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Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!

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Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 09:05AM
Poll
Should hike up out of the valley or start somewhere else and end up in the valley?
Only registered users are allowed to vote for this poll.
20 votes were received.
Start in the valley!6
 
30%
Forget it, start somewhere else!6
 
30%
Forget the valley entirely.8
 
40%



Hi all!

My boyfriend and I will hopefully be able to have a minimum of six nights backpacking trip at the very end of this May into the beginning of June 2013. If it's possible we want to see some waterfalls, creeks/spring, see the valley but then for the most of the time be able to be out where not many other people are.. so out in the backcountry I suppose? My boyfriend is in extremely good shape and can pretty much do anything physical put before him, and I'm strong willed and in relatively good shape, but my capacity for hiking is more limited than he! Haha I would like to do some challenging hikes, but would prefer if they were accompanied by some less strenuous ones.

My biggest concern is being able to feel like we are out on our own and not surrounded by a bunch of people (being around no one but ourselves would be ideal!) I know that may be a tall order for that time of the year, but from what I've read so far if we hike up out of the valley enough, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

I know I have to register for permits early for a lot of the trails, so I'm trying to get this figured out as quickly as possible!

I can't wait to get out there smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2013 09:06AM by Iwantmyyosemite.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 09:13AM
Starting anywhere higher than the valley may put you in snow cover in certain places. Also, be aware that new snow is always possible even in late May around 6,000' and up, if that is a concern for you. Good luck with your choices. Most anything beginning with and extending from the valley is going to expose you to at least a few people but there's nothing wrong with going off-trail a bit for camping purposes to find some privacy.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:42AM
Thank you!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 09:44AM
My teeny two cents worth.

To do this you'll have to wait till Yarts operates..

Park at Sunrise T/H hike up to a Sunrise lake, camp. JMT to Cloud's Rest, To Half Dome, to LYV, camp. JMT to valley (don't take mist trail w a heavy pack...scary). Take tram around valley after drinkin 6 beers, go to Visitor Center by 4pm and wait for Yarts to get you back to your car.

aaaaand yer done Embaressed



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2013 09:46AM by rroland.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:47AM
Haha thanks!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 10:12AM
If you include Glacier Point and Clouds Rest on your trip, the
rest will be gravy.

Oh....and don't forget Half Dome.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 10:52AM
Would this be your first backpacking trip ever, or just your first backpacking trip in Yosemite?

If you haven't backpacked before, I would suggest you do some shorter ones (overnight, a two-nighter) before your planned six day adventure in Yosemite. You'll want to familiarize yourself and work out any kinks with your gear before you head off on a six-day backpacking trip. Also as some others have already said, you might have to deal with a bit of snow during the late May/early June timeframe (depending on the route your choose). But Yosemite is a great place to backpack if you want the solitude away from others that you seek. Just be sure to set up camp a good distance away from any trail if you want the most privacy.

Anyway, now is a good time to plan and prepare for the trip, so ask as many questions as you want.

.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 10:58AM
Yes this is going to be our first backpacking trip ever, however we are planning it now, so there is no reason we can't do a night or two locally to make sure we familiarize ourselves with the equipment and such. In fact, I think that is a great idea! That way we will get to enjoy yosemite instead of flailing about wondering what to do.

Any specific trail ideas for that time of year?
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 12:14PM
You will need to reserve a permit for Glacier Point -> Illilouette for this trip. Indicate on your permit that you would like to climb Half Dome.

Day one: arrive in Yosemite Valley, go to the wilderness center and pick up your permit for tomorrow, do a little sight seeing around the valley, maybe rent bikes and enjoy the sights that way, stop by the Ahwahnee hotel for an evening cocktail or hot chocolate, camp at the backpackers camp in the valley next to the Merced river.
Day two: take the tour bus up to Glacier Point (there is a fee for this bus, I think it leaves from Yosemite Lodge in the mid morning sometime), the views from Glacier Point are amazing. Start your hike down, after about a mile and a half you get to a fork in the trail, go towards Illilouette, not the Panorama trail. Continue a couple of more miles and you'll find beautiful camp sites down by the Illiloutte creek. Good chance that you'll get it all to yourselves. 3.5 miles for the day.
Day three: Go back to the Glacier point- Panorama trail fork and this time go onto the Panorama trail. The Panorama meets up with the JMT just below the top of Nevada Falls. Enjoy lunch and an unbeatable view from the bridge above the falls! Continue on to the Little Yosemite Valley campground. 7.5 miles for the day.
Day four: This is your Half Dome day. Pack up your camping gear and take it with you. Set up your camp two miles up the trail close to the where the JMT and Clouds rest trail meet. There are camping spots by the river. After you've set up camp take your day packs and climb the rock. 7 miles of hiking for the day.
Day five: Clouds Rest day. Leave your camp where it is and make this 6 miler a dayhike.
Day six: Hike back down to Yosemite Valley seeing the famous Nevada and Vernal Falls along the way. 6 miles of hiking for the day. Stay the night in the backpackers camp again.
Day seven: Say goodbye to Yosemite for now and start planning a trip to come back.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2013 12:28PM by KatyAnderson.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 04, 2013 10:39PM
Great itinerary.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:25AM
Hey thanks so much for the great reply! I like that itinerary a lot I think. I was wondering though what the Little Yosemite Campground is like? Is it a bunch of people camping around each other? I'd really prefer to be camping in areas that are secluded just because it seems more fun.

