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Major road trip to western parks - mainly Yosemite
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Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: re: neo socks on 12/26/2012 08:56:13 MST Print View

Thanks, Dave. Thankfully we have an REI only 1.5 hours away now so we'll be able to try some on for size.

He'll be 16 in Sep so this is likely the last major trip I'll be able to do with this son. His younger brother will get spoiled.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Half Dome timing & YARTS on 12/26/2012 09:12:53 MST Print View

My initial draft of our schedule has us doing Half Dome on either Sat July 6 or Sun July 7. We'd be coming from the east so would normally beat most people I'd think, but given it's a holiday weekend should I try to hold off until Mon?

Am I interpreting the YARTS schedule correctly in that we'd need to be at the Visitor Center stop before 5 pm for the return trip to Mammoth? It seems you can't make reservations or pre-buy tickets for the 120 East bus (must buy from driver) so how early would we need to get there to secure a seat? That may make Mon a better option as well!

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Half Dome timing & YARTS on 12/26/2012 09:21:03 MST Print View

I have taken the YARTS bus from Tuolumne back to Mammoth twice.
both times it was less than half full, during peak season.
I would not worry about reservations.
I think you are correct about the 5 pm return time.
just recheck next summer.
Yes, only one trip a day each way.
it is a very large, comfortable bus.

Regarding Half Dome Sunday v.s. Monday, its peak season, I doubt it will matter much.
getting to the cables early will help on the climb, but you will certainly hit the high traffic by the time you descend. the cables are a comic disaster waiting to happen. a conga line with both up and down rubbing shoulders within the narrow double cables. I saw a 300 lb woman make it up the cables, have no idea how she hiked there. if she had slipped, she would have taken out dozens below her.

the cables are a double line of cables roughly 3 ft high and 4 ft apart that ascends a 45* slab of slippery stone. there are cross planks for your feet about every 4-5 ft.

Edited by asandh on 12/26/2012 09:40:40 MST.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Mammoth-to-Yosemite specifics on 12/26/2012 19:49:40 MST Print View

Terrific idea to hike the JMT from Mammoth area to Yosemite Valley, given your stated priorities.

Some observations to add about that:

Consider driving to Yosemite Valley for a day, seeing the sights (waterfalls, etc.), then leaving your car at the Happy Isles/Curry Village parking lot (standard parking location for Half Dome/JMT exits). Then go to the YARTS bus stop (will require a short walk or valley shuttle ride) and ride it to Mammoth. Spend the night in a Mammoth motel, or take the shuttle from Mammoth to one of the campgrounds in the Reds Meadow valley. There are several including Reds Meadow, Upper Soda Springs, Agnew Meadows (though I'm not sure the latter has been re-opened following the 2011 wind storm), and others.

Hey, if you buy Tom Harrison's Mammoth High Country trail map right now, you'll be able to follow this discussion more easily :)

Next, I fully agree that the JMT immediately out of Reds Meadow is worth skipping (I would even call it tedious). Think twice about doing the side visit to Devils Postpile at all...Better to spend that half-day (if you include the shuttle trips involved) on a side visit to somewhere far more spectacular right off the JMT, such as the legendary Lake Ediza (google-image that one) or Davis Lakes or Lyell Glacier. Anyway, start your backpack trip at Agnew Meadows for sure, and follow the JMT via Shadow/Garnet/Thousand Island Lakes. Far more memorable than the two parallel trails (River Trail or PCT).

I also agree with what someone here said about how the JMT from Tuolumne to Yosemite Valley is not nearly as interesting as the Agnew Meadows - Tuolumne section, but that if Half Dome is in your sights it is totally worth doing it this way, rather than attempting the very difficult Half Dome approach (and the permit lottery!) attendant to starting from Yosemite Valley.

Skip the side trip to the giant Sequoia trees. JMO. I know I may get flak for this as they are not the same as coastal Redwoods you saw last year, but...

While Kings Canyon & Sequoia Nat'l Parks are certainly spectacular from their westside entrances, I would say don't drive down there (westside). The drive there is not very pleasant, and you are already coming so far from Indiana. The eastside Sierra (the whole Highway 395 corridor) is absolutely spectacular and wonderful by contrast. I could spend weeks there! North of Lee Vining, in June, Bodie the ghost town would be terrific for a kid, as would Lundy Canyon, for the wildflowers. South of Lee Vining, there are endless varieties of dayhikes or backpacking trips in the Sierra eastside trailheads.

