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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.
These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.
The Ansel Adams Wilderness is one of the best-kept secrets of the High Sierra. Located on the southern border of Yosemite National Park, the Ansel Adams Wilderness has mile upon mile of sweeping granite ridges, spectacular vistas, wildflower-strewn meadows and a lifetime of fishing possibilities in hundreds of sparkling high mountain lakes. We'll spend our days exploring this rich mountain environment, via established on- and of-trail routes. There's even the option of a peak ascent of one of the 10,000+ ft peaks making up the southern border of Yosemite!
Accommodations: We provide your first night's lodging in a chalet on beautiful Bass Lake. Facilities include lakeside pool and hot tub, as well as tennis courts, market and restaurants (pricing based on shared room occupancy). Three nights tent camping.
Equipment: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, trekking poles, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.
Meals: We provide meals starting with lunch on day two through breakfast and trail snacks the last day. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.
Your Cost Includes: Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), applicable permits, pack stock support on Day 2 and Day 5, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.
Not Included: Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), transportation, and optional trip cancellation insurance.
Preparation: Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend exercising in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a full backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines are also excellent and preferable to a routine comprised solely of running.
About the Packstock: Mules will be carrying all of our equipment and your personal gear each day. We won't be hiking with the mules and perhaps not even camping with them. You will need to pack your personal belongings efficiently into one mid-sized compression sack or duffel as outlined in our pre-trip materials. You are welcome to pack anything extra in your daypack.
Day 1: Check in to the Pines Resort on beautiful Bass Lake anytime after 4pm. Meet your guide and group at 6pm in the main lobby for a short meet-and-greet and trip orientation. Dinner tonight is on your own at one of the many local restaurants.
Day 2: After an early breakfast on your own (there is a nice bakery in the Pines village), we’ll meet you at 8am to drive to the nearby trailhead (7,600’). The drive, which takes about an hour, is your responsibility to and from the trailhead. While hiking, you'll carry just a day-pack with some water, a camera, etc. We will hike approximately 6 miles into a centrally located lake where we will make basecamp.
Day 3: Today your guide(s) will lead a hike through the pristine upper lakes basin via established on- and off-trail routes. Exact destinations and distance vary depending on the preferences of the group members. The guides excel at customizing the itinerary to meet the preferences of the group. The day ends with swimming at our lakeside camp and stargazing.
Day 4: After a hearty breakfast prepared by your guide(s) we’ll set out again to explore the surrounding area. An optional summit hike to one of the nearby 10,000'+ peaks that make up the southern border of Yosemite National Park is a possibility. Also day hikes to other nearby alpine lakes with great fishing, swimming & photo opportunities are possible, depending on your interest.
Day 5: After a leisurely morning we’ll bid farewell to our cozy camp and make out way back to the trailhead. Expect a 4pm departure from the high country.
Want to experience this trip as a traditional backpack? Click Here for the backpacking version of the same itinerary!
Over the last ten years, we've taken our client friends to Yosemite to climb Half Dome; did a Mt. Hood glacier hike and crevasse climbing trip; hiked Zion and Bryce; rafted on the American River; climbed Mt. Rainier; went to a Utah Dude Ranch to ride, rope, hike, and drive ATV's; paddled, snorkeled, fished, and hiked out in the Channel Islands; hiked in the Enchantments; etc. Our goal is to get clients to get to know us out of their offices and, to some degree, out of their comfort zone by doing something more memorable than the typical, boring dinner and drinks routine. When Chris suggested a guided backpack trip, I was skeptical that it would match past trips, but it did and then some. The hiking, fishing, bouldering, food, camaraderie and SNOW made it absolutely memorable. We've already received a blast of emails with photos and thanks from the gang. All of them agree with Chris and me - it was a unique experience and you guys were absolutely great. Thank you (and enjoy some well-deserved time off.)
-Richard Wootton- PVT Trip - September 2014
Dear Colby and Ian,
I want to thank you for organizing the Nichols trip to Ansel Adams wilderness for us. Although Hal and I were very excited for this adventure we were also apprehensive never having done such a trip before. Ryan and Christina the two guides you provided for our group were superb! Their expertise in guiding the group was evident on all levels! They knew the mountain and led us at a pace that we could all be challenged yet safe. As the weather and terrain changed they continued to assess our group abilities and kept us safe yet challenged. The food was prepared at a chefs level and their camaraderie with our group just enhanced our groups dynamics and enjoyment. They were thoroughly professional the entire time enabling us to enjoy the wilderness and physical exhilaration while being guided in competent hands. It was a lifetime experience that totally surpassed our expectations and we will be forever great up to Ryan and Christina and the rest of SYMG!
-- Kathy Kamine, Ansel Adams High Sierra Camp, Sept, 2013
We had a great time with you and came back with resolves to how life at sea level infuses with some of the same peace and calm at 9,000'. You were great.
-- Colleen & David Leoff, September in the Ansel Adams Wilderness