The total elevation gain summed over seven planned moving days will be about 12,000 feet. First, we will visit Humphreys Basin, in the shadows of massive Mount Humphreys and the Glacier Divide. Description. The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club. Sleeping there will give us a night to acclimate to the high elevation and finish preparations for our journey. John Miles is a young painting contractor on an eight-day solo. Credit: Inyo County Sheriff’s Office 1st Lt Marine Matthew Kraft is still missing from his Feb 24th hike and backcountry skiing trip along the Sierra High Route (SHR). Descending on easy trail, high on fresh air, I reflect on the Sierra, the most beautiful of ranges. Humphreys in orange-sherbet veils of rain. Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and when applicable will operate under permits obtained from U.S. federal land agencies. Most days, we should arrive to camp by early afternoon, so we are able to relax, fish, swim, or do an optional day-hike. Our trip officially starts at 7 p.m. on Day 1 at our campground, located about 20 miles southwest of Bishop, CA. The question doesn't even seem weird to my oxygen-starved brain, still ditzy from clambering across 11,500-foot Red Pass. Gear. First skied in its entirety in 1975 by Sierra veteran Dave Beck, this subtle line linking high passes and long contours around huge snow filled bowls has become the goal of many a backcountry skier. This rocky alpine bowl merges every Sierran archetype–blond granite, clear water, airy vistas, rushing cascades, and flowery meadows–into one died-and-gone-to-heaven setting. Wander off-trail through three remote high alpine basins and two of the Mono Recesses, in the heart of the John Muir Wilderness. Leaving Bear Lakes Basin, we’ll climb over steep Ursula Pass then wind around the shore of Lake Italy to Toe Lake, cutely named due to its position in the front of the geographic "boot" shape that gives Lake Italy its name. The SHR is a 195-mile trekking route that runs north-south through the heart of the High Sierra, the crown jewel of the Sierra Nevada Range. I'd hiked the hardest trails in America's wildest parks, and–humility be damned–I didn't find much challenge in them anymore. This is our trip report, written in rhyming verse. Resupply Use the post office on CA 203 in Mammoth Lakes, or Motel 6 (760) 934-6660, which is next door and will hold UPS/FedEx parcels. The photos were beautiful, and Joffrey had considered a big High Sierra adventure, but didn’t know much beyond the existence of the John Muir Trail (JMT) and High Sierra Trails (HST, not SHR! The spasm of uncertainty is ironic, because the JMT is just three miles back, and I'd encountered 65 people on it in just three hours. Conness by descending a steep slickrock arête and a half-mile of granite slab, set like a chessboard with house-sized boulders for the pieces. Please don't hesitate to contact the leader if you have additional questions after reading the full trip description. Our trip officially begins at 7 p.m. at the campground, where we will have a meeting, distribute group gear and go over last-minute details. The only way I can descend is to wear gloves, stand sideways, and ride the talus avalanche, dragging my rear hand like a surfer sliding down the face of a wave. We will not do any technical rock-climbing using ropes and climbing aids; however, a short rope may be used to lower packs over a particularly difficult section. The window of my Torrey, Utah, office looks out on a hedgerow. Section 1 Onion Valley to Bishop Pass Distance 64 miles; 7 to 10 days. Leaving Bear Lakes Basin, we will work our way over the Mono Divide descending the Second Recess, one of four imposing glacier-carved hanging valleys that once terminated in an icefall, that dumped huge ice blocks and chunks of granite into the main valley below. If we are so inclined, we might head to Steelhead and Rust Lakes over Steelhead Pass, or relax in camp, perhaps to read or swim. The placid creek rolls over a brink into the deep V of Le Conte Canyon, and I follow it on a magical descent spiced by long slab waterfalls, the twisting bonsai trunks of Sierra junipers, and conical peaks of the Black Divide lording over the far side of the gorge. Minutes later, I claw back to ridgeline, my mind made up: I'm going around. How aggressive is doing headwaters (devils Postpile to tuolumne meadow) in 3 days? Or so I thought. One guy wrote me last year and told me he ran the thing in six days. The cold is a predator now, dogging my tracks, nipping