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Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please

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East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 08:53AM
Hi everyone,

My wife and i and our two boys 13 and 11 will be staying in Lee Vining the last week in June. We'll be doing some 4X4 exploring of the desert areas east of Mono Lake, and will have at most 4 days to do some great dayhikes in the area.

I realize whichever we do will be unforgettable, but of course I want to provide "overwhelming" experiences for the kids to convince them that hikes are more fun than amusement parks. :-) I feel some pride in them after having asked what they liked best about our trip last year to Smokey Mountain NP. They both mentioned the hikes - and had totally forgotten about Dollywood! A consideration is also to find a good variety (Sierra Poo-Poo Platter). We'll have just come from a week on the west side of Yosemite and done the usual suspects over there, and hopefully hit Lembert Dome on the way over.

One day, weather permitting, will be dedicated to Mt Dana for my oldest son and me, while my wife and youngest shop or do whatever one does at Mammoth Mountain. That leaves three days for dayhiking with the whole family. I've found what I could online about the area, and have somewhat narrowed it down to the following (I know these vary in difficulty).

In Yosemite, Glen Aulin, Parker Pass, Cathedral Lakes and Gaylor Peak all look appealing, and outside there is Saddlebag Lakes, Lundy Canyon, Virginia Lakes, and Little Lakes Valley. What three to choose? Of course any other suggestions would be welcome!

Right now I’m thinking of seeing how Glen Aulin, Saddlebag Lake and Little Lakes Valley woks out, but really I have no idea. I always tend to like restaurants with small menus, and this buffet is too much of a spread for me!

Thanks for any help!
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 08:57AM
Gaylor lakes is nice, right by the entrance to Yosemite. It's a steep uphill for a short distance, then rewards galore. The hike to Rainbow Falls in Red's meadow near mammoth is another good one.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2011 08:58AM by hotrod4x5.
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 09:04AM
Thanks hotrod. I forgot to mention that I'm planning for these to be "all day" affairs, we'll spend around 8 hours in whichever area we choose, roaming around if we have extra time.
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 09:35AM
Gaylor Lakes and Glen Aulin (the valley, not the High Sierra Camp; the W end will still have some flooding at that time this year but, if you wade through, the falls/cascades downriver should be roaring quite nicely) from your list.

You might also want to consider going to Indian Rock & North Dome from the Porcupine Flat trailhead if you can schedule things on your way eastbound along the Tioga Road.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2011 10:25AM by szalkowski.
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 09:57AM
Just walking around Tuolumne Meadows is good for a day. Climb Lembert/Pothole domes, go to Little Devil's Postpile, visit Soda Springs (don't forget a little fruit punch drink mix to make your own soda), count the complacent deer grazing here and there. Visit Dog Lake.
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 03:28PM
Last July 4, we stayed in Toulumne Meadows, and did three different days of hiking.

Day 1: Lembert Dome, Little Devil's Postpile, bridge, back down the backpackers trail on the east side of the river, and a little hiking around the meadow. It was nice. It was fairly secluded along the west side of the river. There was some scrambling, a little snow, and lots of wet wet wet meadows filled with mosquitoes. Some in our group loved it (me) and some hated it (our friend).

Day 2: Short hike down the JMT to the Dana Fork to visit my smiling rock (see my profile pic) and hike around along the river. Then we drove down to Lee Vining for lunch. After lunch, we headed up to Gaylor Lakes. There was a lot of snow at the top, and we didn't feel appropriately dressed to go much past the upper Gaylor Lake. But it was a really nice hike that I'd like to do again. I liked the switch between granite and volcanic rock at the top.

Day 3: Porcupine Flat to Indian Arch and then to North Dome. Absolutely my favorite hike that I've done in the Sierras ever. Lots of great views. Forests, domes, rocks, trees, meadows. It has it all. It's fairly well-traveled, so you'll never really be alone, but it's not jam-packed with people. Also, remember, we were there over a holiday weekend. I never felt annoyed by the number of people on the trail with us, and that says a lot, considering how much I hate people. ;-)

If I were going to make a suggestions, I'd do the North Dome hike. From the top of North Dome, you get an unforgettable photo-opp of Half Dome. That alone is worth the trek, IMO.
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 07:32PM
North Dome is one of my favorite hikes also. I'm not sure it beats Clouds Rest, but it's shorter and less strenuous. The views from the summit are awesome.

