High Sierra Trail
Table of contents
The High Sierra Trail is a 72 mile long trail that runs East-West across the width of the Sequoia and Kings National Parks. A SEKI park ranger put out this beautiful video that talks about this trail. This trail is typically done West to East from Crescent Meadows in Sequoina National Park to Whitney Portal. You get to summit Mt. Whitney along the way. This book Plan & Go and this documentary were immensely helpful in planning for the trip.
Who are we?
We are a group of
four three, who are planning to do this trail early September, 2019. This page tracks our planning, our experience of hiking this trail and photos from the trail, hopefully a lot of them.
- Durgi, is our fearless leader and backpacker we look forward to. He is the one we will blame if something goes wrong. He is also a fantastic photographer and a level headed guy who will hopefully keep us sane.
- Z who doesn't have a social media presence, so instead of linking his LinkedIn page, I will refer to him as Z. He is the sanest of the lot, doesn't carry stupid stuff like a big camera and lenses or multiple useless gadgets on the trail. He keeps it simple and is insanely fast. If we need someone to head back to trailhead and get help, it will be Z.
Santha, another photographer who shoots Nikon and a newbie backpacker, like me. He will also say things like "I am going to carry seven sets of clothes for HST", but I suspect if we see a bear, he will be the second fastest to get off.
- Anand Kumar (me), journeyman backpacker and a photographer. The HST would be the physically toughest thing I will attempt and I sincerely hope my knees will handle them.
These are the official camp sites along the trail and their distances from Crescent Meadow.
The permit for HST is issued on a first come first served basis. The date to apply is 12:01am on March 1. I setup a gmail plugin to send our permits in at that time. We got our second preference dates (leaving on Saturday, instead of Sunday). We were thinking of doing the hike in June, but the enormity of the winter made us push it to September. Glad we did that. SEKI rangers let us know in ten days that we got a permit, we paid the fees and we had the next six months to prepare.
A portion of the trail, above Hamilton lake fell off in what the Internet has fondly named as the Hamilton blowout. It is either the easiest thing on earth (like pulling yourself from a swimming pool or the end of you, based on your fear of heights).
If this portion is impassable, there are alternate routes, that add 8 miles and nearly 5,000 feet (and an extra day), but that also bypasses precipice lake and Kaweah gap, one of the most scenic portions of the trail, so it is less preferred.
We ended up almost sticking to the plan, but this is how it went down. We could not make it to Moraine lake junction on day 3 and stayed at Big Arroyo which made our day 4 brutal, but we were wiped out on day 3 after Kaweah gap.
Sep 8 - Drive from bay area to Whitney portal to Exeter, CA
Sep 9 - Drive to Sequoia, pick up permits from Lodgepole visitor center, start the hike at Crescent meadow around 10:30 am. Camp at 9 mile creek. Bear boxes available, water available.
Sep 10 - 9 mile creek to Lake Hamilton. Bear boxes available, water available.
Sep 11 - Crossed the blowout and camped at Big Arroyo, via Kaweah gap. Bear boxes available, water available.
Sep 12 - Big Arroyo to Kern hot springs via Moraine lake. Bear boxes available, water available.
Sep 13 - Kern Hot springs to Wallace creek via Junction meadow. Bear boxes available, water available.
Sep 14 - Wallace creek to Guitar lake. No bear boxes, water available.
Sep 15 - Guitar lake to Whitney summit to Trail camp. No bear boxes, water available.
Sep 16 - Trail camp to Whitney portal, stay at Lone Pine.
Sep 17 - Lone Pine to Crescent Meadow to Bay Area.
Planning the logistics of the HST is a painful process. We are planning to take two cars. On day 0, we drive both the cars to Whitney Portal, leave one car behind there (with a note and a copy of our permit) and then drive in the second car to Visalia. We stay overnight in Visalia, then to lodgepole to collect the permits and on to Crescent Meadow to start the hike. We will leave the second car at Crescent Meadow.
After the hike on day 8, we plan to rest at Lone Pine. On day 9, we drive car 1 to Crescent Meadow, pick up the second car and drive back home in two cars.