TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

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TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by watsonwd » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:56 pm

I had been planning this trip for months.

I did some warmup trips ( ... =6&t=18912- by lauralai627 and ... 95#p139895 ) so was ready for the effort and joy of 8 nights solo in the backcountry.

Honestly I was worried about the amount of people on the trail and campsites as typically I backpack to try and get away. Luckily given I was willing to push it some days and being late in the season meant that I managed to spend 4 out of the 8 nights completely alone.

My goals were to take my time on the trail and fish a ton. Also be willing to depart from the trail to find some good fishing. I carried both a spin setup and fly! Yes I was that guy :) Throughout the whole trip I practiced catch and release except for one fish which I was not able to revive and I happily ate for brunch. I probably would have eaten more fish had it not been for all for all the food I was carrying and wanting to get ride of weight.

Weather was amazing. I have never spent that much time backpacking in the mountains with that perfect of weather. It did get cold at night at upper elevations but to be expected.

Overall it was a challenge for me but extremely rewarding. Not much I would do different except manage my expectations better for certain days.

I used the bear bins provided until night 3 when I needed to have all my food in my bear canister.

I have a garmin inreach mini and was tracking my mileage but it was very different then the mileage on the map. Location (GPS) function was spot on but the mileage was all over the place. The below mileage is rough.

Pictures attached were brought down in quality so they could be posted.

Below are notes that I took during the trip. Day 4, 6 and 7 are all detours from the HST.

Day 1: - 8.5 miles
Woke up 5:45am at Lodgepole Campground. Packed up.
Got to visitor center at Lodgepole at 6:50am to pick up permit.
Met a very nice couple who had a friend lined who drove us down to the trailhead at crescent meadow.
Hike: started at 7:45am - Got to Buck creek at 12pm.
Everyone goes up to Bearpaw 1.3 miles past Buck but for a much more mellow peaceful campground I highly recommend some of the spaces down below the trail at Buck creek. I had the place to myself!

Day 2: 6.3 miles
Up at 6:15am
On the trail hiking at 7:45am
Beautiful woods going up to Bearpaw. Then along ridge and deep down and then straight back up.
Harder up then I thought. Got to Hamilton lake at 11am!
Fished all afternoon and evening. 3 rainbows all C&R on Thomas Buoyant. Four rainbows on the fly during the magic hour. Elk hair caddis variations.

Day 3: 13 miles
5:30am wake up.
March up to precipice lake. Way way up there. I was the second on the trail that morning.
Met Clair older women who dropped out. Gave her a fly for her fly rod! Hopefully good karma.
From big arroyo gap up to lake off trail in Nine Lakes Basin. Beautiful but no fish. There must have been 40 feet of visibility.
Down to lower lake for lunch and lots of rainbows and hybrids.
No good camp spots and big wind made me change plans.
Down down to big arroyo meadow then straight back up to little five lakes. The last two miles up were insane. Then off trail to the most beautiful lake. Massive day. Lots of fish at little five lakes. Totally alone and worth the climb up.

Day 4: 14.5 miles
Lazy 6:15-30 wake up.
Start the hike down. Takes 1hr 15min to get down to the junction.
Meet crazy ultra guy running from mineral king.
There was more climbing then I expected. Went up to 10.5k and then all the way way down to 6k at hot springs.
Blisters on the way down. To much on the toes. Amazing porto potty at the hot springs.
Hot springs! I arrive and no one is there! I grab a great spot and am pumped.
Take two ibuprofen and sit in the tub. I felt so so good.
Caught beautiful little kern rainbows in the kern river at dusk. Thought they were goldens but internet corrected me. Epic night.
Got to make a Fire!

