with knowing details and understanding every facet of a complex situation (maybe
it helps me feel in control?). This plays out in my social life as well as my
day job as a project manager. I'm not a psychiatrist so my attempts to
interpret this habit will fall short, so I just try and exploit it. I do so by
planning trips, especially backpacking trips. To me it's the same type of fun
as Sudoku or any other type of thinking/logic puzzle except the reward is stress
free views like you see in the picture above. That picture is from the Glacier
Point Trailhead in Yosemite National Park; this is where our Journey will
The point of this series is to take you
through my thought process in planning a trip. This will be the most planning
I've had to do for a single backpacking trip (and I've really enjoyed every
minute of it). Hopefully this can motivate you to plan something similar, or
copy my plan verbatum and execute on your own.
I recently purchased Andrew Skurka's book "The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide." It's been very
motivational and has fed the compulsive planner within. It's what gave me the
idea to post this series. I plan to post a review of the book sometime in the near future.
First Things First...........
In a short and simple answer, there are two reason why I chose Yosemite. The first being Ansel Adams. My educational background is in the field of optics and my first job was working with camera systems. This is when I discovered Ansel Adams and I have been a huge fan of his work ever since. Reason number two, YARTS. YARTS is the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation systm, basically a shuttle service that gets people to and from the park.
For me, YARTS was a huge selling point so I began to look more seriously at the feasibility of a trip here. My next decision was figuring out the plane ride there. Really, there's two good options. Fly into Sacramento, CA and take an AMTRAK train into Merced, CA where the YARTS shuttle can transport the rest of the way into the park -OR- Fly directly into Merced, CA and bypass the AMTRAK altogether. With Merced, CA being such a small town I figured the airport would be so small that the cost of flying into it would be very high. Indeed, the airport is very small, but the price was actually cheaper than flying into Sacramento and having to also purchase a round trip AMTRAK ticket. Not only was the cost better, but the time savings was enormous (saved us about a day on both ends). It also helped reduce the amount of planning required.
Now I've realized how easy it will be to get to and fro and sold my friends on the idea. Isn't it amazing how you can commit to going to a place and not even know where you're going to go when you get there? Yeah...now it was time to figure that part out. Bottom line up front (BLUF): There is more there to see or do than one person can reasonably accomplish in one weeks time. So in picking our route, I asked myself, "What do I want to see when I get there assuming I'll never get to go back?" Thus, I devised my short list. #1, Half Dome. I probably dont need to explain #1. #2, El Capitan. #3 Ansel Adams Wilderness. I mentioned I'm a huge Ansel Adams fan. Aside from the purpose of vainly posing next to the Ansel Adams Wilderness sign for a picture, I figured anything named after that guy has to be beautiful. Take a look at the picture of Post Peak Pass below. Again, this speaks for itself.
Last, but not least, #4 was the John Muir Trail. You can't go ALL the way to California and not do at least a mile on the JMT. So looking at the NatGeo map of the area I highlighted the 4 Items on my short list. The first thing I had to come to terms with was my BLUF I mentioned earlier. Frankly, 3 out of 4 isn't bad. I highlighted a route which (purley by chance) happened to be a loop that had been done before and had been labeled as the Red Peak Pass Loop. This encompassed everything with the exception of El Capitan, which isn't completely out of the loop, which I'll explain later.
Permits, Permits, Permits, and Reservations...
Once this is arranged, you can really get involved in planning the particulars of your route as far as campsites and whatever dayhikes you may choose to go on. In Part II, I'll cover more specifics about the route we'll be taking. For now, here's a preview: