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Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations

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Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 28, 2011 09:25PM
Hi!

This is my very first post here. I've been reading others' and have gotten some great tips, but I thought I'd cut to the chase (or at least the chase that I'm interested in). Some unexpected downtime at work opened up during the July 4 week, and I'd like to do some solo backpacking in Yose some or all of July 2-10. Never been before. I'm fit and conservatively estimate my hiking ability as intermediate.

Since I didn't know that I was going to have this time off until a few days ago, I haven't had time to really plan things and figure out all the intricacies of staying in Yose. (But I do have the gear on hand.) It seems a bit complicated and painful to figure out the logistics of obtaining a permit in a place that will be hikeable, given the high snow coverage and my ignorance about how this whole permit system works. Without a reservation for a wilderness permit, what's the best thing to do? Should I just drive up (I'm in LA) on July 2 and try to find a place in one of the Wilderness areas outside of Yose to stay the first night and then wait in line for a permit the next day? Or maybe just start hiking from outside of Yose where I assume it's easier to get a permit and then hike into Yose?

Since I haven't seen the park at all, I would love some guidance about less traveled, scenic areas that are passable and some of the details about how to get started. From what I've read here it seems that many of the areas around Tuolomne are completely out of the question next week. I'm thinking a 3-4 day trip (under 30 miles). And maybe one or two overnighters after that. I'm not sure I want to do a 7 or 8 day trek somewhere that I've never been before.

And how can I find out about the shuttle? Do people often hike one way and catch a shuttle back to their starting point? Just haven't been able to figure this out on my own yet.

I'm really grateful for any advice, and I'm sure I'll have follow up questions!

Thanks!
Tim
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 04:35AM
Do you like snow? Can you navigate across it safely? What about really high and forceful water crossings?

If the answers are no, no, no, you may find a couple of nights out, but a trip of that duration probably isn't possible for you right now.

I wouldn't advise making a first backpack a solo OR a week long endeavor. Make it a few overnights interspersed with front country touristing. If you mean it's the first time in the park... you'd be missing a lot not spending time driving the pass or walking around the valley.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 08:02PM
tdg,

First of all, if you have not done it already go to http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm , on the left of the page click on Plan Your Visit, then click on Things To Do, then click on Backpacking. At this point you will find all kinds of subheadings including trail descriptions, wilderness permits, food storage, regs, etc.

I know you are anxious to get out backpacking but if you have never been to the park before you really need to spend a couple days touring Yosemite Valley, driving to the Mariposa Grove, and driving to Washburn Point and Glacier Point. The views from Washburn and Glacier will take your breath away and begin to give you a feel for the immensity of the park. You will be looking at probably only 20% of the park from that vantage point. In the distance you will see some of the high country mountain range more accessible from Tioga Road and Toulumne Meadows trailheads that start out at altitudes similar to the the top of Half Dome right in front of you.

The next step is doing some day hikes from the Valley and off Glacier Point Road. Two hikes highly recommended from the Valley are Yosemite Falls and the Mist Trail that goes up past Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. The latter two falls will be seen from Washburn Point just to the right of Half Dome. This is actually the John Muir trail and leads to Little Yosemite Valley, Merced Lake, and many sites beyond and higher. To the left of Half Dome will be North Dome, Basket Dome, and the infamous Tenaya Canyon. Above the canyon and well out of site is Tenaya Lake beside Tioga Road. Approximately 2 miles back on the Glacier Point Road are the trailheads to Sentinel Dome in one direction and Taft Point & The Fissures in the other direction. Both are rather short day hikes. Sentinel Dome will provide one of the best top down views you can get of Yosemite Falls. Taft Point overlooks El Capitan across the the mouth of the Valley.

After all that you should drive up the entire length of Tioga Road to Toulumne Meadows and Tioga Pass just to check out the area. Find the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Permit station for future reference. There are a multitude of possible day hikes from this area that may or may not run into snow. Most anything above 8,800' is probably going to have some snow, especially in the trees.

