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how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

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how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Satchel Buddah » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:53 pm

hi all. Delighted to join this forum.

I am trying to figure out a time window to hike the HST. I likely will be out of the country this summer and I was wondering if it was doable in spring, and how early.

I know doable means a lot of different things to different people :) What I have in mind is basically no deep snow (no ski, no snowshoe, no snow camping). Gaiters, microspikes and some navigation is ok.

obviously it's highly dependent on snowpack conditions but what would an average year look like ?

Thank you!



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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby robow8 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:40 pm

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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:03 pm

Hi Satchel,

Welcome to HST! Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205

I am trying to figure out a time window to hike the HST. I likely will be out of the country this summer and I was wondering if it was doable in spring, and how early.

What I have in mind is basically no deep snow (no ski, no snowshoe, no snow camping).


Spring may be way too soon this year if we continue to rack up on these snow storms, you can forget about May without snow gear/snow camping, especially past Hamilton Lakes.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby markskor » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:49 pm

This season, probably mid June would work for most of our Sierra...HST though, a few high passes might still be problematic.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:08 pm

especially at the higher elevations, July still might be early. Perfect is August or even early September.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Satchel Buddah » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:38 pm

thank you for all the advice and the links. Noelle's report from may 16 is helpful as it gives me an idea of what to expect. I guess I'll wait for may to look at the snowpack again, september would be probably best for me but it's so far away ;-)

A little more about me - I am a 1 year old solo backpacker with a handful of short jaunts in various wildernesses, with a mix and match of ultralight and old school gear. I am semi fit, mid 40's, usually well prepared and studied, can navigate, no snow camping yet. Have done quite a bit of summer peak bagging in the french alps so familiar with the alpine in general, but the high sierra is still a bit of mystery to me. I am inexperienced in risk assessment on high altitude snow, and fording strong snowmelt torrents/rivers and snow bridges does sound a bit scary. I have been in love with Seki since I moved to California from France 16 years ago.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Lumbergh21 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:37 pm

Welcome to the club! I also started backpacking in my mid-40's after many years of day hikes and occasional peak bagging. After hiking the JMT in 2015, I also became hooked on the Sierras. I did a loop in 2016 that started off on the High Sierra Trail. If you can wait, I'd recommend a September start date over a May start date, based on how the snow pack is shaping up. At least that's what I'd plan for. The hike from Crescent Meadows up to Kaweah gap is very beautiful, and the view I had of Big Arroyo from Kaweah Gap just as the sun was dipping below the western peaks was special. I also highly recommend a soak in Kern Hot Spring followed by a dip in the ice cold river. After a couple of days on trail, it made me feel like a new man.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Tom_H » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:16 pm

There is no way to know yet. Snow could continue to pile up and not melt until some time in July. On the other hand, one of these storms could be so warm that it rains and melts the snow currently in place, providing the conditions you seek by May. It is best to have several scenarios planned out as possibilities, then be flexible as you wait and see what happens.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:55 pm

As of this morning, SWEQ (snow-water equivalent) was at 187% of normal-to-date in the "Southern" area (that's San Joaquin south). I wouldn't bet money on getting out early in the southern Sierra this year.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Stanley Otter » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:38 pm

SB,
Not sure if you know about the CA Dept of Water Resources web site – I have this page bookmarked to watch the snow water content updates:

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/swcchart.action

A good planning tool and a fine spectator sport for those far from the action.

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