my fingers every time I pause too long. Day 2- Nine Mile Creek to Hamilton Lakes, 7.8 miles. We chat and compare notes, two kindred spirits, but soon branch off, anxious to be back in our own spaces. • Inspirock Overview. Food. We’ll then descend into the lush meadowlands below … Want to be the first to hear about new trips and exclusive deals? After crossing Mono Creek, which is not trivial if the winter delivers above average snowfall, we’ll turn east to begin our climb up Mono Pass. Four months later we were haggling over wilderness permits. From there we head northward, following the Sierra High Route, to enter scenic Bear Lakes Basin, which features a host of lakes with ursine-themed names, including White Bear, Beartrap, and Gruff. Desert Hiking and Wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park, California, Ancient Trails off the South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Backpacking Paria Canyon: A Week of Visual Surprises, Arizona and Utah, Gliding Through Glacier National Park, Montana, Enchanted Day Hikes in a Desert Paradise, Arizona, National Outings Training Trip: Base Camp Superstition Wilderness, Arizona, Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights, Traverse rugged, rocky, treeless high alpine terrain, Immerse yourself in the pristine, uncrowded High Sierra. Lights on. Sierra Club Outings operates this activity under a U.S. Forest Service special use permit in the Sierra National Forest. And euphoric purple prose generally covers up a serious routefinding challenge. Day 3- Hamilton Lakes, cross Kaweah Gap and descend to Big Arroyo Junction, 6.8 miles. For Kings Canyon start: Apply via mail/fax ($15). These sections can be tiring and demanding. Day 1- Crescent Meadow to Nine Mile Creek, 8.8 miles. However, traversing the off-trail passes may require class 2 or 3 climbing, and down climbing, meaning we will be using our hands to pull ourselves up and over some short rocky sections, while carrying our packs. Day 7: The destination for today is Toe Lake; our route is entirely off-trail and mostly on talus. Almost immediately we leave the trail and head to a group of rarely visited unnamed lakes, to camp high above the pass. 203, 760-924-5500) is located a quarter-mile east of the PO. Whitney.From the grandeur of Hamilton Lakes Basin and Precipice Lake, to the awe inspiring Big Arroyo and Kern River Valley, the High Sierra Trail is some of the best that Sequoia National Park has to offer. From there we head northward, following the Sierra High Route, to enter scenic Bear Lakes Basin, which features a host of lakes with ursine-themed names, including White Bear, Beartrap, and Gruff. Roper, Steve, Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country. Day 9: Today we'll follow Mills Creek, working our way down as we traverse the Second Recess. For the last month, despite the hard work and occasional trepidation, I've slid comfortably into a simple, migratory lifestyle. https://www.backpacker.com/trips/hiking-the-sierra-high-route Something went wrong. Mark food packages so USPS employees can store them appropriately. Navigating these steep passes may require some non-technical climbing (Class 2/3). These days, 200 miles might not sound like much–not in an era of transcontinental yo-yo's and thru-hiking speed freaks. If winter weren't approaching, if I didn't miss my wife, if I had more supplies, perhaps a hot shower, I'd happily turn right around and do the SHR again. On this burly, 210-mile traverse, which crosses 33 passes and barely touches established trails, you can find Alaska-sized scenery, complete solitude, and just enough risk to keep things interesting. Welcome to the map portion of Steve Howe's solo thru-hike of the Sierra High Route. We anticipate being out by 2 p.m.; however, unforeseen circumstances do arise on occasion. Seldom is there a nice little line in the ground to follow. If getting to the pass has not been too difficult, we may choose to climb either of these 13,000-foot peaks to eat lunch on its summit while we enjoy the stupendous views. How far we get each day and where we camp depends on how we feel, the weather and other factors outside of our control. I sleep better, feel fitter, worry less, laugh more. Four formidable ridges rise between me and the nearest parking lot, and very few of the JMT's hordes ever venture into these trailless cirques. Visitors should plan ahead by checking with the destinations they intend to visit. Weasels scamper through the rock piles as I crest Puppet Pass, drop into deep