Return hike HST

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Julian
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Return hike HST

Post by Julian » Sat Jul 06, 2019 7:54 am

Hello together,

at the moment we are planning our High Sierra trip in mid of September. We are 22 and 25 years old and have both experience in more-day hikes and are fit and trained. As everybody we encountered while planning the transportation problem when hiking the HST. We have read on the offical website of Sequoia, that it should be possible to hike the HST in 10 days to Mt Whitney and back to Great Forest again. There is stated that you only need four days for the return hike. Do you think that this possible?

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/ ... -trail.htm








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c9h13no3
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Re: Return hike HST

Post by c9h13no3 » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:37 am

The fastest known time is less than a day, so sure it's possible. Would it be fun?

I'd identify some other destinations to visit on your way back, and make a loop. The Tablelands are fun, the view of Whaleback over Big Wet Meadow is legendary. With that long a trip you can easily avoid the out & back.
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Re: Return hike HST

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:39 am

It's possible, but that means hiking more than 15 miles per day. I wouldn't want to do that, even with the lighter pack that comes at the end of a trip...
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Re: Return hike HST

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:32 pm

Are you planning on climbing Mt. Whitney? Return after that? or go all the way to Whitney Portal and then back? Will you have 10 FULL days of hiking or is part of the first day driving to the TH?

How much off-trail experience do you have? There are nice semi-loops but you do have to go over x-c passes.

15 miles a day on the HST really is not that hard. The trail is big and well maintained. I hiked from Nine Lakes Basin to Crescent Meadow TH in 11 hours (about 21 miles), and I am an old lady. Energetic young folks could do that. Also, going in, if you have a full day (early start from Crescent Meadow), getting to Hamilton Lake on Day 1 is possible with a moderate steady pace with limited rest breaks. A few years ago, I drove down, got my permit, left Crescent Meadow at 3PM, camped at Nine Mile Creek. On Day 2 made it to Precipice Lake. Just saying there are lots of options that would allow you to get to Whitney in 5 days. I am not a hot springs fan, so I always just hike past Kern Hot Springs and camp at Junction Meadow. If, however, you want to spend time at the hot springs, then that may slow you down.

Some people enjoy fast paced trips and enjoy them just as much as those who prefer more leisurely trips. Just be sure that all in the group have the same goal and hiking style.

Later in the season be careful about water sources. Mehrten Creek is the last reliable water source in September.

Also, I once looped it the other direction- in from Whitney Portal, to Hamilton Lake via Pants Pass, and back via HST. It is a harder direction but I think the miles up from Whitney Portal are more scenic than the miles from Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lake (which is fantastic in early season with wildflowers, but not so scenic in September. That is not a 100% in and out but hits the most scenic parts.

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Julian
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Re: Return hike HST

Post by Julian » Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:59 am

Is there a trail to Whaleback or is it off-trail?

Yes exactly we plan to hike the summit of Mt Whitney and return than back to guitar lake or even further at day 6. Afterwards we want to return to Giant Forest.
We don't have much offtrail experience. Only when hiking on snow in spring, when no trail is visible.
Last year we hiked in the german alps every day around 13 miles without problems and the trails there are not as good as the HST...

We will arrive at Giant Forest one day before and camp the first night there. Thus we will have a long first day and it should be possible, that we reach Hamilton Lake at the first day.

We are both quite fast hikers, so that should be no problem.

Ok good to know. So Guitar Lake is no reliable water source in September?

Our first plan was to hike in via Whitney Portal, but we haven't got permissions for this. So we decided to hike in via Alta trailhead in Giant Forest.

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Re: Return hike HST

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:02 am

My comment on water sources was about the first 5 miles on the HST. Other parts with questionable water sources are on the Chagoopa Plateau (particularly if you take the low trail to Moraine Lake), and the trail from Junction Meadow to Wallace Creek crossing. Wallace Creek is not easy to get to from the trail. The water in Moraine Lake can get really poor late season and you will need to filter it.

In another post here there is a photo of the trail wash-out above Hamilton Lake. It may be fixed by late season.

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Re: Return hike HST

Post by bobby49 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:23 am

In 2017, I really did not want to return that way to Giant Forest. I had spent four days getting to Crabtree Camp, then the fifth day was up and down Whitney. The sixth day was exiting over Cottonwood Pass. Then I spent 1.5 days taking public buses back to Giant Forest.

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Re: Return hike HST

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:51 am

Here are alternate returns for a loop. You will have to figure out if these are doable in 4-5 days. All are longer than returning on the HST.

1) Crabtree - Wallace Creek- Junction Meadow-Kern Keweaha-Colby Pass-Cloud Canyon-Deadman Canyon-Big Bird Lk (x-c)-Tablelands to Pear Lake (x-c)-Wolverton.

2) stay on trails and go over Elizabeth Pass (instead of Big Bird and Tablelands) and intersect the HST but it would be longer.

3) Or from Deadman Canyon junction, go out Sugarloaf-Sillman-Lodgepole. This also is all trail but longer.

Another way to get back if you are good hitch-hikers:

Hitch a ride from Whitney Portal to Onion Valley (or hire a shuttle). Onion Valley to PCT-to Roads End via Bubbs Creek. This is a short 2-day route back to the west side. Then hitch from Roads End to Lodgepole (lots of tourist traffic so you probably could get a ride)

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Julian
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Re: Return hike HST

Post by Julian » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:43 am

Thank you for the alternate returns.

These routes are all quite long. I am not sure, if they are too hard for us after 7 days hiking.
How about going via Pants Pass instead of Colby Pass and than return to the HST? I know that it is much xc but it should be the shortest route back or am I false?

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Re: Return hike HST

Post by creekfeet » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:51 am

I went to Whitney and back in seven days, since that was all the time I could get off from work. It was a little more rushed than I would've liked, but even in that time frame I still found time to do some fun little off-trail side hikes and do plenty of swimming and what have you. I'd also recommend returning a different route. When I did it I came back via Colby Pass to the Sugarloaf Trail, then over Silliman Pass and back to Lodgepole. As I recall, this route is actually a mile or two shorter than the HST. The Kern-Kaweah country leading up to Colby Pass is more beautiful than anything you encounter on the HST in my opinion. However, it's kind of a slog once you get past the Roaring River station.

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