If your son liked backpacking the JMT and wants to do another BACKPACKING trip, I second the recommendation of taking North Fork Big Pine Creek trail up towards the Palisades. (Trailhead is west of town of Big Pine.) But the landscape there is so extraordinary above Third Lake, so I could never do this trail as a day-hike, I'd do it as a minimum 3-day hike so you can get all the way up to see Palisade Glacier. Sam Mack Meadow, on the way to the glacier, is, to me, the most breathtaking meadow in all the Sierra. Not realistic to get up there on a day-hike all the way from your car, unless you are in superb shape and acclimitized. Permitting via Inyo National Forest (recreation.gov) - it gets snapped up fast.

If you want to try just a dayhike, as a warmup or warmdown to the JMT, consider one of the following: (1) Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass; take a gander of the breathtaking view from there into Kings Canyon Nat'l Park; return. This is some serious elevation training (pass is at 12k). (2) From Bishop, drive west to either Sabrina Lake or South Lake trailhead and just wander uphill, anywhere, for a day. Spectacular lakes everywhere! (3) Little Lakes Valley (Rock Creek) off the 395 not far south of Mammoth area is another good place for acclimitizing: trailhead is at 10k, although hiking is more flat/more of a stroll. I list these three hikes in downward order of difficulty (and also in south-to-north order).

Note that none of those 4 recommendations fall within any of the national parks. The entirety of the High Sierra crest/eastside trailhead system is identically spectacular whether it happens to fall within a national park, or not.

The 395 is a popular scenic route. There should be a good "highway 395 recreation map" available online that could help with your planning.

In Utah, Zion is probably my favorite of the ones you mention - you could spend many days there. Needles District of Canyonlands is my second-favorite, just the most fantastic fairyland ever, but that could actually be out of your way depending on which driving route you are taking through Moab/Arches. Arches is smaller, and astoundingly varied for its size, and terrific for a day or two of day hikes. Bryce is comparatively tiny, and personally I don't find it as compelling as those first three, but it may be "on your way" anyway, and is 100% worth stopping at to do one of the hiking loops for a couple of hours. (The nice thing about Bryce is that it's at 9000 feet and it may not be as hot as the other places in June!) The fun slot canyons in Escalante (as well as some much lesser-known ones north in Capitol Reef or east towards Canyonlands) are ideal for kids! Same principal applies in Utah as in the Sierra: Some of the very best hikes are not within a national park boundary. If I was taking a kid through Utah I would put Escalante on the top of my list and arrange everything else around that. Ask Dave C. here for even more detailed Utah recommendations, if he is willing to give them, as he seems to know a ton about all of southern Utah.

A little reluctant to recommend the long haul down to Death Valley & Grand Canyon in such a warm month, with so much to occupy you just in the High Sierra and in Utah. And most of the driving hours you would be adding are sort of tedious. But those two parks would be an excellent double-header for Spring Break sometime - fly into Las Vegas and rent a car.

- Elizabeth

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Mammoth-to-Yosemite specifics on 12/27/2012 08:19:05 MST Print View

+1000 on what Elizabeth wrote about The Sierra. Perfectly stated

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Mammoth-to-Yosemite specifics on 12/30/2012 18:39:43 MST Print View

I decided to just get the entire JMT Map-pack so I should be set. I doubt I'd go anywhere off-trail with him along.

Leaving the car in the valley may be a good idea as well. If we finish early we can leave whenever we want and that would also allow me to drop off a resupply package somewhere in TM so we'd only need one canister (planning to pick up a BV500).

It would seem Davis Lakes would make a good campsite to attempt a 20-mile push into TM if my son wants to attempt that merit badge requirement as it's pretty much all downhill once we're over Donahue.

I'm sure he'll be ready to get back home after Yosemite though as we'll be going to the Smokies the following week.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: re: neo socks on 01/02/2013 00:56:50 MST Print View

You can rent socks/shoes in Springdale for the Narrows. I did just fine in May without though. Just trail runners and wool socks. Wife as well. Take trekking poles for this though. The river is slick.

If you or your son gets nervous on angels landing skip half dome. The valley is worth the drive through. Preferably midweek.

If you drive right by Bryce it is worth seeing.

North rim of the Grand Canyon is nice. But if you aren't hiking down it can be done quickly.

I enjoyed kings and sequoia. But as early as you are going much of the high country may have good snow. Just depends. You can see the trees and drive to roads end.

Sure there is dome driving from Yosemite but its not that bad. Especially since you are coming from so far already.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: neo socks on 01/02/2013 09:15:06 MST Print View

> You can rent socks/shoes in Springdale for the Narrows. I did just fine in May without though. Just trail runners and wool socks. Wife as well. Take trekking poles for this though. The river is slick.

