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Re: yosemite april 2 to 6

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yosemite april 2 to 6
February 26, 2011 11:56AM
Hello,
We are 2 Canadians who only have 3,5 days to explore yosemite. We will be driving in from san francisco on the 2nd, if you don't have a better mean of transportation to suggest, and we have to be back in SF for supper on the 6. We are both fairly experienced hikers. We are interested in backpacking but from what I read the temperatures are in the 30' at night and we are not interested in carrying all our winter camping gear. Is this temperature accurate for the valley? If it's too cold for camping, we would be interested in good day hikes? I read about the cables on half dome but is it possible to climb without the cables? Do you need an ice axe and crampons? Is the hike worth it without the summit? Do we need snoeshoes? Any other interesting hikes that would be in lower altitudes without snow? And finally, any suggestions of cheap places to stay?
Thanks
Marc
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 26, 2011 04:17PM
It can be very cold in early April, I would count on it.
There will be snow all over the place, maybe not so much on the valley floor but certainly most everywhere above about 5000'.
Tioga Road will be closed as will Glacier Point Road. The Road to Hetch Hetchy will be open as it is plowed for access to the dam there.

One full day just checking out the valley is a minuimum.
You can rent skis or snowshoes for the day and trek out Glacier Point Road from Badger Pass or do any of the winter trails around there.
One day going to Hetch Hetch and hiking out to Wapama Falls is time well spent.
A couple of hours can be and should be spent hiking down to the big trees at the Tuolumne Grove near Crane Flat. You may need snowshoes for this.

If you plan to camp there will be sites on the valley floor at Camp Four more than likely or you can try to reserve a room at the lodge. There is also camping at the Wawona Campground I believe. Also plenty of rooms available at motels on 140 just outside the park.

Others will offer suggestions here soon.



Old Dude
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 26, 2011 04:27PM
Half Dome is legal to climb when the cables are down and no permit is required (unlike when they're up). It's not advisable though. I read one report from a family that had done it. It involved leaning over and trying to grab onto the cables as they pretty much laid flat against the rock. I've heard of two fatalities (when the cables were down) in the last five years, and there frankly aren't that many people attempting it. The cables are laid down at the end of the season because avalanches can damage the stanchions. It should be pretty obvious that the conditions can include can include ice and/or slush until they feel the conditions warrant placing the stanchions back in place. It might be possible to do it with crampons and ice axes in the dead of winter. One report was that one of the people who died had her body removed by personnel with such equipment (and ropes) from Tenaya Canyon where her body had slid a few thousand feet.

So the short answer is that it probably wouldn't be worth it trying to go up Half Dome this time of year.

There's plenty to see in Yosemite without backpacking if you're not keen on hauling cold weather gear.

One cheap place to stay is the Best Western Yosemite Way Station in Mariposa. There's also Yosemite Bug, which has cabins and some hostel accomodations.

http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/productInfo.do?propertyCode=05440&srcPage=SelectHotel&isMapOpen=true&selectedHotels=
http://www.yosemitebug.com

There was also some Curry Village tent cabin special.

http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,32266



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/2011 09:03PM by y_p_w.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 08:39AM
A few comments:

Badger Pass may be closed then. When it closes you can't drive beyond 41/GP road junction.
Normally it closes the end of March... with this years snowpack it may still be open when you visit.
Don't count on it though.

Regarding Half Dome:
"they pretty much laid flat against the rock" - this is a major exaggeration...
In early April, depending on the year, you would be able to either have nearly no issue going up
or have sheets of snow on ice on the cables themselves and the subdome entirely covered
in snow and requiring crampons to ascent. Much depends on how recently it has snowed
prior to you going up there. I've seen it free and clear in early April and also with snow and
ice sheets on nearly 1/4 of the route.
That being said... I wouldn't recommend even trying.
Instead just go up to the top of Nevada Falls and enjoy the day without worry.
If you decide to backpack or hike to Little Yosemite Valley for whatever reason... take the
north trail... it will be free of snow before the southern one...

