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Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (80% of Full)


Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old

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High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 06:44AM
Hi there,

Am hoping for some advice - I did a lot of hiking in Yosemite as a child and teenager but wasn't responsible for logistics and didn't do any overnight hikes (rest of the family weren't keen!). I currently live in Australia and am bringing my partner and his 7 year old daughter to visit Yosemite for the first time. She is an active kid and pretty fit.

We have the opportunity to stay at May Lake and Glen Aulin High Sierra Camps, which I think would be a great adventure for her. I have done a lot of hiking and backpacking and am aware of navigation, need for emergency food/shelter etc and am not too worried about that side of things. I've had a look at the maps and the contours for doing Tioga Rd to May Lake one day, then May Lake to Glen Aulin the next, then Glen Aulin back to Tuolumne Meadows look manageable with a child that age. However, I haven't walked the route myself in it's entirety and so would love reassurance from those who are more familiar with the hike that it is not vastly overambitious. We would obviously carry most things for her. We are looking at mid July for the hike.

I was also wondering what people recommended in terms of parking and bear boxes. As we are on a longer holiday there will be stuff like toiletries that we will need to stash. Would it make more sense to leave the car at TM and stuff in a bear box there and catch the shuttle down, or to drive to the May Lake trailhead and leave the car there? Are there bear boxes at both the ML trailhead and the drop off point on the Tioga Road?

Would also love a rough estimate on the timing for the hike up to ML as we will be entering the park that day. Not ideal in terms of altitude but it's only a couple miles up to the camp so think we will be fine. Also whether there is enough water en route to make it worth packing purification stuff or better just to carry what we need each day?

Apologies for the questions and thank you in advance. In the Lakes in the UK and parts of Aus am all over this stuff but some of the logistics with bear boxes and shuttles is a bit beyond me! We have also done multi day backpacking carrying the tent and stoves etc. in a few places but thought the HSCs would be a great intro for the little one - we are just not massively familiar with the TM area!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2013 06:50AM by Chlo83.
avatar Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 07:34AM
Purty sure the kid will be fine and be loving it. Take a lot of breaks.
Well... that is what I heard. I'm not familiar with the small crowd. wink
Jay will prolly chime in... smiling smiley

I'd rec. parking at the May Lake TH. On May Lake Road. Not what they
are calling May Lake TH now with the TM Shuttle running. That is simply
b/c they don't want the shuttle bus having to go up/down May Lake Road
and instead just turn around at Olmsted. (and the Snow Creek->May Lake
trail ... that is further than the "May Lake TH" on Tioga Road)
Make sense?

Well... don't worry... Patfans asked this already...

You MAY be able to hitch a ride to May Lake where you parked your car.
Not ideal but that's about the best you can do.

Have fun

There are bear boxes at May Lake TH on May Lake Road. There are NO
bear boxes at May Lake TH on Tioga Road.
Get water out of the lakes you go by and filter it or sterilize it however you prefer.
(hope that makes sense)

If you need more options... can give them...
But I def. would not make the kid hike anything but from May Lake TH on May Lake Rd.
to May Lake on day 1. And would not make her hike from May Lake TH on Tioga Rd.
to May Lake TH on May Lake Rd. at any point.
Fun, eh?

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 08:51AM
Thanks that makes sense with the trailheads. Park at the May Lake Road trailhead (not Tioga Rd) and walk up from there so the kidlet doesn't have to do ML Tioga Rd to ML trailhead. smiling smiley It's good to know that's something to avoid! Then when we arrive back in TM we can either wait there while someone gets the car, or possibly all get the shuttle together and I can take her to the beach by Tenaya Lake while my other half picks up the car.

I will pack the filter pump smiling smiley Or maybe even go wild and invest in a steripen!

