Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th) | High Sierra Topix  

Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby mshields » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:45 pm

Thanks in large part to many of the HST members advice, I had a very successful trip last week. It was one of those trips where everything seemed smooth; good weather, empty campsites, minimal mosquitos, and even first dibs on Kern Hot Springs! The only mishap was a sole falling off one of our hikers shoes 25 miles in (if anybody wants the story I can elaborate) As always pictures are "worth a thousand words", therefore, I will take some time out to share a few of them with all of you. Thanks again for the input

Day 1 - Crescent Meadows to Buck Creek
1.jpg
Buck Creek Campsite


Day 2 - Buck Creek to Hamilton Lake
3.jpg
Hamilton


Day 3 - Hamilton to Moraine Lake
7.jpg
Precipice Lake


Day 4 - Moraine Lake to Kern Hot Springs
12.jpg
Moraine Lake


Day 5 - Kern Hot Springs to Wallace Creek
15.jpg
View From Kern Hot Spring

19.jpg
Sunset at Wallace Creek


Day 6 - Wallace Creek to Guitar Lake
22.jpg
Afternoon Lighting at Guitar


Day 7 - Guitar Lake to Outpost Camp (Whitney on the way of course)
26.jpg
Nice Clouds!

25.jpg
The Six Pack

30.jpg
The True Destination !



User avatar
mshields
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Ojai, Ca
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby Cloudy » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:37 am

Awesome! Crossing the Sierra, making it to Whitney and out the other side is especially rewarding. What was your favorite part?
User avatar
Cloudy
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:08 am
Location: Central California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby mshields » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:54 am

Cloudy wrote:Awesome! Crossing the Sierra, making it to Whitney and out the other side is especially rewarding. What was your favorite part?


That's a tough question; as I enjoyed the trip in it's entirety. If I were to pick three highlights, it would be as follows
1) Ascent leaving Hamilton Lake and over the Kaweah Gap. Precipice Lake was quite the place.
2) Soaking it up at Kern Hot Springs. After 4 days of carrying a pack; it is hard to top this!
3) Standing on top of the 48 states, and knowing you earned it!

The 1-3 isn't necessarily an order of preference, but what came to mind right away.

Thanks for asking.
User avatar
mshields
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Ojai, Ca
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby Hobbes » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:09 am

mshields wrote:The True Destination !

+1

Last time I was @ the Portal in June, I was so hungry I had both the pancake & a burger. For those who haven't partaken, the bun diameter is around 8". LOL

I'm thinking of doing a quick 2 night loop from Horseshoe to Portal via Crabtree & Whitney next week. If I time it right, I can hit the store for dinner.
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby Mradford » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:01 am

Wow it looks like it was an amazing trip. That shot of Hamilton is awesome! Great report thanks for sharing.
User avatar
Mradford
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:03 pm
Location: Irvine
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:33 am

Thanks Mshields for getting back to us and sharing these wonderful pictures of you hike.
Really enjoyed the Precipice Lake shot.
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8034
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby Tee » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:31 pm

Pics look amazing!! heading out to HST next week and so excited!! :)
User avatar
Tee
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:05 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby orbitor » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:55 am

Hi mshields,
A great trip, thank you for sharing some of your photos. I will be doing the HST in about two weeks and am still debating the location of the camps. Reading your TR, it seems like your breakdown makes a lot of sense. Would you be able to provide me your daily mileages between stops? A GPS track would be most useful, if available.
Thank you,
Mihai
Connect, Learn and Climb: Sierra Mountaineering Club
http://www.sierramountaineeringgroup.org
User avatar
orbitor
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:36 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby mshields » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:38 pm

orbitor wrote:Hi mshields,
A great trip, thank you for sharing some of your photos. I will be doing the HST in about two weeks and am still debating the location of the camps. Reading your TR, it seems like your breakdown makes a lot of sense. Would you be able to provide me your daily mileages between stops? A GPS track would be most useful, if available.
Thank you,
Mihai