Good vantage point from which to examine Staircase Falls and the Ledge Trail, too...

http://bit.ly/izYqyJ
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 01:35PM
In the Tuolumne area, Mono Pass is nice too, especially if you keep going towards Sardine Lake. You get a great view of Mono lake and see some neat flowers and wild vegetation as well as cabins and mining remnants. I've done Vogelsang as a day hike and wouldn't really recommend it unless you are training or acclimating. Good hike, but scenery wise not thrilling. Always wanted to get to Waterwheel Falls via Glen Aulin, and plan to do that hike finally this July.

I love the Virginia Lakes area and have fond memories of camping and hiking there when I was a kid. It doesn't seem to get a lot of love, but I think the hiking is fantastic and I quite enjoy the ambiance the area has to offer. The resort there is pretty strict with its rules (parking especially), but I always remember eating pie at their little restaurant. The service can be spotty there, but it is a great stop after a day of hiking. A stroll around the lake is nice after tackling the larger hikes. A couple of years ago I read the story about how the resort came to be and found it very interesting. It is called "I Caught a Fisherman" by J. Anita Foster, in case anyone is interested.

Here is link to descriptions of the hikes in the area as well as a hiking map (very basic, a better map would be useful if hiking):

http://www.virginialakesresort.com/hikingtrails.htm

The whole area is fantastic and anyplace you decide on should be great!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2011 01:38PM by robinjayp.
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 04:29PM
You are assuming that the Tioga road will be open. It should open sometime in mid or late June.Snow packs have been 200% of normal. Keep checking the Yosemite road plowing reports. Definitely visit the Bodie ghost town and the Mono Lake tufa areas. You can even canoe or kayak on Mono Lake. Also, mountain bike riding at Mammoth is fun and skiing may still be going on. At Tuolumne Meadows, evening walks along the river have great views. Don't miss climbing Lambret Dome and the hike to the Gaylor Lakes (There were icebergs on them when I was there).A lttle fatherly advice. Don't just hike every day - kids need variety and remember you are at 9,000 feet and plan for lots of mosquitos.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2011 04:32PM by gtbhiker.
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 04:42PM
My choices would be:

One day----LembertDome/Dog Lake plus Gaylor.
One day----Cathedral Lakes.
One day----May Lake plus Saddlebag Lake.
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 04:53PM
Quote
gtbhiker
You are assuming that the Tioga road will be open. It should open sometime in mid or late June.

I'd bet on late June at best. Might be July this year.
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 05:02PM
A note about the Gaylor Lakes trail...it's only about 2 miles to the first lake, which is Middle Gaylor. Don't stop there. You can also hike up the dreek to Upper Gaylor...and also do a lovely cross country walk over to Granite Lakes as well. You could easily spend a day wandering around in this area!

And the trail to Elizabeth Lake is also very nice--particularly if you follow it up past the lake and into the Cathedral Range...explore this area! The fishing for brookies in Elizabeth Lake can be pretty good...



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 21, 2011 09:46PM
As someone already mentioned, the ghost town of Bodie is worth a visit.

Also, for a change of pace and scenery, you might consider driving south on US-395 and then up to the Schulman and Patriarch Groves of Bristlecone Pines up in the White Mountains near Bishop and hike some of the trails through the groves. It would be roughly a two hour drive from Lee Vining to the Schulman Grove. And since you're into 4x4 exploring, if you do visit the Bristlecone Pines groves I would recommend coming down from the White Mountains via Silver Canyon Road instead of White Mountain Road and Hwy 168 (better than an E-ticket ride at Disneyland).
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 06:45AM
The June Lake Loop offers a way to get up into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. My neighbors did the Rush Creek hike a couple years ago. Here's their report on it: http://travelswithbillandnancy.com/hik_2009-06-30.htm
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 07:46AM
My husband and I did Glen Aulin/Waterwheel Falls in June of 2006. Spectacular! The next year, it was a lot drier, and my family camped in Tuolumne instead of the valley in June. We hiked to Glen Aulin and although I was disappointed with the water volume, my sis, her husband and three boys really enjoyed the walk along the Tuolumne and the falls. My nephews were a few years older than your sons. The other hikes we did that year were Lembert Dome (twice) and Mount Hoffman (would be more difficult this year snow wise.) My husband and I did Mount Dana then too, but nobody else was interested.

