Oct 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm #1281076
I live on the East side of the Sierras and am trying to figure out a way to drop a vehicle off at Whitney Portal and get transportation to the West side of the Sierras to start the High Sierra Trail. I am looking at just doing a loop of some kind from the East side, but wanted to try to do the whole thing West to East.
I have two questions if anyone has done this trail in the past. 1- How did you like it? 2- How did you handle vehicle/shuttle arrangements?
Thanks in advance for any ideas.Oct 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm #1794644
I don't have a direct answer for you. However, if you can find a group of similar-minded backpackers, sometimes you can arrange a car key exchange. If you went east (starting from Giant Forest or Crescent Meadow) and if they went west, you could drive each other's cars back.
–B.G.–Oct 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm #1794647
Bob, Good idea! Maybe as I get closer to permit season I can post a plan to find anyone interested in that idea. Thanks.Oct 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm #1794658
I haven't done the HST, but I have tried to work out transportation for a trans-sierra ski trip, and found it possible but very expensive unless you can get a friend to do it for you, or are willing to have big fun with bus schedules. We ended up paying a friend to drive for us, for a lot less than the commercial outfits.
I'd be thinking loop – or possibly start at a different eastside trailhead – a lot cheaper to get a shuttle from the portal to Horseshoe meadows or Symmes Creek than to the west side. Heck, to horseshoe you could probably hitch it.Oct 24, 2011 at 9:53 pm #1794659
I don't know about where you live, but it might take a while to find the right group of people. So, you might as well start looking now. Maybe even do some introductory events. You probably want to be sure that they are dependable people in advance.
–B.G.–Oct 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm #1794668
@traumaheadLocale: Cen Cal
2: Friend payed for the gas, followed him to WP where he dropped off his vehicle a day prior to his trip. The next day, dropped him off at the trailhead.Oct 24, 2011 at 10:42 pm #1794669
If you find somebody else to do a car key exchange, then there are bad ways and good ways to arrange it.
If the west-east person and the east-west person each start on the same day, then you might have to exchange car keys in a meet point somewhere in the middle. This would be awkward if one party had a bad problem and had to turn back early. The other party would be stranded.
So, the way to arrange it is by this example. The west-east person starts on August 1 and plans to arrive on the east side by August 5 and meet the east-west person. Then that east-west person starts on August 6 heading west. This method works best if both parties live close to one another, so it is easy to trade cars back. In any case, if both parties cannot meet in the arranged spot, each party must "back out" and return to their own car.
Also there have been trips where a single party is flown over by small aircraft, and then they walk back. If you have a friend who is a pilot, maybe you can get this done for the cost of an aircraft rental and gas.
–B.G.–Oct 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm #1794670
"The next day, dropped him off at the trailhead."
Perhaps Onion Valley?
–B.G.–Oct 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm #1794671
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
This is a no-brainer for a group.
Take 2 or more vehicles. Take two (or more) to the east side and park there. Return to the west side trailhead and park the other(s).
This gives your group maximum flexibility. If someone (or the whole group) has to bail, they'll have at least one vehicle waiting at each trailhead.
If you're going solo, it gets more complicated. That's where having a true friend, family member, or hired shuttle comes into play.Oct 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm #1794679
@traumaheadLocale: Cen Cal
Crescent Meadow, IIRC. Whatever the TH that's in Sequoia.Oct 25, 2011 at 6:20 am #1794720
Thanks for the ideas. I am leaning more now towards a loop or semi-loop of some kind. As far as the "no-brainer" vehicle shuttle method goes, it doesn't work when you live on the East side of the Sierras, (Sparks, NV), and have to go and retreive a vehicle on the West side starting point from Whitney Portal and then get home. Too much driving time. I will look at either going in over Shepherd Pass or Kearsrge and over Elizabeth Pass to do most of it.Oct 25, 2011 at 11:18 am #1794836
1. If you go for the "keys exchange" idea – one group moving east, the other moving west – I strongly recommend exchanging spare keys in advance, rather than counting on meeting each other in the backcountry. (What if one group is camped in the woods while the other waltzes by on the trail unnoticed?)
