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#93904 - 04/08/08 12:29 PM Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemite
punqroqclimber Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 4
Obviously there are a lot variables as far as experience, and general outdoor savvy to consider.

But as a general broad OPINION ( operative word)....


I am 26, and have been hiking, climbing, kayaking, hunting, camping, biking, hiking etc. in some form or another for as long as I can remember. But have never embarked on a legit "backpacking trip."

All past trips have been day hikes to a spot, camp and return to the car via the same route ... or worse, camping right next to the car. I've always camped with friends and most of my trips have been in the Midwest.

That being said, I'd consider myself to be a fairly savvy outdoors-man regarding risk assessment, weather, shelter, utilization of gear, first aid, and general "camp-ways."

My Question Boils Down To This: I've always wanted to take a trip to Yosemite and do a multi-day backpacking trip. I've decided on a route starting at Toulumne Meadows and ending in the Valley. I've never stepped foot in Yosemite before and my usual "outdoor" buddies either can't free up their schedules or can't come up with the cash, so I've decided to go it alone. I'll be out there in late July and will be out for at least 3 days/2 nights, but would like to stretch it to a full 4 days. I've already begun conditioning myself with weekend day hikes on various terrain.

So... am I crazy?
If so, why? What may I have not considered?

I encourage blunt honesty.

Thanks in advance for any help I receive.
_________________________
"It's only fun until someone loses an eye, then it's just fun you can't see."

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#93905 - 04/08/08 12:40 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: punqroqclimber]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Yosemite is a National Park. You will never be alone. When I was eleven, I went backpacking with my scout troop to Yosemite. I was fortunate enough to get lost with another boy. In this lost state, we probably saw 20-30 hikers walk past us on the trail. Our leader was looking for us and found us by asking people if they saw us. In other words, too many people to be really lost.

Backpacking is different than the other camping you have done because you will have less, and it will hopefully be lighter. This requires more skill.

If you still go to Yosemite, don't pass up a hike to Half Dome. You won't forget it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#93906 - 04/08/08 12:56 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: finallyME]
punqroqclimber Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 4
Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

Depending on how I work my trip out, I plan on hiking half dome on my last day... I definitely want to check it out. How long does it take to the top?

As for the crowds, thats something I was afraid of. I have a buddy who did a loop starting and ending in the valley last October and he was fortunate enough to not see anyone for two full days, but thats October... not July.

I'm going to try and get off on some lesser trails for part of my trip, but who knows how much that will help.

In any case, thanks again for the advice.

One side note... anyone know if it's worth getting a permit and bringing my fly rod?
_________________________
"It's only fun until someone loses an eye, then it's just fun you can't see."

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#93907 - 04/11/08 07:31 AM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: punqroqclimber]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Half dome is rather strenuous for a one day hike. Remember the last part is climbed on the cables, which are also in use by the steady flow of hikers climbing with you.... I would do Half Dome first and hike on from there.

You might want to be looking at topo maps and guide books, and if the route you choose is very popular (anything at Tuolumne Meadows, up Little Yosemite Valley, Half Dome) you will want to register your wilderness permit early as possible. You will also want to look up approved bear canisters; there are three or four choices if you buy one, and they rent the Garcia at the park for like five bucks a day. (You can also rent the Bearikade at the manufacturer's website.) If you don't have one and a ranger catches you, you'll need 164 bucks to pay the fine. Canisters are mandatory.

I'm planning a solo into Hetch Hetchy - I may make that a long 3-4 night loop by going up into Tiltili and around. I'm also debating a trip into Ostrander Lake or Chilnualna Lakes. These are trips from trailheads not in the valley and less likely to be choked with a solid stream of hikers.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

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#93908 - 04/23/08 04:32 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: punqroqclimber]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
A few suggestions.

It can be really hot in July in the valley. If it is 100+ degrees in the flat lands, it is going to be in the 90's in Yosemite Valley. The valley gets crowded and full of air pollution in the mid-summer. I personally avoid the valley in the summer. Spring and Fall are the best time to go to the Valley.

The worst mosquitoes I have ever experienced was on July 4th in northern Yosemite at about 9,000-10,000 feet elevation.

The John Muir Trail is really crowded. Mid-week is better timing than weekends. There are lots of nice trails that get less use. Also, even if you are on a heavily used trail, you can always have privacy at camp by staying away from the standard campsites. Walk a quarter to half a mile off trail and you will have it all to yourself. Take two Platypus 2.5-liter water bottles so you can have the option of camping a bit away from water (thus away from the crowds).