Last but not least, you really need some good trail maps. I personally prefer the semi-waterproof Natl Geo Trails Illustrated Maps. They make one that covers the entire park but the detail is too small. They also make 4 separate maps of the same area, each one covering a quadrant of the park and with much more useful trail detail. Map # 306 covers Yosemite Valley & Wawona, # 307 covers Hetch hetchy, # 308 covers Tuolumne Meadows & Hoover Wilderness, and #309 covers Ansel Adams Wilderness. The maps will provide the oversite you need for the entire park from a backpacker's point of view and will show all the major trails, milage, and topography. After orienting yourself with good maps plus day tripping and day hiking you will have a better sense for where you might like to begin serious backpacking on a subsequent visit when you don't have to deal with snow bound trails. It is possible you might even be able to snag a trail permit of your choice via advance reservation as described in the permit section of the NPS web site.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2011 08:12PM by tomdisco.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 09:21PM
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tomdisco
The next step is doing some day hikes from the Valley and off Glacier Point Road. Two hikes highly recommended from the Valley are Yosemite Falls and the Mist Trail that goes up past Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. The latter two falls will be seen from Washburn Point just to the right of Half Dome. This is actually the John Muir trail and leads to Little Yosemite Valley, Merced Lake, and many sites beyond and higher. To the left of Half Dome will be North Dome, Basket Dome, and the infamous Tenaya Canyon. Above the canyon and well out of site is Tenaya Lake beside Tioga Road. Approximately 2 miles back on the Glacier Point Road are the trailheads to Sentinel Dome in one direction and Taft Point & The Fissures in the other direction. Both are rather short day hikes. Sentinel Dome will provide one of the best top down views you can get of Yosemite Falls. Taft Point overlooks El Capitan across the the mouth of the Valley.

tdg: For someone who is physically fit and loves to hike, I think one of the funnest day hikes out of Yosemite Valley is the Four Mile Trail - Panoramic Trail - John Muir/Mist Trail Loop. That's takes one to many (but not nearly all) of the best places around Yosemite Valley, with great views along most of the way: the great vistas from the Four Mile Trail, Glacier Point, Illilouette Falls, Panorama Point, Nevada Falls, Clark Point, Vernal Falls all on one hike!

But there's a lot of elevation gain, especially at the beginning on the Four Mile Trail. So I wouldn't recommend this hike to someone who wasn't physically fit. But once you made it to Glacier Point, the remaining elevation gain (to Panorama Point) is very manageable, IMHO. And after Panorama Point it's basically downhill for the rest of the way.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2011 09:22PM by plawrence.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 09:24PM
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plawrence
Panorama Point it's basically downhill for the rest of the way.

Are you sure? According to my map (and my feet) it's pretty much uphill until that last drop down to the JMT.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:19PM
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eeek
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plawrence
Panorama Point it's basically downhill for the rest of the way.

Are you sure? According to my map (and my feet) it's pretty much uphill until that last drop down to the JMT.

Downhill from Glacier Point to the Illilouette Creek bridge.
Uphill from the bridge to Panorama Point. ( A mile or less )
( be sure to go all the way off trail the the REAL point where you can look DOWN a long ways!! smiling smiley )
Downhill from Panorama Point to JMT junction.
Downhill from JMT junction to Happy Isles via either Mist Trail or JMT.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2011 10:21PM by qumqats.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:34PM
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qumqats
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eeek
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plawrence
Panorama Point it's basically downhill for the rest of the way.

Are you sure? According to my map (and my feet) it's pretty much uphill until that last drop down to the JMT.


Downhill from Glacier Point to the Illilouette Creek bridge.
Uphill from the bridge to Panorama Point. ( A mile or less )
( be sure to go all the way off trail the the REAL point where you can look DOWN a long ways!! smiling smiley )
Downhill from Panorama Point to JMT junction.
Downhill from JMT junction to Happy Isles via either Mist Trail or JMT.


That sound's right to me.
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:33PM
So you don't need a permit to hike these trails just to backpack, right?
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:37PM
You don't need a permit for any sort of day hikes (EXCEPT for hiking up Half Dome via the cables). You need a wilderness permit only if you are going camp overnight in the wilderness.
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:42PM
Thanks tomdisco for your detailed reply! I would like to see some of the highlights that you mention, but I also don't relish the thought of the hordes of people that I keep hearing will be there next week. Since I haven't actually been I don't know how bad it will be, but I remember being at the rim of Grand Canyon Natl Park years ago and watching tour bus after tour bus drive up. I was with someone who wasn't up for the hike down into the cyn, so we had to camp at the rim. The strangers in the neighboring tent were so close I could hear them snore all night. I hated it! Don't want Yose trip to be like that.

Maybe if I spend a couple of days doing the dayhike/touristy things that you describe the park will have cleared out some toward the middle of the week, say July 6 or so, and I could get a permit to do a 3 day backpack before I have to head back to LA on Sunday. What do you think? And what would you recommend in terms of an itinerary for an intro 3-day backpack at Yose, keeping in mind that I'm a hater of crowds and a lover of beautiful stuff to photograph.

Thanks again. You're generous w/ your time in responding.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 03:54AM
Quote
tdg
And what would you recommend in terms of an itinerary for an intro 3-day backpack at Yose, keeping in mind that I'm a hater of crowds and a lover of beautiful stuff to photograph.
.

