Trail Crew | Vermilion Valley Resort/Edison Lake | Muir Trail Ranch
John Muir Trail
| Pacific Crest Trail |
| High Sierra Camps | 15' & 7.5' Vogelsang TOPO! trail maps
http://www.yosemitetrailsdvd.com/ Great DVD on backpacking and
hiking trails all over the park!
Backcountry snow survey
for the April snow survey show that the Merced River basin snowpack is
at 53% of average while the Tuolumne River basin is at 52% of average
for this time of year. Last year, the Merced was at 47% while the
Tuolumne was at 43%, but the distribution of snow is much different
this year. Last year, the snowpack was fairly consistently about 45% of
average at all surveyed elevations. This year, the snowpack is about
70% of average down to around 8,000 feet, but drops off substantially
below that. So, those early-June high-elevation backpacking trips that
might have been possible last year will probably be much snowier this
Here for backcountry wilderness permit reservations.
list. Go Here
Second thoughts on
the need to filter water in backcountry locations in the Sierra
Nevada. VERY interesting article:
Bear-proof food canisters MANDATORY in the
The Park Service announced today
(5-11-04) revised wilderness food storage regulations in an
effort to reduce the number of incidents of bears obtaining food
from backpackers in Yosemite’s backcountry. Yosemite’s Bear
Council endorsed this recommendation by Chief Ranger Steve
Shackelton. Bear-proof canisters are required within seven
linear miles of park roads. This includes the Wawona Road (Highway
41), the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West), the Tioga Road
(Highway 120 East), the Glacier Point Road, the Hetch Hetchy Road,
and the Lake Eleanor Road. Bear-proof canisters are required
within one-half mile of the shoreline of Benson Lake and above
9,600 feet (above tree line). Yosemite National Park still
strongly recommends backpackers use approved bear canisters
throughout the wilderness.
A map delineating the new wilderness areas requiring bear
canisters can be viewed at
the green shaded areas, backpackers are required to store food
items, items carrying food scents, and toiletries in bear
Service approved bear canisters are available for a minimal rental
fee from wilderness centers, some concession outlets, and the
Hetch Hetchy entrance.
Approved bear canisters:
Conditionally Approved Canisters
panniers (for stock use):
- DeCarteret Aluminum Stock Panniers
- Berner Bear Box
- Bear Aware Panniers
Conditionally Approved Panniers
Steel salvage drums with a security lid may be used
until panniers are purchased.
This is where the angels spend their summers; opens early to late July.
Backpacking Fundamentals (Read
few things you must know unique to Yosemite even if you are an experienced
1) There are many rules and regulations
that the rangers are very serious about when allowing people into the
backcountry. Most people who venture into the wilderness are
cognizant of their actions, but a surprising number of idiots would
destroy it all if they did not have strict controls over allowable
conduct. I know, this is a pain in the ass, especially if you are
used to other areas in the US which do not have such strict controls in
place, but with the fools that come into this park, it has become
necessary. Here's a list of the basic rules you MUST not ignore; Go
Here (I'll also give you a few ways to bend these rules and work
around them without compromising the integrity of wilderness preservation
but still keeping your butt out of trouble with The Man In Green.)
2) Bears must always be a consideration
when storing food. This cannot be emphasized enough. Do not
disregard or slight this admonition. Go Here
for info on bears.
3) The weather in summer is VERY
predictable. It doesn't rain! Well, at least not like it does
back east or in the northwest. IF it rains, it is in the form of a
very brief, benevolent thunderstorm that will come and go inside of 90
minutes, and this may happen about once or twice a month at most! The
weather should be absolutely spectacular! I have been backpacking
for 21 years in Yosemite and neighboring regions, and it was only last
year I got caught in enough rain to materially affect my trip. But
even then, everything was dried by the time I bedded down for the
night. I never bring rain gear, and rarely bring a tent; only if I'm
with some gal or child who needs the psychological "protection"
of a tent. Go Here for
more on Yosemite weather.
4) Mosquitoes can be brutal. NEVER
venture into the backcountry without either mosquito netting or repellant,
5) Strange as this may seem, you should
never go backpacking in Yosemite (or anywhere else in the Sierra) without
some sort of lip balm. ChapStick. The water in the streams is very hard
and full of minerals, and while this might be a good thing (to a point)
for your diet, it's brutal on your lips when you are drinking it
frequently from water bottles. Plus, Yosemite is a very low humidity
environment, and when your huffing and puffing along trails for miles on
end, the exertion can dry your skin, lips included. How many times
have I been on the trail and had someone lunge at me when they see me
applying ChapStick along the trail and offer me big money for my Chapstick.
"NO WAY!" I always say. (I always let them use some,
though) Get in the habit of putting it on before you bed down each
night. Severely chapped lips on the trail is a monumental
This is in Kings
Canyon National Park (Evolution Valley), but comparable vistas like
this can be found all over Yosemite.
I put this shot in just because I love this spot and
this is a great picture! You should have seen it live!
is a bittersweet experience at Yosemite. Some of the grandest backcountry in the
nation exists in the park, but during holiday periods and weekends, trails near the
populated areas can sometimes resemble an L.A. freeway and carry abject fools. I see
people on their way to Half Dome on a day trip with only a quart of water, light-weight
athletic shoes, no hat and no sunglasses. Dogs are strictly prohibited on trails,
but guess what I see constantly. Some people should be turned away at the gates from
entering Yosemite. They have no concept of what it takes to manage this park in the
face of STUPIDITY, SELFISHNESS AND CARELESSNESS.