Orbitor,

Day 1 Mileage To Buck Creek - 10.9
Day 2 Mileage To Upper Hamilton Lake -5.8
Day 3 Mileage To Moraine Lake - 14.3
Day 4 Mileage To Kern Hot Springs - 7.4
Day 5 Mileage To Wallace Creek(JMT/HST Junction) - 11.8
Day 6 Mileage To Guitar Lake - 6.6
Day 7 Mileage Up To Whitney/Down To Outpost Camp - 12.2
Day 8 Mileage Down To Whitney Portal - 3.6

Here are a some comments on why I chose these campsites:

Buck Creek - more space/easier to access water/ less mosquitos than nine mile creek. It is only an extra 1.5 miles to get here from nine mile creek and worth it. This site is achievable as long as you don't start out too late from Crescent Meadows.

Upper Hamilton Lake - gorgeous lake/lots of sites/good swimming/good fishing. I would hate to bypass this site. In the event you do decide to bypass it, you will most likely be dealing with a hot steep south facing slope in the afternoon sun. Incidentally there a a couple very small sites near the outlet of Precipice Lake if you choose to press on..

Moraine Lake - the third day was the most mileage and physical exertion. Workable as long as you get a relatively early start; it was very pleasant climbing up and over the Kaweah Gap in the morning hours when it was cool. Precipice Lake is quite the site. I definitely recommend it as a break spot and/or lunch location (a one of a kind lake) The Kaweah Gap is a short distance (.7 miles) from here. Once you reach the Gap, it is 3 miles downhill to Big Arroyo Junction. Overall I did not experience many mosquitos on the trip, but this was the worst of the 8 days. If you are going to continue on to Moraine Lake this is a good spot to fill up on water. From here it is a fairly steep 1,000ft. climb (about 3 miles) up to the Chagoopa Plateau. From here continue another 4 miles and gradually descend to Moraine Lake. This was a very nice spot; the lake though fishless, provided excellent swimming. Another reason we pushed to Moraine Lake on this day was we planned on enjoying Kern Hot Springs to the fullest the following day.

Kern Hot Springs - doesn't get much better than this; your own personal hot spring in the middle of the Sierra's. (the real deal) It is just my opinion, but I think it would be very foolish for anyone to pass this site up without spending any time there. Works wonders on the sore muscles!!!

Wallace Creek - The climb up the Kern River Valley from Kern Hot Springs to Junction Meadow (7.2 miles) is a very gentle gradient that goes by very quickly. From here it is another 4.6 miles to Wallace Creek a very beautiful spot with nice vistas/meadow. In the event you don't make it this far there is a small site near the Wallace Creek trail junction 3.4 miler back

Guitar Lake - ample sites in a scenic setting (above treeline) By camping here you can get an early start the next morning for you 3000 ft push to Whitney. As many other hikers do, we left our packs
just before trail crest; it was a nice break to hike 3.8 miles without the pack.

Outpost - Good spot to wind down and soak in the the success of the day. We could have went all the way to the Portal the prior day. If we would have done this the hamburger stand would have been shut down by the time we made it. What is the point in doing that?

Sorry, I don't have any GPS tracks for you. Not to worry, the trail and campsites are very prominent and would be hard to miss. I hope this info helps. If you have any more questions feel free to fire away. As a side note, I had originally planned for different sites, but received input from other High Sierra Topix members. I was very grateful for this and inlooking back would choose the same sites again.

Take Care
User avatar
mshields
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Ojai, Ca
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby orbitor » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:34 pm

mshields,
Great, this is very useful info, thank you so much!

