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Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids

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avatar Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 10:29AM
Hello Fellow Yosemite Nuts!

I have been bringing my kids to Yosemite at least once a year since they were in strollers or riding on my back. As they have grown up each of them has identified goals within the park that they want to accomplish. A few years back, when my daughter was only 6 years old, we were hiking around Olmstead Pt. when she looked up at Clouds Rest and said "I want to go there Daddy!" It was all I could do to contain my excitement.

So here we are...the trip is booked and planned. We are going the weekend of July 28th. We are going to break it up and do a two night trip so we can take the time to enjoy the scenery (and each others company). We'll leave from Tioga Pass Road on Saturday and hike up to one of the Sunrise Lakes and set up camp. I have reserved "Meals Only" at the Sunrise HSC for that night and the next morning. Then we pack up and head for the summit. My goal is to camp as close to the summit as possible so we can maximize our time and watch the sunset from the summit. Then it's all the way down to the car on the last day.

I have been backpacking my entire adult life and have never found it to be more rewarding than the last few years when I have brought my kids along. I have backed off on the real strenuous, high mileage, or places with big exposure and it has been a blessing. I have found more time to enjoy myself on these trips as a result and the kids don't get too burned out. I'm smiling ear to ear as I write this...(I'm picturing my 10 year old as a grown woman wearing a Park Ranger uniform!!!)

I hope that the memories I create for them will live forever, and that they grow up to have a real connection to our natural world.

I would appreciate any feedback from those who have hiked this trail. I've reviewed most of the forums for campsite and water locations, etc. Anything else I should know?

Thanks to everyone on this forum...you are an inspiration!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 11:31AM
What an awesome trip with your kid. After Clouds Rest and Half Dome last summer I can't wait for the day when my boys are there with me.

Since you intend on being on the Summit at Sunset does that mean you will need to descend the final ridge of Clouds Rest in the dark? Or do you go the other way (towards Half Dome?)

This is my video of the summit:

Clouds Rest


avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 02:28PM
Wow, I love your video. Thanks for that!

I'm not sure of our plan after sunset. I imagine it will all depend on our campsite for the night. I have heard descriptions of campsites back towards Tenaya, but I imagine I'll find my own spot after some scouting. I'd be interested if you saw anywhere near the summit block you would have liked to camp?

Either way, I expect to be down off the summit shortly after sunset. Probably before the light is gone from the sky...but you never know, if it's gorgeous out it may be hard to leave.

Just for fun, I checked and it will be a nearly full moon that rises at 3pm and sets after midnight. If there are no clouds, it will be real bright at night!

Thanks again!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 02:22PM
My 2 cents would be that I just don't know how much fun it will be to hoof it up and over Sunrise Mountain
for dinner and breakfast. If you really gonna do that I'd definitely camp at the uppermost lake.
Maybe you want to get an early start and then play around at lake #1 for a bit... then head up to lake #3
for a bit... then go and camp at the HSC for din din and breffy.. and then carry your packs back out to
lake #1 and setup shop there and then dayhike to clouds ... come back and spend night there.
Or simply cook pancakes for your kids yourself and nix the HSC entirely.

Whatever you end up doing you'll have a great time. Enjoy



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 02:42PM
Thanks for the advice! We'll probably do just that. Stop and play at Lake #1 then camp closer to the HSC at Lake #3.

I would have normally passed up the HSC but this is the last one on my list. About a week ago,on a whim, I sent an e-mail requesting meals only for 4 on any Saturday that Sunrise would be open for the season and got lucky. I've been to all the camps except this one, and I couldn't pass it up. Besides, it breaks up the uphill climb into more manageable chunks for me and the kids.

I know it's kinda cheating on the true nature of backpacking, but damn, I've never had a finer experience than dining in the back country at the HSC's. I set up my own camp though, so I haven't gone completely soft...tongue sticking out smiley



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 03:57PM
Quote
Jayabrams
Thanks for the advice! We'll probably do just that. Stop and play at Lake #1 then camp closer to the HSC at Lake #3.

I would have normally passed up the HSC but this is the last one on my list. About a week ago,on a whim, I sent an e-mail requesting meals only for 4 on any Saturday that Sunrise would be open for the season and got lucky. I've been to all the camps except this one, and I couldn't pass it up. Besides, it breaks up the uphill climb into more manageable chunks for me and the kids.

