Dec 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm #1283285
I want to solo this summer and see The Great Western Divide as well as The Kaweahs. What trip, start to finish would give me the opportunity to soak this all in. I live near San Jose so travel is not an issue. Tom Kirchner should also be able to fill in the blanks with his fantastic knowledge…but please do not let that stop all of you! I do want to make sure this is a loop as I do not want to have a shuttle. No cross country, as the wife will not allow it.Dec 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm #1815155
High Sierra Trail. Vehicle logistics are a problem on this though unless you can arrange a key exchange with someone. I have the same dilemma with doing the HST only from the east side. I opted to do a semi-loop from Shepherds Pass TH, which adds about 40 miles to the HST total. When are you looking at going?Dec 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm #1815158
Robert, I have thought about that one, but the logistics are bothering me. I have not thrown that one out yet, but would prefer a loop. Thank you for the suggestionDec 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm #1815173
" want to solo this summer and see The Great Western Divide as well as The Kaweahs. What trip, start to finish would give me the opportunity to soak this all in."
How many days do you have to do this?Dec 23, 2011 at 8:01 am #1815283
7 at the most TomDec 23, 2011 at 8:53 am #1815303
This was a nine-day route I did a couple years back from Road's End to Mineral King and back, all on trail heading south, and then some on and mostly off going back north. If I can answer any questions about doing sections of it, let me know.
It's crazy beautiful out there.
I'm sure Tom K. will set you up with a good route. We decided part of our route based on info from him, and we were glad we took the off-trail pass he suggested.
Dave.Dec 23, 2011 at 10:20 am #1815333
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
It's easy to turn the High Sierra Trail into a loop. Last year I did the first half of the HST to the Kern River then turned south and came out through Sawtooth Pass and Mineral King back to Crescent Meadow. It took me 5 days and was 73 miles and is a wonderful trip – no car shuttle required. I went late in the season and so I was able to skip the bear canister and just go from bear box to bear box each day. I would highly recommend it. You walk right through the Kaweahs and over the Great Western Divide.
AndrewDec 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm #1815402
Andrew that sounds interesting!! We will talk more about that at the Feb. Coe tripDec 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm #1815434
"7 at the most Tom"
Andrew has given you a very nice route that covers roughly the southern half of the Great Western Divide with a less dramatic view of the Kaweah Peaks Ridge. I will outline a couple routes that cover the northern half and then, if there is any interest, we can go over the pros and cons of each route, north and south.
Go in over Shepherd Pass and down to the JMT. Cross the JMT and continue west to the trail coming up out of Kern Canyon. Follow this trail north to Lake South America. Take the trail from Lake South America south to the trail between the JMT and the Kern trail. Go east to the JMT and do an out and back to Bighorn Plateau before exiting over Shepherd Pass. So much for the bare bones route description.
I would suggest camping one night at the first lake north of Kern Canyon, at the junction of the Kern Canyon trail and the JMT connector trail, and spending a day exploring Milestone Basin. This is a drop dead beautiful area that takes you into the heart of the most beautiful, IMO, section of The Great Western Divide. Milestone, Midway, and Table Mountains will loom above you the whole way. I can think of no better one day way to get a feel for The Great Western Divide.
There are good campsites at Lake South America and both of the lakes above the lake I mentioned above for your Milestone Basin day. All have wonderful views of the Upper Kern Basin/Great Western Divide/Kings Kern Divide. The reason for the out and back on the JMT is to camp by the tarn on Bighorn Plateau. The low hill above the tarn offers what I consider to be the finest panorama of not only The great Western Divide, but The Whitney Crest as well. If you can time your trip to coincide with a full moon, so much the better. You could substitue a side trip into either Wallace or Wright Lakes Basins for the Bighorn Plateau leg and have a great experience as well. Wright Lakes Basin probably makes more sense in terms of fitting in with the general route.
An alternative start/end point would be to come in over Kearsarge/Forester Passes, but that would add perhaps a half day or so to the appproach and require a bear canister.Dec 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm #1815445
Shepherd Pass…the monster…..Have not tackled that one yet. Thanks Tom, I will look over my maps this weekend. The pictures that I have seen of Bighorn Plateau is pretty amazing. Kind of like a high desert in a way. Thanks for the detailed responseDec 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm #1815450
Robert I did not answer you question as to when I want to go, that would be late July or early Aug.
It all depends on snow levels. I am quite comfortable in snow travel but just want to play it safe solo.
I am also open to a few joining too. I don't have to solo but want to hike 10-15 miles a dayDec 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm #1815455
Ken, A 'shot in the dark' here, but if you have any interest in working out logistics for a vehicle swap so we could each do the HST one-way. You from the West, me from the East and set up a meeting spot at the end. It may be more hassle then it's worth, but I was looking at the begining of August as well. PM me if you think we can figure something out. I wouldn't open this up to too many folks, but as an BPL member, ( just a quick poke at fun for the chaff crowd ;) ), I have faith in your dependability at working something like this out.Dec 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm #1815460
PM tomorrow…lets talkDec 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm #1815463
"Shepherd Pass…the monster…..Have not tackled that one yet"
It can be a grinder, Ken, but it is a beautiful route and offers by far the most direct approach to The Divide and Upper Kern Basin. You would need to be in good shape to do it, but not super shape. The toughest part is the first day and a half. After that, the terrain is easy hiking and, as Dave T said, "crazy beautiful". If you decide you want to do this route, PM me and I will give you the beta on how to do Shepherd Pass. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat….
