Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip | High Sierra Topix  

Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

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

Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:19 pm

Backpacking experience: Level 2--two overnighters as training (15-20 mi r/t), one overnighter at Trail Camp--Mt Whitney)

Terrain comfort level: Class 1 with occasional easy scrambling to reach a summit

Main interest: Through hike training, Big Mountain scenery (I'll put in my own--thin/high altitude air!)

Also: Male, 35, 5 days/week of intensive cardio (2 hrs/session of running/cycling/rowing), no AMS issues, 5' 4"/140 lbs

Hello,
I have a permit to hike the High Sierra Trail entering 9/19 and exiting 9/24, and I'm looking for some help planning the trip. The idea was to get some experience on a through hike this year to find out if I wanted to try some or all of the John Muir Trail next year, and I've never been to Sequoia before so why not? I only work one day a week (Wednesdays), so I planned to drive to Sequoia after teaching Wednesday 9/18, spend the night at Lodgepole Campground, and then pick up my permit first thing in the morning. I thought I'd see this hike more in terms of time than distance--see as much as I can see, maybe pick up a peak or two (Mt. Kaweah looks like a doable walk-up), and then turn back from wherever I have to in order to teach the following Wednesday. No car shuttling possibilities so I'll have to enter/exit from the same starting point.

What I'm looking for are:
1. Ideas on places to camp along the route. I recently dayhiked/car camped for 4 days in the Rockies covering 12-15 miles with 3000-5000 feet of climb per day between 8000 and 14000 feet with no major issues, and I figure I can cover at least that on the HST with a pack since I heard it's fairly wide and flat. There's just such a long list of sites that I have no idea where to begin.

2. Thoughts about water. In the Rockies it wasn't an issue, and I've always heard that it's not an issue in the Sierra either. True on the HST? I like to carry at least 1 liter at all times, and preferably 2-3.

3. Bear can? I used one on Mt. Whitney in June, but it was definitely a pain to lug around 3 lbs of dead weight. Still, I kept the weight down to 30 lbs including tent, bear can, water, and food. I'm thinking a 5 day hike is going to require more food and spare clothing than an overnight, so that 3 lbs of bear can sounds a lot heavier. On the other hand, I saw a marmot raid on a hiker's site who ignored the bear can requirement on Whitney and it wasn't pretty what they did to his camp. What about using bear boxes along the route?

4. Suggestions for easy peaks along the way? I'm fine with a moderate amount of scrambling as long as there's little exposure, but I'm not a rock climber by any stretch of the imagination. At the same time, I don't *have* to summit either. I'm fine with awesome views from a high-up point!

5. Food? I decided I can't stand fully cooked dehydrated meals--they taste OK on the first few bites, and then I'm forcing the rest down because it just tastes nasty to me. What about leaving the stove behind and eating preserved food, or maybe instant potatoes/beans that don't require cooking?

6. Car safety? I can't afford any marmot damage to the car, both in terms of time (getting to work) and money (I have a PhD but I'm part of the adjunct army--what I make in a month is what most garbage men make in a week, plus they get benefits). Where would be the best place to park my car, given that the park shuttles will all have ceased operations by mid-September?

Thanks!



User avatar
franklin411
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:43 pm

Hi Franklin411,

Welcome to HST! Please try the search feature, their are numerous TR's and folks
asking advice for the HST. If you have any other question after doing some digging
please ask away.
Here are some of the very few previous posts:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8494&hilit=high+sierra+route#p61915
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9905&p=74750&hilit=high+sierra+route#p74621
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8899&p=65764&hilit=+high+sierra+route#p65764
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9136&p=67781&hilit=+high+sierra+route#p67752
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: 8039
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:55 pm

Thanks for the links! I guess what has me confuzzled is how I should conceive of this trip. It doesn't look like a heck of a lot of people have set out on the HST in the way I'm planning to: 5 full hiking days, going as far as they can, turning around, and leaving the way they came in. It makes me wonder if I'm thinking of this trip all wrong.

I think I could get 12-15 miles a day easily if I keep my pack weight down, maybe more. But even if I got 20 miles per day, from the links and the distances, it looks like at best I'll be somewhere in the Kern Trench when I have to turn around. So is it stupid to even think of it that way?

If I get 12-15 miles per day, and I have 5 full days to get in and get out, and can't possibly "finish" the HST, would this be a more wise sightseeing-oriented but still ambitiously rigorous (because I like that!) schedule?

Day 1: Hike to Lone Pine Lake (13 mi in). Possibly push to Big Hamilton(16 mi in)? I just noticed that the hike to Bearpaw Meadow is listed as 11 miles/1000' of gain/7 hrs, which sounds too easy for me. I really get bored when I'm alone with nothing to do and I'd much rather keep hiking than sit around being alone!

Day 2: Hike to Big Arroyo Junction (22 mi in). Set up camp and finish the day with a trip to Kaweah Peak?

Day 3: Day hike to Moraine Lake (30 mi in...leave my camp at Big Arroyo and spend a second night there)? Is it worth it? Then turn around and head back out to the car, camping/sightseeing opportunistically.