I'm impressed you were fine with just wool socks in May's snowmelt! I figure I'll use the socks again at some point (winter hiking perhaps) so I'd just as soon buy them and be done with it. I've seen many say a portion of the lower section is like walking on slippery bowling balls. My Roclite 315s won't be the greatest for those in my experience but I'll manage fine. I may get something better for my son though. We just picked up some basic New Balance 606 that were on clearance last year but they likely won't fit him now anyway. We always use poles, too.

On a side note, I was just going through my trip journal of 30 years ago (high school trip for credit) and discovered we had done the Observation Pt Trail and a little of the lower Narrows. I noted I wasn't impressed by the Emerald Pools. I was also surprised that I noted Bryce was "boring because everything was the same" (Navajo & Peekaboo trails) and I was disgusted by scat (I'm guessing horses), dust, gnats & PUDs. I had planned for us to do the figure 8 loop which included those plus more but maybe I'll cut it down now. LOL

And a correction - I'd said earlier I had hiked from Phantom Ranch out the North Kaibab in 3.5 hours, but it turns out we hiked all the way down and back to Cottonwood (21 miles?) the first day and I did the remaining 7 miles out in 3.5 hours. We'll just going to Roaring Springs and back.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: neo socks on 01/02/2013 10:46:15 MST Print View

in case your 30 year old journal doesn't mention it ...
hiking from the north rim of GC down to Roaring Springs will not give you a very good picture of the immensity of the canyon, since you are basicly hiking down a side canyon of the main canyon. the immensity factor is best experienced from the south rim.
but you will get some good exposure in a couple places and a great feel for the rock in general.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: GC North Rim on 01/02/2013 11:02:39 MST Print View

True, but I figured some in-canyon time is better than none, and I didn't want to deal with the permit. I think I should ask my son if he wants to sleep at Cottonwood as I did. I doubt he'd be up for going to the river though. That was a long day even for me at his age though it was not that hot (I was disappointed). Of course, I was wearing heavy hiking boots.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re: Neo socks on 01/02/2013 11:09:42 MST Print View

I highly recommend renting at least the water shoes for the Narrows. The day before we did the Narrows, we did Mystery Canyon, which ends in a rappel into the Narrows. I was in trail runners and using trekking poles and the short hike out was easy enough. I didn't want to rent the water shoes as I have really wide feet and we were doing the Narrows from the top down. 16 miles in ill fitting shoes seemed like a bad idea. I did buy a walking staff and was glad I did. I thought it was much better than trekking poles for water travel. The beginning and the end weren't too bad but the middle section was extremely slippery and my friends had MUCH better traction than I did. If we do it again, I'd still use my trail runners for the first 6 miles or so but also rent water shoes to use for the rest.


http://www.zionadventures.com/zion-narrows/rental-equipment/

Art ...
(asandh) - F
GC North Rim v.s. South Rim on 01/02/2013 11:42:57 MST Print View

I realize the South Rim is a zoo of tourists and your plan calls for you to pass the North Rim towards Utah beauty, a great plan.

But if there is some way to do the South Rim in your trip rather than the North Rim, a driving tour of the south rim plus a partial descent of the South Kaibab trail would give your son the best picture of the Grand Canyon's awesomeness.

perhaps on the way back home ?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: GC North Rim v.s. South Rim on 01/02/2013 13:02:53 MST Print View

Won't happen on this trip. We'll be heading home via I-80.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: GC North Rim v.s. South Rim on 01/02/2013 14:04:54 MST Print View

well you trip is pretty full.
I'm sure you'll have a great time.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: neo socks on 01/02/2013 20:39:41 MST Print View

May is usually upper 80s and 90s. The cold water was a relief. Remember its the desert!

But go ahead. Neoprene socks will come in handy in the future.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Tuolumne Meadows on 01/04/2013 13:50:18 MST Print View

Where should we leave resupply at TM when we drive through assuming all services are open?

Are there better places to camp there (preferably for free)?

> It would seem Davis Lakes would make a good campsite to attempt a 20-mile push into TM if my son wants to attempt that merit badge requirement as it's pretty much all downhill once we're over Donahue.

Got the map pack today and see the site I had came across with mileage and elevation profile was incorrect. It seems to be only 19.8 to the road at TM from 1000 Island Lake. Not that big a deal but good to know beforehand so can plan to camp sooner so it would count.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Tuolumne Meadows on 01/04/2013 14:02:35 MST Print View

"Where should we leave resupply at TM when we drive through assuming all services are open?"

