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Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer

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Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 14, 2011 09:50AM
I am planning a 3-4 night backpacking trip this summer and could use some help from those more experienced. I have been to Yosemite twice but have never backpacked there. The original plan was to go in early June and do a trip starting at Lyell Canyon and ending at Happy Isle with a side trip to the top of half dome on the last day. Link to hike. I soon discovered that the road to Tuolumne Meadows would probably not be open. So I then started looking for a hike that could start in the valley. I came up this loop alternative: start at mirror lake to snow creek trail up to Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest ending at Happy Isle with side trip to top of half dome. I would appreciate some advise on the following subjects:

  1. Which hike would you recommend or maybe a different hike altogether
  2. What time of year is best. I can do early June or Late August
  3. Other issues like trail conditions (will it likely be too soggy in early June), mosquitos, etc

Also is there some reason that the most of the popular trailheads(Happy Isle, Cathedral Lakes, Lyell Canyon, Sunrise Lakes) are booked up but the Mirror Lake traihead is hardly booked at all even though you can get to many of the same sites via the loop trail I describe above?

Thanks



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/14/2011 09:51AM by hikerjay.
avatar Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 14, 2011 11:52AM
hikerjay,

Early June is hit or miss as far as snow on the trails. Kind of goes along with whether or not Tioga Road is open or not. In any event, you will find some snow at the higher elevations you are looking at. The other biggie for early season is the mosquitos. June and at least half of July are the worse months for mosquitos, primarily anywhere close to water. Regarding the Mirror Lake trailhead, the Snow Creek trail probably is the second most bone weary switchback trail in Yosemite (I'm told the toughest is between Pate Valley and Rodgers Canyon). The other reason is that destinations reachable by the Snow Creek trail are easier to get to from Tioga Road such as the North Dome trail.

Late August would guarantee open trails everywhere and the mosquitos are just not an issue. The only downside to late August is considerably reduced water flow, that is, if you are set on seeing roaring rivers.
avatar Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 15, 2011 08:50AM
Quote
tomdisco
The only downside to late August is considerably reduced water flow, that is, if you are set on seeing roaring rivers.

And that, my friends, is one of the reasons June wins by a country mile for this bird. Thank you very much.

Too many are looking at last year and judging by that IMO.

Jay, just pick something. It's all good baby. (ok, for first backpack... you prolly don't want to go up Snow or Yose Falls) wink



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 14, 2011 05:05PM
I'll agree. If I had to choose only one trip to Yosemite, and to choose between June and Late August, August would win by a country mile. True, the waterfalls in the valley won't be so impressive. But the rest of the park will be open and available in August...and much of it could be under snow in June.

Yeah, I've done trips in the snow.

August is better



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 14, 2011 07:33PM
Thanks to both of you for your replies. It looks like we will probably go the week of August 22nd. Any input on other hikes that start off the Tioga Road and end in the valley that would be better than the above Lyell Canyon hike? Thanks again.
Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 14, 2011 08:58PM
We've got a whole section on our website about hikes in Yosemite....yours is a good route, but there are others, notably via Cathedral Lake, and then down through Sunrise and Cloud's Rest...

Cloud's Rest is a much more interesting climb than Half Dome, if you ask my opinion---with better views as well!



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 14, 2011 09:48PM
Quote
hikerjay
Also is there some reason that the most of the popular trailheads(Happy Isle, Cathedral Lakes, Lyell Canyon, Sunrise Lakes) are booked up but the Mirror Lake traihead is hardly booked at all even though you can get to many of the same sites via the loop trail I describe above?

Thanks

Happy Isles-Little Yosemite Valley should be obvious. That fills up with people hoping to make it to Half Dome. 5 miles to LYV, 6 miles round-trip to HD, and 5 miles back to the Valley.

Not sure about the other ones, but I would think that not everyone wants to do a long loop. I'd guess that a lot of the quota is going for short 1-2 night trips. I'm not what a short Miirror Lake backpack would be like.
Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 15, 2011 06:48AM
Lyell Canyon? JMT/PCT, plus, it's a long flat canyon and dead easy, perfect if you have a bunch of kids. Plus it's where fly fishermen try their luck with the river full of trout. Can get to other places from there - trail branches off in a couple spots before you climb Donahue. Vogelsang High Sierra Camp among them.

Cathedral is an approach to Clouds Rest, Half Dome, etc. as well as Sunrise. If you don't get Sunrise on your permit Cathedral is the second choice. Adds a mile or two, slightly different route. Sunrise is the trailhead for Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

If you checked, you'd see that Glacier Point fills too - it's the other trailhead favorite for getting to Little Yosemite Valley, followed by Mono Meadow.

Any more, when I go, I choose other trailheads and nearly always get first come first serve. On a whim I went to join someone on a Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne hike and got one - for Tuesday. I didn't even stand in line to get it and there were four permits left. I'd just come off a Mono Pass backpack, where we were the only ones out there other than a handful of dayhikers.
Re: Help with planning backpacking trip this summer
February 15, 2011 06:54AM
Quote
hikerjay
So I then started looking for a hike that could start in the valley. I came up this loop alternative: start at mirror lake to snow creek trail up to Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest ending at Happy Isle with side trip to top of half dome. I would appreciate some advise on the following subjects:

  1. Which hike would you recommend or maybe a different hike altogether
  2. What time of year is best. I can do early June or Late August
  3. Other issues like trail conditions (will it likely be too soggy in early June), mosquitos, etc

I have a hard time with heat and a lot of sun exposure. This sounds like a hellish first day, unless I started very, very very, early in the morning.

I would start at one of the trailheads off Glacier Point Road, and do a loop from there. By June it should be open. Definitely by late August, everything will be open, and in late August I would start from either Snow Creek trail from Tioga road to get into the trail system and follow the route you describe, or try for walk in permits for some of the more popular trailheads. If you can go midweek and have a small group you have a pretty good chance.
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