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august/september high route trip

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august/september high route trip

Postby jpeters » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:18 pm

i am looking at doing the high sierra route in late august/early september, and i have a number of questions i hope you all can help me with. first of all, it seems like my best bet is to fly into fresno and then find a bus, or other transport into kings canyon. whats my best bet for this, i'm also trying to figure out the best way to get out from mono village. also, what kind of weather can i expect typically that time of year (high/low temp, precip patterns). i am an experienced backpacker, having thru-hiked the AT 2 years ago, and am planning on taking 10-12 days to do this trip. is this realistic? i am capable of doing sustained 20-30 mile days on trail, i don't know how that will tranlate to off trail. also, how well do alcohol stoves work at that kind of altitude? i've had some problems with them around 10,500-11,000 but think that may be aleviated with a better windscreen set up. any info/ suggestions would be great. oh and i have steve roper's book already.



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Postby markskor » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:54 pm

” I’m also trying to figure out the best way to get out from Mono village”

Having worked at Mono Village- a few years ago though, it is quite easy to hitch hike to Bridgeport (about 14 miles away) one road – no side roads (Greyhound in Bridgeport)…also, you could grab a local cab or use the shuttle… I would just ask around at the café/bar there. By the way - good fresh made pie found there.

“Also, what kind of weather can I expect typically that time of year (high/low temp, precip patterns)?”

It could be hot- up to 100 in August…expect some afternoon summer thunderheads…somewhat hard to tell but I would expect fine conditions all through the month.

“I am an experienced backpacker, having thru-hiked the AT 2 years ago, and am planning on taking 10-12 days to do this trip. Is this realistic?”

I cannot tell how fit you are, or how much you are carrying, but 20 miles a day and more…maybe a bit optimistic. This is great country, and you may want to slow up a bit and see a bit more of it along the way – other than your boots. Great fishing too, do you really want to race through it? Some do…many do not. (hint)

“I am capable of doing sustained 20-30 mile days on trail, I don't know how that will translate to off trail.”

You would be lucky to average 10 miles a day/ off trail in some parts…

“Also, how well do alcohol stoves work at that kind of altitude?”

This all depends what you are cooking, but the trail lives above 10,000 feet elevation – I would (myself) go with another stove…but that is just me.

“I have had some problems with them around 10,500-11,000 but think that may be alleviated with a better windscreen set up.”

I have never depended on an alcohol stove on a high altitude backpacking trip - They are just too finicky – not enough heat...but if you are doing all freeze dried – (no – I still cannot make myself say yes here.) I say bag the alcohol stove and go with white gas or a canister. MSR pocket rocket.

Mark
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High Route

Postby gdurkee » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:24 pm

jpeters:

Mark's got it right. I'd add a little more on the weather -- the more you get into September, you start getting a chance of snow. Weather could be great, but you ought to be prepared, especially in some of the off trail sections. Just an inch or two of snow on top of an icy snow chute could be really unpleasant.

I also agree that you shouldn't rush it. What's the point, after all? The section through Kings Canyon might be the nicest part. Take your time for sure.

I don't think (but not absolutely sure) that there's a bus going up to Kings from Fresno airport. If you get onto Kings Canyon/180, it should be fairly OK to hitch. Also, you might even find someone at the airport going that way.

Have a great trip,

George
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Postby Baffman » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:46 pm

Just a quick note about the Greyhound in Bridgeport. They no longer run up 395. You'll have to take the CREST instead. http://www.inyo3d.org/Frameset/crest.htm

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Postby Snow Nymph » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:38 am

We've been doing sections of the SHR in early September. Last year we got snowed on near the end of our 9 day trip, and the year before we got stuck in a snowstorm and stayed in the tent on the 9th day and bailed on the 11th day (planned on 16). This year we're going to start in August and hopefully avoid the storms.
Last edited by Snow Nymph on Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: august/september high route trip

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:46 am

jpeters wrote:i am looking at doing the high sierra route in late august/early september, and i have a number of questions i hope you all can help me with. first of all, it seems like my best bet is to fly into fresno and then find a bus, or other transport into kings canyon. whats my best bet for this, i'm also trying to figure out the best way to get out from mono village. also, what kind of weather can i expect typically that time of year (high/low temp, precip patterns). i am an experienced backpacker, having thru-hiked the AT 2 years ago, and am planning on taking 10-12 days to do this trip. is this realistic? i am capable of doing sustained 20-30 mile days on trail, i don't know how that will tranlate to off trail. also, how well do alcohol stoves work at that kind of altitude? i've had some problems with them around 10,500-11,000 but think that may be aleviated with a better windscreen set up. any info/ suggestions would be great. oh and i have steve roper's book already.


