day trips from there. All of them are really nice, but I'd go to the parks website and check the closed trailhead report and submit an application now. You can apply up to 168 days ahead of time. The Valley is cool, but it's pretty crowded in the Summer. You could do day trips from there, but they would all include a lot of elevation gain to get into the back country, and doing this for 3 days in a row can be challenging for some. Glen Aulin and Vogelsang are my two favorite HS Camps, but they're all good and you can easily do day trips from any of them. Just my two cents.
Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
February 14, 2017 04:15PM
3 nights, perhaps 4 days? Since you've not been to Yosemite, I recommend spending 1-2 days seeing the main sights in the Valley. This would be waterfalls including Bridalveil, Vernal, Yosemite, and possibly Nevada; Mirror Lake; Tunnel View; Valley View; Glacier Point; etc. Also see a big tree grove like Tuolumne, or Merced (Mariposa is still closed).

Then spend the other ~2 days in the high country. I suggest camping in one of the campgrounds (White Wolf, Porcupine Flat, Tuolumne Meadows, etc.) and doing day hikes to places like May Lake/Mt. Hoffman; Glen Aulin; Lyell Canyon; Lembert Dome; etc. Also see the sights along the highway like Olmstead Point. That way you get a feel for what Yosemite is. Then come back (you will want to!) and do a separate backpack trip.

If you do backpack starting from the Valley, be aware that it's usually hot at 4000 feet in August and at least the first day will involve a bunch of climbing in the heat. If you really want to backpack, better to start higher up as Daddy has suggested.
Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
February 19, 2017 10:33AM
Ooh, a whole group coming to Yosemite for the first time. Wonderful! You're in for a treat if you play your cards right.

In August, even the Tuolumne Meadows area is pretty crowded, and Yosemite Valley is a zoo. The trailheads out of the Valley will be either jam-packed, butt-kickingly steep, or both, not to mention hot. So my personal suggestion would be to stay off the beaten path (and off of Highway 140). You'll be fine if you can broaden your definition of "iconic Yosemite landmarks". If you want to check off having seen Half Dome, just take a photo op at Olmsted Point.

Also study and understand the full trailheads report.

I've been on a few trips, all north of Highway 120. From my somewhat limited experience, I would recommend one of the following:
  • Ten Lakes. A gentle, forested basin surrounded by cliffs and with plenty of room for two days of rambling. I also found a spot here where you can see down to the Tuolumne River, far, far below. If you want, I can tell you how to find it!
  • Young Lakes. Since it's right against the Sierra crest, the views are superb, much better than at Ten Lakes. But the basin is smaller, and you may find it a little constraining if you want to basecamp for 3 nights.
    In either of these two cases, if you can, avoid the temptation to simply plop down at the first lake you reach. You can have much more "personal space" if you can continue on another half-mile or mile.
  • Summit Lake. Technically in Hoover Wilderness and possibly the most difficult destination of the three I'm suggesting, but with the most solitude and most variety. It's on the boundary between the red-rock district of Hoover Wilderness and the white-rock district of Yosemite, so once you establish your base camp you can take one dayhike in each direction.

If you do choose to visit a High Sierra camp, be aware that these are islands of "front country" in the middle of the backcountry. Last September, when I came down from a backcountry site to stay at Glen Aulin for my second night, the crowding and the brazen chipmunks took me aback. They are beautiful sites, though.

P.P.S: Please keep us posted!

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/19/2017 11:08AM by iivvgg.
Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
March 03, 2017 04:37PM
Park at Lake Tenaya and hike up Murphys Creek to the shoulder of Tuolomne Peak. Beware of the three or four false summits.

At the shoulder is a tarn. There is a beauteous tarn 100 yards above that one that provides some of the most spectacular views in Yosemite. You lounge around on rough granite slabs, staring out over the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne, 5000' below you, across to mesmerizing granite peaks and shoulders.

You can day hike up class 2 scree to the top of Tuolomne Peak, the center of the park. You have 320 degree views, with only Mt. Hoffman interrupting the sweep to the west. If the air is clear there is no "big picture" view better in the park. 320 degrees of eye candy.

Hike to 10 lakes from your aerie on the shoulder of Tuolomne Peak, and enjoy exploring the 10 Lakes Basin. If you fish, this can be a destination.

A day just lounging and dinking around at the camp tarn and exploring, or not - and then the three hour hike out on your fourth day.

I found this place in 1969 when in high school, and have been back numerous times. It's perfect for a three day weekend. Four days settles the soul...

avatar Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
March 26, 2017 07:15AM
I agree with what Dave said. If you are first timers to Yosemite do the Valley, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, and Toulumne Meadows routes by car. From these locations pick a variety of day hikes to whet your appetite. From this first trip experience you will have a much better idea where you would like to go on a subsequent year for actual backpacking to see what's "over them hills". If you try backpacking immediately you will have little opportunity to see the initial grandeur of the park. The driving route and day hikes will also give you a better perspective of the size of Yosemite and a feel for what it's like to hike hot dusty trails at altitude.
Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
March 26, 2017 08:21AM
Good advice here. There are at least four day's worth of amazing day hikes in the park:. Nevada Falls/Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Yosemite Falls, Lembert Dome, North Dome, Sentinel/Taft/Dewey Point, Mt. Dana, Wawona, Gaylor Lakes...Lots to see. That doesn't count Glacier Point or Tuolumne Grove, or Olmsted Point which are on the road.

Backpacking would give you some options for campsites, though, in that you can use the backpacker's campsites for one day before and after your permit. Arrive early in the day, especially mid-week, and you will find sites available.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
avatar Re: Ideas for beginner backpacking trips?
March 26, 2017 02:13PM
Those members of the group without backpacking experience (who appear to be most of the group): do they have high-altitude hiking experience? If not, I recommend they gain it with day hikes in your nearby mountains (I assume "LA" means "Los Angeles" and not "Louisiana" ) before the trip.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/2017 02:15PM by ttilley.
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