Lots of southbound JMT hikers start at Happy Isles, get uphill to Tuolumne Meadows, and pick up a resupply there before heading up Lyell Canyon.

However, it doesn't make so much sense for northbound JMT hikers.

Also, trail mileages from Tuolumne Meadows can vary a lot since there is no single spot called Tuolumne Meadows. The JMT trailhead is on the east end, and the Cathedral Lakes trailhead is on the west end, and there are several miles in between.

So, you could easily make a 19.8-mile segment into 22 miles.

--B.G.--

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Tuolumne Meadows on 01/04/2013 14:21:01 MST Print View

> However, it doesn't make so much sense for northbound JMT hikers.

I can see that, but prefer to use only one canister if possible so my son doesn't need to carry one as well.

Someone suggested Davis Lakes as a good spot to see and it seems camping there is good so we could camp somewhere off the lower Cathedral Lakes trail if necessary to make the 20-mile goal. Just don't know if there are any decent spots near there or if we'd be better staying elsewhere and starting that day further down the trail.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Tuolumne Meadows on 01/04/2013 14:35:43 MST Print View

"I can see that, but prefer to use only one canister if possible so my son doesn't need to carry one as well."

On the other hand, if he did carry a kid-sized canister, it would be good training.

"Someone suggested Davis Lakes as a good spot to see and it seems camping there is good so we could camp somewhere off the lower Cathedral Lakes trail if necessary to make the 20-mile goal. Just don't know if there are any decent spots near there or if we'd be better staying elsewhere and starting that day further down the trail."

There are some rules that NPS enforces around Tuolumne Meadows. You can't camp anywhere within four miles of the road. They have that rule because of great potential for overuse. Well, if you start up the trail toward Cathedral Lakes, four miles will put you within one mile of Lower Cathedral Lake, so you might as well camp there. Or, Upper Cathedral Lake. By mid-season, there may not be too many other sources of water. If you are really going strong, a good spot is a mile south of Cathedral Lakes.

So, as you are northbound in Lyell Canyon, you have to make a decision before you are four miles from the east end road. Then no camping. Then you have to wait until you are four miles from the west end road. That makes a gap of more than ten miles. Your other alternative is to use the small backpackers tent campground that is within the managed Tuolumne Meadows Campground for car campers. There is a fee, and you must have your wilderness permit handy. I don't like that campground since it tends to be noisy with all of the RVs and other vehicles not far away.

--B.G.--

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 11:43:40 MST Print View

This is what I have fleshed out so far and have a couple reservations made for the first 1/3. Anything I should change/drop/add?

June 17 Drive to KS I-70 Exit 132
18 Drive to UT I-70 Exit 190
19 35 min to Arches. Pickup FF tix & BC permit. Devil's Garden. Camp NE of Delicate Arch
20 FF tour. Double Arch. Drive 4+ hours to Escalante. See Hollow Mountain gas station at 24 & 95. Cap Reef - see Capitol Dome, petroglyphs, pick cherries, Panorama Pt & Chimney Rock
21 Zebra then Peak-a-boo/Spooky slot canyons (assuming road is dry and my Civic can make it)
Drive 2 hours to Bryce Canyon - Sunset Cgd
22 Sa Figure 8 loop - Drive 3.5 hours to GC North Rim
23 Su North Kaibab to Cottonwood
24 Hike out. Wave if permit OR rim viewpoints & Parrisawampitts Point
25 Wave if permit OR rim viewpoints. Drive thru Zion to Springdale
26 Angel's Landing & ???
27 Narrows overnight
28 Narrows overnight - drive 3.5 hours to near Lake Mead
29 Sa Hoover Dam tour. Drive toward Death Valley. Get motel room.
30 Su See DV Star Wars sites. Drive as far as Civic can manage to Mahogany Flat and camp on Telescope Peak
July 1 Drive 3.5 hours to Bristlecone Pines
2 Drive to Yosemite Valley; 5 PM bus back to Mammoth
3 Start JMT from Agnew Meadow
4 JMT
5 JMT
6 Sa JMT
7 Su Half Dome
8 See other valley sites, Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome. Drive back to Mono Lake area.
9 Tufa on South shore Mono Lake (if sunrise). Fissures on North shore Mono Lake.
Bodie ghost town. Travertine hot spring
10 Drive home
11 Drive home
12 REST before Smokies trip the 14th!