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Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« on: February 21, 2008, 11:36:39 AM »
I am finally getting out to Yosemite in July, and I am planning a 10-day backpacking route. I know we're all focused on Big Bend (and, apparently, guns and immigration), but I'm sure some of you have been out to the Range of Light. What would you do differently? What would you skip, and where would you linger (shorter mileage day, dayhikes, etc.)? Where would you camp? What would you add?

SAT JUL 5. Fly to Fresno.

SUN JUL 6. Take train/bus to Yosemite Valley. Exlore valley floor. Reservation for tent cabin in Curry Village.

MON JUL 7. Take shuttle to Glacier Point. Hike back to valley via Panorama Trail, Nevada Fall, and Happy Isles. Reservation for tent cabin in Curry Village.

TUE JUL 8. Take hiker's shuttle bound for Tioga Pass. Begin backpack at Porcupine Creek TH. Hike to North Dome, top of Yosemite Fall, then turn north along Yosemite Creek. Camp near Yosemite Creek above junction of trail to El Capitan (~11 miles).

WED JUL 9. Continue up Yosemite Creek/Ten Lake trail beyond Tioga Pass Road to Ten Lakes Basin. Camp in Ten Lakes Basin (~13 miles).

THU JUL 10. Retrace path out of Ten Lakes Basin, heading toward White Wolf. Resupply? Or skip White Wolf? Begin descent into Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Camp near Morrison Creek (~14 miles).

FRI JUL 11. Descend into Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne via Pate Valley. Hike upstream toward Tuolumne Meadows. Camp in the canyon (~10 miles).

SAT JUL 12. Continue upstream in Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Camp between California Falls and Glen Aulin (~10 miles).

SUN JUL 13. Hike to Tuolumne Meadows. Resupply. Hike to Rafferty Creek Trail. Camp alomg Rafferty Creek (~12 miles).

MON JUL 14. Hike to Vogelsang. Follow Lewis Creek Trail toward Merced Lake. Camp before reaching Merced Lake (~9 miles).

TUE JUL 15. Follow Merced River through Echo Valley to Little Yosemite Valley. Camp near the Muir Trail/Clouds Rest junction or near Quarter Domes (~11 miles)

WED JUL 16. Dayhike to Clouds Rest. Explore Quarter Domes (~10 miles)

THU JUL 17. Early morning summit of Half Dome. Descend to Happy Isles via John Muir Trail. Reservation at Yosemite Lodge (~12 miles).

FRI JUL 18. Depart Yosemite via bus/trail/bus to San Francisco. Night in San Francisco.

SAT JUL 19. San Francisco.

SUN JUL 20. Fly home to Austin.

As you can tell from the descriptions, I will not be renting a car, so I will be able to go only where my feet and public transportation will take me.

So that's the rough plan. I've posted it to the various Yosemite communities -- none are as robust and cool as this one -- but I wanted to give this group a shot at it too.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline okiehiker

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2008, 03:05:48 PM »
Great itinerary Jeff.

I am always torn.  You have chosen many of the most popular places and will see more people than in some of the Yosemite backcountry.  However, there is a reason they are popular.  Your trip will be absolutely stunning. 

I once led a group at Yellowstone in which everyone of course wanted to go to Old Faithful.  Old Faithful is one of the best known but least impressive features in our major national parks.  In midsummer the traffic jams take hours to negotiate.  We went to Mammoth Hot Springs and the Midway Geyser Basin, got to see Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser.  We also got to see muc of the Absoraka Beartooth backcountry. 

When we got home everyone wanted to know if the people had seen Old Faithful.  No matter what else you may tell them about the trip and the park, all they will know is that you failed to see what really mattered.

You will see much of what really matters about Yosemite.  You and 1,000 of your closest friends will climb Half Dome, and it will be the trip of a lifetime for most of them, as it should be.  You will spend ten days in the heart of what just might be the most spectacular place on the planet.  The rest of us should be so lucky.