2. I dropped off a friend at the start of the HST, and then did my own trip in Mineral King. She paid for my gas and our $20 park entry. Can you find someone who lives eastside who has never been to westside SEKI and would love to check it out? Mineral King, Tablelands, Deadman Canyon, the Elizabeth Pass area, Nine Lakes Basin, Sphinx Lakes, etc. – those are some extraordinary places that are really hard to access from the eastside.
– ElizabethOct 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm #1796692
Thanks to all who posted ideas. I think I am going to do a semi-loop going in over Shepherd Pass and out Whitney Portal to alleviate travel logistics.
My next question is for anyone who has done any of this area including Shepherds Pass, Colby Pass, Elizabeth Pass, Kern Canyon ect., shoot me some ideas for camp locations, trail or route finding difficulties, water, swimming holes or anything that would be helpful in planning. I will be missing several of the miles of the HST the western TH to Bearpaw Mdw., but it looks like it is not really in the high country yet anyways.Oct 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm #1796725
If you are going in over Shepherd Pass it seems like one way or the other you will pass by or near Bighorn Plateau (between Tyndall and Wright creeks). If so, I highly recommend it for a great 360 degree view. Plus the tarn near the trail is great wading.Oct 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm #1796800
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"My next question is for anyone who has done any of this area including Shepherds Pass, Colby Pass, Elizabeth Pass, Kern Canyon ect., shoot me some ideas for camp locations, trail or route finding difficulties, water,"
Shepherd Pass is strenuous and usually hot on the Shepherd Creek side. The first water is about 5 hard miles into the hike so take at least 1.5 quarts. Many camp at Anvil Camp(~10,300'), but if you are fit and feeling strong, I'd recommend going 1000' higher to a very nice set of bivy sites about 400' above the Pothole. They are in a stand of silver pines, on the left side of the trail, just before you cross Shepherd Creek for the last time. There are excellent campsites by the 1st lake north of Kern Canyon where the JMT connector trail meets the Kern Canyon Trail. From there you have 2 options to get to Colby Pass: 1) drop into Kern Canyon and pick up the Colby Pass Trail at Junction Meadow(lots of campsites there, but it is not very pleasant). It is only 6 miles south of the above mentioned lake, so I'd recommend taking the Colby Pass trail up into the Kern Kaweah River valley and camping there. It is gorgeous with lots of campsites along the river; 2) go up Milestone Basin and cross Milestone Pass. You can camp just about anywhere in Milestone Basin, and there are also many places to camp in Milestone Bowl on the south side of the pass. Be aware, however, that this is offtrail and quite strenuous, but the rewards are commensurate. It is my favorite route to get to the Colby Pass area. Actually, there is a third way. Coming off Shepherd Pass, take the JMT south to Wallace Creek and take the HST down to Junction Meadow, then proceed as described above. This is a very scenic route, but is heavily travelled.Oct 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm #1796856
Wow! Thanks Tom. That is good info.Oct 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm #1796925
A bit late, but why don't you just get someone to drive you to the start and then go hiking. Then when you get to Whitney Portal there's going to be a ton of cars since it's a super busy place, so just ask around and someone will give you a lift in the right direction…
Not everyone has the means to pull this off, but here's what I do to shuttle myself for solo trips. I toss my 50cc scooter (Honda Ruckus) in the back of my car (Honda Fit) and then I drop the scooter off at the exit and drive my car around to the start. Then I just hike the trail, scoot back to my car, toss it in and drive home. Your trip would entail a pretty long drive, but you could rent a scooter if it fits in your vehicle. I've done trips where I need to scooter 150 miles back to my car, but I'm not sure what the road laws are in Cali.
Just a few out-there ideas for ya.
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