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

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

Postby mshields » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:18 pm

orbitor wrote:
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.


Thanks again for all the insights!


Yes, bear boxes at Buck Creek(1), Upper Hamilton Lake(3), Moraine Lake(1), Kern Hot Springs(2), and Wallace Creek(1).

If you get a chance post a trip report when you get back; I would love to hear how it went.



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

Postby AvFan » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:52 pm

I did the HST in 2010 with my son and again in 2011 but solo. I'd avoid the Bearpaw Meadow backpacker's camp; the sites are poor and close together. Buck Creek is a better option IMO. If I left Crescent Meadow around noon I'd make my first camp at Mehrten Creek and day 2 at Hamilton Lake. An early morning climb from Hamilton to Kaweah Gap is much more pleasant than in the afternoon sun. Moraine Lake has some nice sites and is worth the long day from Hamilton. I've also camped at the creek (not the often dry pond at the crest) just after topping out the climb from Arroyo Junction. I'm in full agreement with several others that folks should stay at the Kern Hot Springs. That soak is amazing on tired muscles. I've stayed a Junction Meadow twice and wasn't all that happy both times but I wanted to do the climb up Wallace Creek in the morning. It was a full day but Junction Meadow to Guitar Lake is not that bad. Lastly, I'd leave Guitar no later than 4am in order to catch the sunrise on top of Whitney and guarantee I'd get to the Portal Store before it closed. Enjoy!
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Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby orbitor » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:11 am

AvFan - I appreciate the info! Perhaps you'd know this, I keep calling SEKI to confirm but not really getting anywhere: according to their website, there is a bear box at the Big Arroyo Junction, supposedly near the ranger station. Is this true?
Also, in your opinion, is Hamilton Lake from Crescent Meadow doable with a very early start?
Finally, did you carry a bear canister on the two occasions you completed the HST?

mshields - I'll do a write-up after returning.

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

Postby AvFan » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:55 pm

Orbitor:

I didn't see a bear box at Arroyo Junction last year but Climber.org shows there is one a bit south of the old patrol cabin. I'd trust one is there but hopefully someone can chime in who has actually seen it.

Boy, Crescent Meadow to upper Hamilton Lake is a about 16 miles and there is a pretty steep climb the last two miles. For me (54 years young in pretty good shape) I wouldn't go that far on the first day. Keep in mind the next day is a 2500' climb to Kaweah Gap, a 1000' climb out of Big Arroyo and a total of 14 miles to Moraine Lake. If you are used to big miles and elevation gains than its right up your alley.

On my first trip I saw folks who always camped where there was a bear box (except Guitar Lake). I hate the weight of a canister but I like the flexibility and peace of mind it gives me should I want or need to camp at other than an established site so I carried one on both trips.

Lastly, the following three tips should help you:
1. There is a very nice place to take a break after you cross Big Arroyo Creek. It is park-like.
2. Fill up on water at the Big Arroyo Cabin. Water will be spotty for the next few miles and it is quite warm should you hike out of the Big Arroyo in the afternoon.
3. Fill up on water at the creek just south of the HST junction with the trail in the Kern River gorge. There is a hot boulder field and swampy area on your way to Kern Hot Springs and the extra water is helpful.

I don't want to take all the adventure out of your trip, but I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have. Enjoy and I look forward to your TR!
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Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby orbitor » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:35 pm

AvFan -

Finally got through to a ranger today who confirmed there is a bear box at Arroyo Junction. Information about where these are located is important to me as I'm thinking of going without a canister. mshields helped out by confirming the locations of the others, so now it's just a matter of deciding how many miles to hike on each day.

The reason why I'm looking to do Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lake in one day is because I really want to climb Mt. Kaweah on day 3, and having to do the 14 miles to Moraine Lake the same day will be too much even for me. Yes, I'm used to long days with big elevation gains, but I don't want to totally exhaust myself halfway through the trip. So I'm thinking to break up the Hamilton-Moraine section in two by staying at Arroyo Junction 1 night, climbing Kaweah en route to Moraine the following day.

Please provide any other insights you think would help. Don't worry, I'm sure we'll have plenty of adventure to deal with, so I'd rather be prepared for anything!
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Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby AvFan » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:52 am

Sounds like a fun side trip to Mt. Kaweah. I don't know your route up Kaweah but camping at the creek just past where the trail tops out coming out of Big Arroyo might be an option for you if you carry a canister. In 2010 we met a scout troop that took an extra day and hiked up Eagle Scout Peak from the Big Arroyo side so peak bagging (besides Whitney) can certainly be part of a HST trip. You should have a lot of the trail to yourself in mid-September in particular along the Kern; last year just before Labor Day I had the hot springs all to myself. Lastly, if you are staying at Arroyo Junction take your time coming down from Kaweah Gap. That portion of the trail along Arroyo Creek is really nice. Enjoy!
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Re: Trip Report - High Sierra Trail (July 8th -15th)

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:29 pm

I recognize that hut!

Great pictures and great report. I'm jealous.
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