OR

Day 3: Turn around from Big Arroyo, camping/sightseeing opportunistically as I return.
User avatar
franklin411
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby tim » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:15 pm

Here's a few of my thoughts about how to think about your trip. Firstly note that the weather in late September may or may not be good. It's just not so predictable. I wouldn't want to be on the far side of the Great Western Divide if a big early season storm blows in. I would definitely take a stove late season just so you can warm yourself up with a hot drink in the morning and hot meal in the evening as it will quite probably be well below freezing at 10,000ft at night.

Secondly, you will have no permit issues mid week by then wherever you choose to go, so don't feel you have to do the HST. You might have an easier time with a loop where you have a set objective and can go as far as you want while still making progress to your destination. In Sequoia the loop from Lodgepole to Ranger Lake to Roaring River, up Deadman Canyon, over Elizabeth Pass and back via the Alta trail would probably work well given your distance goals. And you have options for side trips (Lone Pine or Hamilton Lakes, Alta Peak) if you want more.

To a few of your other points: take the bear can. Don't worry about marmots in your car (it's a specific early season Mineral King issue).
User avatar
tim
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 496
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:36 pm
Location: Bay Area
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby thegib » Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:53 am

IMO - The most scenic area you'll be passing by is upper Nine Lakes Basin. It's off-trail but extremely easy and obvious terrain. I'd try to maximize my time there.
Hamilton lake is an ambitious but excellent goal for day one. There's a bear box there and it's very scenic.
Hiking down into the Kern trench and then back up is just an exercise in exercise. That is, I don't understand why anyone would want to do that.

My plan - make camp in upper 9 lake basin by day two. Day hike/peak bag for two days. Long hike out, 21 or 22 miles, day five. For this plan a bear can would be a good idea.
Have a great trip!
User avatar
thegib
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:37 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby robert h » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:19 pm

Having just done HST 2 weeks ago I would 2nd that. Hiking to the Kern tren just to return would bean exercise in exercise. We blew past nine lakes on our 8 day itinerary but it looked like a lovely area to explore, particularly on 5 day trip.

I regularly day hike 20+ miles with no problem but find 12-14 mile days with a 30ish lb pack to be roughly equivalent. We were only doing 10-12/day on our trip and never had to worry about sitting around camp getting bored. Being old and slow probably helps.

Water was readily available last week and we typically started with about 1.5L.
User avatar
robert h
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:03 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:02 pm

I have hiked into Hamilton Lake three times, in one day. Did it once even with a heavy pack (carrying in full technical climbing gear). If you get a 7AM start, you can make it without too much trouble. The trail is good and you can make good time. Just keep your pack weight down. The hardest part was the hot afternoon sun, on the south facing hill from Pine Creek to Hamilton Lake. But in September, you will not likely have excessive heat as a problem. The other time consuming problem is crossing streams, but by September this year that is a non-issue. The elevation gain is a lot of small ups and downs so not as grueling as one big up. Even at a relatively slow pace you could estimate 2 mph x 16 miles = 8 hours, plus 2-3 hours to account for elevation gain = 11 hours. Long but not impossible. I think it is pretty easy to average 2.5 mph on that trail if you keep rest stops to a minimum and carry a light pack.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:15 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for all the great info!

Tim: Thanks for the alternate loop info and the advice about marmots. I was inordinately worried about that! I was actually thinking about the possibility of a foray into King's Canyon, partly because I have a friend who wants to go to all the National Parks and I thought it would be cool to be able to brag that I had hiked two in one! I think I'm going to stick with the HST for now, since I'm hoping to get Mt. Kaweah, but who knows?

Thegib: I like the 9 Lakes Basin idea! The Kern Trench is definitely off the list, then, but I'm not sure about the bear can due to the weight and bulk. I barely got everything in my pack (3900 cu in) for Mt. Whitney with a bear can, and that was just an overnight. On the other hand, I like not having to think about having to camp close to a bear box (or if it'll be full). Hmm...I'll have to see how things pack I guess.

Robert: Perfect! Thanks for the info on pacing and water!

Wandering Daisy: That's exactly how I like to do it--an early start, minimal rest stops, and a light pack! I'm not a minimalist by nature (I like having stuff...feels more secure!), but I just get annoyed at the idea that I've hauled all this gear for 10 or 20 miles over 10-12 hours, I get maybe 20 mins of use out of it (say it's a backpacking stove/fuel/cookware), and then I haul it again another 10-12 hours/10-20 mi!

Thanks again!
User avatar
franklin411
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:24 am

If you use a minimal cook set (titanium solo cup and lid, small fuel can that fits inside the solo cup, and small titanium stove (I have a sno-peak), the total weight and bulk is little. For any trip more than a weekend, I feel that the ability to cook food actually allows me to take less food weight and bulk. For example, a 2-serving portion of Malt-o-Meal with a Tbs nuts and raisins and tsp sugar gives me more calories for the weight and bulk of the equivalent trail bars. If you hate to cook and do not mind cold food, then that may be a better reason to go cookless; but saving weight is a draw, if you minimize your cook gear and select food carefully, on a 5-7 day trip. Once you get into large pots, the larger fuel cans, or multiple pots and pans, then, that is another story. You can even reduce the cooking weight more if you use a homemade alcohol stove.