I second what Markskor and Durkee have said relative to the weather and planning your trip to have some time to relax and enjoy rather than simply hike from dawn to dusk (although I have a longtime friend who really got off on doing the latter). With regard to comparing AT backpacking days to High Sierra backpacking days, there are two things to remember that make the HS days a bit tougher. One is that you will be at much higher altitude, and even if you are well acclimated your performance at 11000+ will not be what it is at below 5000. Second, there is a much more relief (difference in elevation between high points and low points) in the Sierras versus much of the Appalachians so the average amount of elevation gain and loss per day (particularly following the High Route) will probably also exceed that of most AT days. Third, a very large part of the HR is off trail, and, as noted by Markskor you can expect off trail travel to be much slower than trail hiking. Regarding the nature of off trail travel in the High Sierra. One nice thing about it is that most routes do not involve too much bushwhacking or deadfall jumping which can slow a hiker to a crawl. What will be somewhat tedious with a full pack are areas of talus hopping or traverses and ascents of scree slopes, in addition to the rare 3rd class pitches of the HR. The better parts of High Sierra off trail travel are hiking across easy slabs and meadows. Over such ground you can move nearly as fast as on a trail. But a considerable portion of most High Sierra off trail routes will involve talus and scree, in which case even areas of comparatively benign topography become slow going.

The flip side of this is that off trail hiking is, to me the most rewarding kind of hiking in the Sierra. Why? First off, a vanishingly small percentage of hikers travel off trail (actually substantially fewer than two or three decades ago). This means you will see far fewer folks off trail than you will anywhere on the PCT or JMT, no matter how far you are from a road. Many of us have hiked to areas 20 miles removed from a trailhead only to find a big camp with folks sitting on chairs, boom boxes blaring and portable generators roaring--such folks had all that gear brought in via packtrain--something you won't see off trail even a mile from a road. In addition, it is much more adventurous to actually have to figure out a route than have it already made for you. In any case, enjoy your trip. It will be a good one.
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: august/september high route trip

Postby copeg » Sat Feb 25, 2006 9:01 am

jpeters wrote:i am looking at doing the high sierra route in late august/early september, and i have a number of questions i hope you all can help me with. first of all, it seems like my best bet is to fly into fresno and then find a bus, or other transport into kings canyon. whats my best bet for this, i'm also trying to figure out the best way to get out from mono village. also, what kind of weather can i expect typically that time of year (high/low temp, precip patterns). i am an experienced backpacker, having thru-hiked the AT 2 years ago, and am planning on taking 10-12 days to do this trip. is this realistic? i am capable of doing sustained 20-30 mile days on trail, i don't know how that will tranlate to off trail. also, how well do alcohol stoves work at that kind of altitude? i've had some problems with them around 10,500-11,000 but think that may be aleviated with a better windscreen set up. any info/ suggestions would be great. oh and i have steve roper's book already.


I'll second the other's advice regarding the mileage. I've never hiked the SHR, but to give you an idea, I knew some people that hiked the JMT in less than seven days. They were very strong hikers and had ultralight packs. They tried the high route with the intention of doing it in less than 2 weeks. That amount of time got them through the first 1/4 of the route (I vaguely remember one complaint they had was that the tennis shoes they wore simply weren't enough support/protection for all the off trail).
As for alcohol stoves, I use them all the time during the summer at that altitude with very few problems. The only time I had a noticable problem was simply because it was too darn cold, but I just had to fire up the stove twice to boil water. I'd bring a little extra fuel just in case (I always use more than the "recommended" amount of fuel to boil water anyways, which may be why I never noticed any major problems due to altitude).
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Re: august/september high route trip

Postby caddis » Sat Feb 25, 2006 4:13 pm

jpeters wrote: also, how well do alcohol stoves work at that kind of altitude? i've had some problems with them around 10,500-11,000 but think that may be aleviated with a better windscreen set up. any info/ suggestions would be great.

