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Topic: Major road trip to Western Parks - mainly Yosemite, Help with routes and must see areas< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 8:41 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Last summer, my son and I drove 5300+ miles in 20 days to Lassen Volcanic, Redwoods, Crater Lake (the main one) and Dinosaur.

This summer, he has chosen Yosemite as the main destination. Since it is so much larger and has much more to see than Crater Lake I'm having trouble deciding what we should do. Our earliest arrival would be June 19 and we need to start our return no later than July 9. It seems I need to put in for our permit on Jan 2 if we do indeed hit Yosemite first, but I am leaning toward doing it at the end of the trip for 2 reasons. 1) he'd be in better condition after whatever other stops we make and 2) our food for our entire trip would be in our trunk and don't want to leave all that in a TH bear box. I guess a third reason would be less chance of snow if we do go up high.

I also understand that if I have a wilderness permit that would route somewhat near Half Dome that we can easily get those permits as well when we pick up our permit. He is not a big hiker (12 miles is his max so far and climbing Lassen Peak was a challenge though that was our first full day) so I'd prefer most days being < 10 miles. I prefer loops unless we can easily access the shuttle to return to our car. I also like to see the cool things that 99% never see or even know about like the pumice slots canyons at Crater Lake.

So as far as Yosemite goes, what routes would you recommend?

As for other sites we may hit, these are on the list of possibilities:
Arches (this was #2 on his list so I know we'll stop here)
Zion
Grand Canyon
Hoover Dam
Death Valley
Sequoia/Kings (anything worthwhile besides Whitney you can do from the east?)
Devil's Postpile

What would be "must see" or what would you leave out?

Anything we should add that's not on the list?
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 11:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(topshot @ Dec. 23 2012, 8:41 am)
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So as far as Yosemite goes, what routes would you recommend?

You will need to start by narrowing things down to what you want/like to do, because Yosemite offers so much. Waterfalls? Solitude? Scenery? Peak-bagging? Day hikes, a few short multi-days with civilization in between, or a good long jaunt of a week or more? Maybe start by perusing this site with good reviews of various hikes: http://www.yosemitehikes.com. What can be confusing is figuring out how these individual hikes can be strung together for longer trips or loops. Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is a fantastic 3-4 day jaunt. If you do Half Dome I suggest you try to get up Clouds Rest as well since they aren't that far apart. And yes, with a wilderness permit that reasonably would have Half Dome on the itinerary you can get up Half Dome as well (though not on the first day of the permit). Also don't forget you need a bear canister to camp in Yosemite.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 1:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not very much to do on the Eastern Sierra...other than Mt Whitney.  Ho hum

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-planning/topics/135280.html

Mid June you can expect complete trail coverage by snow above 11,000'.  Eastern access to passes into the National Parks will be mostly snow free by end of July.  Earlier you will just be following someone's  foot steps on some fairly steep snow - in places.  Eastern Sierra trails to passes start around 9,800' plus with a few exceptions, e.g. Shepherd, Taboose, Sawmill.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 5:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Scenery and solitude would be the main goals. There's an abundance of waterfalls anyway. If there's an easy peak to bag, fine, but it isn't high on the list.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 6:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How many days on the trail for Yosemite. Ditto for Sequoia and Kings Canyon from the east? One east side, Owens Valley, attraction are the Ancient Bristlecone Pines on White Mountain.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 6:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How many days for Yosemite? Uh, whatever's left from the other stops. LOL I'd expect at least 5. It sounds like it won't be real practical to go into SEKI from the east unless we want to do Whitney.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 9:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well one route that would fold Devils Postpile and Yosemite into one would be Lyell Canyon ( a Tuolumne Meadows trailhead) south along the John Muir Trail to Devils Postpile. There's a bus system (yarts) that can get you either back to your car or from your car to the Tuolumne trailhead, you could drop your car at Mammothand take yarts to Tuolumne and pick up your reserved permit and with that in hand stay at the backpackers campground for the night before your itsnt backpacking day.  Were it an insane snow year, say like two years ago, then an alternate low elevation route would be White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows via the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne where the rapids and alls of the river are spectacular at that time of year.

