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Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept

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Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 11, 2017 06:58PM
Just came across this site while planning my trip to Yosemite for Early-Mid Sept. Incredible site with great TR and advice, fantastic community. Have read much of the posts, really appreciate the insights and experiences posted.

Looking for some specific critique of my proposed itinerary. Experienced backpacker (SEKI, RMNP, Yellowstone, Adirondacks) in good shape, coming from Texas (sea level). Have seen reports of marathoners doing the loop in 2 days, but this is my first trip to Yosemite. The High Sierra Camps loop is my top-of-the-bucket list trip. My time is limited by work, so I only have 4 backpacking days.

Plan:
1-acclimate at TM for 24 hours
2-TM to May lake via Glen Aulin and spend nite #1 at May lake (16 miles)
3-May lake to Merced Lake via Sunrise (19 miles), spend nite #2 at Merced
4-Merced to Vogelsang (8 miles), spend nite #3 at Vogelsang
5-Vogelsang to TM (7 miles)

My questions are:
1- Is it reasonable to attempt the loop in 3 nights\4 days or is this Too ambitious? My thinking here is that i could shorten the distance by doing TM-->Glen Aulin-->May Lake-->Sunrise-->TM, and do the other half another time.
2- Can I enter the backcountry with either of the Glen Aulin Permits and camp the first night at May lake?
3- I dont see any mention of people using Diamox for altitude acclimation-I use it frequently when I go skiing. Anyone with experience using this for a hiking trip?
4- I have only used a bear canister with a 65L bag-can i fit one comfortably into a 38L bag (trying to go as minimalist as possible)?
5- how cold are the nights in the backcountry early-mid Sept?

If some of these have been asked before, please excuse my ignorance. I tried looking up some of these before posting

Really appreciate the expert advice on this.
Mike
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 11, 2017 07:48PM
Have you ever hiked at 8-10K feet before ? If not, your plan may be too ambitious. I say "may" because you don't know how well you will acclimate.
You can always start as you have planned but don't be afraid to bail if the altitude gets to you. A good exit would be right after May Lake....back to TM.

Yes, you can enter at the Glen Aulin trail head and camp at May Lake, or anywhere else as long as it's off trail and away from a water source (and actually in the backcountry....look at the map to be sure).

Never used Diamox so I can't comment

You can get a small bear canister (Bear Boxer http://www.bareboxer.com) that will probably fit in a 38L pack.

I don't know about Sept but I was at Sunrise HSC once in August and it got down to 17 degrees, and that was not an abnormal year. Yeah, it gets cold in the Sierra even in the summer. Most people would say use a 20 degree bag. That's what I use and I don't like cold but the 20 degree bag (actually a quilt) with a good mat keeps me warm.

Others will probably chime in and give alternatives.
avatar Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 11, 2017 08:02PM
If you have a Glen Aulin permit... you are required to spend your first night at
the Glen Aulin HSC area.

I would recommend that instead of acclimation... you simply use that time to
hike down to Glen Aulin on the first day. Go slow. It's a bit up ... but only a bit.
I dunno... I would think one could do this...
I have never used Diamox... haven't ever needed. Everyone's physiology is
different. But then again I spend a bit of time in the mountains... even though
I live at sea level too.

Anywho. Maybe you can do something like:
Glen Aulin
Sunrise HSC (or the lakes if you are running out of time)
Merced
Vogalsang

?
Seems more reasonable



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 11, 2017 08:35PM
Thanks to you both for the advice. I like the idea of going straight to Glen Aulin to acclimate. Have hiked yellowstone and SEKI which are around 8500-9000 ft, and did ok.
Also keep in mind there are food storage boxes at the Sunrise Lakes trailhead, so you can stash food there, take 2 only days' worth of food at the beginning of the trip and pick up the rest as you pass by on the way to Sunrise.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 12, 2017 07:02AM
Quote
chick-on
If you have a Glen Aulin permit... you are required to spend your first night at
the Glen Aulin HSC area.
Thanks for the correction. I obviously thought that once you had a backcountry permit, any site (within the trail/water source rules) was fair game. BTW I like your plan of acclimating at Glen Auin. I think it actually might be lower in elevation than TM.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/12/2017 07:04AM by The Other Tom.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 12, 2017 01:13PM
1- Is it reasonable to attempt the loop in 3 nights\4 days or is this Too ambitious? My thinking here is that i could shorten the distance by doing TM-->Glen Aulin-->May Lake-->Sunrise-->TM, and do the other half another time.
First time in Yosemite - altitude - 3 nights...for me the plan (2X) much too ambitious. 19 mile days? Ouch...Maybe, but do you want to spend all your waking hours hiking? Do either half and relax/ soak in Yosemite some. Late September YARTS/ Hiker Bus also adds Valley exit options for return back to TM. BTW, like the hikes south of 120 better - bigger granite.

