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trip suggestions for 4th of july weekend
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Patrick Walsh
(sondring) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
trip suggestions for 4th of july weekend near bay area on 06/21/2011 12:31:21 MDT Print View

Hi All,

I'm looking for a trip suggestion for the 4th of july weekend. I was hoping for a 2 day 30ish mile loop in the sierras. I have reservations for hetch hetchey heading up to vernon lake and out via rancheria falls. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do this trip with the amount of snow that is currently on the ground. Anybody have any idea?

If that won't work out I was hoping I could do a loop in the emigrant wilderness, but that might be just as snowy, yeah?

I work in Palo Alto and will be leaving early on Friday, hopefully by 2:00PM. I'd like to keep the drive to under 4 hours if possible. A campsight at the trailhead would be handy. I'll be doing this solo and do not have any off trail experience, so well marked trails would be a plus.

Edited by sondring on 06/21/2011 12:31:53 MDT.

Mark Bianco
(MarkyB) - F
July 4th on 06/23/2011 01:34:38 MDT Print View

I was looking at doing that loop 2 weeks ago, but aborted because I was told I would be camping on snow, and stream crossings would be dangerous.

There are snow depth sensors you can keep an eye on, and conditions should be improving by July.
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/misc/SnowDepth.html

About a month ago, I started planning to hike the Rae Lakes loop around July 4th, but had no idea that there would still be about 3' of snow at the pass this late in June. Now I'm wondering if it might be wise for me choose a different route as well. Does anyone else have feedback? I don't mind crossing some snow, but wouldn't want to be cutting a trail and end up going the wrong way, nor am I very excited about camping on snow in July...

Edited by MarkyB on 06/23/2011 01:35:34 MDT.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: trip suggestions for 4th of july weekend near bay area on 06/23/2011 14:41:11 MDT Print View

I was also thinking about doing that loop that weekend, but just got conflicting answers when talking to 2 different rangers at yosemite. One said the stream crossings would be a little tricky but not too bad and the other made it seem like attempting the loop would be a suicide mission. Anyone know the real deal?

Edited by csteutterman on 06/23/2011 14:41:53 MDT.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
trip suggestions for 4th of july weekend near bay area on 06/23/2011 15:02:31 MDT Print View

If you find a place in the Sierra that works in terms of snow, you're going to be slammed by mosquitos.

If you want to avoid the bugs, avoid the holiday-weekend-traffic, save the driving time and gas, etc, maybe just walk home from work?
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=39803

Or, walk from Santa Cruz down to Monterey?
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=42599

My two cents. Amy

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: trip suggestions for 4th of july weekend near bay area on 06/23/2011 15:16:32 MDT Print View

Thanks Amy. Good point about the bugs. I need to be in Sonora that Sunday night though, so looking for something in that area for Saturday night.

EDIT: those look like some pretty good options for a different weekend though.

Edited by csteutterman on 06/23/2011 15:42:29 MDT.

Patrick Walsh
(sondring) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
Palo Alto -> Santa Cruz on 06/23/2011 15:50:31 MDT Print View

Amy, that is a very cool idea. Thank you!

Are any permits needed for any part of that trail? The one from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: trip suggestions for 4th of july weekend near bay area on 06/23/2011 16:04:43 MDT Print View

"Anyone know the real deal?"

Both rangers are correct.

Lots of potential park visitors ask NPS rangers about conditions. What kind of answers they get depends on how the questions are asked. If the rangers initially perceive the visitor to be a newbie asking lots of questions, they often give out answers to scare them off. So, they get the suicide mission comments. If the rangers initially perceive the visitor to be relatively competent, they often give out meaningful answers and advice to not scare them.

So, the quality of the answers you get will depend on how you ask the questions. Also it depends on whether the NPS rangers have had insufficient coffee that day. If they are in a bad mood, they will warn you of the suicide mission.

When I inquire to NPS by email, I start by stating that I've hiked up to such-and-such place before, then I ask the question about some innocuous mid-point location. Once I have them answering, then I hit them with the real question of the day, like is there more or less than a foot of snow on the high pass.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: July 4th on 06/23/2011 16:10:43 MDT Print View

"About a month ago, I started planning to hike the Rae Lakes loop around July 4th, but had no idea that there would still be about 3' of snow at the pass this late in June."

I assume that you refer to Glen Pass. You know, I can visualize there being 3 feet of snow right at the pass, but then less than 1 foot just a few hundred feet away off the crest. I think a detour around the actual pass should be easy.

I believe that a snow and ice cornice often forms that overhangs to the south. Of course, the north side is in the shade more, so the snow pile is likely to be more extensive that way. As I recall, the rocks are about a foot or more in diameter, so if the snow gets to be too much, maybe you can rock hop. Once you get away from the pass by a mile in either direction, the snow shouldn't be all that bad.

--B.G.--

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Palo Alto to Santa Cruz permits? on 06/26/2011 11:56:15 MDT Print View

Answering Patrick's question "Are any permits needed for any part of that trail? The one from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz."

No permits are needed. However, all of our camping on that trip (and the other interesting Bay Area hikes we've done) are stealth camping trips. It's not hard to find good stealth campsites, and in our experience the rangers don't care as long as you use a "don't ask don't tell" policy and follow normal stealth procedures (set up after sunset, break camp early, not in view of roads or buildings or "legal" campsites, no fires, no noise). We only stealth camp on public land, not on private land.

We've taken three good trips that started or ended in Santa Cruz, any of them would be great "avoid the holiday traffic" July 4th options.
San Francisco to Santa Cruz via the coast
Palo Alto to Santa Cruz through the Santa Cruz mountains
Santa Cruz to Monterey along the beach

Route details on all of those are in the photo galleries: http://amyl.smugmug.com/Backpacking/BayArea

I'm a big fan of taking advantage of the fact that we live in the best urban area in the US (maybe the world?) for backpacking out your back door. We have a terrific network of trails, the only downside is that it really requires stealth camping. Not hard for seasoned hikers to stealth camp, but a little intimidating for beginners. If you've got questions about any of those routes, or others we've taken in the Bay Area, send me a PM.

Amy, Palo Alto

Edited by drongobird on 06/27/2011 07:10:09 MDT.