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Another HST thread

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Another HST thread

Postby bro » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:07 pm

Hey all,
My hiking buddy and I will be setting out on the HST next Saturday and would like some advice. I have been lurking about for a few months reading just about everything I could think of, and I don't think I have seen quite the exact itinerary.

Day 1: Buck Creek
Day 2: Nine Lakes Basin (lower lake)
Day 3: Moraine Lake
Day 4: Junction Meadow (lunch at Kern Hot Springs)
Day 5: Crabtree Lake
Day 6: Guitar Lake (tarn above)
Day 7: Whitney Portal

Is it a mistake to skip Hamilton? We have heard it can be crowded, and were hoping to push on early in the trip so we had the time for the diversion up to Crabtree Lake at the end. A night at 9 Lakes seems like a good trade.

We have also been kicking around the idea of going over the saddle on Mt Hitchcock to transit from Crabtree to Guitar. We do not have any x-country experience, but it seems straightforward enough. Thoughts?

Thanks!



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Re: Another HST thread

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:31 pm

Hi Bro,

Welcome to HST! Please read and supply answers that pertain to you trip: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby markskor » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:03 pm

bro wrote:... and were hoping to push on early in the trip so we had the time for the diversion up to Crabtree Lake at the end. A night at 9 Lakes seems like a good trade.

We have also been kicking around the idea of going over the saddle on Mt Hitchcock to transit from Crabtree to Guitar. We do not have any x-country experience, but it seems straightforward enough. Thoughts?

Thanks!

If fishing, Crabtree Lakes could be a nice, golden diversion.
Hitchcock saddle can be a talus-fest - cliff-outs aplenty too...a real route-finding problem area. IMHO, if not x-country pros...better to keep to the trails up there.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby bro » Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:46 am

Ah thanks for the info on Hitchcock saddle, maybe we will avoid that. We will be trying our hand at fishing, and we wouldn't mind some isolation if possible, so Crabtree sounds appealing.

Some more information, as requested:
- Our trip length is ideally 7 days, starting from Visalia in the morning and taking the Sequoia shuttle up. It could go to 8 if necessary, but no longer than that. We were hoping to keep that extra day as a reserve in case we were really feeling it on the trail.
- We would like to keep it around 10 miles per day. I know the leg from Moraine up to Junction is almost 16, but we figure it is more gradual and we'd have some trail legs under us by that point.
- We are both level 2 backpackers, we typically go on a couple trips each year, mostly 3 day trips, without any x-c. Hard to do x-c on the east coast due to vegetation, at least where we have been.
- We would be comfortable with Class 2 terrain, as long as it wasn't terribly loose.
- And as far as what we are looking for, I'd say big mountain scenery, lakes, photography, and fishing. Some isolation would be nice.
- We will be hiking just the two of us, with no four legged friends.

Thanks!
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Another HST thread

Postby Hobbes » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:10 am

Steve C, the nice fellow who runs the Whitney Zone site, just did this (almost) exact hike 2 weeks ago. He filed a very detailed & extensive trip report with lots of photos, including his ascent of Whitney up Discovery pinnacle from the Crabtree lakes area:

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthread ... cs/39433/1
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby BigTime » Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:37 am

bro wrote:Is it a mistake to skip Hamilton?


I don't think so. I spent a week in that area last year and Hamilton Lake was the one place I regretted camping because it ended up being too crowded -- and that was midweek in September. It is a nice spot though, so maybe a good place to plan on taking a lunch break?
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby Silverfox » Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:02 pm

