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Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip

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Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 12:44PM
Greetings!

I'm planning a backpacking trip in Yosemite and would love some help! I've never backpacked before.

Me and my spouse are looking to plan a week long trip in mid June (about the 11-18). Looking for a variety of scenery, with hikes and backpacking environments that are good/safe for beginners. Would like to be secluded, but do not need to be totally isolated.

Seems like lower elevations spots are good, to avoid snow/cold weather. I was looking at Wawona & Hetch Hetchy. Are these good places for what I'm looking for? The other spots sound either very crowded or too high in elevation. Anyone have an opinion on which they like more (Wawona or Hetch Hetchy)? Or perhaps we could camp in both, spending 3 days in each? Or someplace else?

I know I have to reserve wilderness passes. Starts to get overwhealming which trail to reserve. Can anyone suggest trails to reserve in Wawona & Hetch Hetchy? I've been looking the availability here and trail descriptions from the link on this page.

Sorry I haven't asked very specific questions! Just looking for some tips to point me in the right place, or perhaps trips yall have planned before.

Thanks in advance!
Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 01:04PM
1. do a couple/few one night trips before you do a week. Please, for your comfort and sanity, don't make a week trip your first. You need to figure out gear. It will be a challenge getting all your food, hygiene items, and trash into a bear canister! Give it a try on an overnight trip first. That way if the backpack does not fit right (a good 85% of the time, the first backpack doesn't, especially if you did not bother to measure for size) and you are suffering you can go back the next day and change it out, instead of thinking you need to suffer for a week.

2. Start to hike more - any trip going up in elevation is going to be hard for you unless you are in shape to do it, and the only way to prepare for backpacking is hiking. I organize a very large hiking group full of newbies - we have "killed" many who insist, deny, insist, insist, that they are up to it and fit because they run, bike, work out, etc all the time. Hiking is different. Sometimes people luck out and do well. Many times, they crash and burn, struggle and labor, and sometimes end up turning back for the car. Elevation has unexpected effects on people! Best to go out and try hiking at elevation so you know how you do. High altitude sickness can be fatal. Mild symptoms can make you miserable. Acclimation and preparation are key. I've seen people start to have problems at 6,000 feet...

3. If you want seclusion don't go to Yosemite! The high snow pack will have a whole bunch of folks stuck at snowline - a good 90% of the folks backpacking in Yosemite are lost without a trail, can't navigate without it, and end up camping right where the trail is obscured by snow. Year round, you'll have neighbors one day's travel from any trailhead. Seclusion doesn't happen until day two or three. However, that isn't a bad thing, if you're not yet experienced backpackers.

4. Both the trips you mention involve climbing. Lots of trips in Yosemite do... You will like Hetch Hetchy more if you want scenery and views. Do not count on doing a week if you are not comfortable walking on snow in either location.

You will have a LOT more fun on a week trip in late July or August, because you will have more choices of where to go by then.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/2011 01:05PM by AlmostThere.
Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 01:33PM
Thanks so much for the advice AlmostThere! Sounds like backpacking is too much for us right now...

I started looking into backpacking because all the campsites in Yosemite are full. Do I have any other options?

Maybe I can camp in nearby areas and drive into Yosemite for day trips. Any nearby camping locations you wouldn't mind suggesting?

Thanks!
Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 01:46PM
hmm or maybe death valley or kings canyon are better this time of year...
avatar Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 02:03PM
Quote
bbigelow
hmm or maybe death valley or kings canyon are better this time of year...


There are a huge number of campground sites in the Cedar Grove area.
Also, a good 3-day "bunny backpacking" trip there for you to figuratively get your feet wet would be from Roads End up to Lower Paradise Valley on day 1. Move to Upper Paradise on day 2 and do a dayhike further along the Woods Creek trail. Return to Roads End on day 3.
avatar Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 02:19PM
Cedar Grove. The few times I've been out there. It's like "wow" look at all these sites not being used.

One year started a few days before Labor Day. Place was empty...
Came out ON Labor Day. And it was a ZOO.
Only thing I could think was "dang, there are way too many people having unprotected sex".



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 02:19PM
Cedar Grove and the 3 day hike you suggested sound perfect, thanks!
avatar Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 08:09PM
Quote
bbigelow
Cedar Grove and the 3 day hike you suggested sound perfect, thanks!


FYI:
It's 5.5 miles and 1.6k elevation gain from Roads End to Lower Paradise. (1.4k of that gain is in a 2 mile stretch starting around the 3rd mile of the hike. The elevation at the Roads End trailhead is 5.0k.) It may not sound like much but, as a novice backpacker, you will be overjoyed to see the logjam which signals that you are almost at Lower Paradise. (It's the vertical differential that tires one most readily, not the horizontal distance.)
From Lower Paradise to the bridge crossing at Upper Paradise, it's 2.5 miles and 0.3k el. gain.

This hike is the initial part of the Rae Lakes Loop when done in a CW direction. This webpage is a nice little introduction to that loop:
http://kevingong.com/Hiking/RaeLakesLoop.html
See Day 1 and Day 2 of their hike for an idea of what to expect for your backpack and dayhike. If your stamina holds out on the dayhike, try to make it to the crest where you look down onto Castle Dome Meadow.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/2011 04:42AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 25, 2011 01:03AM
Quote
bbigelow
Thanks so much for the advice AlmostThere! Sounds like backpacking is too much for us right now...

I started looking into backpacking because all the campsites in Yosemite are full. Do I have any other options?

Maybe I can camp in nearby areas and drive into Yosemite for day trips. Any nearby camping locations you wouldn't mind suggesting?

Thanks!

If you're thinking about backpacking only because you can't reserve a campsite within Yosemite, there are other possible solutions.

While I don't think any of the first-come first-serve campgrounds inside Yosemite National Park (except for Camp 4 inside the Valley) will be opened in time for your mid-June visit, there are probably still a number of reservable campsites in a number of different campgrounds within the National Forests (Stanislaus, Sierra, Inyo) that surround Yosemite National Park that might be available for your visit. Also a number of National Forest campgrounds have first-come first-serve campsites that you could land if your arrive early enough at the campground. Plus, dispersed camping is also an option at these nearby National Forests that surround Yosemite.

To see if any of these National Forest campgrounds have sites available near Yosemite for your dates, just go to recreaton.gov campground reservation site (http://www.recreation.gov/campgroundSearchResult.do?topTabIndex=CampingSpot) and enter Yosemite's Zip Code, 95389, in the City/Zip Code field and the date of your arrival, plus your length of stay.

And as I mentioned above, dispersed camping is another viable option available in these three National Forests, if all the reservable campsites have been already reserved and all the first-come, first-service campsites have been filled on your day of arrival.
avatar Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 02:14PM
Avoid Yosemite.

It's nearly impossible to find seclusion.

Signed,
(PullingYourLegSoHardItHurts)
Chick-on is looking at you!



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 24, 2011 02:37PM
Quote
chick-on
Avoid Yosemite.

It's nearly impossible to find seclusion.

Signed,
(PullingYourLegSoHardItHurts)
Chick-on is looking at you!

If you want to go where no one else is, follow the pink chicken.
Re: Newbie seeking advice planning June backpacking trip
May 25, 2011 09:01AM
You can forget hiking in the high country of Yosemite June 11-18. Tioga Road probably won't even be open and the trails with be buried in snow. That would include Clouds Rest, Youngs Lake, 10 Lakes Basin and anything out of Sunrise.

You can hike on the Valley Floor... the Four Mile Trail is the gold standard of hikes there, IMO.
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