Any ideas about how cold it's going to be when we get up to higher altitudes on that itinerary?
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:59AM
If this is your first "backpacking trip ever" I strongly recommend you do a one or two night backpacking trip elsewhere as previously suggested (at a lower altitude) before tackling Yosemite. I don't know where you live but between unexpected equipment problems, unexpected boot and foot care problems, backpack weight management, and likely unfamiliarity with altitude and hydration issues, you may have a rough 5-6 day trip experience. A 5-6 day trip in the High Sierra is something you work up to, not something you take on right from the get go. I'm sure this sounds like petty scolding and you may think, "It can't be that bad", but I'm quite serious. Maybe you are very young and extremely fit and can tough it out but trust me, if you have never done this before the rigors and equipment issues on that long a trip can pose some unwelcome surprises. Yes, this may also mean not being able to get the permits you need for an early season trip in Yosemite but maybe August might work better for a several day trip. At the very least I think you should attempt a couple aggressive day hikes in Yosemite first with a heavily weighted pack (no tent or sleeping bag so you can get around a ranger inspection) to simulate your true backpack weight. You will immediately discover some things on your own which will make more of an impression than anything I could get across verbally. Wishing you the best experience.
Jim



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2013 09:03AM by tomdisco.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 09:26AM
Hey there, Thanks for the information! I agree certainly with what you are saying. I don't see it as scolding at all, more looking at for me! After all, I want this to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Not something where I'm thinking "Oh thank God that's over!" We live in Pennsylvania. Not such a high elevation, but we have enough areas around here to do some hikes and camp for a weekend before we go out there.

I do still want to do that many days for certain, but maybe split it up into two areas of the park?

Would you have any suggestions for hikes to places we may stay put in for two nights maybe and do more leisurely wondering around during the day and maybe just one or two real hikes in between (including half dome and something else?) I'm not stuck on backpacking to someplace new every day. I'm really not concerned with seeing everything, more concerned with being able to get some solitude and really feel myself being grounded there in nature.


Also, does anyone know if it's safe to set up and leave stuff at Camp 4 for a day hike up to Yosemite Point?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2013 09:46AM by Iwantmyyosemite.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 11:46AM
Not to put a damper on your trip preparations plans, but I am originally from PA and I can say that hiking there and hiking in Yosemite is not the same. The difference in altitude has to be taken in consideration especially if you go to the higher elevations. The sun is more intense and there are not always trees and clouds to provide shade like you have in PA. The air is much dryer and you have to be more careful about dehydration. On that note though, you don't have to deal with high humidity which I have always hated.

I agree with the suggestions to take a shorter backpack trip so you can get the solitude you want but still run less chance of overdoing things and ruining your trip. You mentioned going at the end of May or the beginning of June. I would avoid being in the valley during Memorial Day Weekend. Also most California schools do not get out until after the first week of June so it is not as crowded as it would be if you went later in the summer. If you are going to do day hikes starting in the valley, start early in the morning. This way you will avoid some of the crowds and it is not as hot. If you have never see Sequoias, I would go to Mariposa Grove during a rest day.

Unless things have changed since we have camped in the valley, we always set up our camping things and went day hiking without any problems. Just make sure your food and cooking gear is secure in the bear box and put any valuables like laptops, etc in your car trunk.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 02:59PM
I see no-one has mentioned bear canisters (they are mandatory in Yosemite). For two people x 6 nights backpacking, you would need two bear canisters. Even with two canisters, there is an art to fitting that much food in. Showing up at the park gate and renting canisters would mean that you have zero experience packing supplies into canisters, and thus no clear idea what will/won't fit, not to mention a concern over whether you can fit the canisters into your packs. It doesn't help that the canisters the NPS rents out (Garcia) are just about the heaviest and least capacious ones around (they are, however, very robust, and relatively inexpensive). The only 100% guaranteed solution to this is to buy or borrow a Garcia canister in advance, so you can try it out (you can rent a second one). That said, I'd incline to buy a Bear Vault BV500 in advance and anticipate being able to get quite a bit less into a rented Garcia.

FWIW, my bear canister ratings in order of preference are:

1. Bearikade (very expensive, but the best if you can afford it)

2. Bear Vault (big lid, reasonably light, lid can be fiddly, best budget pick)

3. Garcia & Counter Assault (a Garcia knock-off) (see above, I really do not recommend these)

Be aware that the bear canister manufacturers tend to exaggerate how many days' supplies you can fit in (or maybe I just eat bulky food).

Another concern is getting used to carrying a much heavier pack than you are used to. You may find your pack is very uncomfortable, maybe even unbearably so; you don't want to find that out on a long trip.

Basically, I agree with those folks here who suggest shorter trips. Your idea about establishing a "base camp" so you don't have to carry everything every day could also work, but it still leaves you at the mercy of any limitations in your equipment or skills.

Do you already have stuff like water filtration gear, an appropriate stove, etc.? Note that you can't fly with stove fuel; you will have to buy that here in CA.

May is not a good time of year to escape the crowds, because so few routes are feasible (too much snow at higher elevations, many creek crossings are still impassable). If you go up Yosemite Falls trail and follow the creek up above the top of falls a short way you will likely get reasonable solitude. You can then cross over to Snow Creek and come down that way. We did that as a fairly easy two night trip when we were just getting started backpacking.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:12PM
Quote
Royalist
I see no-one has mentioned bear canisters (they are mandatory in Yosemite). For two people x 6 nights backpacking, you would need two bear canisters. Even with two canisters, there is an art to fitting that much food in. Showing up at the park gate and renting canisters would mean that you have zero experience packing supplies into canisters, and thus no clear idea what will/won't fit, not to mention a concern over whether you can fit the canisters into your packs. It doesn't help that the canisters the NPS rents out (Garcia) are just about the heaviest and least capacious ones around (they are, however, very robust, and relatively inexpensive). The only 100% guaranteed solution to this is to buy or borrow a Garcia canister in advance, so you can try it out (you can rent a second one). That said, I'd incline to buy a Bear Vault BV500 in advance and anticipate being able to get quite a bit less into a rented Garcia.