30 shouldn't be cold to a Canadian... smiling smiley

There's lots o stuff to check out ... hike all the trails in the valley in your time...
Yosemite Falls
Snow Creek
Bridalveil Fall
Vernal/Nevada Falls
Go to the Mariposa Grove

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 01:00PM
Quote
chick-on
Regarding Half Dome:
"they pretty much laid flat against the rock" - this is a major exaggeration...
In early April, depending on the year, you would be able to either have nearly no issue going up
or have sheets of snow on ice on the cables themselves and the subdome entirely covered
in snow and requiring crampons to ascent. Much depends on how recently it has snowed
prior to you going up there. I've seen it free and clear in early April and also with snow and
ice sheets on nearly 1/4 of the route.
That being said... I wouldn't recommend even trying.

That didn't come out right. What I meant was that they climbed up the cables while the **cables** were laid down flat against the rock. I realize that the cables will lift up to some degree, and the impression I got from a trip report is that using the cables that way means leaning over a lot more than when the stanchions are in place.

Of course most people wouldn't recommend climbing the cables due to the variability of conditions. If they're not frozen in ice, I think it might be possible to clip oneself to the cables, which I think are in three or four sections. It would be one heck of a stop. The other concern I could think of if there's still snow is that the way up to the subdome could be slippery.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 02:04PM
Ah... makes sense... yes, the cables lie right on the ground and you have to pick them up.
And they are heavy.

Here's the view from the top-ish:


We talked a bit about the dome here and I posted pix early.
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,25438,25438#msg-25438

If I ever went up again with the cables "down" I'd wear a harness and clip in via a prussick or some other means.
(if you didn't have an autoblock then I wouldn't count on your gear holding you as you careen down to where
it's tied in... pretty sure it's 3 sections)

Early April this yr prob. gonna look the same as mid-last year (see that thread for a picture).



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 06:26PM
Thanks for all the advice
I think we will be staying away from half dome
Suggestions for day hikes (6-8h) that will be clear of snow?
What are the temperatures in the valley at night if were lucky? unlucky? There probably won't be snow in the valley right?

Is april a bad time of the year for yosemite? I will have other occasions in the future, should I come back another time of the year and use this april california trip to hit death valley?
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 07:01PM
Possibly five years ago, third Sunday in April, I drove over Carson Pass behind a CHP escort...they were going to let us over, then close the pass the rest of the day for avalanche control. The next day, skiing at Mammoth...the mountain shut down early because of a 2000' wide avalanche starting on Climax, extending towards Dave's. So...no guarantees.

Someone suggested Nevada Falls as a day hike. Last year, last weekend in March, I camped in Littlle Yosemite (6200'). It was mostly snow covered there, but I did find a bare patch of earth so I wasn't on snow (this year's wetter...last year featured a really cold April and May). Most of that can be done as a day hike to Nevada Falls, which I'd highly recommend. Bring mini-crampons/stabilicers/whatever, there was a section of exposed ice along the way. But a Merced River surrounded by snow, with lots of water in it, dropping over Nevada Falls, is worth a visit. Especially, as I saw it, without a cloud in the sky.

I wouldn't really look for completely clear of snow in early April outside the Valley or along Hetch Hetchy. But if you haven't been...the Valley's spectacular, and early April won't be as crowded as summer.

Edit: re-read your last paragraph...it really depends upon what you want to see in Yosemite. The high country would be open if you came back during summer, the falls in the valley would be higher in May/June...I haven't found a bad time to visit so far, but there are major differences in what you'd see in different seasons.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2011 07:04PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 07:07PM
Quote
marc.fortin
What are the temperatures in the valley at night if were lucky? unlucky? There probably won't be snow in the valley right?

Is april a bad time of the year for yosemite? I will have other occasions in the future, should I come back another time of the year and use this april california trip to hit death valley?


Here is a graph showing the min. temperature in the valley for the last 2 years:
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/jspplot/jspPlotServlet.jsp?sensor_no=13363&end=12%2F31%2F2010+18%3A40&geom=medium&interval=730&cookies=cdec01
(Scroll down the page to view the graph.)

