HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31 | High Sierra Topix  

HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Discussion related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby noelleswildlife » Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:18 pm

Hi All,

This is my first post, but I wanted to get info out to the community asap after my trip in case others are interested in getting on the HST soon. This is my quick and dirty of trail conditions and a few logistics. Please take my report with a grain of salt - I did my best to take accurate notes and gather data on my GPS, but some of this is from memory. It was a great trip, but in retrospect I did take quite of bit of risk, especially traveling solo. As the snow continues to melt, the snow bridges above Hamilton Lakes, the cornice near Kaweah Gap and the river crossings may become even more dangerous before they become safer. Of course, it's always a judgement call and I did come back safe and sound while making pretty good time for winter-ish travel. Enjoy and be safe out there!

-Noelle

HIGH SIERRA TRAIL MAY 26-31, 2016
Quick Trip Report & Trail Conditions

Tues, May 24, 2016
Drive form Bay Area to Lone Pine through the night
Car camp in Inyo NF for a few early morning hours

Wed, May 25, 2016
Shuttle from Lone Pine, CA to Crescent Meadow TH, start of HST

LT Parking: $25/week, $5/day
Museum of Western Film History
701 S Main St, Lone Pine, CA 93545
T: 760-876-9909

Permit: Self-permitted on May 25, 2016
Reserved permitting with wilderness office began May 26

Camp: $22/nt at Lodgepole CG

SEKI Shuttle: NPS free in-park shuttle to/from CM TH

Water: plentiful throughout route, I did not treat water until joining JMT/PCT

Thurs, May 26, 2016
Crescent Meadow TH to Hamilton Lakes (16.5 mi)
Weather: 40-50’s, foggy, light rain
Trail Conditions: trail clear of snow, easy to moderate river crossings
Gear: trail runners and trekking poles all day
Note: encountered multiple parties on route to Hamilton Lakes

Fri, May 27, 2016
Hamilton Lakes to just below Precipice Lake (2.75 mi)
Weather: 50-60’s day, 20’s night, partly cloudy AM, fog rolled in at 3PM limiting visibility above 10k
Trail Conditions: trail clear to 9.6k except for snow bridges, snow bridge crossings with rushing waterfalls behind, difficult to assess depth and stability of snow/ice (dangerous IMO), trail obscured by snow after 9.6k resulting in cross-country travel (as I’ve never been on this trail before), fading boot tracks to 10k
Gear: winter gear used above 9.6k , lightweight mountaineering boots, technical crampons, ice axe but no pro (although pro would have been warranted), map/compass/GPS needed for navigation
Note: camped very early due to lack of visibility over Kaweah Gap, winter camped on packed snow at 10.3k just below Precipice Lake

Sat, May 28, 2016
Just below Precipice Lake to Chagoopa Plateau, elev 9.7k (~13-15 mi?, XC travel)
Weather: 30-60’s day, 40’s night, partly cloudy AM, fog rolling into Kaweah Basin from the Gap about 12PM, partly cloudy and thunder throughout the afternoon and evening with light rain on and off
Trail Conditions: dangerous looking cornice on saddle between Mt Stewart and ridge feature south-west of Precipice Lake, almost completely snow covered with some exposed granite above 10.5k before Kaweah Gap, almost no visible trail until below 10k east of the divide at which point it would appear and disappear vaguely for several miles, much XC travel since trial was unreliable,
Gear: winter gear used above 9.6k , lightweight mountaineering boots, technical crampons, ice axe but no pro (although pro would have been warranted), map/compass/GPS needed for navigation, removed crampons and ice axe below 9.6k, patchy snow and obscured trail after re-ascending over 10k from Big Arroyo CG to Chagoopa Creek area but boots ok
Note: attempted to take spur trial to camp at Moraine Lake but after 25m, trail was covered by snow and I was unable to follow the route so I stayed on the “HST” (although mostly just going XC south of Chagoopa Creek) to the Chagoopa Plateau

Sun, May 29, 2016
Chagoopa Plateau to Wallace Creek PCT/JMT TJ (~18 mi)
Weather: 40-60’s day, partyl cloudy, 20’s at night Wallace Creek, light snow
Trail Conditions: trail completely visible below 9.4k on Chagoopa Plateau and all the way to Wallace Creek/PCT, many downed trees and an unmaintained, narrow trail, Kern River Valley dry and warm, several challenging river crossings, particularly near Junction Meadow CG (don’t know the name of the creek intersecting with the Kern River) and a deep, raging crossing at Wright Creek (1 mi west of PCT/JMT TJ), possible that rivers are not navigable as snow melt continues, esp in afternoons/evenings
Gear: trail runners and trekking poles all day, yay!
Note: Kern Hot Springs dry, tub empty :(

