Forum Index » Pre-Trip Planning » Major road trip to western parks - mainly Yosemite


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Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 11:57:27 MST Print View

Telescope Peak. We did that hike on a full moon night. Awesome view.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 12:09:23 MST Print View

I bet it would be. Full moon will be while in the Grand Canyon so I may go for a night hike.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 13:05:55 MST Print View

"9 Tufa on South shore Mono Lake (if sunrise). Fissures on North shore Mono Lake.
Bodie ghost town. Travertine hot spring"

When we took the kids to the fissures in Black Point on the north side of Mono Lake, it was the afternoon and it was HOT! While sunrise at the tufa columns would be cool, I'd find out when Bodie opens, be there then, and go to Black Point BEFORE Bodie. Then pass through Lee Vining for the visitor's center, lunch, an ice cream, and then head to the Tufa. I spend less time at the Tufa than at Bodie or hiking to the fissures, so I'd the longer activities earlier in the day.

I've scrambled for lodging in that area when I didn't plan ahead. Trips went much better when I had reservations for the motel nights. Inquire if they have washer/dryer for guest use (self-serve and you pay like at a laundromat) - that lets you pack lighter and smell better.

"Full moon will be while in the Grand Canyon so I may go for a night hike."

I did a full-moon hike down the North Kaibab trail from the North Rim one summer, years ago. The temps were great, the lack of sunburn was great, and I didn't need a headlamp for most all of it. The was plenty of reflected light in the shadows and I remember coming around a corner out of the shadows and into the full moonlight and instinctive shielding my eyes (from the bright ground!) and then mentally chiding myself that full moonlight on the trail is about 1/100,000th of what full sunlight is. It still sticks in my mind as an example of just how versatile human eyes are.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 15:50:28 MST Print View

I'm planning to hit those sites in order listed (S to N) starting at sunrise as we head in the general direction of I-80 home.

I haven't figured out what I'll do for sleeping yet:
1. before we start the JMT as the bus gets to Mammoth at 9 PM so not much time to find somewhere to camp for the night. I'll see if they have a hostel nearby or inexpensive motel.
2. When we head back to Mono Lake after we're done. Looks like several campgrounds as you come down 120 to Lee Vining. I assume we'll have found a place in Yosemite Valley to shower.

Last summer we had 1 shower and never washed our clothes in the 20 days. :) We did normally change out of our set of hiking clothes into the set of street clothes we took when we were in the car or in public.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Mammoth Camping on 01/12/2013 16:34:19 MST Print View

when you take the YART bus back to Mammoth, the first stop (in Mammoth) is right next to a McDonalds (on the left), bus gets there 8:30-9:00.
Right across the street are two campgrounds : Old Shady Rest and New Shady rest.
I have stayed there, they are adequate. I think they are national forest campgrounds. you can make reservations (recommended) or get a walkin if you are lucky. try hard to stay at one of these.

campgrounds

next morning walk out to main road (Main St or 203), turn right and walk up hill for 1 or 1.5 miles to the new fancy shopping complex at the intersection of Minaret Rd (203) and Lake Mary Rd.
at the back of this complex you can catch a free bus up to Mammoth ski area to catch the Fee bus down in to Reds Meadow.
the free bus is actually run by the ski area for those who are downhill mtn biking on the slopes. hikers are allowed to use it for free.
The fee bus is $7-8 each and not run by Mammoth ski area, although you catch it there.
I believe the first stop this bus makes is Agnew Meadows (your stop).

Mammoth map

note : there is also another free bus service in town run by the town but it does not start service till 9:00am so skip it.
I think the first pickup of the free biker bus is 6:00 or 6:30.
I think the first run of the fee bus is 7:00 or 7:30.
you should check on this, I'll look too, used them last summer for a hike on the JMT.

also, the Ranger office is very near the McDonalds and campground entrance but will be closed by the time the bus drops you off.

p.s.
if any of this is not clear just ask me for more details.

Edited by asandh on 01/12/2013 17:13:44 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 17:15:22 MST Print View

I assume we'll have found a place in Yosemite Valley to shower.