More details on my plans:
[*]For the first day, I was thinking of spending the night at Bearpaw Meadow, but I keep hearing negative things about it, in that the backpackers' camp is claustrophobic, the area is overcrowded in general, and having a High Sierra Camp there essentially makes it into a luxury backcountry resort. Your impressions? I think Buck Creek will work out just as well. Is there a bear box there? Sierra South says yes.
[*]Upper Hamilton Lake - everyone who's hiked in to the area told me it's a must-stop. I guess that settles it. Pushing from Crescent Meadow to UHL in 1 day is unrealistic probably.
[*]Once we get over Kaweah Gap, my desire is to drop the packs past the Big Arroyo junction and climb to the summit of Mt. Kaweah, then descend and resume the trail. If it's 14 miles from Hamilton to Moraine Lake, covering this distance and doing the climb the same day is not possible. We'll probably have to camp near the Big Arroyo Junction on the 3rd night.
[*]Kern Hot Springs - definitely worthy of a stop. It was at near the top of the highlights list as I was putting the trip together. Sierra South mentions the place gets obscenely crowded, but I just can't accept that by looking at the map and seeing how long a hike it would take to get to it, from any direction. Did you find it crowded?
[*]From Wallace Creek to the Portal the trail will be familiar, having covered it 3 years ago on a trip from Shepherd Pass. I vaguely remember the camp at Wallace Creek as pleasant. The night at Guitar Lake 3 years ago was extremely windy and my tent flapped about all night. Hoping for better conditions this time. I'm looking forward to taking my pack all the way to Whitney's summit this time! :)

Not worried about getting lost, I know the trails are well marked. I was inquiring about the GPS track so I could study your progress. But I guess I'll just have to create mine!

Any other advice/insight welcome.
Connect, Learn and Climb: Sierra Mountaineering Club
http://www.sierramountaineeringgroup.org
User avatar
orbitor
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:36 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby mshields » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:50 pm

orbitor wrote:mshields,
Great, this is very useful info, thank you so much!
Any other advice/insight welcome.


Orbitor,

My replies to your inquiries

- I can't give you a take on the Bearpaw backpackers camp, as I walked right by it; it is located on a short spur trail (to the right) just before entering Bearpaw High Sierra Camp. As far as a "luxury backcountry resort" I wouldn't quite go that far; it is a simple camp with tent cabins, pit toilet, dining, horse stable etc. It is very similar to the High Sierra Camps in the Yosemite backcountry if you have ever been to any of those. The view of the Great Western Divide from this spot is awesome; we sat on the porch for about 30 minutes and soaked in the view. An additional score was the kitchen cook who set us up with a stack of blueberry pancakes left over after the morning breakfast. :yummy: As a reminder this area is seperate from the backpackers camp. Perhaps another Topix member could provide you info about this site?

Sierra South is correct, there is a bear box at Buck Creek. There were bear boxes at all my campsites except for Guitar Lake and Outpost.

Crescent Meadow to Upper Hamilton Lake could be possibility if you picked up the permit the prior day and got a very early start, but I don't know the logistics of this. I do know it would be a long 17 miles and at least speaking for myself, you probably wouldn't enjoy the scenery as much.

We had Kern Hot Springs all to ourselves. As a side note, the entire time we were in the Kern River Valley we didn't see a single person other than a few trail crew workers. Perhaps this is out of the norm? Either way there are ample sites at Kern Hot Springs. There is an upper and lower camp; combined they could probably host at least 20 people. In my opinion looking back it is worth a shot with or without the crowd. :thumbsup:

Enjoy, it is a great trail ! What struck me the most was how diverse the scenery was; a complete west to east snapshot of the Sierra's Happy Trails...
User avatar
mshields
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Ojai, Ca
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby orbitor » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:58 am

I plan on picking up our permit the day before, yes, which is why I was considering getting an early start on "official" Day 1 and pushing all the way to Upper Hamilton Lake. I do expect it to be a long grind and we may miss out on many little things as we try to cover that distance, but saving a day might be worth it (I'm on a relatively inflexible 7-day schedule and would like to see if I can work out a plan that fits).

To recap, there are bear boxes at: Buck Creek, Upper Hamilton Lake, Moraine Lake, Kern Hot Springs, Wallace Creek - right? I also know there are boxes at Bearpaw Meadow and Crabtree Meadow.

Absolutely stopping at Kern Hot Springs. I'm already looking forward to the soaking. :)

Thanks again for all the insights!
Connect, Learn and Climb: Sierra Mountaineering Club
http://www.sierramountaineeringgroup.org
User avatar
orbitor
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:36 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], paulh, steiny98, Troutdog 59 and 15 guests