Ready to Go! - Yosemite High Sierra Camp Backpacking Trip

By Bill Swift

This is the week we start our backpacking trip to Yosemite and stay at the High Sierra Camps. The two big challenges we have been working through the last two weeks are continuing to get in backpacking condition, and to help with that, trying to minimize the weight we carry. To get in condition, we have been doing a number of hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), exploring both Meadow Mountain Lake and Little Needle Lake on different days. What makes these hikes exciting is after you get off the Squaw Valley tram at 8200 feet, you climb up to the Watson Monument and then down to the PCT at about 2 miles. Meadow Mountain Lake is about 2 miles north on the PCT and Little Needle Lake is about 2 miles south on the PCT, both traveling through spectacular scenery.

On top of that, these hikes are accessible only on what both Jeffrey Schaffer in his Tahoe Sierra and Pacific Crest Trail books say, and @IngaAksamit notes in her Little Needle Lake Adventure call "use trails". Ha! This means old remnant trails or no trail, or trail for some part and then no trail for a while. The end result though is a good adrenaline rush in the search, appreciation for the Garmin eTrek GPS, and then access to some very lightly travelled areas that are just stunning off the PCT. Really nice to be completely immersed in nature. Check out the images above that show Meadow Mountain Lake and then an immersive 360 image from Little Needle Lake.

Fishing and Electronics Equipment

The weight challenge we have is that, besides our clothes, all the other cool stuff we want to bring actually weighs something and takes battery power. The Ricoh Theta S 360 Camera is controlled over local Wi-Fi with the iPhone and the Ricoh battery pretty much goes very low after 30 minutes of video. We also want to use our iPhones as cameras, so for a 5 day trip, we are bringing along a 15.2 oz Anker 26800mAH external battery that should be able to re-charge an iPhone 10 times. We added 0.25 inch screw/blots to a cardboard mailing tube we have as a lightweight fly rod tube, so now we bring a lightweight small tripod and use this “stick” instead of bringing our handy Targus 42in Travel Tripod (at 1 lb) and save lots of weight. The image above shows the fishing equipment (2 pounds total) and electronics (2 pounds total) we are bringing. 

  • Ricoh Theta S 360 video camera
  • iPhone(s)
  • Anker 26800mAH external battery
  • Fitbit Pulse tracks distance/time on wrist
  • Garmin eTrek 30 GPS 
  • Mini Tripod
  • 5wt Fly Fishing Rod + modified Tube with 0.25 inch mounts tripod/camera mounts
  • Fly Fishing Reels (floating line for creek/rivers, sink tip line for lakes)
  • Tenkara Fly Fishing Rod
  • Fly box, Leaders, Tippet, Floatant, Snippers, Licenses

All these items, of course, are “luxuries” to bring along. With no tents or sleeping bags or 5 days of food, even with all this stuff, we still will have backpacks that weigh about 20 pounds including water. So sure, lets enjoy some fishing and some immersive imaging capture. And if you were wondering, no, we are not bringing Google Cardboards as you probably know by now, the VR apps use lots of power! Off we go, so check back for the details!