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Re: First timer- flying in

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First timer- flying in
March 26, 2010 11:15AM
What a great forum this is. I have been looking for months for something like it, with knowledgable people and regular posters.

I will be making my first trip out to Yosemite in June (from a Wednesday until a Saturday), with my boyfriend, and his sister and brother in law. We all have hiking and camping experience. We will be staying in Upper Pines. We are flying in from Philadelphia airport to Fresno and renting a Jeep. My questions are:

1) As far as cooking goes, I know we can only have campfires from 5-10pm, and to buy wood on our way into the park. Is the fire pit the same as what you would use to cook with (as opposed to say, a charcoal grill like you would find at a park in a town)? Is there any kind of rack or anything that sits over it to sit pots and pans on? Any suggestions on what I need and what is provided in this area would be VERY helpful.

2) We have a well supplied first aid kit and most of the gear that we think we could need, without being too overpacked. Is there anything you can think of that most first timers to the park forget or may not think of? Is there anything you WISH you had brought and didn't? Is there anything you DID bring and wish you hadn't spared the space for?

3) Will there be any place we could charge camera batteries or the like? I have heard there are outlets in restrooms, but what are the odds of them being available? I have two batteries for mine, but I am a crazy picture taker, and would rather be safe than sorry.

4) We aren't super concerned with showering, as we have a hotel room Saturday night before we fly home, but if we did want to catch a shower at Curry Village, are there any recommendations? Do you pay with quarters or are bills okay? Any advice on best times?

Thanks all :-)
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 26, 2010 11:43AM
OK - where to start?

1) There is indeed a grill on the side of each fire ring that is adjustable for height like a BBQ grill. You don't have to buy wood outside the park, and generally the NPS recommends that the wood be obtained less than 50 miles from the park due to some diseases affecting oak trees. You'll have no problem finding wood for sale inside the park. The closest place that would sell wood is the Curry Village store and the price is reasonable. You can't collect wood in Yosemite Valley.

2) I can't think of anything. Maybe bring the ingredients for s'mores since the food costs too much at the stores in the Valley.

3) You can use the outlets, although you're not supposed to use an extension cord to patch it to your campsite. I saw a few people using them for cellphone and electric razor charging. Really though - you might be better off getting a small inverter (12V DC from a car's lighter outlet to 120V AC) and charging it off your car when you're driving around. Or you could get a battery jump starter. Some come with built-in inverters. I paid $20 for a 100 watt inverter about the size of a deck of cards. I've personally got a couple of battery chargers (for the AAs I typically use) that run off of 12V and I either use an AC supply that converts to DC or a special DC power cord for a car lighter outlet.

4) I'm not sure how that works exactly, although I know you'll have to pay. There used to be lax enforcement, but now apparently they station personnel to accept payment for showers if you're not a guest. It's now $5 and it's not coin operated. I remember a few years ago I tried it, and ended up paying $3 on the honor system at the front desk. I wasn't given a receipt. I tried again after the end of my backpacking trip, and a different clerk refused to take my money.
Re: First timer- flying in
March 26, 2010 02:37PM
Two thoughts:

1) Soft-sided Jeep?. If you leave food, etc inside it won't end well.

2) Beer & Pizza with some of the locals in Fresno?. PM me.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 26, 2010 03:42PM
Quote
wagga
Two thoughts:

1) Soft-sided Jeep?. If you leave food, etc inside it won't end well.

2) Beer & Pizza with some of the locals in Fresno?. PM me.

"Jeep" is kind of a generic term. I know some people use that for almost any 4x4. I'm guessing it could be anything from a Rubicon to a Liberty. Just be careful since this might happen:





I forgot to mention not keeping any food inside a vehicle after dark. The bears in Yosemite are very skilled at breaking into vehicles, although sometimes it seems pretty random given that there probably aren't many vehicles visiting Yosemite that don't have some sort of food smell in them. However - one is supposed to not store food in the vehicle after dark - especially not in plain sight. That means anything that smells (bears have been known to eat soap thinking it's food) or even something as innocent sounding as an unused cooler, which bears will associate with food if they see it through the window. Frankly a soft-sided vehicle might be better if the top is off. Bears might be able to investigate it without tearing everything up. Leaving stuff out that might have minor food odors (like pots) is OK as long as there are no real food scraps and a bear can investigate and figure that there's no food to be had. You'll have a large steel box to place all you food in. You might also consider bringing a padlock, which you're allowed to use at campsites (but not at shared bear boxes at trailheads). At the very least maybe a carabiner for an extra level of security. I saw this guy the last time I was at Upper Pines. This bear kept on banging on bear boxes until it found one where the locking mechanism was jammed.

Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 08:26AM
(see below)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2010 08:35AM by blair13.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 26, 2010 03:30PM
Use the bear boxes. ANYTHING that has an odor; empty gum wrappers, food, toothpaste, deodorant, etc, put in the bear locker. If in doubt, but it in the bear locker. Leave nothing in the jeep, hard or soft sided, it doesn't matter; a bear can open it. They either break the window or take the door off. It depends on what their mother taught them to do. The bears also use the training device in the Camp Curry parking lot. You'll see it.

And the cute little deer running around the place.... well.... the only animal that has killed a human in the park, for the last 100 years or so, is a deer.

When you get to Oakhurst, you'll have two choices; one is to continue straight to the South Entrance. That's near the the Mariposa Grove of giant redwoods. It's about an hour and a half from Oakhurst to the valley on a slow winding road. Or you can turn left on Hwy 49 and take a nice drive through Mariposa and then along the Merced River with lots of wild flowers blooming. Then enter at Arch Rock and about 10 minutes to the valley floor. It's about as long time wise.
Re: First timer- flying in
March 26, 2010 05:40PM
Quote
Dave
ANYTHING that has an odor;... If in doubt, put it in the bear locker.

Your boyfriend?
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 06:39AM
Blair13,

Welcome to the forum. You said you have lots of hiking and camping experience. Your plan to stay at Upper Pines suggests that perhaps the only hiking you will do are day hikes. If you are planning on an overnight hike it requires a wilderness permit plus rental of a bear cansiter for food. If you want to do an overnight hike just let us know and we can provide more information regarding permit process, etc. For first timers to the Valley there are so many outstanding day hike opportunities to keep you busy that an overnighter seems like overkill, especially since you are paying for the campsite. If you have an opportunity you should squeeze in a long day driving to Tuolumne Meadows and try a day hike to May Lake/Mt. Hoffman (shortest), Dog Lake/Lembert Dome, or Cathedral Lake/Cathedral Peak (longest). Much longer day hikes are available from the Tuolumne Meadows area but this could make for a very long day including driving and scenic turnout stops. Anyway, none of these will dissappoint and will whet your appetite for the higher country. At the very least, do the drive up there, Rt. 120, Tioga Road.

Another drive you should do is to Glacier Point overlooking the Valley with fantastic views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Tenaya Canyon, and Vernal Fall/ Nevada Fall. The Glacier Point road is off Rt. 41 about half way between the south gate and Yosemite Valley.

By the way, if you plan to hike to the summit of Half Dome the best time is on a Monday -Thursday when no Half Dome permit is needed. It requires a very early start, is about 4,800' ascent, and about 16 mile round trip. If you are not up to such a demanding hike then you definitely should do the same trail half way to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 08:17AM
Quote
wagga
Quote
Dave
ANYTHING that has an odor;... If in doubt, put it in the bear locker.

Your boyfriend?
Yes. That might be the only way you'll get a peaceful nights sleep.
Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 08:35AM
YPW: Thanks, that is a lot of help! My biggest curiosity was definitely the grill top for the fire. Good to know we don't have to worry about an actual camp stove. Great video clip by the way, got a good laugh, although I am sure it is as much reality as the clip is fiction. We already picked up a couple of locks for the bear locker, and got unscented soap/shampoo/etc. which will go in with our food anyway. Better safe than sorry, that is for sure.

Wagga: The rental website said Jeep Grand Cherokee, but who knows what we will get when we actually get there. I would venture to guess it will be something with a hard top though. Just need something big enough for gear and four people-- don't plan on using it much. Beer and pizza is a possibility, the only time we will actually be in Fresno is Sat June 12th after about 5pm, because we have a 6am flight out Sunday morning. I don't have our hotel info on me, but when I do, I will msg you. All I know is that it is near the airport.

Dave: What is the training device in Camp Curry? We were planning on heading in at the south entrance to see the Grove, but I didn't know there was an alternative coming from Fresno. Which do you personally prefer? The redwoods are one of the MUST SEE'S on our list.

Tomdisco: We aren't doing any overnight hikes this trip, unfortunately. It will be all day hikes. We plan on seeing Vernal/Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome (not doing the hike to the summit this trip either), on various hikes. Trying to get as much as we can into the little time we have since it is our first trip out, but hope to make a second to do the Half Dome hike later on. Maybe the drive up 120 and Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows would be a good drive for on our way out Saturday-- do you think that is feasible? Since we have to pack up camp earlier than we want to leave the park, we were planning on doing any driving trips on that day, as well as going to the Ansel Adams Gallery.