French Canyon, then climb again to Feather Pass. And at least 10 million outdoorsy Californians live within a day's drive of the trailheads here. You'll traverse two national parks, three wilderness areas, one national monument, 33 named passes, and 11 major divides. Reservations are $5/person, via mail or fax. Plus: Gaze away on 9 more elevated hikes. Today we travel about 4 miles, ascending 1,500 feet and descending 1,700 feet on steep, rough terrain. The middle cross-country section traverses four passes 12,000 feet and higher, as we travel from basin to basin. That night, I watch huge thunderstorms rake the open tundra, swallowing the colossal ocher pyramid of Mt. All along this last leg, I've been worrying about Stanton Pass, the last big crossing. Getting Around Park your car at journey's end, Mono Village Resort ($1/day), on Twin Lakes above the town of Bridgeport. This time, I'm navigating a labyrinth of cliff bands above Lower Palisade Lake. On the first day, we will ascend 2,500 feet to cross the Sierra Nevada Crest; all other days we ascend between 1,500 and 3,000 feet. We will camp in the vicinity of Paris Lake, having travelled around 6 miles with about 1,500 feet of gain and loss. This is some big, bad wilderness. Day 3: Today our real adventure begins as we head north generally following the "Sierra High Route," first defined by Steve Roper as a more isolated, scenic, and rugged alternative to the John Muir Trail, traversing closer to the Sierra Crest. By summer's end, thick around the middle from too little activity and too many nachos, I needed to escape. Perhaps our longest day (timewise), but lighter packs and nearly a week spent acclimating to the high altitude will assist in making this day enjoyable. In other words, we will do what we can to preserve the area for those who come after us. A summit climb is on the agenda. However, we need volunteers to help setting up a car shuttle starting around 3 p.m. that day. Our trip officially begins at 7 p.m. at the campground, where we will have a meeting, distribute group gear and go over last-minute details. Day 1: We will meet at a campground near North Lake, about 20 miles by car southwest of Bishop, CA, in the foothills of the eastern Sierra, around 3 p.m. After brief introductions, we will drive to Rock Creek to leave some of our cars to shuttle after the trip. The scene is raw and harsh, beautiful in a primeval way, and very cold. Heading up to the Pass, we divert into the Fourth Recess, where we will be able to explore and examine its unique geology before heading back to civilization. And its recreational history goes back almost 150 years. Day 1: We will meet at a campground near North Lake, about 20 miles by car southwest of Bishop, CA, in the foothills of the eastern Sierra, around 3 p.m. After brief introductions, we will drive to Rock Creek to leave some of our cars to shuttle after the trip. Shout-of-Relief Pass is a welcome landmark. But proximity is deceptive, especially in the mountains. Need your ass kicked and your soul cleansed? Starting in the low desert of the Eastern Sierra and crossing some of the more rugged parts of the Sierra Nevada this is not a tour for the beginning skier. But I'm immersed in my wilderness reverie, so I make quick work of the detour, sorting supplies and heading right back out. North, north, always north. We support the Responsible Travel Code which asks visitors to travel with RESPECT by committing to seven best practices when exploring the Golden State.. * There may be slight differences between itineraries for various dates. However, we need volunteers to help setting up a car shuttle starting around 3 p.m. that day. It is often confused with the High Sierra trail, however these are wildly different adventures. Seems pretty f***ing stupid.". I push on up to the highest pond and camp at 11,760 feet with a sweeping view of Seven Gables and the stairstep lochs below. Supposedly, it's so named because the next 25 miles to Devils Postpile National Monument–and my second resupply–are easy. We will send a trip roster to all participants well before the trip in order to help facilitate ridesharing. I hike on for two more days, September getting colder and the snowfields hardening beneath a nightly rain of shooting stars. Day 4: Today we descend into French Canyon, and then head to an unnamed lake in the vicinity of Merriam Lake. There are currently no trips planned. The facilities at Vogelsang and Tuolumne are closed for the season, and since no pizza or brews await, I slink across the Tioga