FWIW, my bear canister ratings in order of preference are:

1. Bearikade (very expensive, but the best if you can afford it)

2. Bear Vault (big lid, reasonably light, lid can be fiddly, best budget pick)

3. Garcia & Counter Assault (a Garcia knock-off) (see above, I really do not recommend these)

Be aware that the bear canister manufacturers tend to exaggerate how many days' supplies you can fit in (or maybe I just eat bulky food).

Another concern is getting used to carrying a much heavier pack than you are used to. You may find your pack is very uncomfortable, maybe even unbearably so; you don't want to find that out on a long trip.

Bas




Hey that's Great! I did know we needed them (I've been doing a lot of research!) But that's great to have some good recommendations. I was thinking about renting, but now that you said they are so heavy it seems like it will be worth just getting them ourselves.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:27PM
Also, no we don't have ANY equipment... Well some of our family members do, but we have to decide still of we want to buy new stuff or borrow theirs. I have a pretty good idea of things we need to get but if there are suggestions to some less obvious things that you've liked having backpacking over time, I'd love to hear suggestions!! Or any good suggestions for specific brands to buy...
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:17PM
That's great! Glad I don't have to worry. And yes we are going to be able to miss Memorial Day weekend in the park thankfully!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:30PM
Ya I understand.. We are just going to take it as slow as possible and plan that well need a lot of time so we can be nice to our bodies. And that's great about it being safe and people not stealing. That would be annoying to have to carry all our stuff around all the time and not be able to wonder freely a bit!
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 04:04PM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
Hey there, Thanks for the information! I agree certainly with what you are saying. I don't see it as scolding at all, more looking at for me! After all, I want this to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Not something where I'm thinking "Oh thank God that's over!" We live in Pennsylvania. Not such a high elevation, but we have enough areas around here to do some hikes and camp for a weekend before we go out there.

I do still want to do that many days for certain, but maybe split it up into two areas of the park?

Would you have any suggestions for hikes to places we may stay put in for two nights maybe and do more leisurely wondering around during the day and maybe just one or two real hikes in between (including half dome and something else?) I'm not stuck on backpacking to someplace new every day. I'm really not concerned with seeing everything, more concerned with being able to get some solitude and really feel myself being grounded there in nature.


Also, does anyone know if it's safe to set up and leave stuff at Camp 4 for a day hike up to Yosemite Point?

Now that Hetch Hetchy is opening up you should look into a trip up from the dam towards Miguel Meadow, Laurel Lake, Gravel Pit Lake, Lake Eleanor, etc. This area is lightly traveled, has well defined trails, plenty of water, and the scenery is fine.



Old Dude
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 05:16PM
The first backpacking trip we ever did was Hetch-Hetchy up to Rancheria Falls. I think it's an excellent starter trip, but obviously not the same as a trip based around Yosemite Valley.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 09:48AM
Little Yosemite Valley campground is definitely "a bunch of people camping around each other." But look at the bright side, you are only there for one night. If you really don't want to stay there you can continue to the next nights camp site, but that would make the day long.
Nights in May/June can still get cold, sometimes, although not often, down to freezing.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 03:09PM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
I was wondering though what the Little Yosemite Campground is like?

We think it is obnoxious - having done it once, we would never willingly camp there again. It's not just the crowds - the dust from the heavily over-used camp sites is vile, gets into everything (including your mouth, nose, and lungs) and won't come off your gear due to static electricity. A lot of the people at LYV are not really interested in a wilderness experience, and act like it. Many others here are more tolerant of these things than we are, YMMV. A plus is that LYV has just about the best toilets of any "back country" camping I know of (tied with Pear Lake in Sequioa NP).
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 08:09PM
Ya that's what I was worried about! I don't really want to be around that at all.

My boyfriend just figured out his days off and we are going to be able to have a total of 12 or 13 days in Yosemite at the maximum. We're leaving from PA on the 31 of May so will actually be there the first two weeks of June. Of course we understand we may be totally out of it by day six and need to get a hotel or something around the park (or outside if that's not possible). But I'm hoping this will allow us to see as much as possible and be really leisurely about it- not worrying about getting to our next destination every day. Since we won't know how we're going to fair exactly I was thinking of an itinerary something along the lines of this from what I've learned so far.

Starting in the Vally by the lodge... hiking up to yosemite falls then camping somewhere between there and snow creek (depending on our pace and how long we want to linger) Then making the hike around to Snow creek the next day, camp again and then down into the Valley again (giving us a chance to recoup and fix anything we need to fix) around to Nevada Falls, camp somewhere there. Then hang for a day or try and hike Half Dome depending on our (my!) stamina. Come back down, camp again. Then back down towards Nevada Falls and assuming we are up for more at that point, head up the Panorama Trail to Glacier point, maybe camp by illilouette creek on the way, and then down the four mile trail. That way we will have two opportunities to call it quits by going back down through the valley. Then I'd love to see the Mariposa Grove and maybe grab a shuttle to Hetch-Hetchy and do some more (again assuming we aren't completely wiped!