Though for most people when they say "Yosemite" They mean Yosemite Valley so routes from Tuolumne ( Cathedral, Sunrise or Rafferty Creek trailheads) down to Happy Isles and the valley would supply that.

The various eastide passes will roughly all be in the same boat, if they go so will Trailcrest, if they won't , then neither will Trailcrest.

Oh and I'd suggest you take a very close look at Death Valley temperatures in June before making decisions to include that park.
http://www.nps.gov/deva/naturescience/weather-and-climate.htm
The June daily average high is 110, while the average low is 81.....
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 24 2012, 2:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This is like saying you are going to Italy and looking for a good place to eat. There's no way list all the places that fit the bill.

I'd stick with Yosemite & vicinity for the whole trip. There's no need to spend half your time driving. Start doing research. Buy a bunch of maps & books. June 19 is not yet summertime in the high country, so look for lower elevation destinations, including Emigrant & Carson/Iceberg Wildernesses.

I don't think you need to reserve wilderness permits a long time before - you can get permits when you get here. I think you should be flexible in case you change your mind. There will be plenty available if you've done your homework and have a clue or two. When you get here there will be things you want to see that you hadn't thought of.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 24 2012, 11:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Dec. 23 2012, 9:09 pm)
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Well one route that would fold Devils Postpile and Yosemite into one would be Lyell Canyon ( a Tuolumne Meadows trailhead) south along the John Muir Trail to Devils Postpile. There's a bus system (yarts) that can get you either back to your car or from your car to the Tuolumne trailhead, you could drop your car at Mammothand take yarts to Tuolumne and pick up your reserved permit and with that in hand stay at the backpackers campground for the night before your first backpacking day.

I will look into that. I assume I could go the opposite direction as well? Start in Mammoth, hit Tuolomne and then head toward HD and the valley, get a shower and then get buses back to our car. Seems to be 58 miles plus HD trip with Donahue Pass being highest point. Concerns I'd have with that route:
1) Permits any harder to get?
2) Can you rent bear canisters at Mammoth?
3) If so, how much food would those hold if packed well? I figure it would take us 7 days at an easy pace.

(High_Sierra_Fan @ Dec. 23 2012, 9:09 pm)
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Oh and I'd suggest you take a very close look at Death Valley temperatures in June before making decisions to include that park.

If we do an overnight there, it will be a mountain like Wildrose or Telescope. I'm sure we'll drive around to some of the valley attractions, but won't be spending a lot of time in the heat. I like the heat myself but don't think my son could handle it.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 24 2012, 12:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sure you can start at Devils Postpile, it might even make the Wilderness permit easier to get ( the Happy Isles th is probably one of the top two in the park for popularity as its the start of the JMT) and there are a variety of THs to choose from along that road and yes yarts runs all the way from Mammoth to the valley (and beyond) so that'd work as well. I'm not sure about renting canisters in Mammoth  ( plan b might be swing into the park just to Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center to rent canisters on the way to Mammoth, a bit of extra driving coming from Death Valley, 40 miles each way so probably an extra 2 hours, but an option , another plus, they're sure to be cheaper than a commercial shop). The canisters for rent in yosemite cn be dropped off at various drop boxes at the entrances as well as at various locations within the park 24/7: the drop boxes are like big mailbox slots...On the Inyo Wilderness permits, I only have gotten walk ups from Inyo National Forest, the people who will issue yours for a Mammoth start, so I can't say what their procedure is like.

Higher in Death Valley is an idea. My impression of there was set be a mid spring trip where I assiduously drank a liter an hour while popping around and at the end of the day realized it hadn't been enough as I realized I hadn't once taken a bathroom break the entire day! Now to be fair my car was an MGB/GT without air conditioning but with black leather seats....  And it is a dry heat: but anything above about 105 or so and I start to have empathy with pizza.

One advantage of that route regarding supplies is there's the opportunity to  resupply at the Tuolumne Meadows store were it to be open, though that varies with the season depending on snowdepth but if its available that would cut the starting weight somewhat. Canister capacity is limited, probably need one for each of you. There are a couple of big sport shops in Mammoth and it occurs to me that Inyo NF might rent canisters, which would be cheap and convenient. Their webpages should say or give them a call.