Pass highway like any respectable coyote, waiting for a break in traffic and sprinting, unseen, to the safety of the far woods. Lacking an ice axe or crampons, I cross the Glacier Divide via bouldery Alpine Col rather than steep, icy Snow Tongue Pass. Northern Trailhead Mono Village Resort (760-932-7071; monovillage.com) on Twin Lakes offers lodging, long-term hiker parking ($1/day), a restaurant, and internet. It's a small group of bighorn rams. Southern Trailhead See Devils Postpile above. On this burly, 200-plus-mile traverse, which crosses 33 passes and barely touches established trails, you can find Alaska-size scenery, complete solitude, and just enough risk to keep things interesting. From there we head northward, following the Sierra High Route, to enter scenic Bear Lakes Basin, which features a host of lakes with ursine-themed names, including White Bear, Beartrap, and Gruff. Dropping into Bear Lakes Basin, I stumble upon the most evocative country I've encountered. We mainly travel in the John Muir Wilderness, portions of which lie in Inyo and Sierra National Forests. If you're unsure of your abilities, gain experience on less committing trips or section-hike the route. Sierra high route itinerary question. Our objective is to enjoy spectacular landscape while completing the trip safely as a group. The Sierra High Route is HARDCORE. Best things to do in Mammoth Lakes and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park are: General Sherman Tree, Giant Forest, Moro Rock Trail, and Devils Postpile National Monument. Packing up the next morning, I'm surprised to see silhouettes atop Sky Pilot Col, my next goal. We'll draw upon resources such as the Sierra Club Bulletin and the writings of John Muir, Wallace Stegner, and others to gain inspiration and an appreciation of the history of wilderness conservation action. Our trip officially starts at 7 p.m. on Day 1 at our campground, located about 20 miles southwest of Bishop, CA. Days pass, and I settle into the trail's rhythm, my legs and lungs growing stronger. Day 2: Waking early, we will eat breakfast (the first included meal), pack up and drive a short distance to North Lake (9,320 feet), where we leave our cars behind. Permits Free if you start from Onion Valley. Trip members will be divided into cook crews to assist preparing meals and washing the pots and pans afterward. We provide all food and cooking equipment, but you must bring your own cup, bowl, and spoon. Participants are encouraged to arrive a day or two early to more fully acclimatize to the high elevation encountered at the start of the hike. Visit High Sierra. Pioneered by Dave Beck in 1975, this ski tour became an instant classic. Matthew Kraft failed to return from his backcountry skiing trip on 5th March. I've spent 40 years chasing adventure from Peru to the Canadian arctic, but this has been perhaps my toughest–and most magnificent–mountain journey. Hiking the High Sierra Trail. Here we’ll find waterfalls, stunning vistas, and a population of California Golden Trout inhabiting the pristine, brisk waters. Participants are encouraged to arrive a day or two early to more fully acclimatize to the high elevation encountered at the start of the hike. We’ll likely have the afternoon to relax or explore our surroundings. The High Sierra Loop is an adventure into some of the prettiest country in the entire Sierra Nevada Range and highlights the best of Yosemite's high country in just four days! I survived a fall intact enough to make a call, it could take searchers days to find me. Created by a user from United States. Four days later, on the west shore of Thousand Island Lake, we hunker down in a whitebark grove as winds pummel our tents, and in the morning, my friends bid adieu. It's day nine, time for my first resupply. From the ridge, I can almost smell the pizza at Parchers Camp, a cabin resort only six miles downvalley. The USGS 7.5-minute series maps for the entire route are: Although the leaders will have maps, all participants should consider bringing their own map for safety reasons. We expect to travel about 6 miles, with 2,000 feet of ascent and 2,300 feet of descent. Contact the leader for details. She’d never heard of it and I had only heard vague mention so I tromped off to the library to check out Steve Roper’s work of genius, Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country. Watch huge thunderstorms rake the open tundra, swallowing the colossal ocher pyramid of Mt named passes, and cold. 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