If that all sounds insane (or just nonsensical), let me know, but that's the best I could come up with so far with advice and the guide I bought.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2013 08:10PM by Iwantmyyosemite.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 05, 2013 09:41PM
A few thoughts/suggestions:

- Get in as many trips in as possible before you hit Yosemite, shake out your muscles and your gear. After every trip ditch a couple of items you don't need.
- Your latest itinerary involves lots of climbing in and out of the Valley, which sounds pretty tiring and crowded to me.
- Katy's itinerary is a good one and avoids some of those issues, cut it short if that's too long for you.
- Consider trips off of the Tioga Road; trailhead parking is likely to be open by May; TM campground opened 6/8 last year.
- You could do 2-4 day trips from there, back to your car for a re-stock, burger and beer. If the campground's open, spend a night in the backpacker's lot there.
- Tioga Pass Resort is rumored to be opening on Memorial Day.
- Yosemite National Park: A Complete Hikers Guide

Have a nice trip.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 01:06PM
Since you have no equipment yet I'd like to make a couple comments on that. If you can't borrow somebody's tent and need to buy, I recommend the REI Half Dome II, including the rain fly. The two of you can split up the load. Others will say, no, buy this or that instead; this is just my suggestion.
In my opinion the 2 most important pieces of equipment are properly fitting hiking boots and properly fitting backpacks. Boots should be large enough so your toes are not jammed but not so large that you slide forward in them going downhill (some folks tighten them up going downhill anyway). Also, boots should be snug around the heel not allowing your heel to ride up and down. If you have narrow heels like me it can be hard to find the right pair. Foot care is a science and different people require different solutions for avoiding hot spots and blisters. You might find a used copy of "Fixing Your Feet" by John Vonhof. The 3 ingredients for blisters are friction, moisture, and heat. Eliminate any 2 of those and you will be O.K. Otherwise, it's a tough trip. I use Kensio tape on formerly known hot spots, nylon liners w/ foot powder, and Merino Wool socks. This works for me but as I said, everybody is different. The trails in Yosemite are often tougher on your feet that anything you may find in PA. Another suggestion is medium weight or what might sometimes be called "light hikers", enough to provide lateral support but not too heavy.
Most backpacks are now internal frame designs. They come in different sizes depending upon the length of your back and should be fitted properly to each of you. The weight should be transferred to the waste belt. The only thing your shoulders straps should be doing is keeping the load near the top of your back.
Lastly, backpack weight management is crucial. If you are over 30 pounds, it's too much for beginners (that includes water). After a couple trips you soon learn what you should have left behind, another reason for a couple short trips somewhere near home.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/06/2013 01:07PM by tomdisco.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 04:02PM
Great info! Thanks those things about weighing the pack I definitely didnt know about, that should help us pick out a pack much better. My boyfriend was also thinking about taking just one backpacking pack and letting him carry it, then taking one smaller framed pack that would be a lot smaller for me to take. Does that make sense?
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 06:26PM
I'm also really confused about something with the permits. I see that there are a bunch of trails booked up already. But does that mean that is we start at a different trailhead we can't hike those trails? Or does that mean we just cant start there?
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 07:32PM
A permit is for a specific date and trail head. For some trail heads there is also a restriction on where you can spend the first night. Beyond that you can go wherever your feet can carry you. Almost...
If you return down into Yosemite Valley, you will need a new permit for heading back up again. So for example the itinerary you have further back up this thread where you are going up Yosemite Falls trail and down Snow Creek is fine, but then you will need a new permit for going up Vernal and Nevada Falls towards Half Dome.
This rule I believe is to prevent people from applying for an obscure trail head, going up that one a ways and then turning back to the Valley and on to the more popular trail head. That would be a no-no.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 07:39PM
I seeee now thanks!!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 09, 2013 12:52AM
Quote
KatyAnderson
This rule I believe is to prevent people from applying for an obscure trail head, going up that one a ways and then turning back...

Katy, that's pretty much what you are describing with your Glacier Point to Illilouette option. Instead of taking the more popular and direct Glacier Pt to LYV trailhead (which is harder to get), you are going to the less popular and out of the way Illilouette area, back tracking and then continuing on to the more popular LYV.

Iwantmyyosemite, if you want to do Half Dome as a day hike, you will need to get a separate day hiking permit for it. (Not to be confused with getting a wilderness permit for that area with which you can get a permit for half dome at the same time, provided that there is space left). The Half Dome preseason lottery just closed so you won't be able to do that, but you can still get a day permit for half dome via the two day before lottery. They happen daily for a hike two days out. For example, today's lottery (Tuesday) would be for hiking Half Dome on Thursday. For more details visit: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm. Not sure if that is what you will be doing, but it sounded like it was an option so wanted to make sure you knew about it.

I would second (third?) royalist's route on the North Rim. Beautiful views, not very many people (just on the Yosemite Falls section), great variety and good conditions for that time of year. I have done it many times in June and enjoyed it every time.

