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Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

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

Postby KathyW » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:15 pm

A number of years ago we calculated the elevation gain and mileage to Bearpaw Meadows using both a GPS and mapping software. I believe we came up with an average of about 6000' elevation gain over those 11 miles to get to Bearpaw Meadow; so it's a lot harder than 11 miles with 1,000' elevation gain - up and down and down and up you go. Not that you can't get to Hamilton Lakes on the first day with an early start, but just don't expect an "easy" trek.

Snow often comes in September - be prepared please and watch the weather forecast closely. You might need to be sleeping in some warm layers including a puffy down or synthetic jacket for a 37 degree bag to work in the later part of September. brrrrrr



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

Postby longri » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:08 pm

KathyW wrote:A number of years ago we calculated the elevation gain and mileage to Bearpaw Meadows using both a GPS and mapping software. I believe we came up with an average of about 6000' elevation gain over those 11 miles to get to Bearpaw Meadow; so it's a lot harder than 11 miles with 1,000' elevation gain - up and down and down and up you go. Not that you can't get to Hamilton Lakes on the first day with an early start, but just don't expect an "easy" trek.

There is a lot of up and down but I'll bet your GPS and software included a bunch of noise. Since the trail contours along the side of a steep ridge for much of the way, any error in the position (either due to the GPS location error or a human drawing a line in a map program) will translate into significant vertical noise.

I traced it in TOPO and came up with a little over 4000 feet. But it was really noisy with lots of tiny ups and downs that were clearly artifacts. So the total gain is very likely less than that.
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby KathyW » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:15 pm

longri wrote:
KathyW wrote:A number of years ago we calculated the elevation gain and mileage to Bearpaw Meadows using both a GPS and mapping software. I believe we came up with an average of about 6000' elevation gain over those 11 miles to get to Bearpaw Meadow; so it's a lot harder than 11 miles with 1,000' elevation gain - up and down and down and up you go. Not that you can't get to Hamilton Lakes on the first day with an early start, but just don't expect an "easy" trek.

There is a lot of up and down but I'll bet your GPS and software included a bunch of noise. Since the trail contours along the side of a steep ridge for much of the way, any error in the position (either due to the GPS location error or a human drawing a line in a map program) will translate into significant vertical noise.

I traced it in TOPO and came up with a little over 4000 feet. But it was really noisy with lots of tiny ups and downs that were clearly artifacts. So the total gain is very likely less than that.


I realize the topo software picks up some ups and downs that aren't really there, but after hiking it I'd say it's somewhere between that 4,000' and 6,000' gain. Either way, it's not 1,000' gain. :)
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby longri » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:08 pm

KathyW wrote:I realize the topo software picks up some ups and downs that aren't really there, but after hiking it I'd say it's somewhere between that 4,000' and 6,000' gain. Either way, it's not 1,000' gain. :)

That section of trail can be psychologically defeating since you know that despite the work you're not really gaining elevation. And, at least before the High Sierra Camp closes, it feels like you haven't really left the trailhead completely behind what with the civilized nature of the Bearpaw facilities. On one trip about this time of year we passed through as they were closing the camp. It was a very rainy week and on the way back at the end of our trip we set up our tent on one of the cabin platforms. We had a great view of a big thunderstorm from there.

According to a posting on the Trimble website the total gain to Hamilton Lake is a little less than 5000 feet. If you believe that then the gain to Bearpaw would be closer to 3500 feet.

http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/25393
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby KathyW » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:56 pm

Next year I'm going to do try to do the trek to Bearpaw Meadow again; so I'll keep my fingers crossed that it is only 3,500' and not 6,000' gain.
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:52 pm

Regardless of the "numbers" (I would say it felt like about 3,000 feet), I have walked to Hamilton Lake three times in one day - once with a heavy pack full of climbing gear. If you are in shape, get an early start, and keep a moderate steady pace, it is about an 8-9 hour day, really not too bad. I found all the small ups and downs rather nice - up until a bit tired, then you get to go down. I think people who do not like the ups and downs mentally talk themselves into getting tired because they view each down as a "loss". If you instead think of it as a positive, you do not get as discouraged! The trail is huge, and easy (not very rocky). The views are fantastic.

I can see that it could become a death march mid-summer if you have 100-degree heat to start with. That last stretch to Hamilton Lake is all south facing, completely dry and one of the largest continuous uphill sections of the route.
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:13 am

I'm not sure if I'm still on this trip or not!

I hiked into Hamilton Lakes Thursday and spent the night... Nice and warm, and I was glad I made a last minute decision to pack a 37 degree bag. It was nice and warm, but I was already starting to get too lonely just thinking about the possibility of being alone for the next few days. I hung out with some other backpackers and that helped. I also decided to come out Sunday or Monday at the latest.

Friday I thought about just day hiking from Hamilton to the kaweah gap and coming back when I felt like it. But I knew that meant giving up on summiting kaweah, so I ended up deciding to to pack up and head to big arroyo. The plan was to camp there, summit kaweah sat morning as a dayhike, and then pack back to Hamilton, exit Sunday. But the switchbacks to precipice got me thinking... Big arroyo to kaweah to Hamilton would be 14 miles with about 5000 feet of gain. And I'm alone... If I get hurt on kaweah, probably nobody will even find me. I got down to around where I thought the ranger cabin was going to be but couldn't find it, so I gave up. I hiked all the way back to Hamilton, rolled my ankle and heard a snap but apparently suffered no injury, and basically did a 16 mile dayhike with a 28 lb pack.

Saturday I decided to hike to mehrton, camp, and summit Alta peak Sunday morning, and then hike out to crescent meadow. I kept thinking about how lonely I was, and how there weren't any fancy pants pit toilets on the map at mehrton, and then I noticed that the wispy cirrus clouds I had seen earlier were building into heavy rain clouds. I decided to just grind it all the way out.

Drove to most of the campgrounds in the western part of seki but they were all full. Drove to fresno because I got the holiday Inn for $40. Now I don't know what to do. I could try car camping in sequoia tonight, day hiking a peak tomorrow, and leave Tuesday morning. But it seems like there really aren't any alpine peaks in sequoia that are a moderate day hike (my feet have 48 miles on them in 2.5 days). Or I could just call it quits. Dunno.
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby KathyW » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:21 pm

Franklin411: Maybe you're just not the type of person that enjoys solo trips. That's not unusual. How about finding a partner or group for your next backpacking trip?
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby longri » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:46 am

franklin, that cracked me up. I've had similar anxiety attacks in the mountains. It's only fun if it's fun, and for travelling alone you have to be in the right state of mind. Sometimes you aren't. And truth be known, it isn't purely anxiety. You can die out there if the wrong things happen.

But maybe pack a little whisky on your next trip or go "solo" during a busier time.
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby longri » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:47 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:...I have walked to Hamilton Lake three times in one day - once with a heavy pack full of climbing gear.

Did you climb Angel Wings?
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:58 pm

No, we were going to climb Hamilton Dome (there is supposed to be a nice 5.7 route). We also had our eye on a beautiful crack on the west flank of Stewart. Unfortunately it was too early in the season and the crack was a waterfall and Hamilton Domes were still too wet. We got one pitch up the unclimbed crack and retreated totally soaked with water.
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Re: Planning for Solo Mid-Sept High Sierra Trail Trip

Postby franklin411 » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:23 am

Hi all,
I'm back to civilization! I ended up going back to Lodgepole Sunday and found that most of the weekenders had already left, so getting a site was no problem. It was actually a great experience--my neighbors turned out to be 4 girls from UC San Diego who were about my age, and their neighbors were 3 guys from Orange County, so we all hung out around the campfire. I figured I owed myself a summit, so I did Alta Peak yesterday. FANTASTIC trail! So much nicer than the HST from a purely technical standpoint--wide as a sidewalk, not frustrating at all (all up, followed by all down), and mostly nice soft dirt instead of rocks. I covered the 14 mile r/t from Wolverton in 5.5 hours--the trail was so fantastic that I ended up running most of the way out.

So ya...I took this trip to see if I liked multi-day solo backpacking, and I found out I don't. I'll give finding a friend for a multi-day trip a shot (haven't tried it so I can't say I won't like it), and I know I can do an overnight backpacking trip when necessary to see something really cool. But car camping/dayhiking is where it's at for me!

Thanks again for all your advice!
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