I know it's kinda cheating on the true nature of backpacking, but damn, I've never had a finer experience than dining in the back country at the HSC's. I set up my own camp though, so I haven't gone completely soft...tongue sticking out smiley

After leaving your first camp head toward Cloud's Rest at find a campsite at 8880' at the creeklet. There are plenty there and there is always water in the creek. Pitch and then continue towards CR. Come back and camp for the night and then hike back to 120 in the AM. This will break up the hike into nice chunks.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 09:57PM
Yeah, Hoofing it to breakfast and back and then out to Clouds and back to
Sunrise #1 may be a bit much for the kids. It's about 12 miles.
The reason I made the comments about the HSC is that from the upper lake
it is a 400ft+ climb over the pass and then drops 450ft down to the HSC.
So after din din you are a climbing back up 450 to go to sleepy bye.
You can also carry some water and get some great sites "this side" of Clouds.
Grampa James posted some pix. Looking at a topo map you should
be able to see where they are. I haven't camped there but def. want to
someday soon.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 06:59PM
I believe it would be legal to camp at the summit, although I suppose a quick-developing lightning overnight thunderstorm would be a possibility.

I've been on CR once, and it was an amazing experience.
Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 07:36PM
Quote
y_p_w
I believe it would be legal to camp at the summit, although I suppose a quick-developing lightning overnight thunderstorm would be a possibility.

I've been on CR once, and it was an amazing experience.

What happened to being the required distance from the trail? The trail goes over the summit.
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 09:44PM
From any realistic standpoint, there is no "trail" up there. It's all granite with no dirt where one might identify a trail.

I would think of it like any of the big swaths of sandstone in the Moab area, it's actually hard to describe what the "trail" is.

Apparently it used to be legal to camp on top of Half Dome, but jerks who cut down bushes for firewood and left their human waste up there ruined that opportunity.
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 10:00PM
Of course there's a trail across Clouds. It's impossible to get 100ft. off the trail up there.
The park service should just say no camping up there. But people still do it.
(I have done it in May in snow... when I knew no one would be up there and I got
off of there before anyone would possibly show up)
IMHO it's kinda rude to be setting up shop up there in "season".
There's plenty of other places to camp with almost the same view.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 02, 2012 10:59PM
Quote
Jayabrams
I have reserved "Meals Only" at the Sunrise HSC for that night and the next morning.

Are the meals out there really outstanding? Seems really expensive at $46 for a dinner and breakfast. What kind of menu is typical at the High Sierra Camps?
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 05, 2012 07:26AM
Quote
mbear
Quote
Jayabrams
I have reserved "Meals Only" at the Sunrise HSC for that night and the next morning.

Are the meals out there really outstanding? Seems really expensive at $46 for a dinner and breakfast. What kind of menu is typical at the High Sierra Camps?

The meals really are outstanding, especially compared to typical backpacker food. I've only done the Meals Only plan at Merced HSC (considered to have the best cook) and it was terrific. The Meals Only plan is either by last minute standby or reservation months in advance. They usually have only about 6-8 slots made available for Meals Only. All the slots on the weekday I had were fully reserved in advance. These places are usually heavily booked even during mid-week and the dining areas are just large tents where space is limited considering the number of people they cram into them. My one-time experience was a combination of curiosity plus the opportunity to eliminate two meals from my backpack weight. You also have access to a toilet and the showers. The major downside is that the HSC backpacker camping areas can be rather crowded. Of course, my opinion of any congested camping area is like a motel without doors!
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 03, 2012 10:55AM
I really appreciate all the comments. I prefer to camp in solitude if possible so I'll stay away from the summit. I always seem to come up with a nice spot, regardless. I like the Old Dude's suggestion to set up at the creeklet. I will seriously consider this.

As for the dinners at the HSC's...they are all a bit different, and it depends on what your tastes are. I am a pretty plain, meat & potatoes guy, so the menus seem a bit gourmet for me. IMHO it is worth every penny. I have always found more than enough to eat (even as picky as I am). Our menu last year at Vogelsang was:

Dinner - Roasted Pork Loin and red potatoes, salad, soup (minestrone, I think) and fresh strawberries and blueberries with a tart for dessert. Coffee, water, juice, and hot chocolate for the kids.

Breakfast - Fresh Fruit, Muffins, Cereal & Milk, Oatmeal, Blue berry pancakes, scrambled eggs with veggies, bacon.

For some strange reason the food tastes extra good at around 10,000', after hiking 5-7 miles carrying your pack into beautiful scenery, and you don't have to cook or clean! On past trips, I've been able to minimize my gear by eating at the camps, but not by a whole lot. I seem to end up with a 35-40lb pack no matter what. One of the nicest parts of the meal is the communal dining. I have met some of the most interesting people and had some wonderful conversations with perfect strangers at the dinners. I always find it funny that the ratio of Europeans to Americans is usually about 2 to one. You always seem to run into these people over the next few days of hiking.