Just give us a report when you get home.
Funny... I have a story about that...

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2008, 03:27:15 PM »
... When we got home everyone wanted to know if the people had seen Old Faithful.  No matter what else you may tell them about the trip and the park, all they will know is that you failed to see what really mattered.

You will see much of what really matters about Yosemite.  You and 1,000 of your closest friends will climb Half Dome, and it will be the trip of a lifetime for most of them, as it should be.  You will spend ten days in the heart of what just might be the most spectacular place on the planet.  The rest of us should be so lucky.

Just give us a report when you get home.

Yes, I will not be alone. And, yes, I feel like I should see the iconic things in this trip, even though I can certainly withstand the quizzical looks and exasperated shots -- Well, why didn't you climb Half Dome? You were there for 10 days! -- that come from failing to do choosing not to do what every tourist does. So I am sure I will see hordes of people, at least relative to the tiny handful I might meet in Big Bend.

The idea is to minimize their impact on my well-being. Part of that is to try to beat the crowds to the icons. With Half Dome, I plan on camping as high above Little Yosemite Valley as I can and getting myself up the cables before the campers below have awakened. That will get me down the trail as the hordes rise from the Valley. At least, that's how it works in my mind.  :eusa_think:

Subsequent trips will aim for the fall, since I will have experienced the waterfalls and can pass on them this time, and for the less populated places. Because then I can still show people my photos from Half Dome and Glacier Point and Clouds Rest to prove I was there.

As for Old Faithful, I dutifully visited it one summer. I arose before sunrise and hit the Loop Road for the long drive halfway around the figure-8 to the geysers. I got there so early, I actually got the closest non-handicapped parking space to the amphitheater they have built to witness the geyser. The time approached, the sun had just cleared the mountains to the east, and there were maybe a dozen people in the bleachers. Old Faithful did its thing. Then I spent the next three hours wandering around, seeing far more interesting features (My personal favorite was Riverside Geyser.). When I returned to Old Faithful, the bleachers were full, the parking lot was full, the sidewalks were full, the lines for the funnel cakes were full, the whole damn place was full of tourists. It was satisfying to watch people fight over my parking space when I left ... and I didn't stop until I had gotten to Canyonlands.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline russco

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2008, 03:40:29 PM »
Hate to chime in when I haven't even been to the park but a couple of words came to mind. Jealousy and Envy! :eusa_drool:
Carved upon my stone: my body lie but still I ROAM

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2008, 09:00:01 PM »
Don't worry about the people. Sure, they are there and yes, solitude is a more difficult to find than more out of the way places. But the beauty of Yosemite lies in both the grandeur and the culture of the place. If you go with the understanding that you are not there for solitude then you will fall in love with the place. If you are feeling misanthropic you will only notice the cars and hordes of people and overlook some of this country's most spectacular mountain scenery.

Heed the warnings regarding Sierra mosquitoes and bears. Both can not be overstated, but with proper precautions both are easily managed.

Enjoy,

Danny

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BigBendHiker

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2008, 09:13:00 PM »
Good for you, Jeff!  I visited Yosemite in 1980 -- want to go back someday.  Be sure to share your photos and trip report with us.


BBH

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Yosemite in July - REVISED Itinerary
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2008, 01:06:52 AM »
Thanks everyone for the advice. I've rerouted myself a bit based on feedback I've gotten and some further research. The revised plan, with some lingering questions, is:

JUL 5-7 - travel and dayhike starting from Glacier Point

TUE JUL 8 - begin at Porcupine Creek, hike to North Dome and the top of Yosemite Falls. Camp as far up the Yosemite Creek Trail as possible (goal: near the trail split where one fork goes to the campground and the other to White Wolf).

WED JUL 9 - hike toward White Wolf but bypass it to the east, finding a campsite near Morrison Creek partway down the trail to Pate Valley. If especially energetic, get to Pate Valley.