Little Yosemite Valley is an ugly, over-used, crowded campground plagued by ill-behaved bears. There are many nice spots to set up a tent before you get there. Nothing says you have to stay at the back-country campgrounds. Just be at least 200 feet away from the trail and water. It is not legal to camp between Little Yosemite Valley and the trailhead at Happy Isles.

If you do a one-way Tolumne to the Valley, you have to get back to your car. I believe you have to pay about $20 or so to take a bus back. You may consider looping back to your car by a different trail.

Yosemite trails are good for a first solo trip. The junctions are well signed and the country is distinctive so map reading is easy.

From Nevada Falls, the Mist Trail is much more spectacular than the John Muir Trail. Do not believe those who say the Mist Trail is not good for backpacking. I backpack up and down this trail all the time - you just have to go up and down a lot of rock steps. Take it slow and enjoy the views! Trekking poles help.

The backpacker's campground in the Valley is really nice. You are allowed to stay there the night that you come out. It is $5 per person.

Have a great trip!

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#93909 - 04/23/08 05:51 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: punqroqclimber]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
You're quite insane. Fuggetaboutit. Stay home with brats and beer. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

But seriously, given your backround, the area and the time of year your plan sounds reasonable.

A few random thoughts:

That area of Yosemite in late July will be very crowded. Are you talking the JMT or another route perhaps through Merced Lake? Either way you'll need a permit for an overnight trip. Walk in permits are available first come first served but they are not guaranteed. Permits can be reserved in advance but as you can see here quotas fill very quickly. At that time of year on those trails you stand a pretty good chance of being stopped for a permit check by a ranger. But the upside of all the crowds is this: If you do run into trouble and you're solo help could be very near.

You'll definitely need a bear canister. Required by law.

Tuolumne to the Valley involves a significant elevation drop. That much downhill walking can be very hard on the knees and the quads. Now add the weight of a 4 day pack to the equation. Prepare for that. Even if you're 26.

You mentioned a lot of activities over a long period of time but you really didn't specify your fitness level. Weekend day hikes may or may not be enough at this time. Train the same way you'll hike.....with a loaded pack on. Condition your back and shoulders as well as your legs. Backpacking is very different than day hiking. Check out some hiking poles. Lots of folks here swear by them.

You'll be at altitudes far above anything the Midwest has to offer. It's really hard to train for that so just be prepared to compensate your pace a little. And you won't have that Midwest summer humidity. The Sierra air is usually very dry. You'll be sweating much more than you may notice. You'll also be hitting the area during thunderstorm/lightning season but I'm sure you're used to that.

Be familiar with your camping equipment. I always tell people to do a "dress rehearsal" with exactly everything you'll carry on the real McCoy, but just spend a night car camping or even in your back yard. People new to backpacking tend to take way too much stuff. Fire up your stove and cook a few meals to determine how much fuel you'll actually need. Learn what you can live without in your back yard before you leave. Your legs will thank you during that last long descent into the valley.

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#93910 - 04/23/08 06:04 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3983
Loc: Bend, Oregon
WD
quote"
____________________________________
Little Yosemite Valley is an ugly, over-used, crowded campground plagued by ill-behaved bears. There are many nice spots to set up a tent before you get there. Nothing says you have to stay at the back-country campgrounds. Just be at least 200 feet away from the trail and water.
___________________________________"

Oh now Daisy how you carry on. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> One of my most memorable BP trips was up to Little Yosemite Valley to camp one night, assault Half Dome and return to the Valley the second day. Did I mention the Rain? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Anyway my friend and I chose a fir tree about 6" in diameter, at the edge of the campground, and we pitched our solo tents under it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />This tree was so dense and the branches were so low, that it was bone dry under the tree. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> Also we could look out from under the tree which was about 2 feet high, and we had the "bears eye view of the campground. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />" We lit our camp stove and were dry and happy. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

As far as the thread: Just be a little careful if you get off trail in the sierras. Theres a lot of steep slick rock. NEVER step on steep glacier polish.


Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#93911 - 04/23/08 08:51 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: Jimshaw]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I stand by my comment. I was chatting with the ranger at Merced Lake 2 years ago and the bear problem in Little Yosemite was amazing. Now, assuming he was not "pulling my leg", he said that a bear was terrorizing the campers - even pulled a pack off the back of a backpacker. The Park Service was trying to trap the bear - Bear was very smart - went into the bear trap to get the goodies - holding the door open with its back foot, and then exiting the trap. Smart bear.

The bear issue aside, my preference is ANY campsite that is not a designated campsite. I have a secret camp spot for climbing Half Dome. It has a view to die for. Am I telling anyone. No Way!

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#93912 - 04/23/08 09:10 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: wandering_daisy]
Infamous Offline
member

Registered: 02/12/08
Posts: 21
Loc: So Cal
FYI, according to the NPS/Yosemite website, you are not permitted to camp between Happy Isles and Little Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Regulations
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You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!

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#93913 - 04/24/08 08:55 AM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: Infamous]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
My "secret" site is legal and it is NOT between Happy Isles and Little Yosemite Valley. Sorry if my words implied otherwise.

There are a million wonderful and fully legal places to camp in Yosemite and beginners should not feel bound to camp at the few over-used standard sites. Now that bear cannisters are required it does not even make sense to be camped on top of others. The only advantage of Little Yosemite Valley campground was the availability of bear boxes. If in doubt, have the ranger mark on your maps the areas that are not legal. You are then free to camp anywhere else as long as you are 200 feet from the trail and water bodies and stay away from ecologically sensitive ground (fragile meadows).

But to do this you will have to step off the trail and activily hunt for a good site, make valued judgements, find water sources, perhaps carry water to your campsite, and truely be alone - things that all backpackers should learn how to do. Yosemite is a great place for beginners because you have the choice - start out at the standard sites until you get comfortable with being outdoors then gradually start venturing out to find your own little pieces of paradise.

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#93914 - 04/24/08 05:39 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: wandering_daisy]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3291
Loc: Portland, OR
It's great to have one's own secret sites. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> But the day you arrive and there's someone else camped in your site is one of the sadder days of one's backpacking career. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> Booted out of one's own piece of paradise!!

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#93915 - 12/09/08 11:12 AM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: aimless]
punqroqclimber Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 4
I just realized I never posted a followup for this trip last july.

I ended up Parking in the valley and catching the bus to tuolumne. I hung out there for a day and then did a through hike back to my car starting the next day.

I snagged an off trail permit for the budd creek trailhead (starts on the same trail as the cathedral lakes route but jogs off to follow the creek after a mile or so). Went up to budd lake and dropped down over the shoulder between cathedral peak and echo peak all off trail.

I Camped at echo lake my first night then continued down the creek the next day to catch the sunrise trail and then eventually made my way down to LYV and back to The Valley two days later.

It was an amazing trip, and definitely the best first solo I could've asked for. I'm hooked.

Here are some shots from the trek:

SHOTS FROM MY SOLO TREK IN YOSEMITE (AND ONE FROM MY STOP IN SEQUOIA)

Thanks for all the advice everyone gave.
It's much appreciated.

-C
_________________________
"It's only fun until someone loses an eye, then it's just fun you can't see."

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#93916 - 12/09/08 05:46 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: punqroqclimber]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3983
Loc: Bend, Oregon
P-climber
So theres a photo of Lembert Dome and yer a climber? Ever climb on Lembert? Seems to me that my first multipitched climb in Yosemite was something like Northwest Corners on Lembert Dome.

Budd Lake is awesome, and the cockscombs above there are some of the most awesome climbing in the sierras.

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#93917 - 12/09/08 05:53 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: Jimshaw]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
yuo have taken some great shots a beautiful area ,i like the one of the big smooth bowl like rock real neat.

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#108182 - 12/22/08 02:35 PM Re: Am I Crazy: 1st backpacking trip- Solo Yosemit [Re: northernbcr]
xcorat Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1
Loc: CA, USA
Heyy,

No man you are not crazy (Or actually I am crazy and you are exactly like me...!),

I did the same thing, For my first backpacking trip I chose a 22mi trail for a two day solo hike, and camped over 9400ft. some said im crazy(http://www.yosemite.ca.us/forum/viewtopic.php?t=495), but that was the best. (Until I did a hike in sequoia -solo- and camped on the snow without any witer clothes and winter gear) have no words to describe the excitement. I think you had the same experience.

SOLO hiking is great.

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