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Alex Wierbinski's blog
Vermilion Valley to Muir Ranch Backpacker Forum
This is the comments, questions, and supplemental information catch-all page for the Vermilion Valley to Muir Ranch Backpacker Forum.
Post up your information or your need for information.
Here's some information:
This is the supplemental information, references, and comments page for the Muir Ranch to Whitney Portal section of the Tahoe to Whitney Trails.
In this same forum we will explore the loops and alternative routes along this section of the trail, such as the North-South and Rae Lakes Loops.
This forum and the South end of the guide below Tuolumne Meadows are under construction. The trails above are in draft form.
Miles and Elevations
I have hit the Whitney Portal four times at the end of John Muir Trail hikes at 2;30 pm, had a Portal Burger at Doug's, then caught a ride down to Lone Pine with Doug three of the four times.
I am going to eat some more in Lone Pine, then either hitch-hike up to the Hot Springs just South of Bishop if I can't get a ride up to spend a night in the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker's camp.
Next time through the Whitney Portal I'm going to spend a night at Doug's Hostel specialized for long-distance backpackers down in Lone Pine.
Muir Ranch is one of my favorite resupply spots. This is in large part due to the low-key hospitality of Pat Gray.
Pat runs the backpacker resupply service. In the last ten years Muir Ranch has built a new shed to store the resupply packages, and completely turned around their previously backpacker-unfriendly attitude.
Pat was not unfriendly prior to this time, but the attitude at Muir was clear:
In past years their policy was, "get your resupply and get the hell out."
Southbound John Muir Trail
I call it 25.94 miles.
That is 25.94 miles starting out of Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley to the point 5.6 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows where the end of this alternative route tees-out on the John Muir Trail.
We will find there are more ways to hike the JMT than skin a cat. South of Reds Meadow we can follow the standard JMT to the VVR ferry at Lake Thomas Edison, or we can hike an alternative route down Fish Valley to the great beauties of Iva Bell Hot Springs.
Iva Bell Hot Springs are the Hilton Hotels of High Sierra Hot Springs. Its set up campsites climbing up the end of the Fish Valley to accompany the series of hot springs climbing the mountain are splendid.
South into the Ansel Adams Wilderness
This is the forum for supplemental information for the JMT and PCT from Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow, where we will pick up our next resupply.
My first, and possibly most important suggestion is to time out this section of trail down to Yosemite Valley from Tuolumne Meadows during the week and not near any mid-Summer holiday weekends.
Otherwise the traffic climbing the JMT, not to mention the vast crowds around Happy Isles Trailhead in the Valley will be thick. Try to time your descent into the Valley during low-traffic times.
This is the comments and basic information page for our Golden Triangle alternative route off the main crestline route of our Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trip. I want to hear how you weave in the more famous parts of Yosemite into your Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trip. Or, how you figured out the best way to hike a huge loop around the entirity of Yosemite National Park, which would be the next best thing.
Research reveals that the current PCT route around Wilmer Lake was not built until sometime after 1931 and before 1939, as indicated by the Yosemite Park Maps of 1931 and 1939.
The 1931 map shows the current route of the TYT around Tilden Lake as being the main route across the North Yosemite Backcountry with no route around Wilmer Lake.
Independent of the amazing drought of 2011-?, the slow and steady changes in the seasons over the Sierra Nevada have already doomed their forests to a rapid transition between species by fire.
I discuss this in context of the changing times we get changing temps and weather in the Sierra. This information is almost as important for backpackers as the forests and animals within them.
Notes on backpacking weather, changing (changed) seasons and the fate of High Sierra trees:
Hiking South on the combined PCT-TYT down Cold Canyon to Glen Aulin on August 3 encounted a hiker who I identified as trail crew as he approached.
Dan Schweitzer was indeed trail crew, and he was leading the pack hiking up the steep climb from Glen Aulin to the meadows in upper Cold Canyon. Not only was he moving fast and nimbly while climbing, he was only lightly strained. Classic trail crew.
We have a small mammal that's adapted pretty well to the flat expanses of High Sierra meadows by focusing on observation, communication, speed and cover. These are the Belding Ground Squirrels.
Here's a pretty good account of the Corporate shenanigans Delaware North Corporation is using to try to extort 51 million taxpayer's dollars via the National Park Service.
Well, the Devil Needs Cash...and the Devil Never Cares how he gets it...
Backpacking Camp Chairs
I was first personally introduced to backpacking camp chairs by a couple of cool PCT hikers in the late nineties or early this new century, Marie and Susan from Seattle.
Marie was convinced her portable camp chair was totally worth its weight in gold for the relaxation and comfort it brought. She insisted I sit in it, and I agreed.
Hey, I was hesitant. I don't want other folks to carry my comfort. I had not carrried that chair for well over a thousand miles, as she had, so I did not deserve to sit in it.
I met Doc and Elana Kundell at Tuolumne Meadows during the Summer of 2009. I had walked down from Lake Tahoe on my way to Mount Whitney, while the Kundell's father-daughter JMT hiking team climbed up from the Happy Isles JMT trailhead in Yosemite Valley on their way to the Whitney Portal.
That's a steep climb from bottom to top. I advise caution, and a slow start. A climb like that can tear your heart out.. It's a Hard ONE, baby.
Crossing Highway 108 at Sonora Pass South on the PCT or the TYT through Kennedy Meadows brings us into the Emigrant Wilderness and then the North Yosemite Backcountry.
This section of trail ends 75 miles South at Highway 120 in Tuolumne Meadows.
We've got a nice selection of real-time snow & temp sensors across the Sierra Crest along Highway 108, so we can figure out snow, temp, and winds at the Crest, the West, and the East flanks of the Sierra up there, and we've got sensors in Tuolumne Meadows.
The Sonora Pass HIghway closes each year with the first heavy snowfall, providing an excellent Winter wonderland of backcountry snow travel for the intrepred Winter traveler.
During Spring and Fall the weather can be tame and wild in turn, and every Summer backpacker should inform themselves as to recent trends and predictions. The information below is to that purpose.