Bear Vault makes a small bear can, and although it is almost as heavy as my Bearikade Weekender, it fits in a pack better. I do not think it costs much over $50. I have never seen this small version available for rental.

Where is the closest bear box to Nine Lakes Basin? I suppose you could camp near the bear box and day-hike Nine Lakes Basin. You could even store all food in the bear box, take only enough food for day snacks and one night meal, eat it all, and in the morning come back to the bear box for breakfast. Awkward, but that would allow you to spend a night in Nine Lakes Basin without a bear can. Or for that matter, do this from any location with a bear box. Personally, I would just take a bear can, but this is one more option.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:03 pm

Thanks for the reply, Wandering Daisy! I hadn't even thought of bringing Malt-o-meal even though I love it, so I'll definitely bring that if I decide to take a stove.

I have UDAP's No Fed Bear can, which is 8 x 10" 545 cu in 2.4 lbs, so it's probably about as small and light as I can reasonably afford. I used it on Mt. Whitney. Even though I only had 2 days' food and I filled the rest of the can with my stove, fuel, a backpacking pot and a small cup, I still had a hard time packing. I basically had to compose my pack exactly right to fit everything inside (I dislike having stuff hanging around the sides). Once I did that it felt fine and I liked having it, but I couldn't help but think that it wouldn't work so well when I didn't have time or the inclination to spend an hour packing and repacking, or when I needed the can space for food and had to stow my cookware etc elsewhere.

Since that trip, I've done my best to lighten up. I bought a 37 deg sleeping bag that is lighter/less bulky than the 20 deg one I was carrying, and a 2 oz air pillow to replace the 7 oz Thermarest I used on Whitney (the problem with the Thermarest is bulk). But I'm still wondering how I'm going to get 2-3 times the amount of food I ate on Whitney, plus a change of clothing in my pack for the HST, bring a bear can, and use a reasonably sized 3900 cu in pack/keep the weight/bulk to something I feel fits well on my body. I did try a bivy sack but it ended up being too narrow for me so I had to return it. My tent is a Kelty Salida 2 person that comes in at less than 5 lbs including the footprint, which is pretty light I think. The main problem I had with it was bulk once again.

Maybe I'll look at bivy sacks again. I really loved the fact that the one I bought compresses to something the size of a soda can and weighs 1 lb, but I felt it was too narrow for me to envision getting into it with a sleeping bag. I have no experience using bivy sacks in the wild so I don't know if I'd need to bring a tarp or something for the ground/something in case it pours either.

I think the nearest bear box to 9 lakes is at the Old Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin (1.5 miles or so south of 9 lakes), which is nice because I'm thinking that camping there will leave me well positioned to leave my stuff there while I summit Mt. Kaweah.
User avatar
franklin411
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby tim » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:14 pm

I would be very cautious about taking a 37 degree bag to 10k+ ft in the second half of September. It is likely to be below freezing at night unless you are very fortunate with the weather. For that reason taking a stove is also advisable. Is the issue with packing that you are trying to get a fairly large tent inside your pack? I would always carry it on the outside (top or bottom) of my pack.

Worth reading this thread on a memorable early October storm in 2009: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4612
User avatar
tim
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 496
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:36 pm
Location: Bay Area
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:28 pm

Thanks for the tips, all! Anyone have any thoughts regarding the possible weather coming? Here's my plan as of now:

I am bringing the stove, but I'm probably going to skip the bear canister and use the bear boxes instead. This gives me room/weight to bring a 20 degree sleeping bag if I want, and to bring my REI Flash 18 to use as a daypack after setting up camp. I think this plan should keep me within 1 full/hard day's hike of the trailhead if the weather seems nasty.

Wed: Drive up and spend the night at Lodgepole Campground

Thurs: Pick up my permit, hike to Hamilton Lake, camp.

Fri: Hike to Big Arroyo. Explore the area, possibly summit Mt. Kaweah if it seems reasonable. More likely check out Little 5 Lakes. Make camp at Big Arroyo.

Sat: Summit Kaweah if I didn't do it on Sat. Maybe explore the area around 9 Lakes. Spend the night at Big Arroyo. If the weather looks bad, hike back to Hamilton Lake.

Sun: Hike back to Hamilton Lake and set up camp. Explore, maybe north to Elizabeth Pass? Spend the night at Hamilton Lake.

Mon: Flex day:
Option 1: Hike out. Get cleaned up, and then probably see the "Must See" sights, like General Sherman or Moro Rock. Spend the night in a campground.

Option 2: Hike out more slowly, exploring stuff I passed in my haste to get to Kaweah on Thursday.

Tues: Get back to Santa Barbara by the early evening, so I could do Option 1 if I didn't do it Monday.

****Complete Washout Alternative Plan****
Day hike around the area, sleep at Lodgepole Campground (assuming I can get a site).
User avatar
franklin411
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: wildhiker and 2 guests