Shepherd Pass never more

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SSSdave
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Shepherd Pass never more

Post by SSSdave » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:50 pm

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My Shepherd Pass plan worked though was an most unpleasantly strenuous task getting over the pass. Now as a senior won't ever need to do it again as I as knew was possible, brought back possibly my best ever High Sierra image material. Short summary here I'll eventually expand on within the 2019 Trips Chronicles page on my website. Working on lots of image processing now. Between Symmes Creek at 6890 feet and a small stream off Mt Kieth at 2680 meters are 4.9 waterless miles with 2450 feet of uphill that makes it the most difficult of the 4 epic 6k+ crest climbs. My elaborate 10-day trip itinerary had been worked on over a decade and required a big winter that only occurs about twice a decade so was now or never.

I at 135# started on Tuesday August 20 in sunny 95F heat at the 6300 foot trailhead about 4pm, carrying 60#, very slowly moved up the trail to the bottom of the switchbacks at 6890 at 5:30pm. There dunked in the very cold stream and filled up with about 45 ounces of water that pushed my weight up even higher. By that time the sun had dropped over the high crest above so would no longer be baking the trail and temperatures had lowered to low 80F's.

At that critical point at 6pm after a half hour break, was feeling my decades old machine inside, so decided to try and go all the way to the Symmes/Shepherd notch at 9080 feet at 4.1 miles though would bail back to the trailhead at any point if it became unbearable. That is a 2190 foot waterless climb of 3.1 miles up 58 switchbacks. There would be a considerable strategic advantage for reaching the notch versus just half way up as it would allow getting closer to the pass the following day that would further allow reaching The Moon Pond atop Bighorn Plateau on the third afternoon and work that key feature.

So up and up I went. I was glad to find the trail mostly smooth versus rocky trails with step ups, that allowed more efficient sliding feet left right ahead without lifting. By time I reached 8000 feet at 7:40pm, it was astronomical sunset, so put on my headlamp. Temps were pleasantly down to the upper 60F's. By then had drank about 24 ounces. Well I kept enduring the effort stopping often and at 9:30pm in semi delirium staggered up onto the notch. Nicely there are lots of flat tenting spots among mountain mahogany and pinyon pines of that divide. So a 2.7k 4.1 mile day. By 10pm was in my tent and swallowed an Ibuprofen I rarely resort to.

Another benefit of reaching the notch was it allowed my capturing the above Williamson shot, a 10100 by 3800 pixel stitch blend with my 30mm lens, at Wednesday dawn that has much better even photographic light versus after sun shines on those craggy peaks. By early afternoon I'd reached Anvil Camp at 10.2k where I made lunch, dunked in the stream, and rested 2 hours. Later continued up to the top of The Pothole at 11.0k 9.1 miles for a 2.6k 5.0 mile day.

On Thursday day 3, I waited till 8am as sun began shining on the pass snowfield, to climb the talus and scree 1000 feet to the pass. Someone crossing the snowfield with crampons at 8am said it was firm. By time I crossed at 9:30am it had nicely softened up a bit. A long fall down that steep snowfield could easily be fatal. By late afternoon I'd completed the 7 miles to The Moon Pond at the 16.1 miles point, captured one strong shot, and continued on to the one and only secret spring on the south side of the plateau well away from the PCT/JMT trail, I then base camped at over 2 nights before moving for a night to the better spring near the PCT/JMT trail on the north side of the plateau.

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bobby49
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Re: Shepherd Pass never more

Post by bobby49 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:05 pm

It seemed that you were hiking in the warmest times of the day. I've learned to avoid that.

At the end of July, I started from the trailhead and went over the pass at 3 p.m. I lost only a few minutes to don microspikes for the snow crossing. I was heading to Mount Whitney, so I was carrying only six days worth of food.

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sekihiker
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Re: Shepherd Pass never more

Post by sekihiker » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:11 pm

Looking forward to hearing more.

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thegib
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Re: Shepherd Pass never more

Post by thegib » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:24 pm

I actually enjoy Shepherd pass. The only one I hate is Sawmill.

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mckee80
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Re: Shepherd Pass never more

Post by mckee80 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:31 pm

Thanks. Looking forward to the rest!

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