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Category : Sierra High Route

The Sierra High Route (SHR) is an alternate route — not a trail — through the high Sierra Nevada suggested by Steve Roper in his 1990 book Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline County. It somewhat parallels the John Muir Trail (JMT) for most its length, and briefly uses the JMT to move from one crest to another. Steve Roper agonized over whether to share the route in a book; he feared its pristine nature would be damaged by overuse.

Between the months of June and October 2015, I had the privilege to take on every mile of the SHR, solo. I attacked it in a south to north fashion; however, I started with a chunk at the north, and hiked subsequent chunks moving south by a chunk from that. I had the luxury to be able to take chunks over the course of several months, when I felt up to them. However, as I approached the southernmost chunk, smoke from the expansive (80,000 acres and only 25% at the time of writing in early September) Rough Fire filled the Kings Canyon and closed the southern terminus at Cedar Grove. It’s uncertain when I will be able to hike the remaining 30 miles from Land’s End to Taboose Pass (the SHR near the southern foot of Mathers Pass).

I kept my camper van in Lone Pine, a wild frontier town in the Eastern Sierra, and resupplied from there. All trail access was done by hitchhiking and the Eastern Sierra Transit bus. As I already had the gear from my PCT thru-hike, this hike cost me very little money (mostly just food expense).

June 13-15th: Tuolumne Meadows to Twin Lakes
July 15-19th: Reds Meadow to Tuolumne Meadows
July 24-27th: Piute Pass to Reds Meadow
August 16-20th: Taboose Pass to Piute Pass
October 18-22nd: Kearsarge Pass to Taboose Pass

Total trail miles: ~195 of 195 (Roper’s main suggested route almost completed; two “major” alternates used: Alpine Col and Cartridge Pass)
Total miles hiked (access trails included): 233
Total days on trail: 21
Today days on the SHR: 19

Sierra mountains

Heart-shaped Hole

During this descent [along Mill Creek down the Second Recess] the hiker can enjoy an unusual Sierra sight. Across the Second Recess and about one mile distant is a gigantic, heart-shaped hole in a steep cliff. So incongruous is this feature that the mind struggles to explain it. Perhaps it is a gouge left after a massive rockfall–no, it is too deep. Perhaps it is a cave–but, no, caves don’t occur in granite. All one can say is that it is a mysterious feature. ~ Steve Roper, THE SIERRA HIGH ROUTE: Traversing Timberline Country ? After staring at this ridge for a little while, I found the heart-shaped hole (center). It is definitely heart-shaped and it is definitely huge. Wish… continue reading

Duck Lake

Duck Lake is worth visiting either from Mammoth over Duck Pass or from the JMT south of Reds Meadow. The more remote and less-traveled spots are always worth the trouble to get to!

Hammil Lake

Just finishing up 53 more miles on the Sierra High Route, headed down to Reds Meadow where I pray the hot spring isn’t padlocked. View down on Hammil Lake and Mammoth Creek from Mammoth Crest.

Ursa Lake

Rainbows of color in Ursa Lake, at 11,480ft. Turquoise water with rusty red and gold sand beds. Chartreuse moss in the green grass, perfectly blue skies. Bear Lakes Basin, Saturday

Little Package