4- I have only used a bear canister with a 65L bag-can i fit one comfortably into a 38L bag (trying to go as minimalist as possible)?
Smaller cans out there or a bigger pack...can be done.

5- how cold are the nights in the backcountry early-mid Sept?
20º bag minimum, but 15º better.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 12, 2017 04:19PM
Thank everyone for weighing in

Great advice
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 17, 2017 05:37PM
Keep in mind the bridge over Morrison Creek into the Glen Aulin HSC collapsed this winter, likely due to heavy snow. Since the HSC system is not opening this year, I doubt the bridge will get repaired this summer. The only way to get to the Glen Aulin campground right now is to go cross country off the PCT before you cross the first bridge over Tuolumne River, and come back that way. Also, the park has been saying recently that the river is going over the first bridge, which is possible this year in periods of high flow, so it may not last long. You can also reach the Glen Aulin area by starting from May Lake or Murphy Creek (by Tenaya Lake), or go cross country along Tuolumne River from the area west of Pothole Dome to stay on the south side of the river until you get to the first bridge and can pick up the trail there.

The best way to acclimate to high altitude is to sleep there one night. I often get a mild form of altitude sickness my first day when I don't acclimate, especially if it is a hard climbing day, and ibuprofen plus rest cures it for me. Always be prepared for subfreezing weather at night. If it doesn't get close to freezing at night, the daytime will be miserably hot and you may want to start hiking at sunrise so you can stop before the heat of the day hits.

Keep in mind that the HSC system was spaced for day hikers, not backpackers, so most of them are a very long day apart for backpackers. I personally find the HSCs to be like small cities, so I avoid them in favor of more peace and quiet. You can get the same experience at a drive up campground with much less effort. Each HSC has plenty of bear lockers, so if you are 100% sure you will stay at one each night, you don't need the canister.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 19, 2017 11:44AM
Quote
rgliebe
Keep in mind the bridge over Morrison Creek into the Glen Aulin HSC collapsed ...

I think you meant the bridge over Conness Creek. smiling smiley
avatar Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 20, 2017 12:53PM
Wow! I knew Yosemite had a lot more snow melt this year but I'm astounded that the Glen Aulin aluminum bridge is impassable. No wonder stream crossings are such a challenge right now.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 21, 2017 03:54PM
Quote
tomdisco
Wow! I knew Yosemite had a lot more snow melt this year but I'm astounded that the Glen Aulin aluminum bridge is impassable. No wonder stream crossings are such a challenge right now.

The bridge over the Tuolumne River which has the metal side rails is in good shape, though some wading may need to be done past the north end. Various hikers have been across it and through that area. It's not impassible.

The bridge over Conness Creek (between the PCT and the HSC) which has mostly wooden side rails is the one that collapsed. That can be bypassed by going cross-country north of the T starting from the bridge above Tuolumne Falls.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 20, 2017 09:46PM
Thanks for the advice

My trip is not until September so I will keep tabs on the conditions and routing

Thanks!
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 21, 2017 10:33PM
Quote
backpackingdad
The High Sierra Camps loop is my top-of-the-bucket list trip. My time is limited by work, so I only have 4 backpacking days.

Background: Basilbop and I have hit the camps innumerable times for many years as guests and then as backpackers. We have done the loop (not including White Wolf) in two days several times, and a weird lollipop starting at White Wolf and going up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne to Glen Aulin proper on day 1, then hitting the Glen Aulin HSC, May Lake HSC and past Sunrise to above Echo Valley Day 2. Then Day 3 we hiked down into Echo Valley, past Merced Lake HSC, and up Lewis Creek, over Vogelsang Pass, past Vogelsang HSC and out via Rafferty Creek to Tuolumne Meadows HSC. Then we drove home to the Bay Area.

Why did we do the two day trips and the three day trip? Because we wanted to. We've taken our time and enjoyed it. We've pushed for long days and enjoyed that too.. It really depends on the individual if they are fit and ready to enjoy the long hauls. I LOVE long hauls and cannot wait to do them again! But I also like short hauls with a lot of leisure time. If backpackingdad is short on time (and I get that), then doing the loops in the number of days he has can be a wonderful way to see the area while leaving minimal trace. I can't say if it's a good or bad idea for him. If he is prepared for multi-thousand foot intervals, it could be a GREAT idea.