If you're coming off the JMT in Happy Isles, skip the bus (it'll be crowded and takes the long way around the loop. Just hike west toward Curry Village 1 mile away. There are several shower houses there in among the tent cabins. Some have a combo-lock on the door but at least one (looks more like a bathroom than a shower house, but has two showers in it), is open all the time.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Major road trip to western parks - tentative schedule on 01/12/2013 17:37:45 MST Print View

Great info, Art!

I think the other David had mentioned reserving a cabin at CV when we were done - but I can't justify $136 + tax to stay in a tent. :P Looks like I'll try to reserve a spot in Lower or Upper Pines for that night.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Yosemite on 01/13/2013 10:33:05 MST Print View

I'd skip the multiple back and forths to Yosemite. Just hike the JMT from Mammoth to Yosemite and take the bus back.

You'll need a Half Dome pass and they may not be able to give it to you in Mammoth. Here is a link to the Half Dome permit details for backpackers http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdwildpermits.htm .
Contact them, maybe they will let you pick up a Half Dome pass in the Wilderness Center in Tuolomne as you pass through there.

Tuolomne Meadows has a backpackers campground you can stay at as you pass through, $5 per person per night. Early July there will be PCT thru hikers, fellow JMTers, Bay Area folks, and even a few UL backpackers in this campground.

There is a store in Tuolomne to buy resupply items as well as beer and ice- cream, a grill for a juicy hamburger and a post-office in case you prefer to mail a resupply.

The backpackers campground in Yosemite Valley is $5 per person, you can use it one night before and one night after your trip with a wilderness permit, no reservations needed or taken.

There is a pool and showers in Curry Village, $5 per person, use of towels included. Same at Yosemite Lodge I believe.

Free shuttle bus runs frequently in a loop to trail heads, store, etc, no need for a car in Yosemite Valley.

There is a bus ($20 fee?) up to Glacier Point. Hike back down or take the bus back.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Yosemite on 01/13/2013 11:06:33 MST Print View

Since we're coming from outside the Park, a HD permit isn't required even with their new restrictions for 2013. I verified that with their wilderness office a few days ago. My Inyo permit will allow us to climb it.

Nice to know about the BP camp in the valley. Would save a little from having to make a reservation in Upper Pines for the night. I see it's behind North Pines Campground (and across the footbridge). Where is the closest designated parking area for it?

Edited by topshot on 01/13/2013 11:13:39 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Yosemite on 01/13/2013 11:26:33 MST Print View

I think Curry Village parking is the closest major parking lot to BP camping.
there is some parking behind the Ahwanee Hotel that is a bit closer, but Curry Village is much better for when you come off the JMT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Curry Village parking and sleeping and sometimes dying. on 01/13/2013 14:11:37 MST Print View

Ah, but a tent in CV isn't just a tent. There's Hanta Virus, too. At least in Cabin 922 where we stayed and earlier occupants stayed and died (later of Hanta Virus). They told us, but only after it hit the media that a second round of illnesses was happening.

Also, if you're late by a day (it happens), your cabin and $136 will be gone.

Edited to add: not shown on many maps, there is a BPing parking lot between Curry Village and Happy Isles that (at least early morning) is far easier to find a space in than at CV. It's a 1/2 mile from each.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 01/13/2013 14:14:40 MST.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
No designated parking for Yosemite backpacker camps on 01/13/2013 16:55:51 MST Print View

The backpacker campgrounds in Yosemite have no designated parking, instead you leave your car at the trail head. In Yosemite Valley the only trail head parking lot is between Curry Village and Happy Isles, about 3/4 mile from the backpackers campground.
If you plan to leave your car in this parking lot for several days check in with the wilderness center about it, they may give you a stub to put on your dash board.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Yosemite post-JMT on 01/14/2013 10:51:48 MST Print View

2 more questions I thought of:
1. Is there an easy place to recharge camera batteries for a couple hours in Curry Village (or other nearby place)? Wouldn't surprise me if all 4 I'll have are kaput in 5 days. I might try to charge one in TM also to make sure I don't run out so where might I go there for a couple hours?