I used an alcohol stove all last summer and never had trouble. Used it again last weekend in the snow and I thought it wasn't gonna get me a boil with the normal fill but I was wrong...I think I was fooled because i was cold and the snow made it impossible to see any flame. I think as long as you are using denatured alcohol you should be fine.

As for windscreens, this is the best one I have used:

Image

The holes for the tent-stakes are optional, I use my own pot stand.
It is made from aluminum roof-flashing. You cut it to the height and diameter you want and use a paper hole-punch for the vents.

here is a link to help out:
http://www.cloudwalkersbasecamp.com/agg_pot_stand.html
Image
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Postby ndwoods » Sun Feb 26, 2006 1:07 pm

Ditto all the above except I think the alcohol stove would be fine with a good windscreen, I use Esbits all over the Sierra just fine.
And, definitely give yourself more time. 10-12 miles a day is a loooong day when you are route finding. I have done parts of this route and by far the biggest chunk of time is your navigating. And ditto, you don't want to rush thru this. Do it in a couple trips if you have to....Dee
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Postby markskor » Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:16 pm

There is a point - especially on long treks (10 days and above) - where the weight of the alcohol needed exceeds that of white gas needed - especially if travelling with a larger group (3 or more). Figuring in Trailblaizer's thoughts - "little extra" alcohol to make sure"...at this point, the weight of the pepsi stove and fuel far exceeds that of the white gas model and fuel. Add to this the extra time needed to boil water - (longer with an alcohol model than a white gas stove) - maybe the need to melt snow - and the need for instantanious gratification...(I am cold and I want to eat now!). Then figure in that some like to eat trout... (to cook them, a hot stove is necessary)...plus the fact that it is a lot easier to beg or borrow white gas from strangers...(not too many carry alcohol stoves up high)...thus, I stand by my first thoughts of bagging the pepsi stove on higher and longer SHR trips.
Maybe for short- solo hikes this point may change but...
interesting discussion though.
Mark
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Postby hikerduane » Sun Feb 26, 2006 7:29 pm

HSR or SHR? Although I don't know that much about the High Sierra Route. If you are talking about the SHR (Sierra High Route), it can be hiked averaging 10 miles a day if you can do the mileage that Steve Armstrong and his son Aaron did on their trips. I don't know if I would want to or could do that kind of mileage off trail and over all those passes. Check out Steve's trips on Backpacker.com.
Piece of cake.
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Postby copeg » Sun Feb 26, 2006 7:36 pm

markskor wrote:There is a point - especially on long treks (10 days and above) - where the weight of the alcohol needed exceeds that of white gas needed - especially if travelling with a larger group (3 or more). Figuring in Trailblaizer's thoughts - "little extra" alcohol to make sure"...at this point, the weight of the pepsi stove and fuel far exceeds that of the white gas model and fuel. Add to this the extra time needed to boil water - (longer with an alcohol model than a white gas stove) - maybe the need to melt snow - and the need for instantanious gratification...(I am cold and I want to eat now!). Then figure in that some like to eat trout... (to cook them, a hot stove is necessary)...plus the fact that it is a lot easier to beg or borrow white gas from strangers...(not too many carry alcohol stoves up high)...thus, I stand by my first thoughts of bagging the pepsi stove on higher and longer SHR trips.
Maybe for short- solo hikes this point may change but...
interesting discussion though.
Mark

Mark
I agree with many of your points - carrying an alcohol stove is pretty much a matter of preference. It takes longer to boil, you'd be waiting all day to melt snow, its harder to cook fish, etc...Personally, I prefer one for 3 season because these things don't bother me (but opt for the white gas in winter). FWIW here is an analysis of stove weight versus time (14 days, there's another that does 28 days)
http://www.thru-hiker.com/articles.asp?subcat=2&cid=57
Granted, I don't think this was done at high altitude and large groups, but even so...
Greg
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