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High Sierra Trail Information?

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High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby mbHale » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:34 pm

This is my first post, so thanks in advance for any help!

A buddy and I are planning a High Sierra Trail trip for mid-August. We already have a permit for somewhere around August 11-17. We are planning on a 6 night, 7 day trip, starting at Crescent Meadow and ending at Mt. Whitney.

A few threshold questions (I'm sure I will be back for more!):

What are the campsites we absolutely must stay at (i.e., the best of the best--don't skip it!)?

How much rain should we expect? We did the Smokies last year and it rained and thunder stormed almost every day. What should we expect here?

We don't need to bother with ice/snow gear in mid-August, right?

And, (last for now) are there any great guidebooks and what are the best maps I should purchase? I bought Sierra South: Backcountry trips in California's Sierras. I am looking for something akin to the AT trailbooks, where it lays out water stops, peaks, and information mile-by-mile. Does something like this exist for the HST?

Thanks, and again any responses are much appreciated.

-Hale



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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:24 pm

Hi Hale,

Welcome to HST!
Please read: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... f=1&t=4205
Also will you be carrying a bear canister or plan to stay at campsites with bear boxes?
Bear canisters offer freedom to stay at non-organized sites, and to go off trail.
Weather can always be an issue, but we usually don't get big major storms in
August, possibly an afternoon thunderstorms is possible especially if the monsoonal
flow kicks in or if the pieces of a former hurricane get sucked up into the flow (which
doesn't happen very often). No snow gear.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination, and where the trail ends is where our adventures begin.

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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:56 pm

I'd be surprised if there was a book that laid all the water stops etc out - it's the Sierra, and the topo maps show all the streams and lakes, so if you check it out you'll see there's not a lack of places to filter water.

Part of the adventure is the surprise encounters with the terrain - have a great time.
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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby mbHale » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:32 am

Yes, I guess on the AT many of the water resources are tiny springs, so you need to know to look for them. Must not be the case out west.

Thanks Maverick. I declined to do the all-out trip advice post because, well, I know which trail I'm doing and when I'm doing it already. I just had a few minor questions.

I guess we are planning on bringing a bear canister for the freedom, even though I'd love to save the 2-point-something pounds. Thanks for the info about the weather. We will obviously bring rain gear, but I hope it doesn't rain all day every day like it did in the Smokies last year.

Does anyone have specific suggestions on the best campsites along the HST? I've hear Morraine Lake is worth the sidetrack. Anything else?

Thanks.
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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:05 am

Highlights are different for everyone, but a lot of folks here like Hamilton Lakes
which is pretty but can get quite crowded for my taste. Precipice Lake is pretty
and the views from Kaweah Gap are great. Nine Lakes Basin is one of the reasons to
carry a bear canister since it allows you the freedom to roam around in this pretty
basin and find some of its hidden treasures. Moraine Lake and Sky Parlor are nice
but does not hit my list of highlights along the HST. Some folks love the Kern Hot
Springs, for me it is no big deal, have only stop once in maybe the 8 times passing
by it. If your comfortable with crosscountry, which you have not indicated, then
Wallace Lakes Basin is the definitely at the top of the highlight reel, here again
hard to know if this is feasible since you have not indicated your average mileage nor
whether you wanted a layover day.
Guitar Lake is nice but way over crowded, Arctic Lake is a much better option.
Mosquitoes should not be a major issue, if at all, by mid August this year.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination, and where the trail ends is where our adventures begin.

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 Information?

Postby mbHale » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:41 am

Thanks a ton for sharing. We are not planning on any xcountry. I have done a little before, but my buddy and I are planning to stick with the trail. So I guess that puts us at a "2" on the difficulty level.

We are not planning a layover day, and the itinerary we have been looking at (http://www.everytrail.com/guide/the-high-sierra-trail) seems to average about 10 miles/day. We're both "young bucks" (age 25), so I'm confident we will manage 10/day. We have done more in the past.

I guess our tentative itinerary, following the Everytrails site, is as follows:
1. Crescent Meadow to 9-Mile Creek (8.4 mi.)
2. 9-Mile Creek to Precipice Lake (9.8 mi.)
3. Precipice Lake to Morraine Lake (9.8 mi.)
4. Morraine Lake to Kern Hot Spring (6.9 mi.)
5. Kern Hot Spring to Upper Kern Canyon (9.6 mi.)
6. Upper Kern Canyon to Guitar Lake (10.2 mi.)
7. Guitar Lake to Whitney Summit, then Portal (14.3 mi.)

This is basically all I had to go off of, so I will probably change some of our camping arrangements based on recommendations and research. Also I read that Precipice Lake may not be the best campsite.

I am pretty adept with map and compass, so we could manage going to a campsite a little off the trail if it is worth it. Again, much thanks for the advice. I hope I will have some to share after my trip!

Thanks,
Hale
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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby tim » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:28 pm

See this topic for some alternatives: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8899

I would definitely suggest staying at the tarn above Guitar Lake on the last night. Depending on how good you feel on Day 2, it may be better to stop at Hamilton Lake (I usually find the second day to be the hardest, so personally I wouldn't enjoy the long climb up to Precipice Lake at the end of that day), but it does make Day 3 a long day if you want to go all the way to Moraine Lake.
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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby mbHale » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:18 pm

Thanks for the advice Tim.

Based on what y'all (yes, I'm from the South...) have told me, It looks like the tarn (I had to look that up) above Guitar Lake will be where we stay the night before Whitney. Also, I think we would really like to camp around the Nine Lake Basin. I am planning on taking a light fly rod, but I'm definitely not an experienced fly fisherman (and most of what I do is saltwater--I'm from Florida). Is there good fishing to be had at the Nine Lakes Basin? I'm not asking you to give away your hot spots! Could anyone suggest a route that allows us to camp at Nine Lakes Basin without having to push the 16 miles to Hamilton lake the first day? We've done long days like that, but for the first day I think that would be a bit audacious.

Also, I have had trouble locating an elevation profile for the trail. Is there one online someone could point me too, or direct me to a map I can purchase that has this? As I mentioned, I purchased Sierra South: Backcountry trips in California's Sierras--will this have an elevation profile in it? I'm trying to figure out what the most challenging days will be so I don't plan a short day on an easy stretch and a long day on a difficult stretch. Based on what I've seen, the climb up to Kaweah Gap will be tough, so maybe we could make that into a short day and camp at Nine Lakes Basin. I guess this would give us time to relax around Precipice Lake during that short day too, which looks amazing. Obviously Whitney will be challenging.

Thanks a ton.

Hale
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Re: High Sierra Trail Information?

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:49 pm

Have read there are 6'' rainbows in lower lake of the Nine Lake Basin, near
Kaweah Gap, but none in the larger lake.
As an alternative plan you may consider staying at Buck Creek for the first
night, get an early start, and get to Nine Lakes Basin for the second night.
Use the elevation profile feature in Google Earth (which is free).
Don't have that book.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination, and where the trail ends is where our adventures begin.

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 Information?

Postby snowpatch » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:27 pm

The book Sierra South by Kathy Morey and Mike White (which I think you mentioned) has the elevation profile for the HIgh Sierra Trail. It's hike #31 in my 8th edition. The book also gives a good day by day trail description.
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