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High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

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High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

Postby slowhiker » Sat Sep 13, 2014 4:36 pm

This trip was a great alternative for my wife and I. she does not want to leave our dogs and cats for 4 weeks. So once we settled on just dropping a care at Whitney Portal and driving around to Kings Canyon (and doing the reverse at the end of the trip) it was all good. My wife and I are in our early 60's and we had no problem with the trail, mileage or elevation. Below is a link to pictures of our hike:


Day 1: Crescent Meadow to Buck Creek
Day 2: Buck Creek to Precipice Lake
Day 3: Precipice Lake to Moraine Lake
Day 4: Moraine Lake to Kern River (about 2 miles south of Junction Meadow)
Day 5: Kern River to Wallace Creek Junction
Day 6: Wallace Creek Junction to the 1st set of Tarns above Guitar Lake
Day 7: Tarns above Guitar Lake - summit Mt Whitney - Exit out Whitney Portal

Day one: Started the trail at about 8:30a and got to Buck Creek about 2:30p. We did experience some annoying black flies during the first 90 minutes, so our buffs came in handy to cover our ears and mouth. Except for day 6 this was the only time we had any issues with insects - - we used no deet on this trip at all. The trail was very straightforward with some up and down, yet not a lot of real elevation gain. Another plus of this portion of the trial is the people were a great mix of those returning from a multiple day trip and those that realized that going all the way to Whitney was beyond their capability at this time in their lives and they were wisely returning to the trailhead.the camp at Buck creek was ok, yet being next to the creek was great. There was a large group of college students at the creek taking a very long break and enjoying the amazing location. For them my sense is that that afternoon will be a cherished memory in a few years. Soon we had the whole area to ourselves and one other hiker.

Day Two: We started at about 8:45a and within 20 minutes ran into "SierraHiker" (Bill who is on this board). He was a great person to run into and Bill my wife appreciates your input regarding the website suggestion - - this was also my first experience of meeting someone on the trail that frequents this forum! Bearpaw was an interesting place and under different circumstances I could be convinced to spend a couple of days there in the tent cabins. Yet, we continued on and until we hit the Wallace creek junction we pretty much had the trail to ourselves. We got to Hamilton Lake at about 12:30p. It was sunny, no people, no wind and perfect. We stayed until a little after 3p before heading up to Precipice lake. WOW, it can be hot on this trail and the first half is a little annoying as it doubles back on itself a few times, yet soon we experienced the amazing engineering of the trail and got to Precipice about 6:00p . We had a great evening and the lake was ours alone.

Day Three: Left about 8:30a and the hike over Kaweah Gap is beautiful, and this may be in the top 5 favorite places in the Sierra. On the trail down to the Big Arroyo I believe we met "Lauralai627", we talked to her group for a few minutes and they were encouraging and it is always fun to meet such enthusiastic young hikers. the hike from the Big Arroyo Junction up to Moraine Lake Junction had a little more elevation gain that I anticipated, yet we found an amazing place along the trail to stop for lunch, which helped to adjust our attitude. Moraine lake was very nice, again it was just us and one other solo hiker. One special thing was the way the quarter moon was positioned in the sky and reflected on the lake, and we watched it set from our tent (not once did we have to use the rain fly).

Day Four: The hike down to the Kern River was as anticipated, yet it was warm. When we got to the hot spring the only one there was the solo hiker from the evening before. He was already done with the hot spring and we had it all to ourselves for the 90 minutes were were there. I had heard many different things about this place - - yet for this one day it was worth every step it took to get there, my hope is that it would be the same for everyone! We continued north up the canyon and decided to stop about 2 miles south of Junction Meadow. My wife found a great camp site (and legal too) and we were able to relax and reflect on our progress, why we hike and how we were fortunate to be able to have this experience.

Day Five: We set out at about 8:30a and my wife set a blistering pace to Junction. In fact she was an amazing hiking partner who could keep me moving, motivated, focused and appreciative - - I am grateful she is willing to go on these hikes. Again, as we headed up in elevation we chose a great place to stop for lunch - - as it turns out our best memories tend to be our lunch breaks. The trail from Junction Meadow up to Wallace Creek was a moderate challenge because of the heat, yet when we finally got to the Creek crossing at 3p it was all good. This is where we finally started to see a lot more people - - however we ended up meeting several different groups with various stories, some completing the JMT and it created a sense of community. I liked this junction way more that I anticipated.

Day Six: Left at 8;40a and soon arrived at Upper Crabtree Meadow. We had been here 12 years ago and at this time of year and day it was almost empty (and it was very dry). It was a nice contrast to our previous experience. We moved on with a goal of Timberline Lake. We got there for lunch and waited about 2 hours before heading up to the tarns above Guitar lake. We had a lengthy talk with a 23 year old female solo JMT hiker and she was a wonderful person to listen to. We got to the tarns around 3:45p and watched as Guitar Lake below filled with hikers and the tarn area also filled with hikers. We chose to cowboy camp and the night and moon were amazing, which make for a great last night in the Sierras.

Day Seven: We woke at 4a and started at 4:50a. My wife did not eat well enough so she struggled up to Trail Crest, yet once she forced down some food she was better and we got to the summit at 8:30a - - we enjoyed the view and accomplishment. It was then time to head down the mountain. My wife asked if I wanted to be at the Portal by 4p and I said ok, and what do you know were arrived there at 4:02p. This day on the trail was special. As day breaks on this trail, it is unique, the air is light and thoughts that pass through the brain are much different. On the other hand once we got down the switchbacks, the trail out is a little challenging and it required us to focus and it helped up to appreciate the previous 6 days.

I strongly recommend this hike. It seems to be less crowded if most of the trip is after Labor Day. We did have almost perfect weather, no bugs and we did not encounter any unexpected challenges so we are grateful. Most of all we appreciated the solitude and the interesting people we met on the trail.


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Re: High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Sep 13, 2014 5:16 pm

Nice trip and nice report. My wife is my no. 1 backcountry partner but we haven't done a long one for many years (we're now in our mid 50's)--I figure we're getting there, though. We had kids late (both of us were >40), and soon the kids will be able to take longer trips with us (they are 9 and 12). Anyway it puts a smile on my face to see couples in their 60's and beyond doing nice trips like this because this is something my wife and I aspire to do.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

Postby yoseman » Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:28 pm

thanks for sharing your hike with us....I'm going to do the HST next summer and I am planning out my itinerary now, I can't wait to hit the trail!
Yoseman :)
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Re: High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:57 pm

Hi Yoseman,

Welcome to HST! Great TR and wonderful pictures, thanks for posting it Slowhiker. :thumbsup:
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

Postby RichardCullip » Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:00 am

What a great trip report. Thanks for putting it together. The HST is on my bucket list but I need to get in gear and get 'er done before I kick the bucket.
Life is good. Eternal Life is better!

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Re: High Sierra Trail Aug 28 - Sept 3 2014

Postby sekihiker » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:31 pm

I enjoyed our visit at the beginning of day two of your trip. Your photos remind me of what a great trip this is. Thanks for the report.
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