Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

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Girlwcurioushair
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Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by Girlwcurioushair » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:42 am

My family and I are beginner backpackers - we have only done a handful of easy overnight backpacking trips (avg 12-14 miles roundtrip).
We would like to do a backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park this summer. Ideally, 2 nights max.
Our kids are 13, 11, 9, and 7.
My questions are:
1) Is it feasible to backpack to Glen Aulin knowing our limited experience and the ages of our children?
2) I was looking at going in late June. Is that a good time of the season w/r/t mosquitoes and weather? Or is it best to push it out until late July/early Aug?
3) If Glen Aulin isn't the best idea, can someone recommend another backpacking trip in Yosemite that could be more appropriate for us?
Thanks you in advance for any advice you can provide. :)








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markskor
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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by markskor » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:03 am

My questions are:
1) Is it feasible to backpack to Glen Aulin knowing our limited experience and the ages of our children?
Easy trip ...~ 6 miles and mostly level...well marked trail.
2) I was looking at going in late June. Is that a good time of the season w/r/t mosquitoes and weather? Or is it best to push it out until late July/early Aug?
Mosquitos can be horrendous in June, depending on the previous winter snowfall....with kids, always better late July or later
3) If Glen Aulin isn't the best idea, can someone recommend another backpacking trip in Yosemite that could be more appropriate for us?
While Glen Aulin is amazing, but you are mostly walking in deep forest with little scenery until the very end.
Although GA always a great trip and highly recommended, especially to see the falls...suggest instead July, better climate - (BTW, all trips below taken many years ago with my then 8 year old son.)
- Saddlebag and 20 lakes basin loop...close by, no quotas, super scenic, and might be easier to navigate.
- May Lake overnight and do Hoffman if they are spunky.
- Maybe Yosemite Creek trail off 120 to the Valley floor in two days...dad can take YARTS back to get the car
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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by Girlwcurioushair » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:23 am

Wow, thank you for all the great info! OK, good to know about June... I will wait to reserve until the window opens up for late July/Aug. Thanks again, I really appreciate your response! :)

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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by balzaccom » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:33 pm

Markskor has given you some good advice. Of course, we'll know more about conditions once we get to May and see what the snowfall has been like this year. There is a fairly large backpacker campground at Glen Aulin, and it is close enough to the High Sierra Camp there that you can fill your water bottles at the camp, rather than having to filter your water for four people. That's a plus!

I like the hike to Glen Aulin, and think the kids would, too. For much of it you're hiking along the river, and you can always stop and let them cool of a bit...and the campground at Glen Aulin is pretty close to Conness Creek, another good place for kids to play.

If you can get a permit, you could also try for Cathedral Lakes...nice places to camp, not too long a hike, and lovely lakes at the end. I would vote for that over Yosemite Creek, which makes my knees hurt with all the hiking downhill. The kids probably wouldn't notice!

And another option would be just hiking up Lyell Canyon a few miles (you need to be at least four miles in to camp legally) where you have nice views and a lovely river.
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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:02 pm

Mark's recommendations are good, I've run into kids on both my trips into 20 lakes basin. The scenery is more alpine, rather than the rolling granite of Yosemite. And permits are so much easier to get.

Mosquitoes can be somewhat managed by where you choose to camp, but that might be hard with a big group. You can often climb out of a mosquito cloud by hiking up. But that often puts you in rocky terrain, with smaller campsites because there's less flat ground.

When to go depends on what experience you want. Peak water flow is usually in late May/early June. It's a double edged sword. Flowers have plenty of water, everything's green & blooming. Waterfalls are booming. But it also means there's plenty of water for mosquitoes to spawn in, and that water will flood trails and make rivers scary to play in. August dries out the foliage, but gets rid of the mosquitoes. And of course, all this can change if we have a really big or really small snow year.

