Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary | High Sierra Topix  

Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

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

Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby ITravelLight » Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:15 am

Hi folks,
New to the board, and am doing the HST in a week and a half so I've been reading everything on the internet for a few days now. I am thinking of a slightly different itinerary than I've seen most do, motivated partly by my desire to even out the miles each day and partly to stay in less populated areas if the trail is really busy that week. I'd love to get some feedback on whether or not I've put the longer mile day(s) in the right place and also the best camping sites. FYI, this is my first solo trip and I'd say I'm about level 2/3 hiker.

(The numbers following the day's path is the mileage, although I've seen so many different numbers, that hopefully they are within at least a mile of being correct...)

Itinerary Option 1:
1. Crescent Meadow to Buck Creek: 10.5 - I've heard this is slightly nicer than Bearpaw

2. Buck to Precipice: 8.5 - Going only to Hamilton seems like too short a distance, and Precipice sounds like a great place to stay. I've heard there are not many tent spots, but I have a Home Alone bivy, so I feel like I should be able to find something; I know this would be a hard day and I've heard climbing past Hamilton in the morning is preferable to the afternoon, but I just don't know if I can abide doing so few miles on day 2 and stopping at Hamilton. ??

3. Precipice to Chagoopa Plateau: 10.6 - Big Arroyo Junction seems too short a day, but Moraine seems a bit far, not so much for the day, but to make the spacing of the next several days work. However, I've heard Chagoopa can be mosquito-ridden. Which of these three is the nicest place to camp?

4. Chagoopa to Upper Funston Meadow: 10.7 - just seems like a good distance, and maybe not worth it to push on to Kern Hot Springs so late in the day? Better to get there earlier?

5. Upper Funston to JMT/HST Junction: 13.9 - With an early break at KHS. Worried that this might be too much...

6. JMT/HST to tarn above Guitar Lake: 7ish?: I've heard staying above guitar lake can be less crowded and it would also be nice to be a little further along to start the big day.

7. Whitney and all the way down to the Portal

The other option has some shorter days, which makes me nervous, but seems more standard

Itinerary Option 2:
1. Crescent to Buck: 10.5
2. Buck to Precipice: 8.5
3. Precipice to Moraine: 12.8
4. Moraine to Kern Hot Springs: 6.5
5. KHS to JMT/HST Junction: 12.1
6. JMT/HST Junction to tarn above Guitar: 7
7. Whitney and out

Which do you think you would choose and why? Thanks!



User avatar
ITravelLight
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby rlown » Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:37 am

First off, welcome to the HST forum. Second, why do you want to almost run through the Sierra and not stop and enjoy the scenery and how it changes daily? Is this a mission?
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5329
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby ITravelLight » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:20 pm

Thanks for the welcome! At this point, even if I wanted to take more time, I couldn't since my permit dates are set. However, I think this is about the right pace for me - I'm not a PCT thru-hiker making 20 miles a day, but I'm also not the type to do only 4 or 5 easy miles a day and spend hours fishing, lounging, etc. I did read an account of a guy that *RAN* the entire HST, including summiting Whitney in a little over 18 hours (east to west instead of the more common west to east)...and I can assure you, I will be taking a lot more time to smell the wildflowers than that! :)
User avatar
ITravelLight
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:54 pm

Hi IT,

Welcome to HST!
Buck Creek is a good first day campsite, Hamilton Lake is pretty but can be quite
croweded, Precipice will offer more solitude and the view from the Gap looking
east towards the Kaweah ridgeline is outstanding, especially at sunset.
Chagoopa will offer you the most solitude, like if you were alone in the Sierra, just
pick a lake. Mosquitoes seem to be slowly on the decline, but be prepared for
them. Kern Hot Springs is not a highlight for me and the several times passing it
I stopped once. Artic Lake near Guitar offers peace from all the folks usually
at Guitar Lake, and is quite pretty.
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: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby Enuf2B » Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:21 pm