As also mentioned, a hike out of Hetch Hetchy would be great at that time of year. You will definitely encounter fewer people there and see another wonderful area of the yosemite. The popular Laurel Lake, Lake Vernon, Rancheria Falls loop is a great hike. Its about 25 miles, which you'll see the lakes, a number of waterfalls and hike along hetch hetchy. Keep in mind that there is no shuttle to Hetch Hetchy.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 09, 2013 06:15AM
I was able to get a half some permit along with the glacier point to ilillouette trailhead smiling smiley. And great, I'm glad you enjoy northbound rim! I'm excited to be there!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 02:47PM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
Nevada Falls, camp somewhere there

There is nowhere you can camp before LYV. Nevada Fall and LYV are actually very close to each other. You can go beyond LYV and try to find somewhere to camp; I forget the minimum distance you have to travel beyond LYV before you are allowed to camp; I think it's a least a mile. It can be surprisingly hard to find a good camping spot; that's especially true if you are not experienced.

You will have great difficulty getting permits for LYV - they go very early. Likewise camping reservations for anywhere in the Valley are hard to get.

Vernal Fall -> Nevada Fall -> Panorama trail -> Four Mile trail is a great day-hike loop of about 14 miles.

Do not miss Mariposa Grove; it is an unbelievable experience to see those trees. Be aware that in June you may have to ride a shuttle bus from Wawona to get to the grove.

If you want to do Yosemite Falls -> Snow Creek, I suggest two nights:

Day 1 head up Yosemite Falls trail very early, bear left at the top where the trail forks, and set up camp near the creek well clear of the busy areas. Then you can hike west to Eagle Peak for a very nice view of the Valley, etc., return to camp, go hang around and explore the area by the head of the falls after the crowds have thinned out, etc.

Day 2, head east to Snow Creek, with side trips out to to North Dome (great views) and to Indian Rock ( a very cool rock arch). There is plenty to see and do along this route; you don't want to rush it. Finish up heading down to the area where Snow Creek drops off the edge of the rim and camp on the broad open area north of the trail with an incredible view of Half Dome.

Day 3, enjoy the views some more, then potter back down Snow Creek trail to the Valley.

The nice thing about this route is that it includes Yosemite Falls trail - which everyone ought to do on their first visit - and gives you a nice mix of typical Yosemite stuff (forests, creeks, rock domes, views).

Finally, mosquitos will be an issue in June; bring plenty of repellent!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 03:58PM
Thanks for the information about camping at LYV. I was attracted to doing yosemite falls to snow creek for just that reason.. Great views since we haven't been backpacking/hiking there before! Do you have any suggestions as how to make finding a good camp site easier?
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 07, 2013 12:17PM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
Do you have any suggestions as how to make finding a good camp site easier?

Not really, it truly does come down to developing an eye for it. By definition, an ideal camp site is invisible from the trail. That means you are looking off to the side of the trail for terrain that might hold a good spot so you can head off-trail and investigate. After a bunch of miserable failures beating around places where camping is impossible you eventually get better at knowing where to look.

Good spots can often be found by watching for faint tracks leading off the main trail where other people have already been camping, but you have to learn to differentiate between animal trails and human use. The trouble with going in the early season is that those trace trails tend to vanish over winter.

We generally arrive in the approximate location where we want to camp and spend some time exploring to find a good location. That can take quite a while if you are picky - it's surprisingly easy to blow through half an hour, especially if you find other people have already snagged the most obvious spots. A good trick can be for one person to sit and guard the packs while the other scouts for spots (never leave your packs unattended because a bear can appear from behind a blade of grass and steal a pack in a heartbeat; ditto bear canisters - their lids should be secured at all times you are not actively getting stuff out).

All that said, the camp spots for the Yosemite Falls -> Snow Creek trip I described are quite easy to find.

I am assuming that you have already read up online on what constitutes a good camp site, plus the regulations about distance from trails, water, valley rim, etc., so we do not need to repeat that level of detail here.

On the subject of how long things take, you will be amazed how much time it takes from finding a camp spot to getting everything set up, water fetched, camp tidied up ready for the night, wash yourselves, prepare and eat your meal, brush your teeth, final camp tidy-up, etc. It's meant to be fun, so you don't want to feel rushed/stressed; being able to hang out and be mellow around camp is part of the experience, as is exploring your surroundings in more detail instead of just blasting through to make the maximum mileage every day. On your first few trips, it's not at all unreasonable to start looking for somewhere to stop as early as 3:00 PM if it's a nice area. If you go up Yosemite Falls trail, setting up camp at noon would be ideal, because there is a huge amount you can do in that area.

Mountain House meals we like:

Turkey Tetrazini (probably our favorite)
Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
Chicken a la King
Pasta Primavera
Seafood Chowder (another favourite, especially if you add some peas - see below)
Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice
New Orleans Style Rice with Shrimp and Ham
Breakfast Skillet (ignore the "wraps" - it's fine straight out of the puch)
Granola with Milk and Blueberries (does not require hot water, so it's very quick and saves fuel)

Ignore the "number of servings" on the pouches - one pouch = one person! Just count calories (don't forget to multiply by the number of servings). Don't both have the same thing - that way you can swap if you hit a meal one of you doesn't like.

We like to add a pack of vegetables such as peans, green beans, or corn, split between two entree pouches; doing that adds fiber and a few extra calories. A pouch of mashed potato is a good filler if you are still hungry.

IMO, you should ignore the Mountain House "Pro-Pack" meals - they don't pack well in bear canisters; it's easier to make the pouches conform to the inside of the canister..

We don't bother with freeze-dried desserts - we just eat bars for dessert (a favorite is high-fiber chocolate covered coconut bar). It's quicker, easier, and saves fuel.

Speaking of fiber, you will find that your digestion may clam up in response to the combination of altitude, exercise, unfamiliar food and surroundings, etc. It's helpful to pick meals, bars, etc. that have a high fiber content. We tend to carry along some date-based bars; others here like Fig Newtons.