Quote
backpackingdad

Plan:
1-acclimate at TM for 24 hours

I agree with Chick-on, going to Glen Aulin is a great idea. Glen Aulin proper is below the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. but only by a little bit. Gentle exercise is a GREAT way to acclimate, and sleeping at that altitude will be much easier on your system than at Tuolumne Meadows. Take your time on the relatively short, mostly downhill hike to the Glen. Stay at the HSC if easy to get to for you. it's a lovely hike down and you can get a sense of the land.

Quote
backpackingdad
2-TM to May lake via Glen Aulin and spend nite #1 at May lake (16 miles)
3-May lake to Merced Lake via Sunrise (19 miles), spend nite #2 at Merced
4-Merced to Vogelsang (8 miles), spend nite #3 at Vogelsang
5-Vogelsang to TM (7 miles)

Since you are crossing the road after May Lake, you could bail on the idea if getting to that far was brutal. Because if that was hard, well... it doesn't get easier, let's say. But... don't count on shuttles. Check the schedule. You may have to hitchhike or walk yourself back to Tuolumne meadows - which can be done with trails next to the road, but no backpacking. Leave May early and you can walk yourself back in a day, around 12 miles, relatively gentle uphill after you hit Tenaya Lake.

Basically, have contingency plans in place.

Quote
backpackingdad
My questions are:
1- Is it reasonable to attempt the loop in 3 nights\4 days or is this Too ambitious? My thinking here is that i could shorten the distance by doing TM-->Glen Aulin-->May Lake-->Sunrise-->TM, and do the other half another time.
Depending on your conditioning, yes, it's entirely reasonable to do the loop in 3 nights, 4 days.

Quote
backpackingdad
3- I dont see any mention of people using Diamox for altitude acclimation-I use it frequently when I go skiing. Anyone with experience using this for a hiking trip?
I've never used Diamox.. If you don't suffer from the side-effects, great! If you need Diamox for this loop... hm. did you use it in Rocky Mountain National Park (RNMP)? Base it on your past similar experiences, I'd say. And try to sleep as low as you can. Glen Aulin and Merced Lake are great for this.

Quote
backpackingdad
4- I have only used a bear canister with a 65L bag-can i fit one comfortably into a 38L bag (trying to go as minimalist as possible)?

Depends on your bear can. And your bear can size could vary based on the length of your trip and the type of food you carry.

I'd say no "standard rental sized" (~600 cu in.) bear can will fit comfortably in a 38 l pack with gear. Not any I've seen, anyway. If you're an ultra-lighter, you might be able to make it work, especially if your food will fit in the BareBoxer Contender. We put food in the Sunrise bear boxes as NQTG mentioned to save weight/space! Plan ahead! And if you ABSOLUTELY will stay in the High Sierra Camps themselves, you could use the communal bear boxes at each camp. However, I would suggest against this. With the potential for long days, I would recommend against forcing yourself into a "must do" scenario. Carry a decent bear can: rent the Wild Ideas Bearikade Weekender or Scout to save space/weight if you really think you want to. You have the time to arrange that. it'll give you space to protect your food, isn't too big. And I carry a 16" custom Bearikade. Always. That gives me options and doesn't weigh much more than the smaller cans. And our chips don't get smushed. I suggest using your 65 Liter pack, if it isn't too heavy. My Osprey Exos 58 liter pack weighs under 3 pounds. I use it as my all-season day pack as well as my all-season backpacking pack. If your 65 liter pack weighs 8 pounds, I can see why you want the 38 liter pack.. but then you need to downsize your can, shorten the duration of the trip and ensure you make the distance. I'd think it'd be nice to have the ability to take more time, if necessary.

Quote
backpackingdad
5- how cold are the nights in the backcountry early-mid Sept?
They can be warm or they can be freezing. I carry a 10 degree quilt and an XTherm all year long. Works for me in summer and in winter and summers when it's like winter. (I change up my sleep clothes based on immediate forecast.)Here's the thing I've learned (both from reading others' experience and my own). LONG days mean I NEED to sleep well at night to have an enjoyable subsequent LONG day. Sleeping warm and comfy is key. You can do it on crappy sleep, but it may impact your fun factor. YMMV.

Quote
backpackingdad
If some of these have been asked before, please excuse my ignorance. I tried looking up some of these before posting

Really appreciate the expert advice on this.
Mike

Prepare and plan for both the long day scenario and the short-day scenario.. base it on how you feel and how conducive conditions are when you actually get going...

And here's wishing you fun no matter what you end up doing!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/21/2017 10:37PM by JustKeepWalking.
Re: Advice for 3 night/4 day High Sierra Camp loop in Sept
June 25, 2017 08:19PM
Great post and fabulous responses

Really appreciate the info

Trying my best to go ultralite, will certainly have aTR when I return
Mike
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