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Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help

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May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 14, 2018 03:06PM
Hello everyone. First, thanks for all of the great info you all provide, I've already spent countless hours reading through tons of really helpful material. I was hoping to gain enough information through reading but I've become overwhelmed in this trip planning. I'm taking time away from my homework (still in college) to try and plan this trip and I am concerned with how slowly things have progressed, so I decided to ask for help. As the title suggests, we're looking to plan a trip for May 2 - 9. Not ideal, but it's the only time of the year that will work for both my girlfriend and I. It will be just us 2, and we're both early 20s and in very good shape. We've never done any overnight backpacking, but by the time of the trip we will have done a few here in Ohio to brush up any rough spots with our preparedness. Neither of us are afraid of a challenge, so our only limitation is going to be weather and availability.

I guess I'll start with what I've got so far - we'll be flying into San Francisco and figuring out some public transportation into the park [we're both too young to rent a car]. Right now I'm hoping to get lucky and nab a walk-in site at camp 4, as I'm realizing I should have tried booking a campsite in the park for our first night. I am having a hard time narrowing our selections down, trying to cross-reference wilderness permit availability, trailhead quotas, and what may or may not be snowpacked or flooded out. I've looked at trailhead reports to figure out which are still available and it seems like all are for our dates. I am assuming Tioga and Glacier Pt roads will be closed during our visit, so I'm pretty much limiting our focus to the main valley for starters and heading out from there. This is ideal anyway, because it's our first visit to Yosemite.

The thing I'm wrestling with, and can't figure out if it's the best approach or not, is to get into the park around 1 (the public transit leaves at 7 AM, and after a few stops gets you there by 1 per the itinerary), and head to the ranger station to see what's doable, what's available, and what my options should be. It seems sinful to go to Yosemite without anything pre-reserved, but at this point with the variability due to weather and what could be open, it almost seems like my best bet. If anyone has some suggestions, I'm more than appreciative and eager to listen. Also, I apologize for the amount of complaining I've done here. Thanks!
Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 14, 2018 09:41PM
You are right, early May is not ideal for most of the backpacking in the park. The high county, which is most of the park outside of the valley itself, is likely to be under considerable snow. But there are options.

Because you are dependent on public transportation, these options are more limited. But y0u are young, strong, and enthusiastic. That helps.

I'd suggest that you apply to pick up a backpacking permit for the day after you arrive in Yosemite. that permit will allow you to camp at the backpackers' campground in the Valley for the night before your trip: AKA the night you arrive. It also allows you to camp in the same campground for one night AFTER your trip....so it's a pretty good deal.

In May, the valley should be stunning. Waterfalls should be booming, rivers roaring, and the whole show. make sure you give yourself a couple of days to explore that--hiking up to Vernal and Nevada Falls, Mirror lake and just wandering around the valley.

The most likely backpacking itinerary for a few days would be to go up the Yosemite Falls trail, hike eastward along the north rim of the valley, and then descend to Mirror Lake via the Snow creek Trail. that's a really night hike for that time of year, and you should be able to get a permit for it---there won't be that many people who want to do it. And because there is a fair amount of southern exposure on that trail, the snow will certainly melt earlier than in other parts of the park. If you get to a creek that is too high to cross safely, just turn around and go back the way you came. Your permit does not require you to complete the journey. You can also do this trip in reverse and it would be easier to get a permit, because the Snow Creek Trail is even steeper than the Yosemite Falls trail...!

Hope that helps. Come back with more questions.

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
Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 15, 2018 07:57PM

Thank you for the input. My girlfriend had done a little more research today and realized we needed to focus our attention on areas mainly below 7000' to avoid significant snow, so this is helpful advice. I was playing around with CalTopo and drew up (what I believe) is the route you had suggested: [i tried posting an image but had to edit it out, photobucket is being difficult]

We talked it over and believe we have a rough-draft itinerary that goes something like this:
Day 1 : Columbus > San Francisco, arrive midnight
Day 2 : Get up for public transit @ 6 AM, arrive in Yosemite about 1 pm. Obtain permits, explore park, sleep in backpackers camp.
Day 3 : Depart from Yosemite Falls, set camp near Indian Canyon Creek.
Day 4 : Depart from first camp, set 2nd camp north of Indian Rock.
Day 5 : Depart from 2nd camp, set 3rd camp west of Mt. Watkins (thinking of heading up Snow Creek trail to backtrack on our last day out, to extend the trip).
Day 6 : Depart from 3rd camp, descend to Mirror Lake via Snow Creek Trail. Sleep in backpackers camp.
Day 7 : Hopefully get up, break camp and explore remainder of park. Wanting to visit one of the Sequoia Groves on our way out. Head to San Francisco for hotel and flight home.

Like I said, this is still pretty rough, but taking shape more and more as the hours pass. CalTopo said this overall distance was about 22 miles, and I was curious if this seems like too short a distance for a 4 day - 3 night trip? Additionally, I am curious about waking up early from the backpackers camp and making my way over to camp 4 to try and secure an additional night in the park. That way we could finish up a few day hikes and see as much as we can before leaving.

Thanks again for the help, we are extremely appreciative of your advice. Btw, we will be religiously reading your blog from now on, looks amazing!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2018 06:09PM by outdoormarsh.
Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 17, 2018 02:50PM
Sounds reasonable. You could even explore the valley a bit on that first day and still climb Yosemite Falls and camp somewhere near the top---that would only be about 4 miles, although it involves a health climb. You have plenty of time to do 22 miles, that's for sure. Explore Indian Rock North Dome, and Watkins...all worth some extra time.
And yes, with that permit you also get a free night the backpackers campground...and maybe you can score another campsite the following night.

The only challenge is the Sequoias. I don't think there is easy public transit to any of the groves...

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
Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 17, 2018 06:57PM

I put a map up of our potential trip route with camp sites 1-2-3-4. We wanted to try and lengthen the trip some, see as much as we can, and take our time, so we decided to start and end the trip with a double-back. Four nights will probably put as at a healthy weight in terms of supplies to make this a challenging trip. I'm flattening out the travel details and going to apply for the permit hopefully tonight. Thank you again for you help. This will be my senior trip and you've helped get it all lined up.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/2018 07:12PM by outdoormarsh.
Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 17, 2018 11:43PM
If you're already heading up that way, consider going to Eagle Peak before you double-back toward Yosemite Falls and east across the north rim. Keep in mind that there's a meadow you'll need to cross that will be moderately to very wet then.
Re: May 2 - May 9 Hopefully Backpacking Trip Help
January 18, 2018 07:46PM
We'll add it to the itinerary! That's the great part about having a relatively easy pace to begin with, is it will be really easy to add in additional sights to visit.
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