When choosing bars, we look for 100 calories and up per ounce (1oz = 28g). It doesn't matter how much the bar weighs so long as it has a matching number of calories - you can always split a bar between you. Likewise some freeze-dried meals offer relatively few calories per ounce - we tend to avoid those ones. Again, reading the packages carefully will tell you what you need to know. Given the restricted size of bear canisters, bulk is as important as weight; that's something you have to judge in the store.



Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 04/08/2013 09:59AM by Royalist.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 02:53PM
My 2c on food is stick to freeze-dried for your first few trips; it makes your life very simple. Some folks here like to do real cooking, some go even more basic. We prefer Mountain House to other brands, as usual YMMV. You can buy some and try it at home to see what you like. These days, we do freeze-dried meals for breakfast (Mountain House blueberry granola rocks) and dinner, but no lunch - we just eat bars and gels steadily through the middle of the day.

Look on the packaging and add up the calories to estimate how much you need to carry. We find we can't get through much over 2,000 calories per day, despite the heavy exercise, but you are young and can likely burn up more. Just don't go crazy and try to carry 4,000 calories per day - that's way more than you need and it's all extra weight and bulk.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 06, 2013 03:53PM
That's great advice! I was thinking the same thing about buying some things beforehand and trying them out to see what we like!
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 07, 2013 11:02AM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
That's great advice! I was thinking the same thing about buying some things beforehand and trying them out to see what we like!

If you like instant oatmeal and/or cream of wheat, those make for good easy breakfasts as opposed to freeze dried egg concoctions (yuk). I highly recommend doubling each serving per person.
I agree that nut and granola bars or other lightweight snacks are sufficient for mid-day eating,--no prep required and pack them in an exterior pocket each day so you don't have to dive into your backpack. If backpack weight is an issue try to avoid really heavy weight snacks. Some of those dried fruit/nut trail mixes are terrific but they also weigh a ton.
I too like Mountain House but find what I like is extremely limited. I'll be doing a 7-day hike in August which will require experimenting with Ramon noodles with meat additives thrown in, tortillas plus additives, etc. As for trying them ahead of time just be aware that all freeze dried food tastes much better on the trail when you are hungry. At home not so much. Feed ME!\
You can shop freeze dried food in places like REI and they look really tasty on the package but some are really nasty surprises. I'm talking over-the-top nasty! I think most of us have been there. One year I tried something called Corn & Bean Chowder (not Mountain House brand) that ended up in the cat hole. After heating it had the consistency of sheetrock paste and didn't taste much better. It needed at least twice as much water as called for. It might have gone down easier with more water but that would not have improved the taste. Senior management of freeze dried food companies should be forced to eat their own product at luncheon meetings. Now that would be real quality control!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2013 11:04AM by tomdisco.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 08, 2013 11:41AM
For "backpack" food I HIGHLY recommend the PIG ( //www.packitgourmet.com/ ). My wife is very picky about the taste of her food and she loved most everything we tried. They use a good combination of spices that really make the food taste good. We tried several at home and decided that we could order anything else without worry. I have not been disappointed since. I've even converted my brother who though all "backpack" food tastes like cardboard. With the PIG it helps if you like southwestern style food (my wife does), but it is not necessary. And I have found that their serving sizes are very accurate.

If you purchase your gear be very careful about weight. Saving a few ozs on every piece of gear can add up. If you spend all day hiking and are only "in camp" long enough to eat and sleep you will find you need less gear. I would recommend tarp tent tents ( www.tarptent.com ) for a lightweight tent. Make sure you have a water filter. I would recommend a sawyer squeeze ( http://www.amazon.com/Sawyer-SP131-PointOne-Squeeze-Pouches/dp/B005EHPVQW ). Also, purchase you backpacks last. Once you have all your gear, know what food you are taking you can then get a backpack that can carry it, but isn't overkill for what you are carrying. You need to be sure you can carry the bear canisters with the pack also. If you want to rent them I would make a cardboard tube the size of the canister and insure you can fit everything in it (I didn't and highly regretted not doing it).

Glacier Point -> Illilouette is nice and short and easy. Only a few hours of hiking. Illilouette -> LYV is longer with elevation changes (both up and down). If you are in good shape it's easy enough, but more than twice as much effort as the previous day. And you have to make it to at least LYV before you can camp. Once you get started you can always change your mind. You don't have to stick you your planned itinerary. After the first day, just go where you want to! And most of all, have fun.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/08/2013 11:43AM by Hitech.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 08, 2013 02:21PM
Thank you for your detailed response! I will look that food brand up now.. And ya we are going I get all out equipment ASAP to adjust/return anything if necessary.. Good new is we have out tickets now so we are definitely going!!! smiling smiley I also reserved permits.. One for going up yosemite falls the first day, camping two or three nights and then going up to glacier point and playing it by ear for up to another seven days (we'll see if we last that long!!)
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 08, 2013 05:13PM
Make sure you take some time to take in the other Yosemite sights and activities. If you are in Wawona go and see Tom Bopp play at the the Wawona Hotel. He plays vintage music and some of the songs are about Yosemite. He is also a fountain of information on all aspects of Yosemite and it's history.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 08, 2013 05:53PM
Quote
parklover
Make sure you take some time to take in the other Yosemite sights and activities. If you are in Wawona go and see Tom Bopp play at the the Wawona Hotel. He plays vintage music and some of the songs are about Yosemite. He is also a fountain of information on all aspects of Yosemite and it's history.