I Did this trip as a yoyo last year, it will be among my favorites. It’s a great first solo hike because you aren’t in the crowds but you also won’t be all alone. I did see rangers/trail crew and a few fellow hikers daily but it wasn’t as crowded as the JMT was. The views are incredible. I did this as a two week trip without resupply and just did a trail run from Crabtree up to Whitney summit and back. Each day I got a very early start and ended my hiking around 1 and spent my time photographing and exploring the area around my camp. Your itinerary is very similar to mine except I had to camp at Wallace due to a torrential rain storm. I wouldn’t recommend camping there. It reminded me of what Everest base camp must be like. Also, I chose to camp at Hamilton on the way up and am glad I did. It made getting up at 5 am to do the climb up to Precipice must better than doing it in the heat. The hike up from there is exposed and wouldn’t be much fun with the sun on you every minute. The trail from Precipice to Arroyo is easy however it’s a long slog after that. I camped at Arroyo again due to another heavy thunder/rain storm and am glad I did. Moraine was one of the highlights of the trip. The lake is a little warmer than most and there are fantastic campsites along the shore area. The trip down to Kern is fast but can be hard on a person’s knees. The hot tub makes it worthwhile staying there. I spent one night on the way up and an extra day there on the way back just to enjoy the area. If you do choose to skip camping at Kern there are numerous great sites for the next few miles. Camping at Crabtree would be my only other suggestion it doesn’t add that many miles to your climb and those miles are easy. The campsites are easy to find, its not exposed and the rangers there are very nice. The hike from Crabtree to summit is by far easier than from portal to summit. The trail conditions are by far better. I hope this helps some. Have a great trip!
"It's enough to be on your way,it's enough to cover ground, it's enough to be moving on." James Taylor
User avatar
Enuf2B
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:21 pm
Location: Sierra Nevada Range
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby robert h » Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:25 pm

Hi ITL, I'm a newbie on the board and backpacking HST in 3 weeks. Our plan is almost identical to the beginning of your option 2...Buck, Precipice, Moraine. We're planning to overnight a few miles past the hot springs then continue north through the Upper Kern, over Forester & Kearsarge passes to exit at Onion Valley.

I've never hiked HST but one obvious concern this year is availability of water. From what I've READ, water is scarce/non-existent on Chagoopa Plateau. I'm also wondering about Buck Creek. Any info on the water situation from your trip or other recent trips would be greatly appreciated. Have fun!
User avatar
robert h
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:03 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby ITravelLight » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:11 pm

Wow, thanks for the replies!

So there are opportunities for camping between Kern Hot Springs and Junction Meadow? I guess I just didn't think there were any good places along the way, as I was just working from common itineraries I've seen an SEKI's description of way-points. But that may be a good solution to evening out my miles, since I was just torn between the short mileage to KHS and long mileage to junction meadow, which I hadn't heard good things about anyway. More importantly, it gives me a better sense of flexibility to modify previous days' camping plans as the days unfold. One of the skills I'll be practicing as a first time soloist/leader of my own trip is being the one to decide where to camp, and I am probably a bit too uptight at this point.
User avatar
ITravelLight
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:58 pm

Yes, there are places to camp between Kern Hot Springs and Junction Meadow. Once you are a mile or so past KHS, start looking to the left side of the trail when it is far enough from the river for a flat area that's 100 feet from the water. I camped at one about two miles up from KHS one time - a great spot with the canyon walls rising above, trees obscuring anyone passing on the trail, and the river singing me to sleep that night.
User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:47 pm

If you can do the miles, I would vote for "Itinerary Option 2:". With an extra day you could smooth out 4 to 6, maybe get a side trip a ways above the JMT/PCT. Also, there are camps in the trees before Guitar Lake that would be more pleasant camping.
I have seen trail runners back there, ultralite. Crazy people. Not so much any more because they prefer not to run with bear cans.
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
DoyleWDonehoo
Founding Member
 
Posts: 480
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 2:06 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby tomba » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:48 pm

robert h wrote:one obvious concern this year is availability of water. (...) I'm also wondering about Buck Creek.

October 2nd last year (similarly dry as this year) I was also concerned about water on that south-facing slope. It turned out OK. Buck Creek had water, and few more flowing creeks crossed the trail from there to Panther Gap. One I remember was by Little Blue Dome.

Buck Creek. (Click to enlarge.)
IMG_8367-buck-creek.jpeg
-- Found trash? Please pack it out. Thank you.
User avatar
tomba
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 240
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:50 pm
Location: Bay Area
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Critique my High Sierra Trail Itinerary

Postby thegib » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:25 am

Camping high in 9 lakes basin is heaven to me. I'd linger there and blast through lower Kern canyon. Precipice lake looks exactly like the Ansel Adams photo, it's very impressive but the campspots are too close to the trail and crowded together. This year you may have to camp at Moraine lake to find water. Once on the Kern trail you'll make good mileage. It's a great trip.
User avatar
thegib
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:37 pm
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bkoenig, Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], MSNbot Media [Bot] and 10 guests