High Sierra Trail

Table of contents

Introduction

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.

Who are we?

We are a group of four, 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.

The Plan

These are the official camp sites along the trail and their distances from Crescent Meadow.

HST campsites

Based on this, we came up with this "rough plan".

HST Plan, Gear, Food etc.

The rub

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.

Trail maps

Gear

I am a total gearhead, so much of the planning of the gear, acquiring it, testing it was as much fun as the actual hike itself. Here is my really heavy gear pack in not so lighterpack. As you can see, I do prefer comfort over weight and size.

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

Osprey Atmos 65 with a handful of modifications done by the wonderful people at gearfix.com. In particular:

  • two webbings on both straps to hold the Peak Design Capture clip. The straps are too thick to hold the capture clip otherwise.
  • A loop at the top of the bag under the brain so I can keep my tent above the bag and fasten it.
  • Expanded water pouches (fantastic job here, and it is a shame Osprey's original design is crap) so you can hold big water bottles

Nemo dagger 2p

Heavy, but full size free standing tent for two people where two of us can sit upright. Wonderful tent, if you are sharing your tent.

REI MAGMA 15 sleeping bag

REI Magma 15 sleeping bag, lightweight, warm, packs really small enough to fit in the bag compartment. Great deal if you get it at their 25% off sale.

Big Agnes Q-core deluxe sleeping pad

Heavier and packs bigger than most air pads, but man, what a luxury! I tried 7 different pads and chose this one, it is like floating in a cloud, 5" above the ground.

Bearikade expedition

$$$$, even when bought used, but will hold food for nearly 12 days, which is insane. Weighs nothing. Won't go wrong with this.

MSR windburner stove system

Boils 1L of water within 3-4 minutes, even at elevation. Contains everything you need to cook and eat (except spork), amazing!

Outdoor herbivore

Why eat the same bland backpacker food when you can get fantastic vegetarian food from Outdoor Herbivore? I bought the ten day pack for the HST.

Lowa Renegade GTX

The backpacking boots I wear is a work in progress. My current pair of boots is the Lowa Renegade GTX. Hopefully the last pair I need for a while.

Black Diamond Carbon Cork

The black diamond carbon alpine cork hiking poles are fantastic. Don't slip and can handle a heavy backpack and a heavy hiker with ease.

Garmin Forerunner 935

13 hour battery life with GPS, weighs nothing. Pause and resume hikes and charge in between. Winner.

Unshoe Pah Tempe

14 oz for a pair of extremely comfortable, well fitting sandals. What better camp sandals do you need!

Platypus BiG Zip

3 L reservoir that is fairly light. Seals tight.



The hike

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

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