Unlikely to be any snow on the valley floor at that time (unless you are really unlucky and a freakish storm rolls through right before you come). You can monitor the weather forecast for the valley using this link:
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=37.74682893940135&lon=-119.58892822265625&site=hnx&smap=1&unit=0&lg=en&FcstType=text

Go to Yosemite, April should be fine in the valley. Besides, it's a real hassle to get to Death Valley from the Bay Area during the winter because most of the mountain passes are closed and the best way to drive there would be to go around the south side of the Sierra (through Bakersfield)... approx. 550 miles.

Added note: you can monitor the valley floor conditions by viewing the Ahwahnee Meadow webcam:
http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/webcams



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2011 07:11PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 27, 2011 07:18PM
Quote
marc.fortin
Thanks for all the advice
I think we will be staying away from half dome
Suggestions for day hikes (6-8h) that will be clear of snow?
What are the temperatures in the valley at night if were lucky? unlucky? There probably won't be snow in the valley right?

Is april a bad time of the year for yosemite? I will have other occasions in the future, should I come back another time of the year and use this april california trip to hit death valley?

I don't know if there's any real decent longish day hikes that would be completely free of snow. I suppose maybe the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail will be mostly free of snow, but maybe with varying amounts of snow at the higher elevations. I've done it with real snow, and didn't consider it that bad. The only problem was a combination of slush and sand that made things difficult on the way down. On the way up, gravity helped with control, but I slipped a few times on the way down. My feet just sort of slid out a few times as I walked down.

I think April will be fine. That should be when snowmelt is picking up (waterfalls), but visitation isn't up to peak season numbers. It's still going to be cold, but you can deal with that. Were you thinking of frontcountry camping or backpacking?

Also - April will be pretty warm in Death Valley, but probably not summer insanely hot. I think that's a good time for wildflowers.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 28, 2011 01:09PM
For the best of both, do Death Valley in April and Yosemite in June or July, which will pretty well give you total park access without seing any snow except at the very highest elevations. Just my opinion if you have the option of two trips to California. Actually, if I had the option of two trips to California, both would take me to Yosemite.
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
February 28, 2011 03:24PM
I'm not sure what it'll be like in April but one of the less-publicized hikes that I think is quite lovely (and, I would expect it to be at least largely snow-free in April) is to the top of Chilnualna Falls down in the Wawona area. There's a lot I love about this hike:
* Even though you gain about 2700', you do it mostly quite gradually so, even if you're unaccustomed to higher altitudes, this one won't get you huffing and puffing like Darth Vader.
* You'll pass through almost every type of scenery available in Yosemite (except Giant Sequoias but when you get back down, you're only about 6 or 7 miles from the Mariposa Grove).
* There are stunning views of the Wawona Basin almost the whole way up.
* You have a lot of options for how far you can continue going once you're at the top.

Depending on your hiking speed, this can easily be a 6-8 hour hike if you go beyond the top of the falls and dally around up in that area.

If you DO go to the Mariposa Grove (and I strongly recommend you do), be aware that there's an upper and a lower grove. The famous Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree are both in the lower grove and most tourists huff and puff their way to them (they're right next to each other) and then turn around. The Giant IS a magnificent tree even if it seems like it is entering its final years (or, more likely, final centuries) but these days I usually head straight for the upper grove where, except for the busiest times of year, you'll see a lot fewer people. For an added dose of privacy, bypass the lower grove via the old stage coach which leaves from the upper left portion of the parking lot (i.e., if you have your back to the entrance road and straight ahead is 12 oclock, the old stage road is at about 10 or 11 o'clock). The road itself is a beautiful step back in time and I've never seen more than a handful of people on it. I believe it's called the outer loop on the trail maps but I wouldn't swear to that off the top of my head.

The Four Mile trail is one of my favorite hikes out of the Valley (although, like most of the south-rim hikes, it'll probably have snow and ice in April) but I also recommend the hike to Yosemite Falls. And don't blow-off the Valley Loop trail just because it's flat (I'm not saying you WOULD but I skipped it for several years because it was "too easy"winking smiley)...you'll see stuff on this route that you'll never notice from your car.