Good to hear it should be manageable though - thanks for the tips smiling smiley
avatar Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 12:54PM
As a lightweight water filter alternative that's even easier to use than a Steripen, you might want to consider purchasing a Sawyer Squeeze water filter. They're super lightweight, fast, and very easy to use:

REI: Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter Plus

Also, mosquitoes along with biting flies can be a major problem anywhere in the Sierra, including Yosemite, during the summer months. So be sure to bring along an effective insect repellant.

30%+ DEET repellants are very effective against mosquitos (but not so effective against biting flies). Insect repellants made from 20% Picaridin are more effective in repelling black flies compared to DEET, and it's effective (like DEET) against mosquitos too. Also, Picaridin based insect repellants won't harm plastics like DEET can.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2013 01:08PM by plawrence.
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 01:15PM
If you can, camp at Toulumene Meadows for a couple of nights to get acclimated. Then hike to May Lake. To get to the trailhead for TM, follow CA120(Tioga road) past Tenya lake and past Olmstead point. Then maybe a mile past Olmstead point there's on old road to ML that turns off to the right. Take that road and follow to the end . The trailhead (with bear boxes) is at the end of the road. This is the trail head that chick-on mentioned. It's a short hike up to ML. There are also bear boxes at ML and a faucet for drinking water. And flush toilets. It's Cadillac camping.
Agree that it's not too exciting to hike from ML to GL. I would return to TM and hike to GL. It's a nice fairly level hike along the river with waterfalls.. Oh, and there's also a water faucet for drinking water at GL. Bear boxes too.
Personally, I wouldn't carry a water filter if I was going to ML and GL. Fill your container(s) at TM . This should be enough to get you to either ML or GL. Then refill at the HSC.
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 11, 2013 04:32PM
We visited May Lake Friday, June 7. There was a note at the trailhead and at the camp (not yet set up) that there was a water leak in the system. I didn't pay much attention to the sign, but the gist of it was, be prepared to treat your water. The bathrooms were chained shut for the backpacking camp. Best to check closer to your trip to get current conditions. But I think always a good idea to at least carry chlorine dioxide tablets, just in case.
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 09:11AM
May Lake is a beautiful high alpine lake. And super easy to get to, only slightly over a mile hike up from the parking lot that chick-on mentions. Once there you can swim in the lake, fish, and explore. There are day hikes of various lengths, among them hiking up to the top of Mount Hoffman. The meals at the High Sierra Camp are served family style and are very tasty, the camp host tells great stories about Yosemite history while the kitchen staff prepares dessert. There is usually a camp fire in the evening to top off the day. I took my kid here when he was eight or nine and he loved it.

We stayed for a couple of nights and the key to the experience for my son was that he could do as much or as little as he chose. The first day we were feeling the effects of altitude and didn't want to do anything too strenuous so just hung around the lake, swam and tried our hand at fishing. The next day my son woke up roaring to go and we hiked to the top of Mt Hoffman.

So if you have the opportunity, grab a couple of days at May Lake. There is also a camp at Tuolomne Meadows. Stay there another couple of days and do day hikes and explorations around the meadows.

Skip the hike from May Lake to Glen Aulin. It is eight miles and not terribly interesting. Yes, Glen Aulin is fabulous as well, but it would be an exceptional seven year old that appreciated that fact after an 8 mile hike at altitude. Just my 2 cents.
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 01:46PM
I disagree about the scenery from May Lake to Glen Aulin. There is a field of lupine less than a mile from May Lake. There's a section of rocky switchbacks that had water seeping out of various cracks in the rocks creating lovely little wildflower rock gardens. There are good views back to Tenaya Lake. And it's downhill from May Lake to Glen Aulin. Of course, only you can judge your child's tolerance for hiking.

Hope you have a great trip.
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 09:27PM
Thank you so much for all the useful feedback. Really want to make sure the kidlet enjoys the trip and know the HSCs are cushy camping but think it will be less daunting for her than potentially arriving and pitching tents in the rain etc.

I haven't heard of Picaridin insect repellents but will check it out - Deet does the job but does have an awkward habit of melting things!

