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Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

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Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby mshields » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:48 pm

I am scheduled for a Crescent Meadows to Whitney Portal Trip in the second week of July and am seeking some advice. Let me start by listing my campsites:

Day 1 - Mehrten Creek
Day 2 - Upper Hamilton Lake
Day 3 - Big Arroyo Junction
Day 4 Moraine Lake
Day 5 - Junction Meadow
Day 6 - Crabtree Meadow
Day 7 - Trail Camp

I read the existing "Hiking from Hamilton Lake to Moraine Lake in One Day Post" tonight and realized a lot of you had good input for that area. My top priorities on the trail are as follows:

1) Enjoy myself and don't go overboard on the mileage
2) I am a sucker for good campsites (and willing to hike a bit extra for the result)
3) Would like to avoid mosquitos (as much as possible given the circumstances)
4) Enjoy Good Trout Fishing

I look forward to hearing some input; perhaps I could modify some of my planned campsites for the better!

Thanks



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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby cgundersen » Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:34 am

M,
I'm guessing you'll be catching a heavy dose of bugs, so be prepared. The compensation is that whatever flowers are blooming this year should still be going strong. For day 1, even if you don't want to push it all the way to Hamilton, I'd go at least as far as Lone Pine Creek. I'm not a fan of Bearpaw or Bucks Creek and unless you're starting late in the day, you'll only be getting warmed up by the time you hit Mehrten. The rest of the itinerary sounds mostly great and should afford you fishing opportunities and plenty of great scenery. However, rather than drop down to Big Arroyo Junction, think about veering off to one of the lakes in Upper 9 Lakes basin. Better scenery, probably fewer bugs and likely better fishing!
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby fourputt » Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:37 am

I suggest adding the Hot Springs to the list if want good fishing. That's a good stretch of river.
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby quentinc » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:38 am

I'll second what CG said. I did this trip with a group two Julys ago, and the first day to Mehrten Creek (or maybe it was Buck Creek -- they all blended together in my mind) was pretty unsatisfying. There's nothing to do once you're there, other than to dip in the creek (too cold for me). From all the other spots, you can do nice little 1/2 day hikes/detours. Then your 5th day, from Junction to Crabtree, is relatively long compared to your other days. We camped by the hotsprings (groovy, if you like concrete in the wilderness, but that's just my opinion) and then went to Wallace Creek the next day. The hike out of Junction Meadow is a bit of a grind, particularly the dry, dusty, winding beginning.

Mosquitoes the second week of July will be a lot less painful than the year we did it at the end of July. But the worst spots were: from just below 9 Lakes Basin to Big Arroyo (borderline unbearable), the very beginning of Kern Canyon, and Wallace Creek.
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby Ska-T » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:20 am

As far as the first day goes, how much mileage are you thinking about doing? The trail rolls up and down a bit, but overall it is fairly flat until Lone Pine Creek. If you are traveling in a small group you can find suitable campsites at various places along the trail between Mehrten and Bearpaw. cgundersen is right about Bearpaw. Although the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp for the well-to-do has exquisite views, the Bearpaw camping area for the masses is situated below in a depressingly dark, sterile, dry forest. By comparison, Bucks Creek (no great shakes) is a breath of fresh air.

Upper Hamilton is a beautiful place to camp, but can get crowded. If you get to Hamilton early, consider pressing on to Precipice, while not a grand is nonetheless scenic.
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby mshields » Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:16 pm

Thanks for the input everybody. A few more questions:

- I am catching the shuttle up the same day as my hike starts; thus my decision to stick to the low mileage. I am on break at work and thus have no map, but I believe the 1st days mileage is around 6 or so. I am interested in the Lone Pine Creek option if anyone thinks it is feasible? I also need to do an in park shuttle + permit pickup on the day.

- How much of a detour is it to camp in the Nine lakes basin and how are the campsites?

- How are the campsites at Kern Hot Springs?
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby sparky » Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:32 pm

using the bus and getting permit, expect to hit trail 10-11 am depending on the road closures.

I took the bus, got permit in lodgepole, and hiked to lone pine creek on the first day a few years ago. Awesome view of Hamilton domes from the campsite.....in fact a photo I took there is my walpaper photo on my computer. I hiked from lodgepole over to the lakes trail (merhan meadow?), over panther gap to the HST and then on to lone pine creek.

On the HST the miles go by quick. I made it there before dark.
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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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby mshields » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:08 pm

fourputt wrote:I suggest adding the Hot Springs to the list if want good fishing. That's a good stretch of river.


Is the fishing good in terms of "quantity" or "size" ? Both would be a nice answer. :) Also, any particular tips on bringing them ashore?
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby Ska-T » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:39 pm

Lone Pine creek is feasible if you are young or in good shape or travel light, but why set a goal that goes against the #1 priority of your first post. Just hike and when you are within a mile or two of stopping then start looking for a camp site. You'll find one whether it is Lone Pine creek or not.

Nine Lake Basin, at least one of the lakes, is right near the trail and their are ample treeless camping spots. There are some trees above the lake on the east side, IIRC. The second lake is a short walk away.

I can't answer you about the camping at Kern Hot Springs. It's been over 40 yrs since I passed it by on a 24 mi day with a big old full Kelty. I probably should have stopped for a dip because out of the corner of my eye I saw more flesh than the meat department at Costco. Gotta love them hippy girls. :lol:
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby mshields » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:52 am

Thanks for the input everyone, this has helped me fine tune the itenerary. I especially like the flexibility on day one plus the nine lakes basin option. Sparky, thanks for the heads up on the road construction. Ska-T I will keep my eyes open at the hot springs :eek:

I will be posting a trip report in a few weeks.
Last edited by mshields on Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby Trent » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:30 pm

Your intinerary is just about perfect. I've "done" this trek twice, going again this August. Two bits of advice,,,, take lots of "Deet" [or go in mid/late August when the mosquitos are gone], and consider adding a day and camping the last night on the top of Whitney.

Glad to see that you're not making the mistake I've seen other do,,, 1st day to Bear Paw, 2nd day to Big Arroyo Junction. That's the easiest way to get AMS [Acute Mountain Sickness] that I know of.

T.
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Re: Seeking Input on The High Sierra Trail

Postby wildhiker » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:45 pm

If you are really willing to detour for great campsites, and not wedded to walking every single mile of the official HST, I suggest starting at Wolverton and hiking up to Panther Gap, then over to camp at Alta Meadow on the first day. On the second, backtrack from Alta Meadow to Mehrten Creek and down the connector to the HST and then continue to Hamilton Lake as you planned.

Views on the trail from Panther Gap to Alta Meadow are awesome. There are great campsites just as you arrive at Alta Meadow in open forest to the right. I tried to attach a sunset photo of the Great Western Divide from Alta Meadow, but I don't think it made it. [It's just not intuitive to me how you attach photos to these posts - if anyone has a link to a cookbook, please send it.]

The only fly in this ointment is that you either have to hike up from Lodgepole to Wolverton, or the shuttle bus can drop you on the Wolverton road as it leaves the General Sherman tree area, but you still have to walk about a mile on the road to the Wolverton trailhead.
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