There is a quota system on all trails, and strict fire
regulations exist at higher elevations. No fire at all above 9,600 ft.;
This is strictly enforced!!
The headwaters of
the San Joaquin River in Evolution Valley, about the 9,500 ft. elevation.
It was late afternoon, and I
was just finishing a tough leg of the trip to Vogelsang from the back way,
and happened on this shot of a couple I had been hiking behind for quite a while. Notice
the well-worn trail ditch. As you can see, this is a well traveled path.
You MUST check in at the ranger
station in Tuolomne Meadows, the valley floor or Wawona for trailhead permits.
Permits are available either on a
reservation basis from 24 weeks to 2 weeks in advance, or first-come-first-served
basis. Advance reservations are $3, and 50% of the allocation is saved for
first-come-first-served, which can be obtained from the ranger stations in Wawona, valley
floor, or Tuolumne. On holiday periods, it would be wise to allow at least 6 weeks advance
reservation of your permit, or plan to be at the ranger station when it opens the day
BEFORE you plan to leave. Ranger stations open at 7am on the valley floor and
Tuolumne, and 8:30am in Wawona.
See the MAPS area for details on particular
backpacking trails, but one you should NOT pass up is Vogelsang
from Tuolumne Meadows (see map and photo below; also see photo page). Absolutely
||Click on the image to
the left for a larger view of the Tuolumne Meadows wilderness areas.
The John Muir Trail
John Muir Trail "ends" on the
valley floor, (or begins, depending on your perspective.) 211 miles long, it is the
most awesome trail in the western United States, Grand Canyon included. It will take
you from the valley floor, to Tuolumne Meadows, through the Sierra National Forest, into
Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and to the top of Mt. Whitney (elevation 14,495
ft.) This is the trail where true bragging rights are earned for walking the whole
thing. It is a life-changing experience.
The true appeal of the John Muir
Trail is the combination of astoundingly beautiful scenery, and that there's a 90% chance
that it will not rain AT ALL during your 21-or-30 day hike, and the skies will be
cloudless cobalt-blue during the day, and give you a completely unobstructed view of the
stars night after night. The humidity will be low, and there is simply no way to get
better weather for enjoying the wilderness, short of ordering it out of a Sears
catalog. When set in that atmosphere, the John Muir Trail is truly a
once-in-a-lifetime thing-to-do. I am blessed to be able to access this area at will.
Bob and I have hiked many parts of the trail, but never the whole thing in one
GREAT John Muir Trail trip
VERY well written and full of useful information.
beginning (or end) of the John Muir Trail at the Happy Isle Nature Center, plus starting
point for various day-hikes and weekend backpacking trips from the valley floor.
Half Dome & Top
Of Nevada Falls. Clouds Rest is next to Half Dome; a few self-abusive people do both in
the same day. NOT for those with a fear of heights.
Notice bottom entry, John Muir Trail,
(or just plain-old "Edison"; You say "We're
goin' to Edison." Everyone knows what you mean.)
If you're planning to do the entire John
Muir Trail, a good place to cache is Vermilion Valley
Resort. (7,500 ft. elevation) The folks who own this back-country fishing
resort know what backpackers want and how to cater to them. Located by a spectacular lake
at the end of a very long dirt road, which extends from the end of a 22 mile narrow
mountain pig-path, there is NO TV, radio, newspapers, and only one sort-of cell phone.
They have electricity only from 7am to 10pm. They have an excellent restaurant,
comfortable beds, pay-showers, and a ferry to and from the trail head, cost about $7.50.
This is a very remote resort. It takes 3-1/2 hours to drive from
Fresno, a mere 75 miles as the crow flies. You are not encouraged to drive
your two-wheel drive car here. Although you can, you are much
better off with a 4-wheel drive, or heavy duty pickup. This should tell you about how
remote and primitive this area is. But is it ever relaxing and gorgeous!! Good
camping, nice people, and, sometimes, a decent fishing guide who knows how to go after the
big Brown Trout that are in Edison. There are some monster Browns in this lake, but
catching them is not easy. The Fish and Game biologist I was talking to said he
thought that the world's record Brown is in this lake. It is very
deep, has plenty of food and fishing pressure from May to August only.
Fishing here was bad during the drought of
the mid-eighties, but we were able to map out the bottom, and learn where all the deep
water is. Now that it is full each summer, we try going to that deep water just to
see what will happen. Nothing has so far. But we also learned where the
creek-beds are that used to wind their way down the river bottom during the drought.
Big fish hang out in the troughs, and the fish-finder has repeatedly given back some huge
images. (We know the bottom here, and know there are no obstacles to give a false
image.) We troll, offer live bait, and they just don't like what we're serving,
evidently. The big ones are hard to catch.
I throw this in only to show one of
the several hot springs at Mono Hot Springs, located on the way to
Vermilion Valley Resort. This particular one was a perfect 103
degrees, crystal clear water, and an expletive-spewing Gracie not
liking that I was taking her picture naked. Circa 1982.