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  1. #1
    Registered User NorCalGuy's Avatar
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    Question Sierra Nevada Trip planning and prep questions.

    Hello there,

    I am planning my first true deep woods backpacking/ Bush craft trip this summer and joined this web site to do some research and to possibly meet people with common interests for future trips. I plan on going to the Sierra Nevada area in late June/ July of 2009. Here is my first set of trip prep questions about the Sierra Nevada.

    1) What is the more common edible plant life will I run into in the Sierra Nevada?

    2) What are the more common poisonous/ itchy etc plants in the Sierra Nevada?

    3) What are the best water collecting techniques in the Sierra Nevada?

    4) Where can I find decent PAPER or printable back country maps for trip prep?

    5) What is the best clothing to take out there in the early summer June/ July?

    6) Has anyone ever used a SPOT satellite messenger? And are they worth the price?

    7) Any suggestions on a starting point for my trip etc ? or what area to do the trip in (preferably someplace with a lake in the middle of the forest)?


    Thanks so much ahead of time. Any help is appreciated!
    - David

  2. #2

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    There are better sources for Sierra information - from PCT-L to Backpacker.com Whiteblaze is primarily intended for AT hikers.

    That said - I've hiked the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as a few other short backpacks when I lived in California.

    1. There are few edible plants, AFAIK, in the Sierras. Later in the season (August) you may find some huckleberries or thimbleberries. I've never run into them in California, but they are abundant in Washington. The vegetation in the Sierras is primarily lodgepole and other pines. In the desert there are some edible plants, but summer isn't really the time to hike there.

    2. You may run into poison oak in the lower elevations - not up high though.

    3. Streams and lakes are frequent. You may wish to treat because there are so many people in the mountains they may be contaminated.

    4. Any outdoor store will have maps and guidebooks for the Sierras. Wilderness Press publishes several guidebooks. Look at Amazon as well. The national parks have good maps put out by National Geographic/Trails Illustrated.

    5. You will likely have snow in the higher elevations until late June. That's when the mosquitoes begin to be bad. It's also when afternoon thunderstorms become frequent. So prepare for warm daytime temps, cool evening temps, coverage against bugs and against sun. Normal three season clothes should suffice. If you've never been backpacking before, you need to check out some gear lists.

    6. No.

    7. You will need a permit no matter where you go. If you are in one of the national parks you'll need to carry a bear canister. How long do you want to be out? If for a weekend - try the Desolation Wilderness area near Lake Tahoe or Yosemite or Thousand island Lake near Mammoth. If longer - try the John Muir Trail (211 miles), Tahoe Yosemite Trail, or Tahoe Rim Trail. If longer still - check out the Pacific Crest Trail. There are several good guidebooks to the Sierras. Find an outdoor store (i.e. REI in Berkeley) and check them out.

  3. #3
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    1) The best parts of the Sierra are near tree line. You won't find a lot to eat. You can find Mormon Tea to drink, though.

    2) See above. If you work at it you can run into poison oak and nettles.

    3) Just get your water from a creek. There is water everywhere in the Sierra.

    4) If you want small detail, get the USGS maps. Most maps are based on them anyways. If you want fancy maps, get the Tom Harrison map packs.

    5) Normal backpacking clothing. It will be cold at night and warm during the day.

    6) Yes, I have. No, they are not worth it for the Sierra. But, if you're on a long trip friends and family can follow you. If you're going some place remote (the Sierra doesn't qualify) then they might be a good idea.

    7) The Sierra is a big place and it is hard to recommend something without knowing about your experience level and how long you want to be out for. The JMT is a good place to start. The High Sierra Trail (not the Sierra High Route) is another. I like Kings Canyon and Sequoia more than Yosemite. If you want to see some pics, take a look at

    http://cwillett.imathas.com/shr/index.html

    There are lakes everywhere in the Sierra and finding one to camp by is pretty easy, especially if you're willing to get off a trail for a few hundred yards.

  4. #4
    Registered User NorCalGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Walker View Post
    7. You will need a permit no matter where you go. If you are in one of the national parks you'll need to carry a bear canister. How long do you want to be out? If for a weekend - try the Desolation Wilderness area near Lake Tahoe or Yosemite or Thousand island Lake near Mammoth. If longer - try the John Muir Trail (211 miles), Tahoe Yosemite Trail, or Tahoe Rim Trail. If longer still - check out the Pacific Crest Trail. There are several good guidebooks to the Sierras. Find an outdoor store (i.e. REI in Berkeley) and check them out.
    Thanks, Thats some good info. Do you need need permits to go to national forests? Are they easy to get? I am planning anywhere from 5-7 day trip. I was trying to steer clear of national parks because theres so many people and I heard you cant carry guns.
    - David

  5. #5
    Registered User NorCalGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris View Post
    7) The Sierra is a big place and it is hard to recommend something without knowing about your experience level and how long you want to be out for. The JMT is a good place to start. The High Sierra Trail (not the Sierra High Route) is another. I like Kings Canyon and Sequoia more than Yosemite. If you want to see some pics, take a look at

    http://cwillett.imathas.com/shr/index.html

    There are lakes everywhere in the Sierra and finding one to camp by is pretty easy, especially if you're willing to get off a trail for a few hundred yards.

    WOW, a trip like that would be a dream come true! Great pics and nice write up. Ill definatly have to pick your brain more about it. Thanks again!
    - David

  6. #6
    Registered User NorCalGuy's Avatar
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    Anyone else have ideas?
    - David

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