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High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

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High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby slowhiker » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:05 am

My wife and I are leaving out of Crescent Meadow on Aug 28th to hike the High Sierra Trail. We will have acclimated for a couple of days prior to starting, so I believe we may be able to push past Mehrten Creek, yet we are not intending to get as far as Bearpaw Meadow on the 1st day. If we feel we have the energy to go past Mehrten, I am wondering which is a better place to consider stopping for the 1st night, 9 Mile Creek or Buck Creek - - any suggestions or recommendations?



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High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:48 am

of the two I liked 9 mile - shaded campsite. Buck would be better if you want to fish. The sites there are back in the brush. Bearpaw is only a mile farther.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:52 am

Definitely Buck over Merhrten, 9 Mile, or Bearpaw, just get a nice early start.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 12, 2014 3:21 pm

I too would recommend Buck Creek and I would also recommend it over Bearpaw because it is less crowded. Buck Creek is a nice place to cool your heels in the stream after the hike, too.

If you get a very early start from Crescent Meadow and you find yourself at Buck Creek fairly early in the day and still having a lot of energy, you may consider going all the way to Hamilton Lake.

However if a 16 mi day 1 hike is not to you and your wife's tastes, then Buck Creek is the best choice for a day 1 camp, and it is good not to rush through the HST section that comes after Bearpaw, because the Bearpaw to Precipice Lake segment of the HST is one of the most amazing stretches of any trail in the Sierra, with many views worth savoring.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby Fishon » Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:38 pm

giantbrookie wrote:If you get a very early start from Crescent Meadow and you find yourself at Buck Creek fairly early in the day and still having a lot of energy, you may consider going all the way to Hamilton Lake.

...it is good not to rush through the HST section that comes after Bearpaw, because the Bearpaw to Precipice Lake segment of the HST is one of the most amazing stretches of any trail in the Sierra, with many views worth savoring.


Next time I hike the HST I will push to Hamilton Lake, if you don't want to push that hard Buck Creek is a good option. I agree the Bear Paw to Precipice Lake segment is amazing, I wish I had taken more photos.
It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming. -John Steinbeck
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby slowhiker » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:41 pm

Thanks everyone for your insight. It is reassuring to have an objective (in our case Buck Creek), yet at the same time to have reasonable options. So, the plan for the first day is to get an early start, have a good sense of the possible weather conditions, and pay attention to how we are feeling. Any additional input about the HST is appreciated. Will post a TR when we return home the first weekend in Sept.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby franklin411 » Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:26 pm

Here's how I'd describe the first 20 miles of the HST:

Mehrton: I started at 8:30 AM and got there by 10. The trail is all downhill to that point, and it's fully shaded. Just grab some water and push on--not worth wasting a whole day there.

Mehrton to Buck Creek: Basically flat, kinda boring because you see the same trees and same vista of the kaweah river the whole time. The only thing that changes is that the Kaweah Gap gets bigger as you get closer. There are campsites and bear boxes every 2-3 miles, so plenty of options if you want to poop out whenever. Bearpaw is crowded but there's an outhouse at least.

Buck Creek to Hamilton: Nice scenery, but a painful grind if you're doing it at the end of the day. Hamilton is luxurious--privy + plenty of water and shade.

Hamilton to the Kaweah Gap: Awesome, rugged scenery, but 2000' of gain and not a single tree the whole way. Just rock and rock and more rock. Wouldn't want to be on the switchbacks from 11 am - 3 PM!

Kaweah Gap to Big Arroyo: Downhill to flat, plenty of water, some shade, great scenery.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby Saltydog » Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:37 am

Anywhere but Bearpaw. 9 mile is very woodsy, cozy, friendly but not aggressive deer. Buck is much more open, interesting scenery.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - 1st Day Camping Choice

Postby slowhiker » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:40 pm

Just got back from our HST trip and will post TR later. thanks everyone for your insight for the 1st day camping options. We did get to Buck Creek. It was an ok site, yet overused which is to be expected (I guess) so close to a trailhead. For my wife and me it worked out well, as stopping sooner would have been too early and Bearpaw is too "closed in" for us. We appreciated the stream and flowing water at Buck Creek. I do understand why some suggest getting all the way to Hamilton Lake, yet that would make for a long hike for the first day. All in all Buck Creek was a great suggestion for us and it set us up for a great second day of hiking and enjoyment of Hamilton Lake for a few hours before we continued on to Precipice lake for the second night.
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