Now, follow my train of thought for laying out route. Maybe it will help your ADD in future route planning...
1) What do you want to see?
Devise a short list of landmarks you would most like to encounter on your trip.
So before I get ahead of myself, let me recap a tidbit from Part I and cover my criterion for laying out a route: I started by devising a short list of landmarks I would most like to encounter during the trip to Yosemite #1, Half Dome, #2, El Capitan, #3 Ansel Adams Wilderness #4 JMT. The next step was to assess the feasibility of getting to all these places in a week. I actually accomplished it, but we don't necessarily get to see all of it on foot (so I kind of cheated a little, but we aren't renting a car and I think that accounts for something). I drew out a route that started and stopped at Happy Isles, which is the beginning of the JMT. It covered everything with the exception of El Capitan, but with the addition of Red Peak Pass. I began searching for trip reports online that had route itineraries similar to mine. I stumbled on this one: https://sites.google.com/site/defeatedtrails/to/reds-peak-pass-loop-08/Red-Peak-Pass-Loop-Maps
These guys did pretty much the same thing I was wanting to do. The difference was, they started at the Glacier Point trail head and finished at Happy Isles and don't have the day hike to Post Peak Pass (in the Ansel Adams Wilderness). I noticed that there is a tour bus that runs to Glacier Point from Yosemite Valley. As simple as it seems, this was a somewhat ground breaking discovery. It opened up the the opportunity to see El Capitan, even though it will only be from the window from a tour bus. Also, it gave me a chance to view the elevation plots. Originally I was planning on doing the loop clock wise, hitting Half Dome on the front end. That would pretty make make this a 7 day uphill trek. I'm not admitting to being scared of a challenge, but I do want to enjoy my trip.
2) Set some dates
Figure out your window of opportunity
I work full time to supplement my backpacking. Therefore, the amount of vacation time I have from my work factors in to the amount of time I can spend on the trail. My personal tip: Pick a time frame that is surrounded by a holiday so you can maximize your available vacation time. Hopefully it will line up with peak seasons in the regions you are looking to visit. If that doesn't work out or If leave time is not an issue, please disregard this entire paragraph (should I have mentioned that first?).
3) Do you want to hike or camp?
Figure out if you want to cover lots of miles to see sites, or establish a base camp with a series of day hikes.
The second would be fitting in everything you want to see. If you enjoying hiking daily to your destination, great! Don't forget you also have to option set up a base camp and then do day hikes. You could easily camp at a different destination every two or three nights and do day hikes to things you want to see. If you do, however, set up a base camp, it is important to make the same preparations before you would leave as if you are going to bed. You don't want to come back to camp to find silnylon hamster bedding because you left your food bag in your tent.
4) Set your route
Connect the dots...
The map above shows our planned route with anticipated camp sites. The campsites aren't specifically located, just pegged out in regions on the map that look suitable for camping. It's always more of a psuedo-ad hoc decision in that we plan for a general area, but the specifics are determined when we feel like it.
Keep in mind, this can be a somewhat tautological process in that one iteration through the 4 steps isn't always enough. In fact, there should be several iterations until you find the perfect one. I think I figured about 4-5 different routes before I settled on the one pictured above. The more time you spend studying the map, the more you will familiarize yourself with the area (which isn't a bad thing).
I know what you're thinking, and it's "Why did he leave out Tuolumne Meadows?" Well, I got ahead of myself and realized I couldn't fit it in with the amount of time we have. Is it doable? I'm sure it is. The beautiful thing about backpacking is that your priorities are simple: eat, move, sleep. I can move any way I wish and If I decide to change my route, I reserve that right. A lot of our decisions will be based on how we feel. Coming from Alabama we sit at about 500 FAGL so there will be an acclimation period. Aside from the headaches I experienced on the first day in CO last year, I managed well. Of course, we climbed around 6500' in the first day (NOT recommended).
I believe our fate, for this trip, will be decided on day two, which is entirely up hill for about 9 miles. That puts us about 2 miles short of Red Peak Pass. After that, the majority of hiking will be down hill with the exception of our day hikes to Post Peak Pass and Half Dome.
Putting it all together...
This leads into the topic of Part III which will be based on developing your own guidebook. I'll cover the route in more detail in that post.