Well, here's the short post, with a very detailed and in depth report to follow a bit later.
Left July 30 from Idaho, flew to Reno, drove down and was dropped off at Onion Valley that late afternoon. Hiked over Kearsarge, (my first Sierra pass) and bivied below the pass a few miles down. The next morning, Sunday, hiked down Bubbs to Roads End to meet my hiking partner Royal.
Left for the SHR officially on Aug 1, and what a butt kicker that first day is!! Felt like a million miles of elevation gain up and over Copper Cr and thru Grouse lake. We camped at the upper States Lake on our first day. Already can see that this route is incredibly PHYSICAL!!
Day 2 saw us begin banging out the passes as we hiked over Windy Ridge, Grey Pass, White Pass, Red Pass, and finally Frozen Lake Pass before crashing at Upper Basin. Even with all of the training I've been doing, this route has me on the edge of being able to keep up only two days in.
Day 3 began with Mather Pass, and we begin to see a trend that will catch up to us the farther north we travel. Snow, and alpine ice, and lots of it... Mather is a bytch, and its not even that hard. Conditions make it suck. We continue on and go over Cirque Pass, Potluck Pass, the "inconspicuous" saddle, and Knapsack Pass before camping in Dusy Basin. We are absolutley hammered! We have seen 4 parties on the route, one coming south doing a section, and 3 others going north that started 2 days ahead of us. We have passed them all.
Day 4 sees us drop down and catch the JMT and head for Muir Pass. We are looking forward to a nice trail day, with some cool sightseeing! What a shock to have the trail kick our butts. Muir Pass is a disaster. The snow is solid for over 3 miles, maybe close to 4!, the sun cups are huge, the trail is everywhere, there are snow bridges waiting to drop and kill us over raging torrents of water. I want my mommmy! The sun is an oven, and our feet are soaked thru; I know that they are pruned up and blisters are about to happen. All the lakes up and down thru the pass are still frozen. We finally make it to Evolution Lake to crash for the night. We have some serious decisions now to make. We spoke at length with a ranger in LeConte and recieved news that we could kind of base snow levels and conditions on what we see at Muir Pass. All of the next 3 days are at those elevations, and higher. There is no way we are capable of fighting thru that.
We ultimatley decide to drop off the SHR and catch the JMT and take it to Reds where we will bail out and exit the route.
Bottom line is that with our timetable, our food supply, and our footwear, we would not be very successful if we kept on the route. Conditions are just really incredible this year. We ultimatley took the JMT, kept up the pace, avg'd a bit over 20 miles a day, hit Reds, and then Mammoth where we caught our shuttle ride and now I'm back in Idaho, feeling like the 52yr old man I am! Final tally is something like 60 miles on the SHR, then another 80-90 on the JMT and other trails...
I took meticulous notes and tracked our progress daily on my Sunnto watch, and I also took about 200 photos. I'll be putting together a really in depth report, with a summary of what was good, bad, and what ever at a later date. But wanted to get a short note out there to let others know of conditions.
As a summary with conditions when we left, the most dangerous things to be aware of would be the snow pack, specifically with gullies, and other areas where water is running under the snow, creating very dangerous objective hazards; ie snow bridges, thin snow over the water, and the scree/talus, and long miles with wet and sun heated and snow refelction/sunburn possibilities.
Let me know if there are any questions and I'll try to answer them asap!