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A Quick & Dirty Guide to the Sierra High Route

The Sierra High Route is actually among the most spectacular as well as tricky treks in North America. Stretching around 195 miles (314 km) north to south over the Sierra Nevada, it’s a primarily off trail affair that remains between 9,000 ft (2,743 m) as well as 12,000 ft (3658 m) for nearly all of its tough course. In the process aspirants will?negotiate class three scrambles, huge boulder and talus slopes fields, while passing through an alpine wonderland of granite spires, glacier carved valleys as well as turquoise lakes.?

I hiked the SHR in September, 2011. All logistical information have been updated as of March, 2018. The SHR is just one of a dozen long distance rambles showcased in? Paul Mags Magnanti as well as my,?12 Classic Long Distance Hikes in the US. The post below has been reprinted from the eBook.


Distance :?195 miles (314 km) approx.

Avg.Time :?15? seventeen days

Difficulty Level ๐Ÿ˜• Challenging

Start / Finish:

Mono Village, Yosemite National Park, CA (northern terminus) Which direction why should I go?: 6 of one, half a dozen of the various other. In case you do not have close friends supporting you out on the commuter routes front, going south to north is actually a bit simpler logistically speaking (see below).

Getting There & Away:

There’s no public transportation to either trailhead:

Northern Terminus: From Mono village it is an easy fourteen mile hitch to the city of Bridgeport, from in which onward public transportation can be purchased with Eastern Sierra Transit.
Southern Terminus: The friend of mine and I had taken a taxi for the eighty five mile journey from Fresno (nearest large city) to Road’s End (2011). We settled $150 between the 2 of us. A less expensive alternative may be advertising for a ride on Craig’s List.
Note: In case I was hiking the SHR once again, and it is very likely that I’ll, I will do this in a southbound direction and then blend it with with Alan Dixon and Don Wilson’s Southern Sierra High Route. This joins the SHR at Dusy Basin as well as brings the general distance total to more or less 270 miles. As per the Dixon/Wilson extension, I’d then complete the hike of mine at the hitching friendly trailhead of Cottonwood Lakes, from the place it’s a brief ride down to the public transportation accessible town of Lone Pine.

July to September. Based on snow amounts, early October and late June may also perform.

Maps & Information:

Steve Roper, The Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country. Highly recommended. Written by the male that pioneered the SHR. Includes 1:24,000 black clothing & white maps, hiking a good deal and notes of other excellent info on the region. The maps are not perfect for navigation purposes. The best option of yours is actually combining Roper’s high-quality route descriptions with one of the mapping choices listed below. ๐Ÿ˜• Free downloadable 1:24,000 topos for the SHR. Additionally there’s an elevation profile, GPX information as well as introduction maps. Free downloadable USGS 7.5 / 1:24,000 topographic maps for the Sierra High Route.
Tom Harrison 1:63,360 topo maps (four): King’s Yosemite, Mammoth, Mono Divide, and Canyon. I am a huge admirer of Harrison’s maps, although for navigation reasons on the SHR, you are a lot better off continuing withusing the 1:24,000 sheets.
Permits: You will have to have a backcountry permit for the SHR. In case starting at the southern terminus of Road’s End, you are able to choose one up at the trailhead. On the other hand, you are able to arrange one in advance via the Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP or maybe Yosemite NP sites.
Bear Canister: Legally speaking you’re needed to have a bear canister in a lot of locations throughout the High Sierra. See the Sequoia Kings NP and Yosemite NP sites for information.

Resupply: Reds Meadow is actually the main resupply thing on the SHR. Situated around 118 long distances north of Road’s End, it’s a tiny shop, restaurant, cabins and laundry. The store choice is actually limited, therefore it is better to send out a resupply box (Note: As of March, 2018, they’re charging forty dolars to carry packages). See the Red Meadow site for information. In case you do not intend on overnighting, you are able to continue to do a bit of laundry washing and get cleaned up at the great spring’ showers at the close by campground.
Resupply two: Once you achieve Reds, another alternative is actually catching a shuttle down to the entire system town of Mammoth. They buses operate from June sixteen through to The cost and labor Day is actually seven dolars one of the ways (2017).