THU JUL 10 - hike up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, finding a campsite at around 5,600 feet elevation, roughly 2km east of Register Creek. QUESTION: Most of the trailguides I've read don't really discuss camping options between Pate Valley and just west of Glen Aulin. Will I find a suitable site in the area I'm aiming for?

FRI JUL 11 - continue hike up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, finding a campsite between California Falls and Glen Aulin.

SAT JUL 12 - finish hike up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, refueling, recharging batteries, and resupplying at Tuolumne Meadows. Continue up Lyell Canyon to the junction with the trail to Vogelsang and Ireland Lake and camp there. QUESTION: What are the odds of snagging a site at TM camp (or backpacker camp if there is one) on a Saturday if I decide refueling, recharging, and resupplying might take awhile?

SUN JUL 13 - hike up to Vogelsang, camp in its vicinity

MON JUL 14 - hike over the pass and take the Lewis Creek Trail past Merced Lake and camp in Echo Valley or near the junction of the Echo Creek and High Trails.

TUE JUL 15 - hike the Echo Creek Trail to Sunrise and camp at the Sunrise lakes.

WED JUL 16 - hike to Clouds Rest, set up what I expect will be a dry camp somewhere near the Quarter Domes. Dayhike down to LYV for water. QUESTION: Has anyone camped here? My thought process is, camp as high as possible to shorten the following morning's ascent of Half Dome, which brings me to

THU JUL 17 - summit Half Dome, hike down to Happy Isles and embrace the loving arms of a shower and a bed.

JUL 18-20 - travel via the City by the Bay

So I've essentially cut out the Ten Lakes Basin and rerouted my approach to Clouds Rest. I haven't re-added the mileage, so I'm guessing these changes lead to a net reduction of about 6-8 miles and eliminate a significant up and down. It also shifts the LONG day from Day 3 to Day 5. It also allows a little more time to make the long climb up the Grand Canyon.

I realize this isn't a Yosemite forum, but any additional guidance y'all have would be fantastic and much appreciated!
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2008, 04:25:25 PM »
A little wrinkle has popped up with the park's campground opening date estimates. Tuolumne Meadows campground is not projected to open until July 15 -- 3 days after I pass through the area. This by itself is not an issue, since I'm not planning on camping there. But it may mean the camp store won't be open, so resupplying might be jeopardized. I may end up having to carry all 10 days' worth of food when I hit the trail.  :icon_eek:
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Summit

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Re: Yosemite in July - REVISED Itinerary
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2008, 10:39:36 PM »


SAT JUL 12 - finish hike up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, refueling, recharging batteries, and resupplying at Tuolumne Meadows. Continue up Lyell Canyon to the junction with the trail to Vogelsang and Ireland Lake and camp there. QUESTION: What are the odds of snagging a site at TM camp (or backpacker camp if there is one) on a Saturday if I decide refueling, recharging, and resupplying might take awhile?


I think there is a backpacker camp near the trailhead for Tuolumne Meadows.  We stayed at the Happy Isles one before heading up Little Yosemite Valley and then up towards Vogelsang.  It was huge and we easily found a spot despite going over memorial day weekend.  Enjoy the trip!

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Offline lighter fluid

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2008, 10:55:53 PM »
A little wrinkle has popped up with the park's campground opening date estimates. Tuolumne Meadows campground is not projected to open until July 15 -- 3 days after I pass through the area. This by itself is not an issue, since I'm not planning on camping there. But it may mean the camp store won't be open, so resupplying might be jeopardized. I may end up having to carry all 10 days' worth of food when I hit the trail.  :icon_eek:

Jeff,
Glen Aulin high camp has a camp store as well. You should be passing right by there on your way out of the Canyon and towards Tuolemne Meadows. I haven't seen any info in regards to it being closed during that time period. It might be worth looking into.

