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Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!

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Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 01, 2020 11:42AM
Hi forum members,

My family (2 adults, a 14, 13, and 10 year old) are planning to be in Yosemite during the week of 8/24 and would like to do a 2 or 3 night trip. We've done a number of trips of this kind in places like Glacier NP, covering 8ish miles each day. Since the window for getting backcountry permits for late August is approaching, I would greatly appreciate your advice on itineraries that are would be suitable for our kind of group--e.g., with a balance of ascent/descent, easy access to water for drinking and playing in, great scenery. Am considering taking advantage of dinner options at a high sierra camp to lighted the load (especially if we do a 3-night trip), but that's not a must-have.

Thanks in advance for all your input in helping to narrow the amazingly large array of options...


PS: The two adults in this group did a number of 1 or 2 day hikes 20 years ago when we were living in CA, in the TM area, but sadly I'm completely blanking on our itineraries then!
Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 02, 2020 08:10AM
If you are really focused on using those High Sierra Camps, then I would suggest one of these three:

1. Rafferty Creek to Vogelsang, Merced Lake, and out into Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley
2. Sunrise/Tenaya Lake to Sunrise HSC, then down the JMT to Happy Isles.
3. May Lake, Glen Aulin, and then out into Tuolumne Meadows--which has the advantage of the shortest shuttle route at the end.

Bear in mind that these are among the most popular hikes and trailheads in the whole park. And I have organized them for your kids, so that you generally hike downhill for most of these. The last one is pretty much a wash.

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: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 02, 2020 09:21AM
Quick question. Are you aware of the difference between the High Sierra camps (HSCs) and their associated backpackers' camps?
Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 02, 2020 03:52PM
I'm probably not the best person to offer advice as I've only backpacked in Yosemite once (have done a few HSC trips as well), but I do spend an inordinate amount of my free time planning future backpack trips to Yosemite, so I'll offer up some suggestions and let others chime in on how good/bad they are.

1. Day 1 TM to Young Lakes (via Dog Lake trailhead, or via Glen Aulin as backup), Day 2 Young Lakes to Glen Aulin BPC, Day 3 dayhike around Glen Aulin (either down to Waterwheel Falls or up to Wildcat Point/Mattie Lake area), Day 4 Glen Aulin to TM. Note that Glen Aulin HSC does not offer meals only option for backpackers, so you'd have to bring all your food.

2. Day 1 Tenaya Lake (Murphy Creek trailhead) to Glen Aulin BPC, Day 2 dayhike around Glen Aulin, Day 3 Glen Aulin to May Lake BPC, Day 4 May Lake to Tenaya Lake. The last day is pretty short and all downhill, so you could possibly squeeze an ascent of Mt. Hoffman in after breakfast.

3. Day 1 TM to Lyell Canyon (camping a mile or so past Ireland Creek), Day 2 Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang BPC, Day 3 dayhike around Vogelsang (Berenice Lake or Emeric Lake), Day 4 Vogelsang to TM.

General notes:
- I was planning these as round trips so that you'd end up at the same trailhead you started. If you could arrange a shuttle, you could start trip 2 from TM and get a ride back from the Snow Creek parking lot or near Tenaya Lake.
- All of these trips are 3 nights, but could be shortened to 2 nights by eliminating the dayhiking day.
- Most of the nights on these trips are at backpacker camps near the High Sierra Camps, so if solitude is high on your list of desirables these trips may not be well suited.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2020 03:54PM by FatFlatlander.
Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 02, 2020 08:26PM
I'm afraid that any of FatFlatlander's routes will be too difficult. They all have 6-mile days or longer, at an elevation that your kids haven't experienced before. And that's if you can even get a permit. Finally, Lyell Canyon is way overused.

If you want something easier, you can consider the McGurk Meadow trailhead, and camping along the Pohono Trail on top of the valley's south wall. The views are spectacular, but water would be a challenge. It's been a very dry winter, but I would hope that at least Bridalveil Creek (west fork) would have some water for you.

Or you can consider the Lillian Lakes, just outside the park's southern border in Sierra National Forest. Lakes galore, easy hiking, probably not crowded.
Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 02, 2020 11:39PM
Well, if 6 miles is the limit I might suggest:

1. Just head down to Glen Aulin from Tuolumne Meadows. Use that as base camp and do day hikes from there, and then head back to TM.

2. Murphy Creek Trailhead to Polly Dome Lakes, Polly Dome Lakes to May Lake, maybe an extra day at May Lake to tackle Hoffman at a leisurely pace, then down to Murphy Creek Trailhead.

3. Saddlebag Lake/Twenty Lakes Basin area east of Tioga Pass. Hike in and make a base camp ("Z" Lake, perhaps?) , then do day hikes from there (up to Conness Lakes area, down Lundy Canyon, over to the old mine by Steelhead Lakes). These would be shorter outings, but that gives more time for play/exploration/art/journaling.

4. Ostrander Lake from Bridalveil or Ostrander trailheads. One day up, one day playing/exploring, one day back.
Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 07, 2020 07:05AM
Thank everyone for the excellent advice... much appreciate!


Re: Backpacking trip advice for family... thank you!
March 03, 2020 08:23AM
Oh yeah, good idea about 20 Lakes. It's also outside the park. It's a small, enclosed area, but probably rich enough that you could spend two layover days there.
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