Ah! Another Tom Bopp fan! I wouldn't dream of going to Yosemite and not squeezing in at least one night at the Wawona to hear him (we usually end up talking afterwards for quite a while...helps that we're both classically trained composers as well as having a fascination with old roads!). (BTW, if you get a chance to meet his wife, Diane, she's also very nice and a VERY good painter). Tom's always entertaining, often very informative and just plain a super-nice guy! I'm also very fond of the food at the Wawona so a night there typically hits at least two of my non-hiking high points of a stay in the Park.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/08/2013 05:55PM by DavidK42.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 08, 2013 06:05PM
Haha David, I thought park lover was you for a second! Sounded just like you!!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 08, 2013 06:34PM
Ah, a kindred spirit. I always ask Tom to play the song Wawona Moon for me. I love Diane's paintings but I have never met her. Nothing like going to dinner, taking a short walk and then having dessert listening to Tom.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 09, 2013 01:09PM
Quote
Hitech
For "backpack" food I HIGHLY recommend the PIG ( //www.packitgourmet.com/ ). My wife is very picky about the taste of her food and she loved most everything we tried. They use a good combination of spices that really make the food taste good. We tried several at home and decided that we could order anything else without worry. I have not been disappointed since. I've even converted my brother who though all "backpack" food tastes like cardboard. With the PIG it helps if you like southwestern style food (my wife does), but it is not necessary. And I have found that their serving sizes are very accurate.

If you purchase your gear be very careful about weight. Saving a few ozs on every piece of gear can add up. If you spend all day hiking and are only "in camp" long enough to eat and sleep you will find you need less gear. I would recommend tarp tent tents ( www.tarptent.com ) for a lightweight tent. Make sure you have a water filter. I would recommend a sawyer squeeze ( http://www.amazon.com/Sawyer-SP131-PointOne-Squeeze-Pouches/dp/B005EHPVQW ). Also, purchase you backpacks last. Once you have all your gear, know what food you are taking you can then get a backpack that can carry it, but isn't overkill for what you are carrying. You need to be sure you can carry the bear canisters with the pack also. If you want to rent them I would make a cardboard tube the size of the canister and insure you can fit everything in it (I didn't and highly regretted not doing it).

Glacier Point -> Illilouette is nice and short and easy. Only a few hours of hiking. Illilouette -> LYV is longer with elevation changes (both up and down). If you are in good shape it's easy enough, but more than twice as much effort as the previous day. And you have to make it to at least LYV before you can camp. Once you get started you can always change your mind. You don't have to stick you your planned itinerary. After the first day, just go where you want to! And most of all, have fun.

Larry,
Thank you very much for the Packitguormet.com food source reference. I've just placed an order to try some of their items. Some of it sounds better than some other alternatives I was contemplating.
Jim
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 09, 2013 01:20PM
Quote
tomdisco
Larry,
Thank you very much for the Packitguormet.com food source reference. I've just placed an order to try some of their items. Some of it sounds better than some other alternatives I was contemplating.
Jim

No problem, I hope you like it. smileys with beer
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 09, 2013 01:47PM
Ya we're definitely going to try some of those too!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 13, 2013 09:13PM
Okay guys.. So what's the deal with water filtration in yosemite? I want to just get the gravity platypus but I'm worried about it not treating for viruses?? Especially with that mouse virus that broke out.. I know it was in a localized area but I'm still unsure,:. Saw the steripen works for viruses but it didn't get good reviews on rei :/
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 13, 2013 10:09PM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite

Okay guys.. So what's the deal with water filtration in yosemite? I want to just get the gravity platypus but I'm worried about it not treating for viruses?? Especially with that mouse virus that broke out.. I know it was in a localized area but I'm still unsure,:. Saw the steripen works for viruses but it didn't get good reviews on rei :/


Don't need to worry about water-borne viruses in the Sierra, so a water purifier that kills viruses isn't necessary, just a good water filter is all what's needed.

That said, the SteriPen Adventurer Opti Purifier (it uses an optical sensor to detect the water) will work fine in Yosemite. (The SteriPens that don't have an optical sensor tend to have problem in detecting water from snow melt since snow melt water tends to have very little mineral content.)

As long as you can keep it away from freezing conditions, the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter is an excellent high-flow water filter. This is the one I use most often in the summer. Again, just keep it away from freezing conditions.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 08:36PM
I can vouch for the SteriPen Opti, and searching the forum will show issues with earlier versions of the product. Can't say one way or the other about later versions, the Opti has a reworked optical sensor relative to earlier products and therefore can detect low-sediment water (it shuts off if it thinks its not in water because exposure to UV-C is bad, but water surface tension is enough to block it).

I'm not a microbiologist, but personally I have no idea how First Need gets away with calling their filter protection against viruses when no other similar products do so - its a filter and nothing else, it has a pore size consistent with other products on the market. Its big drawback if you actually need filtration (e.g.: glacial waters for sediment reasons, or skanky waters for aesthetic reasons) is that it has no field-maintainability. Sierra waters are neither sediment-laden nor skanky.

Recently bought the Sawyer to try out for snow camping, I'm tired of fishing out twig bits from the snow I'm melting before using the Steripen. Sadly, it seems likely to be several months before I take it snow camping where runoff isn't available - sounds pretty cool but haven't used it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2013 08:40PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 10:28PM
Quote
ttilley

Recently bought the Sawyer to try out for snow camping, I'm tired of fishing out twig bits from the snow I'm melting before using the Steripen. Sadly, it seems likely to be several months before I take it snow camping where runoff isn't available - sounds pretty cool but haven't used it.

