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Sierra weekend trips?
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Sierra weekend trips? on 04/14/2013 15:23:53 MDT Print View

I know it's still early in the year, but I want to plan some sierra trips for this summer. I'm trying to find 1-2 night trips. I live in Santa Rosa (north of the bay area) and would like trips that involve 4 hours or less of driving from the Bay Area. I am very inexperienced with the sierras and don't have any clue where to start. I have been backpacking once in Kings Canyon and once out of Mineral King.
I would like to go to an area where I can camp wherever I want. The less people I see the better. I have don't have a problem with cross country and scrambling. I would like to get up and explore above the treeline and explore some lakes.

Any suggestions?

I have serious problems with altitude. I don't get sick, but I get extremely exhausted and out of breath. I now have some prescription meds that help with this a lot, but I would like to take somewhat short trips while I am still figuring out my limits.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
ideas on 04/14/2013 19:29:34 MDT Print View

Here are some hikes for early in the season (starting June or even May in some areas, this low-snow year):

Maybe focus on these for now while you acclimate to the altitude? Most of these destinations are below 8,000 feet.

They should all be within your 4-hour drive limit. Drive in very early morning for best results. On a summer weekend, any departure from home after 9-10 a.m. can add an extra hour to your driving time. Friday nights, it can be all tied up.

I think the biggest bang for the buck in terms of short-drive-to-high-mountain-scenery ratio (from Santa Rosa) is the Desolation Wilderness. As few as 3 hours door-to-door depending on trailhead and time of day. You WILL however see a whole lot of other people there! And, you will have to indicate on your permit which narrow "zone" you intend to camp at each night. Elevation ranges from about 6500 to 10,000 feet depending on where in Desolation you want to go.

Some of the driving times to places are counter-intuitive. I have gotten to Lodgepole trailhead in the SEKI in just 4:30 from Oakland. Some of the trailheads in Emigrant Wilderness, though far closer (in miles) to the Bay Area, are the same 4:30 drive, because you end up on windy and/or dirt roads.

- Elizabeth

Edited by mariposa on 04/14/2013 19:31:43 MDT.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
backpackthesierra on 04/15/2013 18:32:37 MDT Print View

Thanks Elizabeth!

yes, we have quite a few hikes on our website. And this year, some of the others are also going to be open earlier than usual.

Since we live in wine country as well, we'd suggest staying north of SEKI if you don't like a long drive. Focus on Desolation and Emigrant Wildernesses...

There are lots of hikes that will work for you...and way too many beautiful places to see!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sierra weekend trips? on 04/15/2013 18:38:01 MDT Print View

One of the simplest places to go is the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite National Park. It is around 4000 feet elevation, so it is well below tree line and there shouldn't be any altitude problems for anybody. If you want to go higher, you can head up to Lake Vernon. Permits can be had from the park entry station.

You can camp anywhere you want, except not next to the river, not next to the trail, and not within the first few miles of the dam. But you wouldn't want to camp there anyway.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Sierra weekend trips? on 04/15/2013 21:53:44 MDT Print View

Thank you for the suggestions. I was reading Paul's website last night. I'm not really looking for early season hikes, just planning ahead.
I will probably end up doing high elevation trips but plan for short hikes in to a lake and do day hikes from camp depending on how I feel. The elevation slows me down but doesn't make me sick.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Emigrant on 04/15/2013 23:00:24 MDT Print View

Emigrant Wilderness has much of the same appeal ( and bare granite ) of Yosemite, but at lower elevations, so that might be a good choice for you!