High Sierra Trail Backpacking Trip

Trip Report

September 4 - 10, 2012

71 miles
Elevation Ascent: 17016 ft

OK, what comes after hiking the JMT????

How about crossing the Sierra from West to East!

JMT sign

After completing a thru hike of the JMT in 2011, I figured I had worked the 'trail' out of my system and would take a break from hiking.
Nope. It wasn't long before the Sierra and the trail sang it's song once again and lured me back.
For this trip, I wanted to hike across the Sierra, but going West to East instead of North to South. The Sierra is fairly narrow and long, so hiking West to East can be done in 70+ miles.
There are no options for resupply on this trail, so however long you take, you will be carrying everything you need with you!

The High Sierra Trail runs east/west across the Sierra Nevada, crossing the Great Western Divide. If you hike starting on the west side, it begins in Crescent Meadow, near Lodgepole, in Sequoia National Park, and ends at the top of Mt Whitney, 60 miles to the east. The total trail length is 71 miles since after you summit Mt Whitney it is another 11 miles down to civilization and Whitney Portal.

I had originally planned this as a 9 day hike, but since all plans fall apart as soon as the battle starts... I wound up taking only 7 days to complete the hike. I felt good so did extra miles on some days and finished sooner than expected.

JMT sign

I flew from Minneapolis to Denver, to LAX, to Visalia, changing airlines 3 times along the way. So is it any wonder that when I got to Visalia, my "luggage" i.e. my backpack, was missing???

The flight from LAX to Visalia was on a puddle jumper prop airplane. The Flight Attendant said "buckle up, I am also the co-pilot!"
20 seats, 5 of which were occupied. No in-flight movie, no beverages, no first class seats. In fact, no restroom. All of which would have been cool, if only my luggage would have been on that plane. The terminal at Visalia is about the size of a McDonalds. The ones without the Play Area. They were closing up shop and had no way to track my lost luggage. Said to check tomorrow! I grabbed a cab to the Hotel (Hampton). Since my shuttle to Lodgepole was at 7am, I knew I had lost a day in the best of circumstances. An extra day in Visalia is not the worst thing in the world, but it isn't exactly my choice for a place to vacation! I had an extra day planned anyway, but had intended to stay in Lodgepole getting acclimated to the elevation. As long as my backpack shows up tomorrow, I can still make the hike work.

I had a reservation on the Sequoia Shuttle to take me to Lodgepole from Visalia. I called the shuttle to see if I could move my reservation to the following day. Nope. They made me do a new reservation and pay again. Said they had no way to contact the driver. The shuttle stops at the Hampton (which is why I picked this hotel). I went outside and met the driver, just to let him know I was not able to ride. Didn't want him waiting for me. Met some nice folks heading up to the Sequoia's. I got a call around 10am that my luggage would be at the terminal at 1PM. Another taxi to the airport, and YES! my backpack was there!, and another taxi back to the hotel. Spent today getting fuel at Walmart (yep, another taxi), and relaxing. At least things are looking much brighter and I should be in Lodgepole tomorrow morning!

The shuttle arrived right on time at 7:00 am. It was a 3 hour drive to Lodgepole, and a really scenic drive! I went to the Wilderness office and got my permit. Ate a hamburger at the snack bar/grill. Bad idea. One of the worst hamburgers ever. I walked to my campsite and set up camp. A new hiking friend (Mike) is meeting me here at Lodgepole and will hike some of the first day with me. We are finding out whether we are 'hiking compatible', and if so, may plan other trips together. Mike should be here sometime this afternoon.

I started to get my things ready to pack into my dropbox so I could ship my extra clothes, tennis shoes, etc to the hotel in Lonepine (on the EAST side of the Sierra). I realized that I had packed the wrong sized box to ship. Much too small! I hiked back to the Village and yogied a larger box from the staff there. I went back to the campsite and got my box packed and sealed. Mike showed up at 2:30. We drove to the Wuksachi Lodge to make dinner reservations at "The Peaks", a rather upscale place for being in the middle of a National Park. We then drove to the Cresent Meadow area. We hiked up to the top of Moro Rock. Cool place. You can see a fantastic view of the Great Western Divide from there, and a lot of the area I would be hiking over the next 2-3 days.

Dinner at "The Peaks" was excellent. I had pork tenderloin. Totally worth it as a last decent meal before hitting the trail. Back at the campground, Mike and I swapped stories and killed time until after dark. Tomorrow I hit the trail! The plan is to get up at 6 and hit the trail before 8. I was planning on being at the Post Office to mail my box at 8am, but that meant a later start than I really wanted. Mike offered to mail it for me, so we could be hiking earlier! (Thanks Mike!)

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