A few years earlier, we took the nephews up to the Great Sierra Mine. I would suggest a loop...first Gaylor Peak, drop down then ascend past the upper Gaylor Lake to the mine area, cut across to the Granite Lakes, then head back towards the largest Gaylor Lake and out. A nice loop. Hopefully not too snowy.

Last year, we backpacked with a young man (17 years old) and after our hike we visited Bodie and he really enjoyed that.

The 20 Lakes Basin out of Saddlebag Lake is a great loop too. Still may be issues with snow?

I have hiked with my nephews all over Yosemite since they were born and they have enjoyed everything. Hope to introduce them, as young men, to some new hikes (for them) out of Tuolumne this summer.

(My nephews were very young the last time we visited Little Lakes. I have been trying to use examples that I have hiked with boys/young men... smiling smiley I can't really remember any disappointments.)

(Yes, gtbhiker, they will be skiing at Mammoth until July 4...got an additional 30"+ in May, so far, of snow...)
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 08:22AM
The Twenty Lakes Basin loop remains one of my favorite day hikes EVER.

http://www.alpiner.net/FUN/Mountains/Twenty-Lakes-Basin-hike/9088708_LSBNj#606435240_pZQGS
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 02:19PM
Thanks everyone for your input, it is much appreciated! Feedback on forums like this is so valuable for “foreigners” like me. Hiking books for the area seem maddeningly averse to rating the hikes in comparison to each other. Take North Dome – from reading about it in various hiking books it comes off as a forest slog until the end, but itchbay it is nice to know it can rate up there as someone’s favorite Sierra hike!

20 lakes basin sounds like a winner and the Saddlebag Lake Resort is shooting for a July 10th opening, so we may have a longer and hopefully more secluded day. All of these hikes will be good to know in some detail as I may be finding my first choices too snowy. Seems like Gaylor Peak would be a good backup for my older son and me, should Mt Dana be too hairy, since we’ll be getting dropped off for the day.
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 04:58PM
In fact, my neighbors also took an extended trip to that area last fall, including Rock Creek Canyon, Little Lakes Valley, Bodie, Mono Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Devil's Postpile, Ediza Lake, Hot Creek Fish Hatchery, Petroglyphs near Bishop, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Alabama Hills and parts of Death Valley including Telescope Peak. Photos and details at http://travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.htm
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 07:22PM
Heh. But I like forest slogs!
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 22, 2011 09:01PM
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 23, 2011 09:24AM
Quote
qumqats
click on the thumbnails to go to a couple of Gigapans I took from North Dome.

Looking across Tenaya Canyon from North Dome at the face of Yosemite's Half Dome



Looking west at Yosemite Valley from atop North Dome

These types of shots never cease to amaze me! I can't believe how much you can zoom in when you used a small point and shoot camera. So I guess you have the gigapan rig? Or is there a way to do these without? I mean, I know I can do a stitched pano with my DSLR, but can you use any image and upload to the gigapan site?
Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 23, 2011 10:24AM
Zoom in enough on the gigapan view of Half Dome and you can see at least 2 (and possibly a few more...wasn't sure about all of them) people climbing up the face. Really great shot...I could probably spend at least 30 or 40 min panning around this one picture.

I agree, by the way, that the view of Half Dome from North Dome is just stunning (and far more imposing than the unzoomed gigapan image might imply)!
avatar Re: East Yosemite area dayhikes - opinions please
May 23, 2011 01:36PM
Wow. I just lost half an hour on that image! So amazing.

We were on North Dome last year on July 4. We ate lunch surrounded by about 25 other people, all spread out. We all enjoyed looking down on the never-ending stream of cars we saw on the Valley roads, and imaging how crowded the pizza parlor was.
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