You guys are great, thanks for all the tips.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 10:02AM
The drive to Tuolumne Meadows would be O.K for your last day. Be aware it's a pretty long round trip drive at 35MPH much of the way. By the time you drive to TM and back plus out via the south entrance on 41 you will have quite your fill of winding roads for one day. Strongly recommend driving to Glacier Point on an earlier day, possibly even on your first drive into the park, although I don't know what time you will be arriving. If it's one of your other days there are a couple of 2 mile roundtrip day hikes at a trailhead about a mile or two before you get to Glacier Point. These trails go to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point/The Fissures. Sentinel Dome provides views similar to Glacier Point, just 900' higher with more panorama. Taft Point and the unique Fissures provide a high view of El Capitan and other local features. You could do Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Taft Point and even Mariposa Grove all in a leisurely day.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 01:36PM
Quote
tomdisco
The drive to Tuolumne Meadows would be O.K for your last day. Be aware it's a pretty long round trip drive at 35MPH much of the way.

Actually most of it is 45 MPH.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 03:15PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
tomdisco
The drive to Tuolumne Meadows would be O.K for your last day. Be aware it's a pretty long round trip drive at 35MPH much of the way.

Actually most of it is 45 MPH.

Yippie!
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 10:03AM
Quote
blair13
Dave: What is the training device in Camp Curry?

I think the reference might be to a car door placed for display at the Curry Village parking lot. It was the remnants of a car that was broken into.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2010 02:53PM by y_p_w.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 06:08PM
Quote
blair13
Maybe the drive up 120 and Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows would be a good drive for on our way out Saturday


You can easily spend 2 weeks just in exploring areas near the Valley. Given the time you describe, I personally would not drive up to TM for a brief look-see and turn around without time to hike if you are leaving from Fresno unless you want to spend a lot of time in the car. Consider entering the park via 140 and leaving back to Fresno by 41 stopping at Mariposa Grove and Wawona area on the trip home.

If you really think you want to drive part of the Tioga Road, consider a trip to Tuolumne Grove (requires short hike). That alone would be a one half day process.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 10:29PM
Quote
blair13
Dave: What is the training device in Camp Curry? We were planning on heading in at the south entrance to see the Grove, but I didn't know there was an alternative coming from Fresno. Which do you personally prefer? The redwoods are one of the MUST SEE'S on our list..
I prefer going on Hwy 49 through Mariposa and then up Hwy 140 to the Valley. It's about 10 miles longer, but it's faster. I prefer the Arch Rock Entrance... but I'm partial to that since I worked there for 3 years.

But if you want to see the Mariposa Grove, it's best to stay on Hwy 41 and go in the South Entrance. The grove is about 10 minutes from there. There are 3 large redwood groves in the park. The Mariposa Grove is the largest, but also has the most people. The Tuolumne and Merced Groves require some walking, but also have far fewer people.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 27, 2010 06:37PM
There is SO much to see in Yosemite, and all unbelievably beautiful. It pains me to say this, but with only 2 full days I'd say forget Tuolumne Meadows. On your way in and out (Wed and Saturday) take sidetrips to Mariposa Grove and Glacier Pt. On the day that you go to Glacier Point do the day hike to Sentinel Dome and/or Taft Pt.

Once you park your car and set up camp, don't get in your car again until you leave on Saturday. There is more than enough to see in Yosemite Valley, and getting in your car on Thursday or Friday will just break up your trip with uneccessarry "car time". A few "must do's" in Yosemite Valley: Upper Yosemite Falls, Nevada Fall (if you're VERY fit hikers do the Mist Trail to Nevada FAll, then the Panorama Trail to Glacier Pt and the 4 Mile trail back down to the Valley. Also the Western half of the Valley Loop Trail.

Edit: I had some second thoughts. If you aren't overly bothered by spending more time in the car; and think it would be worth doing so in order to get a better overview of what Yosemite offers, consider this: On Friday get up early and drive to Tuolumne Meadows (make sure the road is open to the Meadows first), this is about a 90 minute drive. Hike to Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, which is a 12 mile round trip hike. This hike is spectacular, and I think is the gem of TM. It should take 8 or 9 hours. If you do this hike, then take your full day in Yosemite Valley to hike the Mist Trail to Nevada Fall, and if possible the Panorama Trail to Glacier Pt.

Have a great trip!