Quote
camping options between Pate Valley and just west of Glen Aulin. Will I find a suitable site in the area I'm aiming for?

I'm not sure about this as I have never camped in the area, but I will ask some of the people I know that may be familiar with it.

Ironically, I am due to be in Fresno and hiking in the Sierra Nevada at the same time.
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline lighter fluid

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2008, 07:09:40 PM »
Word on the Glen Aulin high camp store is that it has only a few items such as drinks and candy bars.
I was told that it more than likely wouldn't be sufficient for resupply.
It does, of course, have the Glen Aulin high camp t-shirt if you would like that.

You can only buy each high camp's t-shirt at its respective high camp store.
Many people like to collect them to show that they reached a particular camp.

I'm still checking on the Pate Valley to Glen Aulin campsite situation.
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline lighter fluid

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2008, 10:35:33 AM »
Jeff,
Did you see this trip report from 2005.
http://drzeus.best.vwh.net/trips/200507/

They give some details on finding " a great campsite about two miles up from Pate Valley"
and  between Muir Gorge and Waterwheel Falls they say they found "one of the two best campsites on this trip. The site was huge, canopied by giant trees, and had access to a really lovely, calm stretch of the river with a great diving rock."

Its a nice trip report with some great pics and details.

Hope this helps,
Matt
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2008, 11:05:39 AM »
Thanks Matt, looks like they had a great trip.

I've been working on elevation profiles. It looks like my current route has about 22,000 feet of elevation gain and 26,000 feet of elevation loss, and ranges from 4,300 feet in Pate Valley to over 10,600 feet in the high Sierra. There are three days with 3,000+ foot elevation losses! The last day loses over 5,000 feet. On at least six days, I will gain enough elevation to go from the Basin trailhead to the top of Emory Peak.  :icon_eek:

At least I won't be carrying gallons of water at a time.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline lighter fluid

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2008, 02:50:40 PM »
Thanks Matt, looks like they had a great trip.

I've been working on elevation profiles. It looks like my current route has about 22,000 feet of elevation gain and 26,000 feet of elevation loss, and ranges from 4,300 feet in Pate Valley to over 10,600 feet in the high Sierra. There are three days with 3,000+ foot elevation losses! The last day loses over 5,000 feet. On at least six days, I will gain enough elevation to go from the Basin trailhead to the top of Emory Peak.  :icon_eek:

At least I won't be carrying gallons of water at a time.

Wow.
When you break it down that way it becomes a bit more intimidating. What a fantastic hike.
My brother and I discussed hiking the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne back in 06
and he had mentioned again for this year, but we also have a real desire to get in the Mineral King Valley
in Sequoia National Park. Knowing us, we will probably end up somewhere else we never planned on, but just as stunning.
Going to the Sierra Nevada is kind of like being a kid in a candy store.  :icon_biggrin:

The NPS site for Yosemite can be a bit of a hassle when trying to find the proper phone #s,
ranger stations in particular, so my brother recommended I pass this along to you.

http://www.yosemitefun.com/Yosemite_National_Park_phone_numbers.htm

Among others, the ranger stations #s might prove helpful to you in gathering more information for planning your trip.

Matt
« Last Edit: March 27, 2008, 02:52:33 PM by lighter fluid »
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2008, 03:54:33 PM »
Quote
Wow.
When you break it down that way it becomes a bit more intimidating. What a fantastic hike.

Yup, this walk in the park is no walk in the park. All those ups and downs keep me focused on making the best gear choices and bringing the lightest, best options for the money. Hence my internal debate over photography gear -- my current photography setup weighs more than my pack, shelter, and sleeping bag combined. :icon_eek:

I have a buddy who's been to Mineral King. He said the bears were having a convention there. And the mosquitoes, too.

And yes the NPS site for Yosemite is not very well laid out. I've been thoroughly spoiled by Ranger Eric's work  :eusa_clap:
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

 


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