Difficulty of Planned Route?

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lockmangabriel
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Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by lockmangabriel » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:34 pm

As of right now I'm planning a first trip to the Sierras in the Sequoia/Kings Canyon area, for around mid August of next year. I've worked up a proposed route but as I have no experience hiking in the Sierras, I figured I'd ask about the relative difficulty of the route given the time frame we plan to complete it in (10 nights/11 days). It is pretty much a conglomerate of the lower third of the Big SEKI Loop, Skurka's KCHBR, and Alan Dixon's SoSHR. I have quite a bit of experience hiking in the southern Appalachian Mountains which often does entail lots of elevation change, but does not compare as far as altitude goes. Since my partner and I will be carrying all of our food (we have agreed to take 3 canisters to hold everything :( and have figured out a way to evenly distribute the weight between us) our fully loaded starting pack weights will be around 45-50 pounds, not quite ultralite, which also factors in to the determination of the difficulty the hike. We are both athletic and used to training with heavy loads, and are definitely up to big challenges, as the feeling of accomplishment is one of the very best things about backpacking. Please feel free to give any constructive criticism if any of the individual days seem to be too overbearing, as well as any advice on parts of the route I could change (comfortable with cross country travel) to make it even better!

Thanks, Gabe

Here's a link to a CalTopo map of the route
https://caltopo.com/m/4FRS








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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by rightstar76 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:32 am

Anyone reading this thread who would like to share their first hand experiences of this epic route?

Gabe, I'm assuming you have looked at Skurka's website and user comments, but if not, you might find this helpful. Somebody did the KCHBR solo a few weeks ago. He posted lots of first hand information and Skurka even replied:

https://andrewskurka.com/adventures/kin ... ment-40161

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maverick
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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by maverick » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:48 am

Hi Gabe,

Having done 30+ mile days when doing the JMT before, when it was about an accomplishment, instead of immersing myself into the wilderness experience, I foolishly brought the ways of the world with me on the trail, instead of leaving it all behind where it belongs, it is a distraction.

So I can appreciate the enthusiasm in wanting to see a lot, but even with sticking to the trail, which you are not on your purposed route, the mileage is to way much, you never hiking in the Sierra Nevada before, it's not only the elevation and mileage, but the ruggedness of the terrain, your class 2 and 2/3 passes are not to be taken lightly, especially with not having done class 2 passes before or high mileage in the Sierra with heavy packs.

Would highly recommend to cut back on the mileage drastically, not for only for safety reason, but also so you can really get a flavor the "Range of Light", because this mountain range IS truly special and deserves one's total time and respect.
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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: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by lockmangabriel » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:30 pm

maverick wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:48 am
Hi Gabe,

Having done 30+ mile days when doing the JMT before, when it was about an accomplishment, instead of immersing myself into the wilderness experience, I foolishly brought the ways of the world with me on the trail, instead of leaving it all behind where it belongs, it is a distraction.

So I can appreciate the enthusiasm in wanting to see a lot, but even with sticking to the trail, which you are not on your purposed route, the mileage is to way much, you never hiking in the Sierra Nevada before, it's not only the elevation and mileage, but the ruggedness of the terrain, your class 2 and 2/3 passes are not to be taken lightly, especially with not having done class 2 passes before or high mileage in the Sierra with heavy packs.

Would highly recommend to cut back on the mileage drastically, not for only for safety reason, but also so you can really get a flavor the "Range of Light", because this mountain range IS truly special and deserves one's total time and respect.
Well Maverick that is definitely some sobering advice to hear, but it is greatly appreciated. Given your recommendations on decreasing mileage I have made changes to the route in CalTopo that decreases the overall length by about 21 miles. Does this seem like a more doable way to go about the trip? I f I could, I would make an exit out of Whitney Portal, but as far as I've read there doesn't seem to be any reliable long term parking during mid-August. Does anyone have any experience with long term parking at Whitney Portal? If we could leave our car there not only would we be able to decrease the total distance by about another 10 mies, which would give us more leeway in our schedule.

Link to new CalTopo Map (parts of the old route that are being left out are in black)
https://caltopo.com/m/0JQU

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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by maverick » Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:08 pm

Day 2, might be pushing it, you have a 13000 ft pass to go over, going to elevation and having 40+ pounds on your back on day 2, a combo you have not done before, may be a recipe for altitude sickness and physically getting wiping you out, no matter how much training you have done at sea level.

Day 3 is 16+ miles, and Day 4 17+ miles, do you really want to do long miles like that, hiking all day just to reach the next camp location?