A nice three day, 20 mile loop (not counting side trips) for you would start at the Porcupine Flat trailhead, past Indian Rock and North Dome (with short side excursions to the natural arch and the dome top, respectively), along the north rim trail to the top of Yosemite Falls (with a side trip to Yosemite Point as you start dropping down into the drainage and a side trip to the upper fall lookout point once you cross to the west side of the footbridge), follow Yosemite Creek up through the Yosemite Creek Campground, and go back to Porcupine via the unmaintained trail that follows the Old Tioga Road 'roadbed.' (The ranger will probably try to discourage you from following this unmaintained trail. There are a couple places where massive deadfall and/or rockfalls require some detouring and searching to reacquire the trail, but it really isn't a major problem.)

The Porcupine trialhead is at 8.1k and you drop down to 6.6k at the Yosemite Falls footbridge. The highest elevation is 8.3k, encountered shortly after the Old Tioga Road trail crosses the present day road. (I.e., snow won't be a problem for this hike, although you may still hit a few patches in the forested areas at the higher elevations.)

Camp by Lehamite Creek the first night (nice spot about 100 yards south of the trail immediately after crossing to the west side of the creek) and part way up Yosemite Creek the second night. (Note: there is a no camping zone near Yosemite Falls which basically extends to the 6.8k elevation mark along the trails to the east and north.)

Assuming that you do the standard, first-time tourist rounds when arriving, come in through the south entrance from Fresno. You can hit the Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point on the way toward the valley. After the high country backpack, return to L.A. via the Tioga Road (Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows) and US395.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2011 04:22AM by szalkowski.
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 09:17AM
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szalkowski

A nice three day, 20 mile loop (not counting side trips) for you would start at the Porcupine Flat trailhead, past Indian Rock and North Dome (with short side excursions to the natural arch and the dome top, respectively), along the north rim trail to the top of Yosemite Falls (with a side trip to Yosemite Point as you start dropping down into the drainage and a side trip to the upper fall lookout point once you cross to the west side of the footbridge), follow Yosemite Creek up through the Yosemite Creek Campground, and go back to Porcupine via the unmaintained trail that follows the Old Tioga Road 'roadbed.' .


And all this route should be clear enough of snow to backpack?
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 12:25PM
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tdg
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szalkowski

A nice three day, 20 mile loop (not counting side trips) for you would start at the Porcupine Flat trailhead, past Indian Rock and North Dome (with short side excursions to the natural arch and the dome top, respectively), along the north rim trail to the top of Yosemite Falls (with a side trip to Yosemite Point as you start dropping down into the drainage and a side trip to the upper fall lookout point once you cross to the west side of the footbridge), follow Yosemite Creek up through the Yosemite Creek Campground, and go back to Porcupine via the unmaintained trail that follows the Old Tioga Road 'roadbed.' .


And all this route should be clear enough of snow to backpack?




From the second paragraph of my original post:
"I.e., snow won't be a problem for this hike, although you may still hit a few patches in the forested areas at the higher elevations."

Not unequivocal enough?

Also, see comment here:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,39401,40078#msg-40078



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2011 12:39PM by szalkowski.
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:32PM
Thanks for your thoughts. Your suggestion seems reasonable because I'm not up for tackling a trail that's completely buried in snow or strong icy currents, but I'm still left with the question about where to camp (because I'm definitely not staying in a hotel). Should I look at some of the surrounding national forest lands like Stanislaus?
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 10:43PM
As reported on another thread on this forum, the Tamarack Flat Campground (on a side road off Tioga Road) in Yosemite will be opening for the season on Friday, July 1st. at 12:00 Noon. This is a first come, first served campground (zero reserved campsites). If you can arrive in Yosemite on Friday by 10:00 AM, I bet you'll have a really good chance in landing a campsite in this campground. And if you do, there are even a few good day hikes that can start at the Tamarack campground itself.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2011 11:03PM by plawrence.
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 29, 2011 09:50PM
I would have to say that the Four-Mile to Glacier Point to Panorama to Nevada Falls to Vernal Falls and then down Mist Trail is a cool hike. It rates as a strenuous hike, but my then 8-year old son did the whole stretch in a day. The Mist Trail with this roaring run-off should be on anyone's bucket list. Take a pancho.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 05:06PM
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Hiker Dad
I would have to say that the Four-Mile to Glacier Point to Panorama to Nevada Falls to Vernal Falls and then down Mist Trail is a cool hike. It rates as a strenuous hike, but my then 8-year old son did the whole stretch in a day. The Mist Trail with this roaring run-off should be on anyone's bucket list. Take a pancho.

tdg,

I must confess I missed mentioning this hike as one of the best in the Valley area. It includes the shorter version (Mist Trail) that I had mentioned before. As for the recommended 3-day hike to North Dome, etc., I can not offer suggestions regarding camp sites since I have only done North Dome as a day hike. You would just have to pick some spots on your own, preferably well off the trail but be prepared for snow patches in sheltered areas. As for trafiic concerns in the Valley, normally I would recommend hitting the Valley and other highly popular locations on weekdays. How much difference that will make on Fourth of July week compared to a normal weekday,---I don't know. The last couple of years I've been strickly high country backpacking, sneaking in from Reno/Lee Vining and avoiding the Valley altogether. Do the best you can and come back in August for some prime high country backpacking out of Tuolumne Meadows. As for a 3-day trip the only other area I can think of that is more likely to be clear of snow is the Hetch hetchy corner of the park. I'm no authority on that area but others may speak to opportunities in Hetch Hetchy.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 05:32PM
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tomdisco
As for trafiic concerns in the Valley, normally I would recommend hitting the Valley and other highly popular locations on weekdays. How much difference that will make on Fourth of July week compared to a normal weekday,---I don't know.