Day 5: 7.7 miles
Lazy lazy morn but it was surprisingly cold as hell.
Slowly packed up.
Morn soak!
Left around 10am and spent the next 7.7 miles stopping and fly fishing. Without any success! I got one to rise and I missed the strike. I also saw a huge one but was unable to entice it.
Arrived at junction meadow and no one was there. Felt a bit eery. Strange vibes.
I go fly fish and catch a beautiful rainbow. First and only of the day! Also when fly fishing a huge owl swooped over me. Epic. One of the highlight moments of the trip.

Day 6: 10.5 miles
Big day! 5:30am wake up.
After foot control (blister wrapping) left at 7:05 or so.
Hiked up and out of the kern valley. Cold!
Long up.
Joined up on the JMT and immediately met a couple who looked way to clean. Day 2or 3 for them. They were pumped.
All the way down to the meadow and there was a trail! On my physical map no trail. So much more up.
Totally digging deep for the last two miles up.
Beautiful lake. No fish caught that night. So windy and cold.
Stunning and so removed feeling.
In tent by 7:45pm.

Day 7: 1 mile
Woke up no alarm at 6:45 and peaked my head out of the tent. Plan was to piss and go back to bed.
Looking down at the lake I saw ripples.
Caught and released some fish that morning and sadly caught a fish that I was unable to revive. I spent 30min thinking that the fish is good only to be let down every time.
First fish killed on the trip. It was a massive breakfast.
Then did some laundry. Washed my hair.
Lay on the beach. Lazy morn.
A family of guys arrived from a crazy direction. I had already made up my mind to leave but they hurried my process.
I gave them my spot.
Down the mile or so to lower lake.
Another beautiful lake and more out of the wind.
Fished all afternoon. Nothing on the fly but I found a honey hole and just had fun with my Thomas buoyant.
Early Bed

Day 8: 4 miles
Up at 6am. Hiking by 7:45 ish.
Over estimated the time and distance to guitar lake as when I arrived 10:45am folks were going for the summit of Whitney.
I chose a high good spot and just wandered around the lake watching all the folks arrive in both directions. I debated going up Whitney that day but stuck to my plan.
Had a beautiful night fly fishing guitar lake and taking it easy before the big climb the next day.

Day 9: 15 miles
Up at 4:15am and hiking by 5:30am.
First hour was with my headlamp and I loved seeing all the folks who had left at midnight for sunrise going up the pass in front of me.
It was hard but clear and beautiful.
Summited at 8:45am which was better timing then I expected.
Coming down Whitney there were so many people that clearly were not going to make it.
I hoofed it all the way out and was at Whitney Portal around 3:30pm.
Hitched a ride to Bishop to my friends house.
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Re: TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by sekihiker » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:13 pm

Thanks for the report and photos. Reading your report and seeing your photos are a reminder that it's one of the great classic hikes in the Sierra.

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Re: TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by davidsheridan » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:25 pm

Nice solo trip. Thanks for the report and pictures. This one is definitely on my to-do list.

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Re: TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:39 am

I too like to mix up longer days and shorter travel days. Looks like you had a great time. I have always been put off by the crowds at Kern Hot Springs; perhaps I need to go later in the season like you did and also take the time to fish the Kern River nearby.

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Re: TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by Cloudy » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:32 pm

I've been to Kern Hot Spring twice after Labor Day and both times, I was the only one there - GLORIOUS! What a truly re-energizing experience after a hot, dusty day. The raspberries along the trail were an added bonus :-)

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Re: TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by bobby49 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:21 pm

Cloudy wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:32 pm
The raspberries along the trail were an added bonus
In 2017 I found wild raspberries, Sierra currants, gooseberries, and thimbleberries there.

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Re: TR: 9/13/18-9/21/18 - High Sierra Trail

Post by watsonwd » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:18 am

The hot springs were incredible but wild raspberries, sierra currants, gooseberries, and thimbleberries I did not find. Honestly I most likely would have been cautious to nibble as I know my trout but not my berries so typically assume everything is poisonous if it is still on the plant.
I now feel spoiled that every day 4 should include a warm soak and beautiful fly fishing. We are incredibly lucky and privileged to visit such amazing places.

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