2014 Sierra Expedition:

Llamas across Northern Yosemite

The destination this year is Northern Yosemite, a relatively remote area of the park, although some of our hiking will be along the Pacific Crest Trail. Unlike recent hikes, where we set up a base camp and did day hikes from there, this time we will be moving every day. Llamas will carry most of our gear.

It is an extraordinarily dry year so far in the Sierra, so we should assume a ban on fires for the entire trip.

July 26 (Saturday): Fly to San Francisco, drive to a motel near Sonora. We'll need two cars, since we will begin and end in different places.

July 27 (Sunday): Llama training at Potato Ranch Llama Packers. Day hike, shopping, and relaxation as needed for the rest of the day.

July 28 (Monday): We will drive to the trailhead, spotting a car at Twin Lakes. Dan Vandersteen will remember the “providential van” from an earlier hike, but we shouldn’t depend on it happening again. Our llamas will be taken to the Virginia Lake Trailhead (9880 ft). Hike over Summit Pass (10,183 ft) and into Virginia Canyon, camping at around 8520 ft.. I’m told eight miles a day is a reasonable figure for traveling with llamas. That will get us well into the canyon.

July 29 (Tuesday): Hike about six miles past Miller Lake (9446 ft) into Matterhorn Canyon (8480 ft).

July 30 (Wednesday): Hike about seven miles over Benson Pass (10,080 ft) to Smedberg Lake (9129 ft).

July 31 (Thursday): We will hike the four miles or so to Benson Lake (7600 ft). Not far, but there is some considereable up and down.

August 1 (Friday): About a four-mile hike over Seavy Pass (9120 ft.) to Kerrick Canyon (8880 ft). Again, the distance isn't great, but the altitude varies considerably.

August 2 (Saturday): Eight miles to Peeler Lake (9160 ft).

August 3 (Sunday): We'll want an early start, since this will be a long day. We'll hike down about eight miles to Twin Lakes, where our llama folk will retrieve their stock and we will get our second car (while everyone but the drivers get their showers in) and drive to a hotel near the San Francisco airport.

August 4 (Monday): Fly back to Grand Rapids.


A 2010 hike report from some of the ground we will cover. Don’t worry about their accounts of swarming mosquitoes and snow. Both will be long gone by the time we get there. The winter of 2009-2010 had considerably more snowfall than usual. That was the year of our Red Mountain Basin hike — those who were there will remember more bugs than one would like.

Another 2010 report covering much of our ground.

If you use Google Earth, enter “Smedberg Lake, CA,” and you will be in the middle of the area.

Confirmed Participants:

Randy Bytwerk
Jane & Nick Hendriksma
Dan Vandersteen

Possible hikers:

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For those who stumble across this page through a search engine, it's the planning page for a hiking group in Michigan. It is maintained by Randall Bytwerk (bytw2calvin.edu — replace the "2" with a "@").