Yep;
"All Inyo ranger stations are renting backpacker bear canisters and barrels for stock parties. Rates will be on a per trip basis, with a trip defined as 7 days or less. If your trip is longer then seven days, rentals are by week. Backpacker canisters are $5.00 per trip/week and barrels (appropriate for horse travel) are $15.00 per trip/week. Limited numbers are available. Many ranger stations also have bear canisters available for sale, a do many local sporting goods stores."

http://sierrawild.gov/wilderness/john-muir
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 24 2012, 1:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Interesting, for out of Devils Postpile you'd use recreation.gov, I've used them for campsites but not permits.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps....ostpile

Inyo has a bear page with some useful links
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/recreation/?cid=fsbdev3_003846

The YARTS Page:
http://www.yarts.com

FYI The Mammoth to Yosemite run is weekends only in June.

I'll add that's a terrific thing you're doing: some of my deepest held memories and feelings are from the great road trips my Dad and I took.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 24 2012, 2:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks. I knew I was quickly running out of time with this one to do such a trip as he'll be 16 in Sep and possibly have a job the following summer. We had a great time last year and I expect the same this summer.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 26 2012, 11:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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!
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 26 2012, 12:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If coming in from Death Valley, you can pick up canisters at Lone Pine or Independence at Forest Service where you pick up permits on the east side.

Or rent a larger Bearikade from http://www.wild-ideas.net/


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 26 2012, 1:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I believe there's an office in Mammoth as well though the bus returns well after it closes. I haven't gotten that far in my research.

I was actually considering buying a canister as the firs and aspens to hang from on my past trips in the Rockies are a pain (or non-existent) and I expect to continue to make trips west each year if possible. Haven't done the math yet to see if that makes sense though.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 11:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you head towards Zion or S. Utah don't miss Bryce Canyon, it's my fav for sure.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(topshot @ Dec. 26 2012, 8:13 am)
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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!

You're going to have to pick one date and stick to it as the route up Half Dome is permitted and quota'd. If your night before is closer than Littlee Yosemite Valley you would be ahead of a majority of the people.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 12:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, Bryce is on the menu - the "figure 8" loop going down Wall Street, around Peekaboo and out Queen's Garden.

(High_Sierra_Fan @ Jan. 09 2013, 12:10 pm)
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You're going to have to pick one date and stick to it as the route up Half Dome is permitted and quota'd. If your night before is closer than Little Yosemite Valley you would be ahead of a majority of the people.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

That info wasn't there when I looked a few weeks back but the relevant part hasn't changed: "Half Dome permits received in this way will be valid for all dates your wilderness permit is valid." I read that to mean you're OK to climb HD ANY day between your start and finish date of your wilderness permit. I assume they collect your permit at the bottom of HD so people can't do it more than once.

What isn't clear is whether there's a better chance of getting one of these now rarer permits if going through Yosemite vs Inyo, which would change our planned starting point.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 12:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The issuing office will still need to call a central location to see if the HD backpacker quota is full so the location probably doesn't matter.

Any of the WP issuing offices I've seen that rent canisters have a drop slot arrangement for 24 hr. return so you might check if the place you're thinking of getting them from has that.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 12:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Jan. 09 2013, 12:44 pm)
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The issuing office will still need to call a central location to see if the HD backpacker quota is full so the location probably doesn't matter.

I wonder how they do that since you can reserve your wilderness permit via Inyo earlier than you can at Yosemite and what day during your trip do they choose to look at to see if space is free (hopefully all of them!).
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 1:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


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(High_Sierra_Fan @ Jan. 09 2013, 12:44 pm)
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The issuing office will still need to call a central location to see if the HD backpacker quota is full so the location probably doesn't matter.

I wonder how they do that since you can reserve your wilderness permit via Inyo earlier than you can at Yosemite and what day during your trip do they choose to look at to see if space is free (hopefully all of them!).

Well the HD backpacker quota is partially reservable (50 out of the 75 per day) so they just look at the remaining reservable slots I would expect, just like for any other permit quota.