Hi Bro, If I read your post right this is your first time in the Sierra. It will be amazing scenery along your planned route. A couple of things to keep in mind, from Visalia to Lodgepole where you will need to pick up your permit could well take you 3 hours, and another 30 minutes or so to get from Lodgepole to the trailhead at Crescent Meadow the start of the HST trail. Because you will be getting a later start there are two places prior to Buck Canyon to camp the first night. The first one is just shy of 6 miles in next to Mehrten Creek, the other spot is about 8+ miles in and is the creek area before you reach Buck Canyon, it is in the trees and I believe there is a bear box there. If you do not make Buck Canyon, you may want to consider camping at Hamilton Lakes Day 2, and push to Moraine Lake on Day 3. Keep in mind that on your current plan, Day 2 from Buck Canyon to Nine Lakes Basin is almost 4000 ft elevation gain and the last 6 miles is over 3300 up. On last day out of Guitar Lake, at the trail crest people will often leave there pack, and hike the 4 miles to the summit and back before picking up their pack to head down to Whitney Portal. Be prepared for some afternoon thunderstorms, there have been monsoonal storms of late. Below are some pictures of the areas you plan to camp.

Enjoy,
Silverfox
Buck Canyon.JPG
Buck Canyon
hamilton lake.JPG
Hamilton Lake looking East to Kaweah Gap in the center
Nine Lakes Basin.JPG
Nine Lakes Basin from Kaweah Gap
Jnc Meadow.JPG
Junction Meadow
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby overheadx2 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:35 pm

Also, getting to lodge pole from close to sea level and hiking miles could be rough. Speaking as some one who gets affected by altitude, you cant just muscle through it. If you can get to lodge pole or the trail head the day or evening prior and get a little acclimated it would definitely help.
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby bro » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:59 pm

Hobbes, thanks for the link. That shortcut up Whitney Creek sounds interesting. We may keep that in our back pocket in case we fall behind at all. Question for all, would we miss much from by skipping Junction Meadow through Wallace Creek?

Silverfox, great photos! And yes, it is our first visit to the Sierra. I hope to get some of my own despite my amateurish skills. I am hoping I don't lug my DSLR all the way through the Sierras for nothing! I am particularly interested in some night landscape photos. The moon should be small and rise late, so I should have some good opportunities. Does anyone know if the view of the Milky Way is polluted by the LA lights to the south? I am hoping the mountains will block it and leave me with some visibility of the MW.

Overhead, that is certainly something I am wary of. I was fine skiing in CO last year with little adjustment, but who knows what will happen this time. If that is the case, we will bail to Mehrten and then stay at Hamilton the following night, as Silverfox suggested. In that case I think we would do MC->HL->Arroyo->KHS--> Crabtree via Whitney Creek-->GL. I tried to think of ways to get to Crescent Meadow the day before, but can't see how. We fly into Vegas two nights before, but will need most of the day before to set up the shuttle car and drive around. Looks like the last shuttle bus leaves Visalia at 10:15AM? If anyone knows a better way, let me know.

Thanks for the advice so far!
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby Silverfox » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:44 pm

Given your lack of x country experience and new to the area, the Whitney Creek shortcut is off trail and very steep. Lots of opportunity to get into a bad situation with no help, and I don't think you will save much time, safer to stay on trail up Kern Canyon to Wallace Creek. In terms of LA lights, you are too far away, the stars will be beyond description nothing but natural light.

Here is a picture of Kern Canyon, about halfway down on the left is the cliff where Whitney Creek drops into Kern Canyon.
Kern Canyon.JPG
Kern Canyon from Wallace Creek


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Re: Another HST thread

Postby overheadx2 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:55 pm

If it helps, I come from the beach and usually don't feel good the first day if I push it, but always wake the next AM feeling great since I usually have slept for 10 or more hours.
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Re: Another HST thread

Postby sparky » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:56 pm

+1 on the difficulty of route finding on that xc route. Also Discovery Pass is a slog. I wouldn't recommend either for a first cross country experience.

You need to be on the first shuttle bus from visalia. If you are on the first shuttle, you wont start hiking before 10am. If you catch the 10:15 you will be starting really late. If that isn't an option at all, i guess you will just do the best you can.

Honestly with the difficulty of a shuttle for out of state backpackers, I really don't see the appeal for hiking the HST.

On a side note, I read the trip report Hobbes linked above. In it this guy mentions getting his lighter wet, then begging one off another hiker. I have read on the internet many times where people get a lighter wet, and they think they are screwed.

Lighters dry out people, they dry out. They dry and then they work. Ok carry on.... :)
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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