Resupply three: If you are not keen on holding food items all of the path from the southern terminus to Reds Meadow (or maybe vice-a-versa), you are able to exit the SHR at Dusy Basin via the Bishop Pass Trail. This can get you about eight long distances over to the South Lake Trailhead. From that point it’s an additional 1.2 miles to Parcher’s Lake Resort, that accepts resupply boxes. Contact first to confirm; in 2016 they had been charging twenty five dolars to hold a program (Note: Parcher’s presents a particularly great choice in case you intend to extend the hike of yours to Cottonwood or Mt.Whitney Lakes trailhead).
Resupply four :?From the above mentioned South Lakes Trailhead, you might also attempt to hitch down to the near by full system town of Bishop.
Resupply five: A mere twenty seven long distances south of the northern terminus is actually the Tuolumne Meadows Store. Burgers, beer and ice cream is out there. It has 2 miles off route. Just sayin’ฤกฤก.
Route / Conditions:

Character: The SHR is actually a mostly cross country hike, and that as the title indicates, requires the walker on a high level route (virtually everything between 9,000 as well as 12,000 ft.) through several of probably the most pristine wilderness in California’s High Sierra. During the course of its it passes through Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Yosemite and Forest National Park.
Terrain: The SHR traverses some thirty three passes, by way of boulder fields, talus slopes, granite slabs as well as the unexpected meadow or perhaps lake basin. It ain’t no walk in the park; metaphorically, instead of nationally speaking.
Scenery-wise it does not have a lot better. Granite spires, majestic glacier carved valleys and huge alpine lakes. The Sierra High Route arguably has much more incredible vistas per square mile than any additional very long distance rise in the contiguous United States.
Navigation: As a result of the trail less nature of a lot of the SHR, great route finding & map/compass abilities are actually needed. For GPS users, make sure you bring a non electronic navigational backup.

Altitude: From the southern terminus of Road’s End, the original climb from the Copper Creek Trailhead takes the hiker from 5,050 ft to more than 10,000 ft. In case you’re coming from sea level, this could prove to be a likely head spinning proposition.?To reduce the risks of AMS symptoms, think about making a mid-day begin and camping mid climb (i.e. 7,000 to 8,000 ft). For more info on trekking at very high elevations, seeTips for High Altitude Hiking?on the?website.

Swimming: Should you be a water lover, there are actually plenty of swimming opportunities on the SHR to meet your average mermaid. At these altitudes, the water temps could be a little bit on the brisk side, nonetheless, do not be dissuaded. It is an amazing feeling swimming in an alpine lake surrounding by mountains that are beautiful on all sides (Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I was singing soprano for nearly all of the hike).

John Muir Trail Vs Sierra High Route :?When folks think of long distance hikes in the High Sierra, the John Muir Trail is actually the first title which often comes to mind. How can the SHR and JMT compare? Both are amazing hikes that are very similar in traveling and length in a North/South guidance through the Sierra. That said, despite their close proximity the 2 walks remain very distinct in character. The JMT is actually a well maintained trail from start to finish, spends considerable period traversing valley floors and together with the Appalachian Trail, is perhaps the most famous very long distance rise in the United States. In comparison, the SHR is actually a path as opposed to a trail, remains almost completely between 9,000 as well as 12,000 ft., gets very little in the method of hiker site visitors and continues to be relatively unknown outside of the U.S. long distance hiking society.


At Day’s End

The white beams of the early morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of alpenglow, as well as the irised spray of huge waterfalls, it appears above all others the Range of Light.

~ John Muir, The Yosemite (1912)

As a rather long period admirer of John Muir, the Sierra High Route has a specific place in my sport heart. To the way of mine of believing, the pristine, trail less nature of a lot of the course encapsulates the spirit of Muir’s writing, in a way where other much more frequented pathways in California’s High Sierra never rather do.

During my SHR thru hike I carried a well leafed message of Muir’s The Yosemite. At the conclusion of every hiking day, I will see an area to camp, set up the shelter of mine and spend half an hour checking the traditional text. As I did so I’d frequently look up and gaze in wonder at the surrounding peaks, soaking up the alpenglow as the sunshine clocked out and the moon clocked in. During these times I would sometimes remember 1986, when a 17 year old model of yours truly initially found the writing of John Muir. The mind made me laugh. The book which had gotten me began was The Yosemite; the identical message that I was carrying on the hike of mine some twenty five years later on. So what can I tell you; I am a sentimental bastard at heart?

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