The only day that makes sense in an arbitrary sort of way is the entrance date since they do say there's a quota. Though I guess they could bin the dates, arbitrary is arbitrary after all and with HD permits and Inyo's both within Recreation.gov the data would be in the same system...
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 5:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I called Inyo Wilderness office and they said even with the new quota system just my permit from them is all I need. He even asked his supervisor. I just got off the phone with Yosemite Wilderness office and he confirmed that individuals hiking in from outside the park past Half Dome don't need a special permit. He said that may change again in 2014, but there are so few that do it that it's not an issue now. He told me I won't even have to pay the fee. Bonus! :)
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 5:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I suspected the rarity might be an aspect, glad to see it will be simpler for you!

They are mostly faced with dealing with dayhiker management and crowd control after all...
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 12 2013, 1:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 12 2013, 11:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Without looking at a map for the level of practicality I'd have traded Hoover Dam for extending beyond Moab to Mesa Verde etc. perhaps including the Durango-Silverton railway. Both more unique than the dam...

On a separate note the Patriarch Grove is in a long ways on a good, but not overly fast, gravel road. But the paved roads in that part of the country make for some quick travel (but in places like Co the local cops snack on speeders). For Yosemite, beyond Glacier Point (you got a better view on either Clouds Rest or Half Dome imho) the Mariposa Grove offers a unique experience, those trees are unbelievably big and the experience is better than the far smaller Tuolumne Grove.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 12 2013, 11:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Jan. 12 2013, 11:23 pm)
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Without looking at a map for the level of practicality I'd have traded Hoover Dam for extending beyond Moab to Mesa Verde etc. perhaps including the Durango-Silverton railway. Both more unique than the dam...

On a separate note the Patriarch Grove is in a long ways on a good, but not overly fast, gravel road. But the paved roads in that part of the country make for some quick travel (but in places like Co the local cops snack on speeders). For Yosemite, beyond Glacier Point (you got a better view on either Clouds Rest of Half Dome imho)the Mariposa Grove offers a unique experience, those trees are unbelievably big.

He specifically said he wanted to include Hoover. Should give a little break from camping/hiking.

I'm not sure if we'll go all the way to Patriarch Grove or not though I guess we will have plenty of time. I haven't looked yet to see what camping might be up there.

Re: Mariposa sequoias - is it worth seeing those after seeing the redwoods last year? If so, how long would it take to do from Glacier Point and should we climb Sentinel first or see the trees first?
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(High_Sierra_Fan @ Jan. 12 2013, 11:23 pm)
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Without looking at a map for the level of practicality I'd have traded Hoover Dam for extending beyond Moab to Mesa Verde etc. perhaps including the Durango-Silverton railway. Both more unique than the dam...

I agree that the dam doesn't add much for the time it takes to get there.  It's worth a stop if you're passing through, but not worth missing a day somewhere else where you can get out and walk.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 12 2013, 11:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hmm I'd probably hit the Mariposa Grove first (you've seen the oldest trees so why not the biggest? Being my thought) then Sentinal and then Glacier Point. One bonus of mountain summer is long days and sunset at the point is nice. There's a shuttle from Wawona to the grove.

http://www.sunrisesunset.com/calenda....&wadj=1
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 14 2013, 12:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

2 more questions I thought of for post-JMT:
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?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 14 2013, 1:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Curry Lounge has outlets. None comes to mind up in Tuolumne. Maybe one of the restrooms in the Tuolumne Meadows campground? They have electric lights as I recall and the restrooms in Curry have outlets so maybe....

For general recharging away from outlets I find a simple car converter works ok. Maybe $30 Then I plug my standard charger into the 110 outlet on the converter which gives me more flexibility so I can recharge cell phones as well as camera batteries. Mine is a Black & Decker. Lately I've found rental cars tend to have USB ports that will at least recharge phones, but I still need something for cameras.

There's steel lockers all around the Curry Village main lot as well as the long term backpacker's lot. Any food left in the car will raise the odds your car will get ripped into, usually they'll rip open a door (clout the windows out by smashing down the roof or simply peeling the door frame down like it's made of tinfoil), tear out the backseat and drag everything in the trunk out that way. Then the park service gives you a hefty federally levied fine for violating federal law. IMHO not worth it even were the spare food lifted from a locker... I use black garbage bags that are a little dirty and tag 'em with my name. Nice low profile tucked into a corner. Nothing's ever gone missing but there's no guarantee.
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