2. Do they really have enough bear lockers at Happy Isles TH parking lot that I can stash our excess food for the 5 days we're gone (labeled with name and out date I'd guess)? By the time we hit the JMT we'd have a few days food remaining so it will all fit in an OpSak. I could likely even double bag the OpSaks. Any problems with theft or should I just leave it in the trunk against policy?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Yosemite post-JMT on 01/14/2013 11:06:00 MST Print View

don't leave food in your car.
bears really do break in to cars.

there are quite a few bear boxes, but quite a few people use them.
as long as you don't have a giant ice chest you should be able to find space.
as always, don't leave valuables. never had food taken, but ... there is a grocery store.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
post JMT on 01/14/2013 11:34:03 MST Print View

No good answer for the recharging question. I'm sure it is becoming quite the issue at campgrounds all over, as most of us now have electronic devices that need recharging, yet camp sites are blessed free of electricity.

Don't under any circumstances leave food in your car in Yosemite or in fact anywhere in the Sierra.

The bear boxes at the TH parking lot will probably fit your food. The reason I say probably rather than certainly has to do with the hanta virus that sickened and killed several Yosemite visitors this past summer that David referred to further up this thread. Hanta virus is spread by mice and mice can get in to the current bear boxes. In the short term Yosemite recommends that you use mouse proof containers inside the bear boxes, this means hard plastic containers, ice cheasts, coolers and the like, all of which will fill up the bear lockers. The long term solution I suspect will involve new mouse proof bear lockers, but who knows when that will happen.

Arts solution of buying food in the store seems like a good one. You'll be ready for some fresh food after a few days of backpacking.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: post JMT on 01/14/2013 12:16:19 MST Print View

Good to know about the mice! I'll use my Outsak though that will make it more attractive to 2-legged critters. May take a black trashbag to wrap it in, too. Mice can chew through any plastic container - just slows them down a while.

We will eat a real dinner the day we come out (someone had suggested pizza), but I suspect the store prices for goodies to be pretty high compared to going to a normal market. Though it's also true we wouldn't need a whole lot to finish the last couple days of dayhiking.

I have no choice but to leave some valuables in the trunk. My laptop isn't exactly lightweight. :P

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: post JMT on 01/14/2013 12:29:11 MST Print View

cars rarely get broken in to by humans.

any eatery in The Valley will be very crowded, especially the pizza place.
there is a somewhat ok cafeteria right around the corner.

oh, did I mention the Tuolumne Grill (closes at 5pm) just outside Tuolumne campground ? pretty tasty burgers and shakes, especially when coming off the trail.

and down at the base of the road up to Tuolumne, the Lee Vining area, a classic must eat at place ... The Mobile Gas Station restaurant. atmosphere very casual, food one step below gourmet, and reasonable, the owner is a real chef.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: post JMT on 01/14/2013 16:41:17 MST Print View

"and down at the base of the road up to Tuolumne, the Lee Vining area, a classic must eat at place ... The Mobile Gas Station restaurant. atmosphere very casual, food one step below gourmet, and reasonable, the owner is a real chef."

Mmmmmm hmmmmm! A big +1.!!

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Nankoweap on 01/15/2013 08:36:27 MST Print View

Huh- I just recommended this on another thread, but... Just puttering around the Ken Patrick and rim trails and around the Walhalla Plateau is nice, but if you're looking for dayhikes on the GRCA north rim you could do Nankoweap. There's even a massively cool campsite part-way down at Marion Point if you can do an overnighter (don't rely on the seep near there, though- bring lots of water). It's still relatively high, so the temperatures aren't so extreme. It is very exposed though- compared to North Kaibab and the other corridor trails it is positively terrifying- but your son may like that. And with a kid I'd stick to just an out-and-back to Marion Point, because things get really scary just past there.

See the first day of my trip report:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=62675

You don't have to use the lower trailhead that we did- there is another on the north rim proper. Where the two trailhead trails meet it can be hard to spot the trail heading down into the canyon- just remember, it switchbacks over the cliff... :)

Edited by acrosome on 01/15/2013 08:38:45 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Western trip on 01/15/2013 10:46:05 MST Print View

In addition to Angel's Landing Hidden Canyon would make a good day. Overall that looks like an awesome plan. I'm not sure how much the CV tent cabins were 6 years ago, but my recollection is closer to 37 than 137 dollars. Yosemite doesn't really count as a national park anymore. Private vehicles (and the Curry Co.) should have been banned from the valley decades ago.