Jon



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2010 08:16PM by sierranomad.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 06:49AM
blair13,

Are we overloading you yet with suggestions? We're very good at it. LOL

winking smiley
Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 05:08PM
All these suggestions are great, I can't wait to pass them along to my trip-mates so we can make a definite plan. We were just discussing how we wish we had endless vacation time so we could see everything, but our priorities are definitely Mariposa Grove and the various waterfalls, as well as getting visuals of Half Dome and El Cap. We are all pretty fit, so longer hikes or altitude changes aren't really a biggie for any of us. We hike pretty much every weekend here on the east coast. Our goal is to use the car as little as possible, and take the shuttle to any trail heads that require a trip to get there. We really don't want to deal with traffic congestion or spend half our vacation seeing things out of a window. We figured doing it on our first and last days would be best-- we should be arriving in the park around 3pm Wed., and leaving about 5pm Sat., so that gives us a few hours for shorter trips on our travel days. That is why we were thinking stopping for Mariposa and the trees on the way in (still time to set up camp afterward), and doing a morning hike that Sat. then hitting the Ansel Adams Gallery on the way out. Now, the hard part is deciding what to cram into those other two days! You all have left me with some good ideas though, that is for sure.

Here's another for you-- what are your favorite camp meals that require not too many ingredients, and can be cooked in tin foil? We have small camp cookware, but the less we have to wash, the better obviously. Any recommendations? We have baked potatoes and corn on the cob on the list already, but need something to fill one more night.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 05:30PM
Quote
blair13
Here's another for you-- what are your favorite camp meals that require not too many ingredients, and can be cooked in tin foil? We have small camp cookware, but the less we have to wash, the better obviously. Any recommendations? We have baked potatoes and corn on the cob on the list already, but need something to fill one more night.

Macaroni and cheese. Get the kind with the "cheese" in a pouch. Just boil the mac, strain out as best you can, then put in a large zip lock bag, squeeze in the cheese, and then mix IN the bag. Then use the bag to pack out some garbage.

Also, hobo stew is pretty good. Some thin potato slices, bits of onion,, carrots, hamburger, a dash of water, and whatever else fancies you, in a foil wrapper and bake in the coals for about 20 minutes or so. You can make this ahead of time and freeze... but they might not like it on the airplane.

I have a friend in the Marines and he gives me all his MRE's, so I don't do much camp cooking anymore.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/28/2010 05:31PM by Dave.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 05:34PM
Quote
blair13


Here's another for you-- what are your favorite camp meals that require not too many ingredients, and can be cooked in tin foil? We have small camp cookware, but the less we have to wash, the better obviously. Any recommendations? We have baked potatoes and corn on the cob on the list already, but need something to fill one more night.

There is a medium size grocery in Yosemite Village to allow purchase of last minute items.

One ez meal is the following; package stuffing mix with canned chicken or turkey (can be steamed in foil).

Some miscellaneous suggestions:
Consider one pot items like Tuna helper
If you slice and core out an onion or orange, you can cook an egg in them right on the coals.
If vegetarian, consider rice + vegies steamed in foil if that is your plan (BTW, whole potatoes can take a long time to cook. Consider slicing or hash browns)
Consider getting pizza on the Curry Village deck one night.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 05:39PM
Quote
Frank Furter
...If you slice and core out an onion or orange, you can cook an egg in them right on the coals....

Or just use a wax paper cup to boil an egg in. Just put the egg in the cup, fill with water, and place on the coals.

I've made quite a bit of money off of people that bet that won't work.
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 29, 2010 01:42AM
After visiting the Mariposa Grove on your way in, you might want to consider having dinner at the Wawona Hotel on your way down to the valley. At the very least, you should stop there and go inside to look around the common areas because of its history:
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_WawonaHotel_History.aspx
(If you linger long enough into the evening, they have someone playing the piano to entertain the hotel guests and visitors.)

Their menu is contained in ths link:
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Dining_WawonaDiningRoom.aspx
Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 07:09PM
There are two vegetarians and one who can't eat wheat/gluten in our group, so the food thing has become a challenge-- potatoes are the one thing all four of us can share! Good call on slicing them up too. The rice and veggie packet sounds like a good idea also. We will be stopping at a grocery before we hit the park, so pretty much anything is doable, we just want simple. The hobo stew sounds good too, because we could cook the meat separately for the two of us who can eat it, and just add it all together.

I heard the Curry Village food lines can get kind of ridiculous. Do you think it will be that way during our travel time? (June 9-12th)
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 28, 2010 08:48PM
There is also the cafeteria style restaurant by Yosemite Lodge. A good variety of food to chose from plus no dishes but it costs a bit. There is also a fancier restaurant next door that has table cloths and candles. I don't know if you can get food service in the bar that is a door or so down from the restaurant.



Old Dude
avatar Re: First timer- flying in
March 29, 2010 05:52AM
Curry Village, too, has a place you can eat, the Pavilion. The food is comparable to what you get at Yosemite Lodge, but is buffet style so you can choose what you want and go back as many times as you want.
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