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Questions about High Sierra trail

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Questions about High Sierra trail

Postby Satchel Buddah » Thu May 17, 2018 10:04 am

hi all!
Planning to do the HST around september 16 and I have a few questions:)
Planning to do it in 7 days so I have some time to see the sights and enjoy my time up there.

One of them is food storage. I have a small BV 450 and an ursack white. I suspect the BV will not be enough and I have been looking at the bearikades. I am neat with compacting food and repacking everything so let's assume packing will be pretty efficient.
Planning on 2500 cals/day - does that sound about right ?

What bear can size would you recommend on the 7 day ? I know the ursack is not "legal" but it's a bit tempting to stick to a smaller size can and use ursack as auxiliary for the beginning of the trip ? or just go for a large can ?

Another question is about legal fire rings along the way - That would influence food options and fuel packing (I do esbit stove/dehydrated when fire is not an option, but I do love backcountry cooking whenever possible)... How many of these camps have access to legal fire?

thank you for your wisdom!



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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby balzaccom » Thu May 17, 2018 11:12 am

You are not going to get me to recommend avoiding the regulations concerning food storage. 2500 calories a day seems fine, but what really matters is how you get those calories---and carry them. Are they dense packages of freeze dried foods, or big boxes of noodles? That will determine how big a bear can you need. My wife and I have done 8 days for two people with a BV500 and a 450. Seems like you should be able to do 8 days as a single with the BV500.

We don't build fires, so can't really comment on the campsites. We look for those without fire rings, in most cases. Hopefully someone else can help you there.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby zacjust32 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:24 am

No fires at Hamilton or above 9000 ft until you get to the Kern Drainage, then no fires above 10,000 feet. That basically limits you to Bearpaw Meadow, Big Arroyo, Moraine Lake and Kern River/Junction Meadow.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby bobby49 » Thu May 17, 2018 12:43 pm

You might be able to find places for legal campfires, but they will be few and far between, and all unnecessary. As for the bear canister, there are a number of bear boxes along the way, and you can probably use those to augment your own canister volume. However, we don't know if you will be camping near them. I suggest that you study the bear box locations, and then adapt your own daily progress to meet up with those. Last year I reached upper Crabtree Meadow on Day Four, then dayhiked Whitney on Day Five, and then exited south over Cottonwood Pass on Day Six. I had intended to cover about 10 miles per day, but I was going light and fast and was making more like 14 miles per day. I used a tiny butane stove, so I always had hot drinks for breakfast and dinner. During the middle of the day, I just drank most of my calories (maltodextrin, etc.). I packed food for 9 days, and 15 pounds that fit into a Bearikade Scout. At the end, I carried out over 5 pounds of food.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 17, 2018 12:46 pm

Plenty of bear boxes between the start and Hamilton Lake. If taking 7 full days, you will not need first day breakfast or last day dinner, so it actually is 6.3 days of food. Any that does not fit the first night can be put in the bear boxes. From then on, you should have no problem. I can regularly get 9 days in my Bearikade Weekender. I see no need to add the Ursack. I assume if others are with you, everyone will have or rent a bear can. As for non-food "smelly" stuff just minimize- take only what is needed for sunscreen, toothpaste. No need for soap.

I do 2500 calories with 1.3 pounds per day. That takes some careful food selection, including more fat than you usually eat, because fats have twice the calories as carbs and protein. I take 4 oz of olive oil and just put a little in everything I eat. You also have to think about food volumes- freeze dried meals often are quite bulky. Even if you have to take more fuel to cook, non-instant food packs more compactly. For example, I use steel cut oats instead of instant. If you want quick breakfast cereal, then Malt-o-Meal packs very well. Add dried fruit and nuts and powdered milk. And re-package almost all food- it will really make a difference. Fill the zip locks leaving plenty of room. A loosely packed bag fits better in a bear can. 2500 calories a day may be a bit light if you are a big person, but I would not worry about that too much. Most people eat less the first few days. It is all downhill from Whitney and just as well be hungry for the great food you can buy at the Portal!

It is quite possible that by September, there will be a restriction and campfires will not be allowed. I think it is better to just plan on not having a campfire.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby longri » Thu May 17, 2018 1:49 pm

I personally would be very hungry on 2500 Cal per day. It would ruin my trip. But everybody is different. Are you a 300lb 22 year old athlete? An 80lb 75 year old woman?

How much you can get into a bear canister is also hard to quantify since it depends so much on food choices. It's possible to fit three weeks worth of food at 2500 Cal/day in a BV450. It just wouldn't be food you'd be happy with. I have a BV450 and can barely get 4 days worth in it (at 3500 Cal/day).

Bear boxes are the easiest answer if you don't want to carry a bigger canister. I did the whole thing without a canister by using the boxes. But it means you have to camp near the boxes which can be kind of a pain.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 17, 2018 2:33 pm

I was under the impression that current regulations allow supplement with a bear box, but still require the can. I thought this was due to no guarantee bear box space will always be available. Check the most recent regulations; both the Whitney Zone (Inyo Forest) and SEKI.

Given you will run across lots of bear boxes, I do not see any problem. If you take bulky food you may be limited to campsites with bear boxes the first half of the trip. Lots of boxes between TH and Hamilton Lake. Next box at Moraine Lake is the only long stretch. After that there are boxes at Kern Hot Springs, Junction Meadow, Wallace Creek, Crabtree RS.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby longri » Thu May 17, 2018 2:39 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I was under the impression that current regulations allow supplement with a bear box, but still require the can. I thought this was due to no guarantee bear box space will always be available. Check the most recent regulations; both the Whitney Zone (Inyo Forest) and SEKI.


Check them yourself and you'll see that your impression is inaccurate. You do not have to carry a bear canister in the vast majority of SEKI. You do have to store your food in an approved manner, and the bear boxes are one of them.

So it does the beg the question -- what if can't make it to a box (or there's no space within one)? Unless you can hang your food you'll have to improvise. Staying awake all night guarding your food would be one way.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby maverick » Thu May 17, 2018 2:58 pm

You do not have to carry a bear canister in the vast majority of SEKI. You do have to store your food in an approved manner, and the bear boxes are one of them.


That is correct, an approved portable food container is only required in 3 sections, in the rest of SEKI a portable food storage is only recommended. SEKI has their list of allowed food storage containers, but for most of SEKI they are still only recommended.
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Re: Questions about Hight Sierra trail

Postby CAMERONM » Thu May 17, 2018 5:21 pm

I can get 7 days, or maybe 8, into a Weekender. That's with all crushed stuff, no air, in the 1.5-1.8 lbs/day range.
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