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Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:13 am
by potatopants
Thought I might make a separate post for this to see if anyone is able to share intel.

From the SEKI trail conditions page:
6/20 - Trail above Hamilton Lake on High Sierra Trail, a 10 foot section of trail has fallen away and there is a 8+ ft drop straight down with a few hundred foot drop after that. Impassible to stock. Hikers continuing beyond this point would be required to scramble on steep sides, both above and below the slide. Extreme caution is advised.


Facebook pics from 6/26 attached showing the section in question.

The other week, the ranger I spoke to said some people are getting through, others are turning back.

Any firsthand experience or other trail reports out there?

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:18 pm
by potatopants
This from someone who wrapped up an HST hike a few days ago and posted on Reddit:

"The ledge people were walking across on has completely eroded away. There in another ledge about 7 ft down that you can jump to, shuttle packs across, and then scramble out of. If you dont want to jump down to it I also saw an option to drop down lower from the trail and rock scramble to it. Totally doable if you have no fear of heights and some upper body strength to pull yourself back up to the main trail. I was fine with it but it is definitely a little scary"

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:37 pm
by TurboHike
potatopants,

I also saw this quote on Reddit: "I've seen a video of the damage, and it's not passable for 90% of us." There was no video link, sorry.

The photos you posted show significant damage. IMO it is probably best to have a plan B, maybe detour through Mineral King? You could always hike up to the Kaweah Gap after Mineral King, just to feel like you've done most of that part of the High Sierra trail, then head towards the Kern Canyon.

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:06 am
by TurboHike
I found this video, taken two weeks ago. Fast forward to the 10:00 minute mark to see the section of missing trail above Hamilton Lake.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVrYgKbBFg8

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:34 pm
by potatopants
Helpful video, thanks! From the comfort of my office chair I want to think that's passable...

This is my ignorance speaking so please educate me: It seems like an easy temporary fix to lay a couple boards/logs across this. But I'm sure there's a good reason not to do that... I just don't know what it is.

My backup plan is to
-backtrack and head up over Elizabeth Pass through Deadman
-back south through Cloud Canyon over Colby
-follow the HST until it connects with Big Arroyo
-take Black Rock Pass and then up through Redwood Meadow
-back out to Crescent Meadow along the HST.

But I also like the idea of backtracking and heading south through Redwood Meadow and then looping around a bit in the Mineral King area.

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:17 pm
by TurboHike
potatopants wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:34 pm
Helpful video, thanks! From the comfort of my office chair I want to think that's passable...

This is my ignorance speaking so please educate me: It seems like an easy temporary fix to lay a couple boards/logs across this. But I'm sure there's a good reason not to do that... I just don't know what it is.

My backup plan is to
-backtrack and head up over Elizabeth Pass through Deadman
-back south through Cloud Canyon over Colby
-follow the HST until it connects with Big Arroyo
-take Black Rock Pass and then up through Redwood Meadow
-back out to Crescent Meadow along the HST.

But I also like the idea of backtracking and heading south through Redwood Meadow and then looping around a bit in the Mineral King area.
I've hiked in the Austrian alps and they have steel cables attached to the rock wall in cases like this. It gives hikers something to hang onto as they shimmy over the dangerous part. Maybe for liability reasons SEKI will not do this? I have no idea, really.

In any event, your backup plan sounds great! Have fun.

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:48 pm
by Jim F
I was considering hiking the High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney and also have been waiting to see how the trail blowout plays out. I do not do FB (and the High Sierra Trail FB group), so have only seen a few pictures. I thought of boards also. But how would the boards get there? Who would do the work? How stable is each side of the blowout? Is the area even accessible to stock?

This area is covered by the Wilderness Act of 1964, so unlike in Europe steel cables might not be deemed appropriate. (Ironically, for years there has been a pile of old steel cables just up the trail before one enters the Tunnel in the Hamilton Gorge.) Indeed, if this were in Europe, one could possibly leave his hotel on the west shore of the Hamilton Lake, take the ferry to the other side, and then ascend to the Kaweah Gap on the tram!

In the past I have looked (from a distance) for some weakness in the terrain on the east side of the lake which would permit passage so as to rejoin the trail after it has passed the Gorge. Before the HST was started in the late 1920s, how did one get from the Lake to the Gap? Likely there is no reasonable way or the trail would have taken that route.

Any updates or insights would be appreciated, as well as any photos which might suggest how passage could be protected by a short 8mm rope.

Jim

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:02 pm
by bobby49
I am no expert on this, although I've hiked that section of trail several times. If I wanted to go through there now, I would equip myself with a few ultralightweight items. I would carry a few pieces of climbing protection and about 50-75 feet of 5mm cord. I would endeavor to build an anchor point on the first side with the first end of the cord, tie to a Swiss Seat, and then tiptoe to the other side and hopefully set a second anchor there. With the cord stretched, I would tiptoe back to the first end, remove the anchor, and then tiptoe back to the second end and remove the anchor there. Granted, a 5mm cord is not going to hold for a long drop, but if you are just scrambling around without any dynamic stresses, it should work.

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:32 am
by potatopants
Jim F wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:48 pm
I was considering hiking the High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney and also have been waiting to see how the trail blowout plays out. I do not do FB (and the High Sierra Trail FB group), so have only seen a few pictures. I thought of boards also. But how would the boards get there? Who would do the work? How stable is each side of the blowout? Is the area even accessible to stock?
Trail crews? Heck, I'd help! :)

One more report from a guy named Coach who wrote a daily journal:

"After lunch I came to my last trail concern, a 10 foot section of trail slipped. So, you had to climb down 6 ft and walk along a ledge then up the other side. The best way I found alone was drop pack, jump down move my pack to the other side then climb up. POW! Just like that....and don't look down"

https://www.trailjournals.com/journal/entry/618464

Re: Conditions request: HST trail blow out between Hamilton and Precipice

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:44 pm
by Jim F
Thanks for the Trip Report from Coach.

Taking a second/closer look at the video of Kevin and Troy (beginning at 10:00 min) passage looks a bit more promising.

Will report back if I go that way.

Jim