"The pictures that I have seen of Bighorn Plateau is pretty amazing. Kind of like a high desert in a way."
Bighorn Plateau itself is not something I would go out of my way to visit, but its position vis a vis The Great Western Divide and The Whitney Crest offer views you will remember the rest of your life. There are none better, IMO. It is not a place to hang out, however, if there is any chance of thunder storms.
Also, for timing purposes, there are 2 full moons in August: Thursday, August 2; Friday, August 31. If you can be up there for one of those, it will blow your mind. Guaranteed.Dec 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm #1815686
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
On my solo 8 day, 80 mile loop out of Onion Valley, over Kearsarge Pass last early August, I was over Bighorn Plateau the morning of my third day out, crossing the Kern River, heading toward Colby Pass the next morning. Nice but nothing to go out of your way as previously stated. I could have done my loop in 7 days, I need to plan more miles I guess for my getting older body.
DuaneDec 24, 2011 at 11:08 pm #1815693
"I could have done my loop in 7 days, I need to plan more miles I guess for my getting older body."
It's not how old you are that counts. It's how old you think you are.
–B.G.–Dec 27, 2011 at 7:41 pm #1816464
Ken, I was away over Christmas. I wasn't sure if you were going to PM or I was supposed to. I will shoot you a PM later this evening.Dec 29, 2011 at 6:21 am #1816987
Still haven't received a PM, assume my 'long-shot' is a 'no-go', no worries! After talking it over with my hiking partners, we decided to stick with our original plan of hiking in and out of Shepherds Pass TH doing a semi-loop. We want to check out Colby Pass, Cloud and Deadman Canyons.Dec 29, 2011 at 9:37 am #1817048
Sorry Robert…I sent a pm a few minutes ago prior to seeing this.Jan 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm #1818262
Thinking about starting at Roads End and either crossing Spinhx Col or Longley Pass. Then over to the JMT over Forrester and back.
Thoughts?Jan 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm #1818292
I thought you said no cross country.
Your route will take you over some severe cross country, especially south of Mount Brewer.
If you want to stick to trails (since you may be solo), then go over Avalanche Pass to Roaring River, then up Cloud Canyon, over Colby Pass, east to the Kern River, and then work your way up to Forester Pass.
–B.G.–Jan 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm #1818298
Thinking about having others on the hike so the cross country would not be an issueJan 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm #1818318
Ken, I found Longley Pass on the map, but didn't find Sphinx Col. I can kind of calculate where it is at based on topography, but not sure. I think this summer will be a great year to do any cross-country you have been postponing due to snow. That area is at about %5 – %10 of April 1st averages, and for reference last year we were at about %160- %190 of April 1st averages and that is before we got hammered in Feb. and March after a dry Jan. Do you drop in around Lake S. America if you go over Longley? If so, that is a pretty interesting area. I haven't climbed out of Roads End going Southbound, but I have gone Northbound at the start of the Sierra High Route and it is a good climb! It sounds like a good trip and it looks like you are picking a good year to do it. I am re-thinking a couple of my planned hikes to do some cross-country myself.Jan 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm #1818337
I agree, this ought to be a much better summer for backpacking as compared to last summer.
If you go up over Avalanche Pass, the crowd will thin out pretty rapidly. And then the terrain gets interesting. Alternatively, if you continued up Bubbs Creek a little farther to Junction Meadow, you could take the trail up to East Lake. From there, you could work your way up to Harrison Pass and then over.
Or, much further south, Colby Pass is much safer, if that is an issue. But then that dumps you much further south onto the Kern River Trail. You may prefer to stay higher and farther north.
–B.G.–Jan 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm #1818438
"Thinking about starting at Roads End and either crossing Spinhx Col or Longley Pass. Then over to the JMT over Forrester and back.
That is all cross country, Ken. You'd have to cross both Sphinx Col and Langley Pass, and then cross either Thunder Col, Milly's Foot Pass, or Lucy's Foot Pass to get into the Upper Kern. It's a nice route, but maybe not so good for solo. If you're feeling up to that route, I'd really recommend Shepherd Pass. Believe it or not, it's easier than the above mentioned route, and would get you into the Upper Kern/Great Western Divide area a lot quicker. Also, it's all on trail which, IIRC, was one of your original criteria. The other downside is that getting to and from the Upper Kern Basin via Sphinx Lakes/Col and exiting via Forester Pass would chew up at least 5 days of your trip if you're used to doing 10-12 miles/day, possibly more depending on how fast you move on rough terrain.
Another good alternative, as B.G. suggested, would be over Harrison Pass via Bubbs Creek/East Lake. It's about the same length as going in over Shepherd Pass, with another 1500-2000 feet of elevation gain but without the heat of the Shepherd Pass route. However, you would have to carry a bear canister going in from Road's End, if I'm not mistaken, which is not the case on Shepherd Pass.
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