Would recommend staying at Wales instead of Wallace for camp 8.

Pterodactyl (class 2), Horn (class 2), and Coppermine Pass (class 2) from beyond Moose Lake on Tablelands to Colby, with no crosscountry pass experience, to long.

Northern side of Russell-Carillon Pass (class 2/3) has some short section of class 3, do you understand the dangerous associated with class 3 climbing?

Iceberg Lake, Whitney-Russell Pass (class 2), Mt,Whitney, Crabtree Pass (class 2), Miter Basin, NOP in a day, to long.

There is long-term parking at WP, in the overflow lot, if that is full, then you can park on the side of road. Do not know if there has been any changes to this policy since the construction, call to get clarification: 760-873-2483
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

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: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by kpeter » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:02 pm

This is a very small point, but on your last day you could camp at Soldier Lake (unnamed on the map, 2.8 miles west of New Army Pass (instead of High Lake on the eastern side of the pass), and quite easily make it over the pass and down to the trailhead at Cottonwood Lakes on your final day out. This is what I did, and I am old and slow. I also find Soldier Lake more attractive than High Lake, but that might just be me. That might free up a little mileage or time for elsewhere on your trip.

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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by ryanerb » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:58 pm

Where will you be coming from? Is it possible to do a few smaller trips before the big trip?

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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by lockmangabriel » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:08 pm

ryanerb wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:58 pm
Where will you be coming from? Is it possible to do a few smaller trips before the big trip?
All the way from North Carolina. We are about 1.5 hours from the Pisgah/Great Smoky Mountains Parks, so we have many options for trips nearby. In fact the other day we did a hike along the Black Mountain Crest that was definitely a butt kicker when we added in 50 pound packs considering that a lot of the uphill and downhill sections were at about 800-1100 ft. elevation change per mile! Take a look at the elevation profile of the hike.

https://caltopo.com/m/51HS

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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by lockmangabriel » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:12 pm

kpeter wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:02 pm
This is a very small point, but on your last day you could camp at Soldier Lake (unnamed on the map, 2.8 miles west of New Army Pass (instead of High Lake on the eastern side of the pass), and quite easily make it over the pass and down to the trailhead at Cottonwood Lakes on your final day out. This is what I did, and I am old and slow. I also find Soldier Lake more attractive than High Lake, but that might just be me. That might free up a little mileage or time for elsewhere on your trip.
Per Maverick's advice, I decided to cut a little more mileage and have us finish at Whitney Portal, which cuts out the lower part of the route that goes through Milter Basin and Cottonwood Lakes, allowing us to divide up the two 14 and 15 mile back to back days. Appreciate the advice though! :)

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Re: Difficulty of Planned Route?

Post by paul » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:33 am

I would HIGHLY recommend - repeat, HIGHLY - arranging your schedule so that you sleep one night at altitude before you start the trip. like 8 or 9K. Athletic, fit folks with no experience at altitude are very prone to altitude problems because they have the fitness to charge ahead faster than they acclimatize, and thus dig a hole out of which you may not be able to climb, making the whole trip either unpleasant or un-doable. So you want to do all you can to avoid that, and a night spent at altitude before you start is a big help, I do it every trip if I'm going high. So spend a night high before you start, drink LOTS of water, especially the first few days - drink before you are thirsty - and go easy the first couple days. It will pay off, after a few days you will be able to take advantage of your fitness to go hard - if that's what you want to do.
Also keep in mind that, coming from the southeast you are accustomed to more humid conditions and the High Sierra is a high desert - very low humidity in August most of the time - which makes dehydration more of an issue. And since dehydration makes altitude issues worse, plenty of water is critical. That's why I said above to drink before you are thirsty, drink more than you think you need. One thing I always do it that I make sure I down a full liter in the morning before I break camp, that way I start out ahead of the game. You should be able to find plenty of water on your route, so I would expect you won't have to carry a lot in order to drink a lot. But be aware of the route ahead and the likely water sources and fill up accordingly.
As to the route, be flexible. Once you are out there, if you feel like making the miles that's great if you enjoy it. But you can always change your route while you are out there if you decide you want to slow down and soak in the majesty a little more. Always remember that anywhere you go in the High Sierra is gorgeous, you can't go wrong on where you go. Don't ever think that if you don't go to one lake or one pass you're missing out. It's all spectacular. Some spot you've never heard of will probably turn out to be your favorite.
If you choose to see more of it in less detail, rather than seeing less of it but in greater detail, up close as it were, that's your choice. Be safe and have fun.

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