In regards to snow camping, just make sure your Sawyer water filter doesn't experience temps below freezing because below freezing temps can destroy the effectiveness of its membrane filter.
.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 10:51PM
Quote
ttilley

I'm not a microbiologist, but personally I have no idea how First Need gets away with calling their filter protection against viruses when no other similar products do so - its a filter and nothing else, it has a pore size consistent with other products on the market. Its big drawback if you actually need filtration (e.g.: glacial waters for sediment reasons, or skanky waters for aesthetic reasons) is that it has no field-maintainability. Sierra waters are neither sediment-laden nor skanky.


Sawyer also makes a membrane-filter based water purifier that eliminates water-borne viruses. It's far more pricier than their regular non-virus removing water filters, but it's pretty portable and has a decent water flow rate:

Amazon.com: Sawyer Complete 4-Liter Dual Bag Water Purifier System

.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 08:49PM
Okay, So I know I asked this once before, but what's the deal with leaving stuff set up and then going day-hiking (whether it's at an actual campground or out off the trail somewhere)? I want to think it's fine, so we can have more freedom, but my boyfriend thinks were going to end up getting our stuff stolen. Has anyone ever had any issues?
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 09:47PM
I have never left anything off trail, but I have not had any issues with leaving our campsite with our tent up with sleeping bags, pads and clothes in it, camp chairs in front of the tent and my food and cooking things in the bear box while we were day hiking. There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you keep an eye on my things when I am gone, I will keep an eye on your things when you are gone. However we always put any valuables such as cameras in the trunk of the car when we are not in camp. I would only leave things in the campsite when you are gone if you have a reservation for that night. Otherwise the person who has that campsite for that night might have the rangers remove your stuff so they can set up their stuff.

I am not saying that things have not been taken but it has not happened to us.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 15, 2013 07:07AM
I've set up camp in the backcountry and gone day hiking plenty of times, never had an issue.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 13, 2013 11:15PM
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
Especially with that mouse virus that broke out.. I know it was in a localized area but I'm still unsure,:

Hanta Virus (the mouse virus you referred to) is transmitted through the air, not via water. Basically avoid and don't touch dead mice, mouse dens, mouse droppings or urine and you'll be fine.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 04:53PM
Quote
buster
Hanta Virus (the mouse virus you referred to) is transmitted through the air, not via water. Basically avoid and don't touch dead mice, mouse dens, mouse droppings or urine and you'll be fine.

And don't sleep with your head next to dried mouse urine.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2013 07:48PM by eeek.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 05:52PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
buster
Hanta Virus (the mouse virus you referred to) is transmitted through the air, not via water. Basically avoid and don't touch dead mice, mouse dens, mouse droppings or urine and you'll be fine.

And don't sleep with you head next to dried mouse urine.

lololol okay, I'll be sure to remember that.
avatar Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 06:24PM
The first need to overkill for Yosemite. I have one and used it Yosemite. It's pretty heavy. If you do decide to use it I suggest having a wide mouth nalgene bottle to attach to the filter to pump into. A heavy setup at over a pound. And seriously there is no chance of a viral infection from the water.
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 14, 2013 05:56PM
Quote
buster
Quote
Iwantmyyosemite
Especially with that mouse virus that broke out.. I know it was in a localized area but I'm still unsure,:

Hanta Virus (the mouse virus you referred to) is transmitted through the air, not via water. Basically avoid and don't touch dead mice, mouse dens, mouse droppings or urine and you'll be fine.

"Transmission can also occur when contaminated material gets into broken skin, or possibly, ingested in contaminated food or water." -http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/hantavir.html

We're going with the First Need XLE Portable Water Purifier just to be safe!!
Re: Need suggestions for a first backpacking trip!
April 09, 2013 09:00AM
If as you related you are really interested in not visiting areas in the wilderness where you will see many other people then you ought to ignore above suggestions of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Glacier Point, Little Yosemite Valley, and most valley trailheads. Only mrcondron's suggestions would likely have few or no others. It is true Snow creek might have few visitors but that is because it is an unpleasantly steep climb up a cliff so one I won't recommend for a novice. Late May choices in the national park are limited because snow will still be present in areas above 7000 feet especially if shady with most of the park areas people backpack to during summer above that elevation. The melting snows will swell streams making some impassible and leave standing water all over that generally makes trail hiking unpleasant.

I'm going to suggest an easy backpack for 3 or 4 days of just a few miles with not much elevation up down that starts at an out of the way trailhead. On Memorial Day weekend it is likely to have a fair number of visitors however otherwise rather empty. Near areas mrcondron's suggestion however Kibbie Lake is more scenic and pleasant at that time of spring and it's very glaciated granite landscape is very representitive of what makes Yosemite special. Wildflowers will be over the expansive granite sand flats. Just don't plunk down for a campsite where the trail meets the lake at the south end. Instead continue out to about midway along the west shore. Some nice day hiking exploring further to the north end of the lake. Rainbow trout in the lake and an area bald eagles visit. Easy walk up wilderness permit without quotas from Stanislaus National Forest Groveland ranger station.

We can help you with trailhead information later. Be sure to zoom in on the lake on this map then search on Google Images for "Kibbie Lake".

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=38.01983,-119.86805&z=13&t=T



http://www.davidsenesac.com



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/09/2013 09:03AM by DavidSenesac.
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