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
tim
Topix Expert
Posts: 504
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:36 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Bay Area

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

Post by 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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;








User avatar
franklin411
Topix Regular
Posts: 133
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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
KathyW
Founding Member
Posts: 357
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:19 pm
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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

User avatar
longri
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1017
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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.

User avatar
KathyW
Founding Member
Posts: 357
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:19 pm
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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. :)

User avatar
longri
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1017
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
KathyW
Founding Member
Posts: 357
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:19 pm
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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.

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Addict
Posts: 3928
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

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

Post by 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.

User avatar
franklin411
Topix Regular
Posts: 133
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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.

User avatar
KathyW
Founding Member
Posts: 357
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:19 pm
Experience: N/A

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

Post by 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?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: kbogie and 3 guests