Oct 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm #1308976
Given how beautiful the weather is year-round in California, there isn't much reason to not go backpacking in the winter. A few of us have been planning a trip to Yosemite on the weekend of November 23-24 and it would be fun if some other fellow BPLers joined us for the trip.
The itinerary is to hike up the Yosemite Falls Trail to the north rim of the Valley, and then up to the top of Eagle Peak. Conditions permitting, we will camp on top of Eagle Peak and enjoy what John Muir called the "most comprehensive of all the views" of Yosemite Valley for the sunset & sunrise. We can also take a short off-trail diversion to Eagle Tower, which directly overlooks the Yosemite Falls amphitheater, and to Yosemite Point, which looks out over the impressive Lost Arrow Spire (which my wife and I have stood on top of) and the Valley below. This trail is justifiably popular in the summer when it gets hordes of tourists, but by late November we should nearly have the place to ourselves. It's only 6 miles to the top of Eagle Peak, but the elevation gain is 3700 feet, so it is a strenuous hike.
Since it is getting to be late in the season, there is the possibility of cold temperatures and snow, so you should be prepared for such. However, November in the Valley can also be really nice with sunny weather and moderate temperatures. We will have a better idea of what to expect as the trip gets closer, but you should be prepared for overnight lows that will probably be in the high 20's but could dip down into the teens if there is a cold snap. The Falls trail is south-facing and gets a lot of sun, so unless there is a big snowstorm within a day or two of the trip the trail up to the rim should be dry. Right now there has not been a big snowstorm yet, so the North Rim is dry ground, but if we get a big dump before then, that could change in which case you might want to pack an extra sleeping mat and footwear for hiking over snow.
The group size limit is 15. Right now we have 4 people coming for sure and another 4 maybes, so there are at least 7 spots available. I got a campsite at Upper Pines in the Valley for Friday the 22nd and am planning on driving up the night before. The campground only lets you have 6 people per campsite, but the campground is nearly empty so if anyone else is interested in hanging out the night before it should be easy to secure a spot.
Post up if you'd like to come along!Oct 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm #2036103
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
There is no water at all near the top of Eagle Peak. You might find it in Eagle Peak Creek, but that may be a mile or more away, up and down hill.
–B.G.–Oct 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm #2036107
Yep, we will have to carry water in, but the view should be worth it. Why don't you join us Bob?Oct 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm #2036125
Michelle and I are interested. Have you thought about making it a loop? Continue on to El Capitan and Ribbon Meadow and use the Old Big Oak Flat Road (Rockslide Trail) via Rainbow View to complete the loop. The link gives you several good reasons why this might not be a good idea – and the trail has now disappeared from Yosemite maps. To me it looks like a nice adventure, if the weather is supportive of scrambling over talus.
ManfredOct 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm #2036140
Yeah, I've actually done the Rockslides loop before which is why I suggested going up via the Falls trail. The old road is a nice hike and not at all difficult, unless it was covered in snow in which case a GPS would be helpful for staying on route from Cascade Creek to Ribbon Meadow. My goal this time was to see Eagle Peak since I haven't been up there before and I thought it would make the hike accessible to more people, but you and Michelle could easily take that way in and meet us on top of Eagle Peak on Saturday. Or you could hike in via the Falls Trail on Saturday and out via the old road on Sunday. That would be a nice variation if you haven't done the Rockslides before. If you are brave you can walk down and look over the edge of El Cap.Oct 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm #2036144
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Yep, we will have to carry water in, but the view should be worth it."
I've been up Eagle Peak too many times to count, and there isn't a great deal of level ground except maybe a few hundred yards back downhill from the top. Some people who drive around Yosemite Valley can think of it as the top of the Three Brothers rock formation.
You might think of the tip-top as having the best view. However, it is a bad place to have a bout of vertigo. The best scene for photographers is shooting east from a point about 75 yards before the summit.
Eagle Peak Creek might possibly have some water in it, but it won't be much by this late in the season. The only good thing about that is that the meadow will be dried out enough to stop the mosquito cloud.
–B.G.–Oct 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm #2036146
"Why don't you join us Bob?"
I lol'ed.Oct 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm #2036164
Why don't you join us Justin? :)Oct 21, 2013 at 6:00 pm #2036174
I would love to join you Andrew, but I only have a 3 season kit (my summerlite won't cut it, lol) and don't have the funds to get a shoulder season kit together yet… and I don't know what my schedule would be like at that time.