My recommended strategy for dealing with Yosemite Valley's chronic traffic congestion on weekends (and especially on holiday weekends) is to arrive early at Yosemite Valley (no later than 10:00 AM, preferably by 9:00 AM) and find a legal place to park (at one of the two day-use parking lots or at a trailhead pullout) and leave your car there for the entire day, and hike (or take the free shuttle bus) around the Valley. The Valley is very level (in most part) so it's quite easy to just hike around it sans automobile.

For TDG: Even hiking the Valley Loop Trail west of the Yosemite Lodge and Swinging Bridge will be pretty uncrowded even during the busiest holiday weekends. What will be packed is the the trails to Lower Yosemite Fall, the trail to Upper Yosemite Fall, the short trail to the base of Bridalveil Falls, the Mist Trail, and the trail (a road actually) to Mirror Lake. For some reason, the west portion of the valley if far less traveled by foot, so it's a great place to get away from the crowds even within the Valley itself.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 05:40PM
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plawrence
take the free shuttle bus

Just don't take the one I got that lacked a/c. I was drenched by the time I got off that damn bus.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 06:19PM
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eeek
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plawrence
take the free shuttle bus

Just don't take the one I got that lacked a/c. I was drenched by the time I got off that damn bus.

You should have just gotten off that bus, and taken the next one to come along. wink
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 06:48PM
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plawrence
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eeek
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plawrence
take the free shuttle bus

Just don't take the one I got that lacked a/c. I was drenched by the time I got off that damn bus.

You should have just gotten off that bus, and taken the next one to come along. wink

I should have just walked.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
June 30, 2011 07:32PM
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eeek
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plawrence
Quote
eeek
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plawrence
take the free shuttle bus

Just don't take the one I got that lacked a/c. I was drenched by the time I got off that damn bus.

You should have just gotten off that bus, and taken the next one to come along. wink

I should have just walked.


Looks like equine transportation is available with this a/c unit:
http://www.ideco.com/fans2/MCH0755.htm
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
July 10, 2011 11:48AM
Wanted to enter a post-trip debrief in case it may be of use to others going up soon. I did the 20 mile loop described above by szalkowski, starting from Porcupine Creek on 7/4/11. At that time the first half mile of the trail south toward North Dome was still quite snow covered and the trail was often obscured. Not brutally difficult to follow, but just in case anyone's looking for a perfectly clear path, that was not perfectly clear. That was the only point in the 20 miles where there was any snow at all. I modified the route described by szalkowski by bushwhacking due east from Yosemite Crk Camp. There was a little flooding in the camp (which remains closed) and I was never able to locate the unmaintained trail that he described that heads southeast back toward Porcupine Crk, and I was looking fairly carefully for it. But, as I said, there was no snow up there on 7/8 to deal with, so it wasn't a problem to bushwhack back to Tioga Road.

Toulomne Meadows remains quite flooded still.

Bluejay Creek is quite swollen w/ snowmelt. I had to wade in almost thigh-deep because I couldn't find an adequate log crossing w/in a 100 yards or so of the trail. Perhaps if you looked longer, you could find something. That was the most difficult crossing, but there were a couple others that gave me pause, since I was going solo and don't consider myself an expert navigator. Again, not crazy, but worth noting.

If anyone has any other specific questions about the route, feel free to post and I'll try to respond if I know anything useful.

Thanks again to everyone for their advice. Overall, a great trip.

Tim
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
July 10, 2011 12:24PM
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tdg
Toulomne Meadows remains quite flooded still.


Here is a photograph that Tim took from the top of Lembert Dome:

Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
July 10, 2011 03:10PM
Thanks, Len. I wasn't sure how to insert the pic in my post.
avatar Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
July 10, 2011 03:02PM
Tanks.

Interesting about Bluejay. There was a monster log across there for at least a couple of years.
It was there last year in July when went by... perhaps the big flood in October moved it???
Quite surprised since it was kinda lodged in on both sides.





Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite newbie looking for recommendations
July 01, 2011 08:30AM
Thanks for the recommendation - I wil be up in a couple of weeks and hike the 4-mile - I usually don't hike in the Valley but will be doing it this time since I'm bringing my daughters with me
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