Interesting to hear people say the ML to GA hike isn't that great and some of the other suggestions. Would it really be better to walk down from ML back to the trailhead, drive to TM and walk to GA than just walk ML to GA? We thought the loop would be a bit of an adventure for her but open to returning to the car and starting again at TM - the mileage would be pretty similar. I will also keep my eyes open for another night at ML but we are booked for 8 July so only have a couple of days to make changes if anything comes up or we will be into the 30 day cancellation.

The Sawyer squeeze looks great and is a bit cheaper than Steripen. Is the soft bottle relatively easy to fill from steams etc? In the past I've had troubles filling a platy so needed to carry a hard bottle too...

Thanks again smiling smiley
avatar Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 05, 2013 09:40PM

The Sawyer squeeze looks great and is a bit cheaper than Steripen. Is the soft bottle relatively easy to fill from steams etc? In the past I've had troubles filling a platy so needed to carry a hard bottle too...

I haven't found it to be difficult. But another neat feature of the Sawyer Squeeze Filter is that threading of the filter is designed to work with American 20 fl. oz and even the larger 2-liter plastic bottles:

avatar Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 06, 2013 10:18AM
Whether you do ML to GA or a round trip from TM to GA is your call. The 8 mile trek from ML to GA may require lots of breaks for a 7 year old. Actually, the toughest leg for her will be the GA to TM leg since the first 1.5 miles is all uphill. The best thing to do on that portion is again take plenty of breaks. Another good reason to take your time on the uphill portion is that it's one of the most beautiful trail sections in Yosemite along the river with frequent falls, rapids, and deep pools to gaze at.
Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 11, 2013 02:45PM
No need to carry a "hard" bottle to fill a small-mouth bottle. We cut a lightweight water bottle like an AquaFina bottle in half, very lightweight., amazingly durable. Scoop and pour into your Platy. We do this with our 3 Litre Hosers when we hit camp. Or scoop and steripen and drink right out of it during a short break. I only say this for clear running Sierra water in areas with no grazing nearby, which is most of the area I play in between Yosemite and Whitney. YMMV. We've been fine with this set up for a long time. I have not been a fan of the big heavy hard Nalgene-type bottles. In winter, I'll use a wide-mouth Nalgene canteen (like a Platy but with a big mouth so easy to open if frozen).

Or.. take a whole aquafina type bottle (750 ml to 1litre) and use with a Frontier Pro or Sawyer Squeeze type filter, and you can use the bottle to fill the platy. Just put the bottle under a natural faucet or submerge under water and tip so the air comes out and water goes in. Even the whole bottle is much lighter than what I suspect you mean by "hard bottle" and works quite nicely.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2013 02:49PM by JustKeepWalking.
avatar Re: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 07, 2013 10:48AM
I've done this trip with my little ones and some boy scouts in the past. The hike between Glen Aulin and May Lakes is nothing terribly spectacular (compared to other places in the park) but it is still a beautiful walk. Either way you choose to do your hike would be fine and your young hiker can handle it. I am always surprised at what my kids can handle. They're tougher than we think.

I have found that there are a few keys to backpacking with young children. The first is to make sure they have a well fitted pack. Even though they will not be carrying much weight, it's important to make them feel like they are helping by carrying some of the equipment. Even if it's just a pillow and a stuffed animal. There are some local shops that will rent pack for kids, but I went with a small day pack until they were a little bigger.

The second key it to bring familiar foods and snacks. You may carry a bit more weight but the comfort level it provides for the young kids is worth the effort.

A distraction, like a digital camera that they can take pictures with along the way, is a good idea too. The photo perspective of kids is always fun to see.

She'll have a great time! Enjoy!

"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: High Sierra Camps with 7 yr old
June 11, 2013 03:25PM
Thanks everyone - really appreciate the input and am feeling much reassured. She is very excited and loving her new pack. We did another practice hike at the weekend and my other half and I could barely keep up! Tip re water and giving her some jobs/little things to carry are great. Will also make sure to bring some of her favourite snacks over from Aus with us!
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