Trip Logistics

Use the chart below to help schedule your travel. Below the chart, I’ve noted some additional items that need lengthier explanations.

Trailhead briefing

For meet-up points and important landmarks, consult this map. Some locations are not yet finalized, and this map will need updating.

At the “Briefing,” we will:

  • Make introductions;
  • Update you on conditions;
  • Distribute breakfast & dinner rations, demo gear, and paper maps;
  • Check over your gear, and weigh your full pack.

The guides normally arrive at the briefing location about an hour early to set up. If you have been instructed otherwise or if feel that you need a lot of help in checking your gear, you can arrive early as well, but please by no more than 30 minutes.

If you are able to drive to the meet-up location, be within at least three hours to avoid an absurd early-morning start.

Air travel and public transit

If you are flying in, you will need to arrive the day before.

You can fly out at the end of the last day, so long as you can make the timing work. Please don’t schedule a flight that is so early that your group is forced to exit unnaturally early on the final day. If you’re unsure if your departure time is late enough, contact Andrew.

West Virginia

The closest airports serve Washington DC, and are about two hours east.

Alaska

Fly into Fairbanks (FAI).

California

Mammoth Yosemite (MMH) is the closest airport to Yosemite National Park. But only United Airlines and Alaska Airlines offer flights into it, and connect only with Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco. More practical airports, in order of drive-time to Tuolumne Meadows, include:

  • Reno-Tahoe (RNO): 2 hr 55 min
  • Fresno-Yosemite (FAT): 3 hr 30 min
  • Sacramento (SMF): 4 hr 0 min
  • Oakland (OAK): 4 hr 5 min
  • San Jose (SJC): 4 hr 20 min
  • Los Angeles (LAX): 5 hr 35 min
  • Las Vegas (LAS): 5 hr 50 min

Tuolumne Meadows can be reached via public transit. Use Greyhound, Amtrak, or Eastern Sierra Transit to reach one of the gateway towns such as Merced or Lee Vining. Then take a YARTS bus to Tuolumne.

Colorado

Fly into Denver International Airport (DEN). It’s a 1.5-hour drive to Wild Basin, and a 2.5-hour drive to Grand Lake.

If you don’t want to rent a car, take an airport shuttle to Estes Park (which is 30 minutes north of Wild Basin, and from where you can get a Lyft) or to Grand Lake.

Lodging

The California and Colorado trips are at high altitudes, and non-acclimatized clients may experience acute mountain sickness (e.g. headache, nausea, loss of appetite). To minimize the risk of consequential symptoms, you are encouraged to spend at least the night before the trip at altitude. If you have the time, make it two nights — there are plenty of things to do nearby.

If you live at altitude, you are exempt from this recommendation. However, you should still try to occasionally get into the high country before your trip — the air is a lot thinner at 12k than 5k.

In Colorado, stay in Grand Lake, Granby, Winter Park, Estes Park, or similar.

In California, consider a motel in Mammoth Lakes or the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Secure a vehicle site by reservation (recommended) or walk-up. You can also stay in the Backpackers Campground the night before and after your trip. You will need a copy of my backcountry permit reservation; I will email it to you.

Specific to 2019 Trips

West Virginia

I am still finalizing the commercial permit with Monongahela National Forest. The meet-up spot will be confirmed after the permit is finalized.

Alaska

Your schedule and travel is more particular than other groups. Please consult this planning document for all details.

California

Nothing to add.

Colorado

Backcountry permits can be reserved starting March 1. I will be at the Wilderness Office on that day, and will have itineraries in hand when I leave.

After the permits are secured, the exact meet-up spot and the general route can be confirmed.