Don't forget to send the kids off on a day hike with mom, while dad gets the permits. Yosemite has so much to see close to the road, it's an ideal place to day hike given the road access that Sequoia & Kings Canyon don't have.
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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:51 pm

The Tuolumne River is a BIG river and water flow are significant, even in mid summer or later. With kids, that means they need to be taught safety around big water and watched a lot. If your kids are dare-devils or not the cautions type, you may want to do this route very late season when the water is lower. Drownings are a major cause of deaths in Yosemite. The rock along the creeks are water worn and very slick and one can easily slide into the river. All depends on your kids and how much you want to be constantly watching them. Also, you do not have to camp in Glen Aulin crowded campsite. There are plenty of nice places to set up a tent in the valley below that would give you more privacy.

If you are not dead-set on Yosemite, a standard "kid friendly" trip is the Rock Creek basin. Good trails, pretty flat, very scenic, nice lakes, fishing, and much safer water conditions. Although it can be crowded with day hikers and dogs, it is easy to find a relatively private campsite.

The lakes accessed from Saddlebag Lake are VERY buggy early to mid season; better done late August.

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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by wildhiker » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:18 am

We did backpacking trips with our kids every year starting when the oldest was 6 months old (carried her). I always planned our Sierra trips for late July or August to avoid the worst of the mosquitoes, avoid hiking on snow, let the creek flows diminish from the major snowmelt so they are safer to play in and cross, and get a bit warmer lakes for wading or the occasional plunge. With a family your size, you should plan to reserve a wilderness permit. Have several backup options when you apply.

Lyell Canyon above Tuolumne Meadows is certainly the easiest hike - virtually flat for 8 miles - with beautiful meadows, views of bigger mountains, and even fishing in the river. However, it is also the John Muir Trail and thus the very hardest to get a permit for. You will be competing in a lottery with thousands who want to thru-hike the JMT.

Cathedral Lakes are probably the easiest alpine lakes to reach where you can backpack (there are a few others closer in like Elizabeth Lake where no camping is allowed). This is also on the John Muir Trail, but not heading in the direction that all the thru-hikers are going. You can base camp at the lower lake, and then take a day hike up to the upper lake and Cathedral Pass for the views.

The 20 Lakes Basin in the Hoover Wilderness above Saddlebag Lake, just east of Tioga Pass, is our go-to spot for beginning backpackers who want to see some real alpine scenery. A few miles of walking around Saddlebag Lake and then up a bit into the basin gets you to the first big lakes. Make a base camp, and then take side trips on or off trail to see the other lakes. But you are above 10,000 feet the entire time. Have you hiked with kids at such elevations before? Be sure to acclimate for a day or two at altitude before your backpack. Even one night at the Saddlebag Lake campground or another nearby one before you start hiking will be a big help to avoid altitude sickness.

The Rafferty Creek trail from Tuolumne Meadows up towards the Vogelsang area is a good trail without too much elevation gain that also leads to a beautiful alpine area. It is also popular, but not as much as the JMT. You only have to go 4 miles from the trailhead to legally camp, so you don't need to go all the way to the Vogelsang area. You could camp along the creek where the big open meadows start, and then dayhike further up to see the alpine lakes. But Rafferty Creek often dries up in mid to late August.

-Phil

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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by Girlwcurioushair » Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:43 pm

I wanted to thank everyone for their detailed and thoughtful replies! You have provided me with incredibly helpful information, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I will try to post again after our trip to let everyone know how it went, and to have info for others who might be thinking of doing something similar. Thank you again!

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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by paula53 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:59 pm

Just a note of caution. I don't know if the bridge over Conness Creek has been rebuilt yet. It was washed out the spring of 2017. Depending on the snowpack and depth of the water, it might be dangerous for young children to make the crossing safely. You have to cross the creek to get to Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp and the backpackers campground in back.

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Re: Backpacking to Glen Aulin with kids

Post by paula53 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:46 am

The bridge has been repaired.

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