Snow on the High Sierras Route

Brian and I backpacked part of the High Sierra Route on September 27-30, 2005. This was one of the remaining portions that he had not done. We hiked approximately 30-36 miles, which included some cross-country sections. To see pics, click here.

Brian and I met in Mammoth in the evening of September 26, 2005. Since it had been raining all day, we decided to stay at a Motel 6 that night so our gear wouldn’t be wet upon starting the next day. This was the first time I had driven over Tioga Pass – which is pretty eerie when the weather is rainy, dark, and cloudy. It just so happened that both of our stomachs were not doing so well that evening-mine more than his. I’ll spare you the details, but it was not pretty, and was pretty painful. Luckily, my body flushed everything out that evening so I was ok to leave the next AM. Brian was OK to go too.

Day 1: We headed to the upper Rock Creek area where we would start our trip. It had snowed the night before, so our trail up to Mono Pass was covered with snow. Luckily, somebody had started before us, and broke the trail. There was a section around Mono Pass towards the Trail Lakes that was essentially cross-country since the trail was hidden by the snow and we had lost our trail-breaker’s tracks. At times, we were knee deep in snow (or at least I was – Brian was maybe calf deep since he is taller), but we were able to catch the trail again and descend towards the valley. We ended up covering about 11-12 miles that day. We camped that evening along Mono Creek. We had to use a bear canister, but couldn’t fit everything in there the first night. Brian worked on perfecting the ursack-hang for about an hour that evening.

Day 2: We headed to the Laurel Lake Trail towards Laurel Lake. Then it was time for the cross-country portion of the trip. We ascended to Bighorn Pass and traversed rocky outcrops and short stretches of talus to the Shout of Relief Pass. Parts of this portion was covered in snow, so I was a bit slower than usual. Then we started to descend to Tully Hole, but it was taking forever. We ended up staying close to Isaak Walton Lake that evening. I think we only covered about 6 miles that day.

Day 3: We continued our cross-country portion during our quest to find the John Muir Trail that would bring us down to Fish Creek and Tully Hole. After about 1-2 hrs of hiking up and down, we finally found the JMT and reached Tully Hole. We stayed on the JMT until we hit Duck Pass. Then we went cross-country again to Deer Lakes, where we camped that night. We covered about 10-12 miles that day

Day 4: We followed a faint trail until shortly after Mammoth Crest where we met up with Deer Creek Trail. The descent down to Lake George seemed to take forever, but it was really pretty.

It was a great trip! We had great weather each day. We managed to avoid the storm in the afternoon of Day 1, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the other days. I irritated my achilles tendon a bit, and my feet were in pain, but no major mishaps or injuries occurred. Neither Brian and I slept well each night but no crankiness resulted from it. Thank goodness Brian navigated the cross-country portions. We would have been even slower if I had to think and lead. Thanks Brian!!

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