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Fern on the Four Mile Trail, Yosemite National Park

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Re: Camping in the valley right now...

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Camping in the valley right now...
December 28, 2012 07:32AM
Two years ago this forum talked me into staying in a tent cabin over camping and the weather that year really made us glad we did. It rained all 4 days we were there. Anyone remember all that rain in Dec 2010?

I have 2 more weeks off work and I really want to do some snow shoeing and other winter hikes but can't afford anything other than a campsite this year. As long as there is no snow or rain, how difficult really is it, besides being really cold?

What special things should we do to prep our site and tent? Hang a tarp over the tent at an angle to deflect any show or rain? Put a blanket on the ground, under the tent as an insulator? Use an electric blanket running off an inverter? grinning smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2012 07:33AM by hotrod4x5.
Re: Camping in the valley right now...
December 28, 2012 09:11AM
On my way out from my trip this year I considered extending my trip (I had been in LYV for a week) staying in Upper Pines for 3 more days. Everything in the valley was wet or dripping wet, it was sort of snowing, and 30 degrees. It seemed like there was potential for it to be like that for days on end.

My thought process was this:

Catch the first and last bus to Badger Pass each day. (the valley trails only had enough snow to snowshoe around and past Clark Point). At night, spend a bunch of time in my car, and finally jump in my tent when I was tired. I have a small single wall 'mountaineering' tent and it gets wet inside if it's above freezing. It sucks to stay in it for prolonged periods. I bought a book.

I mean other than that it's just about not going stir crazy if it's nasty outside and you have nothing to do all night but sit in the tent. Worst case scenario if you are car camping you can just get in the car.

No to the blanket. You want closed cell foam insulation under your sleeping bags, like a ridgerest. I find that doubling up two ridge rest solars does the trick car camping. Blow up mattresses are bad too, unless they are insulated. I can't comment on the tarp thing, need to know more about your tent. Everything else then becomes just developing routines that keep the inside of your tent dry. I didn't end up staying, 8 days at LYV was enough. You are talking car camping in the valley right, no backpacking?
avatar Re: Camping in the valley right now...
December 28, 2012 10:23AM
If you don't mind the possibility of sharing a campsite with strangers, Camp 4 (known in the past as Sunnyside) is a lot warmer in the winter than Upper Pines. Also you can kill time at night by hanging out across the road at the Mountain Room Lounge (which stays open until 11 PM every night), reading a book, enjoying the fireplace and watching sports on TV for the price of one beer. wink

And of course the Yosemite Lodge food court will be open everyday for anytime you don't feel like cooking a meal at your campsite.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2012 11:22AM by plawrence.
Re: Camping in the valley right now...
December 28, 2012 10:33AM
Yes, car camping. I have an air mattress, but my buddy might also go and he has cots. Not sure if my air mattress is insulated, it has a fleece flocking on it. I also have a 15 degree bag.

I go to do photography, so I wouldn't use the bus, too late in the AM and too early in the afternoon for when I like to shoot.

It is supposed to be partly cloudy beginning on Monday, so hopefully I wouldn't be worrying about rain or snow. My tent is nothing special, just a cheap walmart one that we have had for a decade.
Re: Camping in the valley right now...
December 28, 2012 11:09AM
I would ditch the air mattress, google 'air mattress winter camping' to read about why. I think you still want to use some closed cell foam under you if you're in a cot. If the ridge rest (just the foam one) is too pricy, I think just regular blue foam from wal mart works too. I'd probably double up the pads still. Those pads are great cause they can double as camp seats, it makes a HUGE difference. People have told me they thought the foam was self heating because they were so surprised at the difference it makes.

Plawrence's recommendation about camp 4/the lodge is spot on. Isn't camp 4 cheaper too? The sun might be huge. The lodge breakfast is at 6:30am, probably too late for you but their breakfast burritos are worth missing the golden hour. Maybe.

As for the tent, I wouldn't be too worried with the car close by. Keep critical stuff in the car, bail to the car if disaster strikes. I doubt a wal mart tent would hold much snow, a taut tarp to deflect it might be a good idea if a ton of snow is forecast. Worst case scenario you can always get up and push off the snow. Wind blown snow underneath the fly through any mesh might suck, and snow on the ground seeping through the floor/sides of the tent also could suck. Snow sitting on the tent and dripping through the fabric might suck.

But really the biggest thing is just watch water seeping in, and keep your bag/blankets dry. Sleep in dry clothes. Eat a ton before bed. Post pics
avatar Re: Camping in the valley right now...
December 28, 2012 09:13PM
I try to winter camp in Yosemite valley when it's snow weather, not rain. I don't want to get wet!
Camp 4 is FirstComeFirstServed, so you don't need to worry about reservations.
Camp 4 is $5 per person, so if it's just a few of you it's cheaper.
Camp 4 is EMPTY this time of year, so I doubt you need to worry about sharing a site there.
Don't sleep on a cot. The ground with proper protection will be much warmer..
Last time I was there I had to pitch the tent on snow. I put one layer of a blanket on the floor of the tent, a foam pad on top of that, the sleeping bag on top of that, and then a layer of another of blanket on top of the bag. I had no trouble keeping warm and the snow hadn't even started melting when I removed the tent afterwards.
Its nice to warm up in the lobby of the lodge to read a book, after eating dinner at the food court, before running back to camp to hop into the tent/sleeping bag.

have fun!
Re: Camping in the valley right now...
December 29, 2012 07:14AM
Thanks for all the advice! Upper pines is also first come first served right now, but Camp 4 seems like the smarter choice. My buddy loaned out all his cold gear, so we will not be going this week. Maybe next week.
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