Everybody's got their favorite hikes in the Park and, I suspect, most of us who have been there many times probably base our "favoriteness" on how few people you'll see but, in general, April won't be too crowded and, hell, there's a REASON why so many people flock to the Valley every year...every square foot of it is STUNNING! Don't be afraid to explore the places that everybody else goes to (I even did the tram-ride around the Valley tour the first time I was there and came home with such beautiful pictures that I couldn't wait to get back. I've now been going back regularly for several years (even though I live in NJ)). There are more and less demanding hikes in Yosemite, there are some that are best at certain times of year but there are no bad hikes and I can't imagine you'll feel like you wasted your time no matter which ones you do.

Please take lots of pictures and share them here!

--David
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 01, 2011 01:59PM
There is some info and a map of Mariposa Grove on the National Park Service website: Mariposa Grove It's about 2 miles from the South Entrance to the MG parking lot, and it's highly likely that this road will be closed but walkable.

We were in Yosemite in early April 2009. One day it was about 70° and sunny, and the next day it was spitting snow. Expect anything.

One more lodging idea: a condo in Yosemite West. I don't think it's exactly "cheap", but it's a good value since you can prepare all your own meals. Scenic Wonders rents quite few.
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 06:50PM
Thanks for all the info. I have a couple of last minute questions. We will be in yosemite from april 2 in the afternoon to april 6 at noon! We have 3 full days in the area and 2 days that will be spent in part travelling from and back to san francisco.We have decided to pack our camping gear.

We are interested in 4 different day hikes : nevada fall, upper yosemite fall, mariposa grove and chilnualna falls. Will there be any problem driving to the access for these trails with a compact car?

Can we hike to nevada falls and camp at lower yosemite valley? Is it early enough in the season for us to get last minute wilderness permits?

Where can we do an overnight hike? I read on an other forum people talking about wawona dome but I don't see any trails leading there on maps but it seems near chilnualna falls...

Should we bring snowshoes?

What campgrounds do you suggest in the valley?
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 07:12PM
Quote
marc.fortin
Thanks for all the info. I have a couple of last minute questions. We will be in yosemite from april 2 in the afternoon to april 6 at noon! We have 3 full days in the area and 2 days that will be spent in part travelling from and back to san francisco.We have decided to pack our camping gear.

We are interested in 4 different day hikes : nevada fall, upper yosemite fall, mariposa grove and chilnualna falls. Will there be any problem driving to the access for these trails with a compact car?

Can we hike to nevada falls and camp at lower yosemite valley? Is it early enough in the season for us to get last minute wilderness permits?

Where can we do an overnight hike? I read on an other forum people talking about wawona dome but I don't see any trails leading there on maps but it seems near chilnualna falls...

Should we bring snowshoes?

What campgrounds do you suggest in the valley?

I recommend you visit the current conditions page at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm or call the park.

The recent series of storms have hit the park hard. They are recovering quickly (restoring power, opening roads) but you should know what's most current right before you come. I would assume the campgrounds would re-open by then but I do not know (nor does anyone else for that matter) what the weather will do next. Double check about the necessity for snow chains and check with the rental agency on whether they allow you to put snow cables on your rental car, if that is what you are driving.

You would inquire at the wilderness office in the valley about permits and conditions on the trails around the valley, and about camping in little yosemite valley - FYI, little yosemite is a no camping zone outside the area they designate, you can ask the ranger for details. The ranger will give you the most current information on trail closures due to winter conditions.

You won't have a problem with driving to chilnualna falls trailhead, most likely. Mariposa Grove road is closed, you will have to park at the 41 park gate in the lot up the hill from the restroom (not at the restroom, you'll get a ticket) and walk two miles to the grove. Whether you take snowshoes is up to you - we have done Mariposa Grove with snow on the road, with and without snowshoes. The snow tends to be well packed down by the foot traffic it gets. As for the rest of the park's trails... there will be snow at the top of chilnualna falls trail, and anywhere else above 7,000 feet. It will probably be wet and/or muddy where there isn't snow.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 07:13PM
Quote
marc.fortin
Where can we do an overnight hike? I read on an other forum people talking about wawona dome but I don't see any trails leading there on maps but it seems near chilnualna falls...

