Advice for big hike in Yosemite
October 23, 2007 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point - I plan on spending next weekend in Yosemite, staying in a tent cabin at Curry Village and doing this hike with a friend. Has anyone done this trail and/ or have advice to offer?

Any information would be useful - what to wear, what to bring, whether it'll be hot or cold, how much (and what) food to bring (and where to get it), turn around time, how to survive in a tent cabin after dark with no electricity, whether the included breakfast at Curry Village is worth the extra cash etc etc.

I know this question makes me sound a little clueless - I'm not, I'm just looking for any useful advice from experience. I've hiked a lot, but never a full day.

I do have the Lonely Planet guide to Yosemite, and we're both in our 30s in reasonably good shape.
posted by The_Partridge_Family to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The four mile trail is the steep switchback trail up to glacier point, right? I did that this spring. If you really book it, you can make it in a couple of hours (I did it in 2.5) and then head down the long windy way past the falls, for a total hike that day of about 13 miles. Bring a lunch and eat it up at the top of glacier point!
The trail is not really that bad. It is steep. Wear good hiking boots, becaus the trail is occasionally on rock and that will tear up your feet if you aren't wearing good shoes. There might be some snow or ice this time of year, so you'll need extra good tread for that. And if you get hurt on the way up (like I did- not the fault of the trail, entirely due to my own stupidity) you may be able to bribe a tourist bus to take you back down to the village!
posted by ohio at 11:20 AM on October 23, 2007

I've hiked in Yosemite a lot (though I haven't done this trail in a few years). Talk with a ranger about your hike before you leave. They'll know about trail conditions, what time it gets dark in the valley, etc.

You'll not be too cold walking, b/c you'll be working. When you stand around you may get a bit of a chill, esp. if you're in the shade. At night you'll get cold. If the tent cabin has heat then you're set. If not, bring extra clothes/blankets for sleeping. I'd just a t-shirt + a fleece + a hat of some kind. However, even at this time of the year you should be relatively fine during a hike.

As for the time, it's hard to say. It depends on you really. I could definitely do this in a day, but I'd be tired. I'm a sort of out of shape 29 year old. A few years ago my girlfriend and I did it as a day hike, and it was fine (though it was summer).

As always, use your judgement. If it takes you 3 hours to get to the top, figure it'll take you at least that long to get down (you'll be more tired, and it'll be harder on your knees/feet). Keep an eye on the time as you're hiking and keep asking yourself, "If I turned around now and if it takes me as long to get back as it took me to get here, would I get back before dark?". Again, it gets dark in the valley early so talk to the rangers / read the signs.

Bring headlamps/flashlights just in case. Esp. if someone twists an ankle or whatever and it takes you 9 hours to get down instead of a few. Things like this are always a good idea. That said, I probably wouldn't bring light b/c I don't think this hike is that hard.

In my opinion nothing at Curry Village is worth the extra cash. I think the food is horrible, the service is bad, and the atmosphere is unpleasing. However, I may be a bit of a snob here. It's a traditional modern-day National Park experience, if you like that kind of thing then you'll enjoy Curry Village.

P.S. The hike down will probably be harder on your body than the hike up. If you have hiking poles, I'd suggest bringing them.
posted by mto at 1:02 PM on October 23, 2007

Yes, tell a ranger, carry headlamps, and warm clothes for standing around in the dark in chilly weather. So long as everything goes well, you've only carried an extra pound of weight. If anything goes awry, you'll be able to handle a cold, long evening.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience. And carry more calories than you could possibly want. Six or eight Clif bars are awfully nice to be sharing after dark on the way downhill after something trivial goes wrong.

And carry a map. The *correct* map.

...let's see, what else have I done wrong?
posted by lothar at 2:25 PM on October 23, 2007

I'm a little skeptical about "telling a ranger." If you're headed out for a back-country multiple-nights trek, yes of course you have to register, but I've been hiking Yosemite since I was a kid, and we've never bothered telling a ranger where we're going - there's usually anywhere from 50 to a few hundred people on most of the day hike trails in the park on any given day. And the trails are all clearly labeled with signs throughout - I haven't looked at a map in years there (but I know it fairly well by heart, so you might want one, just for fun). Although talking with one about trail conditions, sun-down, etc. isn't a bad idea.

If you dress right (as pointed out above) and are in reasonable shape, then just wake up early in the morning, have a decent breakfast, and get on the trail before the crowds get there. You'll get the harder work out of the way before the heat of the day picks up, and will have a more pleasant solitary experience.

Bring a lunch and *more water than you think you need.* You can refill at Glacier Point, but be sure you have plenty to drink. Its rare that I've been on a day hike in Yosemite that my brothers and I haven't ended up giving water to some yokel carrying a single-serving AquaFina bottle.

Daytime should be nice but the tented cabins will be getting damn cold there at night so get one with heat if you can, if you can't, bring a heavy sleeping bag. And yes, the Curry Village food ain't that great, but nothing beats a big, hot breakfast the day after a big hike, even if the quality is college cafeteria.

Oh, and Glacier Point is a nice destination, but if you're up for long day trip with a decent elevation gain, I personally think the Half Dome route from valley floor is much more rewarding, as long as you get out ahead of the crowds. Pictures of my most recent ascent there are on my flickr page - linked in my profile.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:31 AM on October 24, 2007

*talking with a ranger (not a map, heh).
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:32 AM on October 24, 2007

There are rangers out and about and are generally nice. Having a chat with one if you're a bit nervous about what you're doing is always a good idea.

However, I don't think the suggested hike is a very big deal either. But, talking to someone can put a mind at ease.
posted by mto at 7:26 PM on October 24, 2007

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