Mon, May 30, 2016
Wallace Creek PCT/JMT TJ to Guitar Lake (~9 mi)
Weather: 40-60’s day, partly cloudy to sunny, 20’s at night at Guitar Lake, clear, windy
Trail Conditions: trail mostly visible with patchy snow until .5 mi west of Guitar Lake (~10.7k), clear tracks through snow, post-holing possible in afternoon
Gear: trail runners and trekking poles all day although would have been nice to put on boots about 1.5 mi west of Guitar Lake
Note: 3 tents at Guitar Lake, plenty of JMT/PCT hikers making it up/over Whitney in trail runners and micro-spikes despite winter-ish conditions

Tues, May 31, 2016
Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal (~11.5 mi)
Weather: 20-30’s early AM, 40-60’s day, partly cloudy to sunny
Trail Conditions: snow covered from Guitar Lake to Trail Camp, clear path through snow from Guitar Lake to Trail Crest, post-holing possible in afternoon, defined kick/plunge/rest-step boot tracks not well-established, many slippery/sloshing tracks made by shoes and unsecured footing, I did not summit so cannot comment on conditions from Trail Crest to Whitney summit, excellent glissading conditions IMP from Trial Crest to Trail Camp!
Gear: boots, ice axe, crampons from Guitar Lake to Trail Crest, remove crampons to glissade from Trail Crest to Trail Camp, trail runners and trekking poles from Trail Camp (12k) to Whitney Portal, 99 switchbacks on Whitney Trail closed, tracks for traversing down the chute to the north of the switchbacks visible but I glissading the chute with ice axe, Gortex alpine climbing pants and ice axe
Note: hitched ride to Lone Pine, delicious burger and fries by Doug at the Portal Store!!

Wed, Jun 1, 2016
Drive back to Bay Area!



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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby Steve_C » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:07 pm

Thanks for the report! Would sure like to see pictures when you can put them up -- especially the tunnel/ravine above Hamilton Lake.

Did you actually carry both boots AND trail runners?

Did you wear the trail runners crossing the major streams?
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:18 pm

Hi Noelle,

Welcome to HST! Thank you very much for taking the time to post this informative conditions report, will be very useful for those considering travel into this area and similar elevations in SEKI.
Looking forward to the full TR and pictures. :nod:
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
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby Saltydog » Thu Jun 02, 2016 6:08 pm

Yes, please pics and details of ravine just above the tunnel, and any similar snowbridges above Hamilton.
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:19 am

The Kern Hotspring was dry!? You did pull the cork out on the tub so it can fill up didn't you?
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby noelleswildlife » Fri Jun 03, 2016 9:57 am

Hi All,
I'm wrapping up some pics and will post those very soon. A quick response to your questions above:

1. The tunnel and cut away trail near the tunnel above Upper Hamilton Lakes is mostly clear. There were two snow bridges, one before and one immediately after the tunnel. However, the scary snow bridge occurs at the waterfall just past the tunnel. I'll post a video/pic of that area soon. Unfortunately, I did not get pics of the first snow bridge.
2. Yes, I carried both trail runners and light wt mountaineering boots. I MUCH prefer trail runners, but I knew I needed the boots, so it was worth the extra weight.
3. I wore whatever I was wearing for the general conditions when going through stream crossings - did not change footwear for that specifically. I.e. if I was in winter conditions and crossed a stream I kept the boots on, if I was already wearing the shoes, I kept those on. My boots are pretty much waterproof/resistant so no issues there. My shoes dry quickly, so I just walked through water and they would dry within 20-30 minutes of walking. FYI, I happen to have trail runners on at all major stream crossings.
4. Yes, Kern HS was dry. I tried playing around with the stopper/tap, but there was nothing flowing out of the tap. Just some muddy sludge at the bottom of the tub :( I don't know anything about hot springs, though, so maybe I missed something.
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby noelleswildlife » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:01 pm

Hi There,

Photos are up on my website http://www.noelleswildlife.com/trip-rep ... t-20160526. Images of the snow bridges and conditions above Hamilton Lakes can be found on Day 2. Images above Precipice Lake and Keweah Gap/Kaweah Basin can be found on Day 3. I have a few good videos of these areas but they are large and I haven't been able to to edit them to get them uploaded online yet.

Hope this helps!
-Noelle
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby ALPINEGOAT » Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:32 am

Thanks for posting the info. I am scheduled to be on theHST from Jun 30 thru Jul 6 and this is very useful, specially the temps and equipment. Do you have the GPX tracks for your trip and is it possible to share? I have an eTrex garmin and am trying to get the topo for the area along with the HST tracks.
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby jrad » Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:39 am

I admire your gumption going solo though I've mostly done solo trips over many years. Good trip.

QUESTION: you mention a "shuttle".
- How did you do that? Bus? Non-hiking friends?
- Is there ANY shuttle service besides bus for Western Sierra?

I have a nice list of shuttle providers for Eastern Sierra. No such list that comes up readily or at all for Western Sierra, which is weird since entries from the west are far more numerous than from east.
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Re: HST Trail Report: Completed Solo May 26-31

Postby ALPINEGOAT » Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:22 pm

Jrad,sequoiashuttle.com is the public shuttle from Visalia to lonepine
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