Should we bring snowshoes?

Wawona Dome is, basically, at the top of the Mariposa Grove. You're hiking roads, which will largely be under snow. Here's a picture from the top, taken in mid-January:



The week following next weekend...yes, I'd take snowshoes (and stablicers/yaktrax/etc. for the lower part of the road, which will be closed to vehicles).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2011 07:14PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 07:25PM
It should still be self registration for permits at that time. In the winter with snow all over the place you can camp pretty much anywhere as long as you have traveled at least the minimum distance from the trailhead.
Absolutely bring snowshoes and be ready for more snowfall.



Old Dude
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 07:35PM
Quote
mrcondron
the minimum distance from the trailhead.
Absolutely bring snowshoes and be ready for more snowfall.

On that particular hike, the minimum distance is above the "Clothespin Tree". Camping allowed until April 15.

Winter Backpacking in Yosemite

Left the last sentence in the quote just to restate...
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 28, 2011 10:52AM
If this is your first visit to Yosemite, let me strongly recommend for an all day hike to do the complete Yosemite Valley loop trail from east to west then back. It's mostly flat, it's easy, and it's drop-dead spectacular. And you will hardly run into many other park visitors west of Swinging Bridge (except around El Cap Meadow and around Bridalveil Falls).
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 08:58PM
Wawona Dome is very near Upper Chilnualna Fall. Wawona Point Vista is at the far end of Mariposa Grove. Check the NPS Yosemite map and the info about Mariposa Grove for details.
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 27, 2011 11:03PM
Marc,
I would not recommend to take Half Dome hike in April. Besides, the cables, is a life saver, are not up yet.
Camp 4 is a first come bases for climbers. It is $5 per night. Going to be cold and wet though. Watch out for your equipemnt, it can be taken by other campers. Not expected to be crowded though, because it is too early and too cold for them to climb, but there may be some boulderiers though. Go to this wesite for accommodation: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
If camping be too cold for you, try Curry Village tent cabins with heaters.
Be sure to have lunch at the Ahwanhnee Hotel and even a beer at the porch.
Highway 120 will be your best bit to get in. Tioga Pass (Hwy.120 to high country , like Tenaya Lake) is closed until the snow is gone. With the storm he had, it will be awhile.
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 28, 2011 07:42AM
Quote
paulgan@comcast.net
Marc,
I would not recommend to take Half Dome hike in April. Besides, the cables, is a life saver, are not up yet.

Where did he say anything about Half Dome?

www.yosemitepark.com for reservations for tent cabins, the ahwahnee, and anything other than the campgrounds....
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
March 28, 2011 10:43AM
Quote
paulgan@comcast.net

Camp 4 is a first come bases for climbers.

Huh? Camp 4 is for everyone, though it is very popular with rock climbers.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/28/2011 10:53AM by plawrence.
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
April 20, 2011 06:50AM
Back from California. Great time.
Afternoon walk around the valley when we got there. Hiked up to upper yosemite valley than traveled to the north dome and back at the other hand of the valley. Great weather, nobody, amazing time. Walked around Mariposa Groove. Hike up Chilnualna Falls.
Thanks for all the advice.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
April 20, 2011 08:00AM
Wow. Nice. I presume you mean Upper Yosemite Falls and to North Dome and back down the falls.
That's pretty impressive in the winter. Did you go out onto the Dome itself?
Few go beyond Yosemite Pt. in winter. Certainly have never seen anyone.

Glad you had fun
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
April 20, 2011 10:50AM
Glad you had a great trip. How does it compare to the wilderness in Canada?
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
April 21, 2011 03:11PM
Canada is very beautiful too and open, but I find very little compared to Yosemite.
avatar Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
April 21, 2011 03:36PM
Quote
Sherry
Canada is very beautiful too and open, but I find very little compared to Yosemite.


Try Banff and Jasper for starters:
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/jasper/index.aspx



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2011 03:41PM by szalkowski.
Re: yosemite april 2 to 6
April 22, 2011 10:40AM
I stand corrected. OK, I need to make a trip to Banff and Jasper.
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