At Vogelsang last year, two of my camping mates backed out at the last minute and there was no time to cancel, so we found another couple with kids at the BP'ers campground and invited them to dinner. They just had to pay for their kids. As a result, we have a standing invitation to stay with them in Gothenburg, Sweden.



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 03, 2012 11:59AM
Quote
Jayabrams
As for the dinners at the HSC's...they are all a bit different, and it depends on what your tastes are. I am a pretty plain, meat & potatoes guy, so the menus seem a bit gourmet for me. IMHO it is worth every penny. I have always found more than enough to eat (even as picky as I am). Our menu last year at Vogelsang was:

Dinner - Roasted Pork Loin and red potatoes, salad, soup (minestrone, I think) and fresh strawberries and blueberries with a tart for dessert. Coffee, water, juice, and hot chocolate for the kids.

Breakfast - Fresh Fruit, Muffins, Cereal & Milk, Oatmeal, Blue berry pancakes, scrambled eggs with veggies, bacon.

For some strange reason the food tastes extra good at around 10,000', after hiking 5-7 miles carrying your pack into beautiful scenery, and you don't have to cook or clean! On past trips, I've been able to minimize my gear by eating at the camps, but not by a whole lot. I seem to end up with a 35-40lb pack no matter what. One of the nicest parts of the meal is the communal dining. I have met some of the most interesting people and had some wonderful conversations with perfect strangers at the dinners. I always find it funny that the ratio of Europeans to Americans is usually about 2 to one. You always seem to run into these people over the next few days of hiking.

At Vogelsang last year, two of my camping mates backed out at the last minute and there was no time to cancel, so we found another couple with kids at the BP'ers campground and invited them to dinner. They just had to pay for their kids. As a result, we have a standing invitation to stay with them in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Just to scratch a little itch of mine, I'm wondering how long the HSCs will still be there. I have no problem with them. However, they are clearly within areas that are potential wilderness, and there appears to be no effort to shut them down. Apparently it's policy as established by the 1989 Wilderness Management Plan, which is more policy and not law.
Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 03, 2012 04:36PM
A couple of the options that are up for comment review of the Merced River Restoration Plan
included the removal of Merced HSC. To restore impacts on the headwaters I presume.

Here's a link to a Supertopo thread with the charts summarizing the various options.
#1 and 2 list Merced HSC in the removal box.

Merced River Plan
on Supertopo

NPS Merced River Paln doc

(When this River Plan topic came up on this board awhile back I was surprised there wasn't more discussion.)
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 03, 2012 05:14PM
Well - the documents I saw were environmental impact statements on the possible replacement of the potentially leaky septic system and of the grease trap at the Sunrise HSC. I think there was a similar issue at all the other HSCs too. The gist of the EIS I read was that if they couldn't mitigate the effect on the designated wilderness outside of a particular HSC, they might just dismantle it and let it revert to fully designated wilderness.

Of course my interest in this is linked with the NPS policy at Point Reyes National Seashore and a pre-existing oyster farm cultivating oysters in what's potential wilderness waters. It gets really complicated because of the people involved, the permit process (the water bottom leases are actually from the State of California and not NPS), and the purchase by NPS of the shore operations (not in the wilderness plan) back in 1972 before the waters were set up as potential wilderness. It's my assertion that their hands aren't tied because it's a policy decision and not one where the law only sees one possibility - as was claimed by former PRNS Superintendent Don Neubacher. Maybe you guys have heard of him.

I've gotten well versed on the law that established the wilderness areas in Yosemite - the California Wilderness Act of 1984. It basically has one page about Yosemite and SEKI wilderness, and about 20 pages on assorted definitions of wilderness areas and exceptions of pre-existing "non conforming uses" allowed in Forest Service wilderness areas. All it says about Yosemite's "potential wilderness additions" are that once "non-conforming uses" cease, they can publish that in the Federal Register and the land reverts automatically to full wilderness.
avatar Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 03, 2012 11:35AM
Thanks Jay!
Re: Clouds Rest for the Kids
April 07, 2012 06:56PM
August 30, 2011, I believe I left the Summit around 4:40PM, long before sunset. For the last 75 minutes before reaching the car (and this was still before sunset), the mosquitoes came out in force and ate me up real good. I must have reached the car right as the sun was setting.
Since it sounds like you want to see the sunset at the summit, I'd really recommend lots of extra batteries and headlamps for all. Cloud's Rest and the associated trail has its share of places to trip and fall, and that's in the daylight. Be safe!
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