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Experience Level



4-5 miles/day


9,600-10,600 feet

Registration Fee


Yosemite Field School: Alpine Amphibians Backpack

Program Overview: “A century ago, wanderers of the High Sierra encountered mountain yellow-legged frogs in such plentitude that a certain care and gentleness was required to avoid stepping on them. Even then, the frogs – once the Sierra’s most abundant vertebrate – demanded a kind of benevolent attention. By the hundreds the frogs gathered among the high lakes and streams, spending summer days basking in the sun, swimming in sunlit shadows, embracing in the mud, devouring banquets of caddisfly and mayfly larvae, all while they remained watchful for garter snakes slithering through the meadow grass.” – from The Paradise Notebooks, 90 Miles across the Sierra Nevada by Richard J Nevle and Steven Nightingale

During this backpack trip to Mono Pass, you’ll have a visit from Roland Knapp of SNARL (Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory). In this class you will have a unique opportunity to hear about the multi-year research into alpine amphibians that is undertaken in Yosemite. The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is now a federally listed endangered species, but thanks to donor funded research, successful species reintroductions are underway at high elevation.

The ecological effects of the loss of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog from most of its range have been significant, as their former abundance made them a keystone predator and prey and a crucial agent of nutrient and energy cycling in Sierra Nevada aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The Yosemite toad has also experienced serious declines, losing at least 50% of their populations. This once common wet meadow species is rarely encountered by the public today; however, its uniquely different coloration between the sexes, musical call, and stately toad behavior is a treat for those fortunate enough to encounter them. Visitors to Yosemite’s high-country have described the Yosemite toad’s call as a strikingly clear, high-pitched trill with its mellow notes being a “pleasing addition to the chorus of bird songs just after the snow leaves.”

Know Before You Go:

  • Program date: Thursday, July 27, evening meeting 7:30pm-9pm. Start hike at 9am Friday, July 28 and exit Sunday, July 30 by 3pm.
  • Program location: Starting near Tuolumne Meadows backpacking on the Mono Pass Trail
  • What’s included: An evening meeting, and one full day of guided instruction by a Yosemite Naturalist, park entry (as needed), and shared tent camping (camping dates cannot be altered). There is no discount if you choose not to use the included gate pass or campsite.
  • Camping dates: Participants can arrive on July 27 after 12pm and must depart July 28. After the backpack, participants can arrive on July 30 after 12pm and depart July 31 by 11am. There are three shared campsites among all the participants. We guarantee tent camping only. If you choose to bring a recreational vehicle, we cannot guarantee you will have a parking spot. Please be prepared to tent camp. A picnic table, bear locker and fire pit are provided at each site. Campsites fit 6 people per site.
  • Campground Location: White Wolf
  • Lodging: Upgrade to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge for an additional fee. Lodging dates match camping dates. Lodging blocks expire 30 days prior to the program. Details on using our Group Code will be emailed to you immediately after you register.
  • Experience level: Previous experience hiking at high elevations is recommended. Everyone must be physically fit to walk at 10,000 ft with a heavy backpack.

What’s not included:

  • Gear or meals during your program.
  • Camping gear or meals in the shared campsites.
  • Transportation.

View a suggested packing list including gear rental options.