It sounds like an awesome trip, thanks for the offer.Oct 21, 2013 at 9:15 pm #2036272
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
Thanks for posting this Andrew. Please count me in.Oct 22, 2013 at 9:15 am #2036390
Justin, don't let that stop you! All I have is a summerlite too. Just shake the down to the top (so its kinda like a quilt) and bring an extra pad. Might not be the most comfy night ever, but I'm expecting that to take me tolerably down to low 20's. Hot water bottle would be my last resort.Oct 22, 2013 at 10:09 am #2036412
I tried this hike back in February. I really enjoyed it and would like to maybe go again. I don't use a GPS and I sort of lost the trail in the snow eventually, but I would like to do it again.
What I enjoyed the most was seeing the snow-lined banks of Yosemite Creek.
Here is another.Oct 22, 2013 at 11:00 am #2036438
David, glad you can make it.
Justin, we might be able to cobble together some extra gear for you if that's all that is keeping you from coming. Otherwise, hopefully I'll see you at the GGG.
Thanks for the pics James. It'd be great if it looks like that for this trip, but I'm gambling that there won't be as much (or any) snow, unless we get a storm between now and then.Oct 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm #2036756
Well I just cleared my schedule and am in for this trip. With a little luck I won't have to force my next knee surgery afterwards.
I'll be the guy with the kitchen sink strapped to his pack hobbling along.Oct 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm #2038548
@erikdtzLocale: Los Angeles
If there is still room I'd like to go. I have no experience with winter backpacking but I'd like to go and maybe learn a few things if that's ok.
Thanks for planning this. It sounds like a lot of fun.
ErikOct 28, 2013 at 8:56 am #2038607
Brian, glad you can make it. You might want to bring some hiking poles… years ago when I had IT band syndrome coming down the Falls Trail with 40 lbs of climbing gear did a number on my knees.
Erik, there's still room, by my count we are up to 13 (of 15). I think two of my "maybes" will not be able to make it so we have space for at least 2 if not 4 more. Hopefully this will turn out to be a nice gentle introduction to colder weather backpacking.Oct 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm #2039851
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
Andrew, put me down as a "maybe". It looks like I may be able to free up. I wonder if the snow is going to keep up? I'm sort of hoping so.
Justin whether or not I end up going, I can loan you a 40-45º quilt to supplement your summerlite which will get you to around 15º fairly comfortably, and a down air mattress. If you want to hang out and socialize in the evening you'll still need some warm clothes though…Oct 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm #2039966
Just to update this, I also have a camp spot reserved for Friday night of this trip in Upper Pines campground. I understand Andrews spot is full, I will have room for one car and 5 people at my spot if that helps anyone out. If anyone is interested in caravanning just contact me. I will be driving separately from the Bay area crowd since I am a few hours east of them.
ETA, Yosemite Falls is dry as of 5 days ago.Nov 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm #2044155
Still looks beautiful out there. No snow on the ground and overnight lows in the 30's this week. One more week 'til this trip!Nov 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm #2045594
Do you still have room? If so, count me in!
I would like to carpool with someone from the Bay Area. Ride in my car, or yours – doesn't matter to me.
– ElizabethNov 17, 2013 at 4:47 pm #2045598
Elizabeth, we have plenty of room, come and join us. I think we are at 11 people right now.
In terms of carpooling, by my count we have 7 people coming from the Bay Area, so we should be able to fit in 2 cars. My wife and I are picking Chris and James up from the Dublin BART on Friday evening. Elizabeth, you should send Manfred a PM and see if you can ride together.
We will be in the Upper Pines campground at site # 135, though we might not get there til pretty late (10:00 PM?)Nov 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm #2045647
We will leave right after work – meaning by 5:30 pm. Our minivan seats 7 – so theoretically we could all go in the minivan and save the gas for the second car.
Elizabeth, what would be the best way to meet with you? We are in Menlo Park. Do you want to come to our house and park your car here?
ManfredNov 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm #2045672
I'm planning to arrive in Yosemite Friday afternoon. I'm in Upper Pines spot 125 so wave as you go by! Looks like pretty nice weather for this trip.Nov 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm #2045967
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
"Why don't you join us Bob?
why laugh? I have hiked with Bob and he is a joy to hike with. My bet is that he can out hike you and he is old enough to be your grandfather…..that is saying something. That was rudeNov 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm #2045973
Come on Ken, we all know that Bob is a computer program with an encyclopedic knowledge of ultralight backpacking that was programmed by Ryan Jordan ;)
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