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Sierra High Route: Permits, alternate start/end points
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nathan matthews
(nathanm) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Sierra High Route: Permits, alternate start/end points on 04/14/2012 21:11:50 MDT Print View

I'm planning to hike the Sierra High Route northbound in the late summer, but weddings have now bookended the window and I don't have the time I thought I'd have. So, I'm looking to shave a few days off the route.

I'm already planning on ending at Tuolumne meadow--I'll be swapping hiking partners at Red's Meadow, and my second-stage partner doesn't want to go farther than the fifty miles to Tuolumne. I ought to shave 30 miles off the southern leg--I could get away with cutting 20 but it would be pushing my limits, and I'd conversely rather not leave off more than that. So, I'm looking for suggestions of alternative start points or routes that get me to Red's Meadow generally along the SHR or on similar terrain in about 90 miles. Alternatively, if there's another way to do a 140 mile segment broken into 90 and 50 mile chunks (northbound or southbound), that would work too.

As a related question, I have Skurka's map set and I'm reading Roper, but I haven't figured anything out about permits yet. Obviously the permit question will in part depend on where exactly I'm going, but I'd appreciate any explanation of how permitting works.



Stephan Doyle
Re: Sierra High Route: Permits, alternate start/end points on 04/14/2012 22:25:38 MDT Print View

Permits work with your STARTING TRAILHEAD. Once you have assured a permit, they'll ask for an itinerary (no, you mustn't stick to it).

Permits within National Parks (e.g. Yosemite, Kings Canyon) are substantially harder to obtain than National Forests (e.g. Inyo). Likely, the advance lottery has already taken place if you're looking to start within National Park boundaries (it depends on your start date). The USFS has a new system in place this year, with advance registration online, but walkup permits should still be easy to obtain.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
option on 04/15/2012 00:26:02 MDT Print View

You could start at South Lake/Bishop Pass/Dusy Basin. I am not sure how far it is from there to Reds, I would guess 90 miles or just short of that.

If you get to Reds well before your friend is planning to arrive, you can kill all sorts of time in the Ritter Range. Or if you arrive way ahead of schedule, hitch to Bridgeport and do the northernmost section of the SHR, Twin Lakes to Tuolumne, then hitch back to Mammoth to meet your friend.

A downside for that plan is that Bishop Pass is incredibly popular, most likely it's all reserved up now and you'll need to get a walk-in. Most likely you'd need to show up at an Inyo National Forest ranger station (Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth, or Lee Vining) around 11 a.m. the day prior to the day you want to start in at Bishop Pass.

The difficult start logistically is Roads End at Kings Canyon, because that is a westside entry. If you stick to eastside entries, it is relatively easy to hitch around (though leave several hours for each ride).

Good place to post your question would be the backpacking forum at

- Elizabeth

nathan matthews
(nathanm) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Courtright Reservoir and Long Meadow Trail on 04/15/2012 14:15:12 MDT Print View

Thanks for the advice. Elizabeth, South Lake to Bishop Pass sounds like a good idea, but since I'll be hiring a friend to drop me off from the Bay Area, a west side entry would probably be logistically easier.

I've been looking at online USGS quads, and I'm thinking about starting at the Courtright Reservoir and taking the Long Meadow Trail east to the S. Fork San Joaquin, then following the river north to Evolution Valley. It looks like these guys did the Long Meadow Trail part of that route in 2003: (days 1 and 2 of their trip). Just eyeballing the map, I think that's about 30 trail miles to Evolution Lake, which is where the SHR leaves the JMT at Skurka's mile maker 58.7. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on that entry.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
drop-off on 04/15/2012 22:07:38 MDT Print View

Any westside entry is going to take your friend from the Bay Area a minimum of 4.5 hours and up to 6 hours to drive to. The roads into the westside entries just get really long, slow and windy.

Here's another idea:
Have your friend drop you at Tuolumne Meadows. That's a ~4.5 hour drive.
Hike north along the HSR to Twin Lakes.
That section will give you an idea of how fast you can move, realistically, along the HSR.
Now, from Twin Lakes, hitchhike south and snag a walk-in entry for a starting point based on your newly calculated realistic-mileage calculation. My guess, you'll go in Piute Pass. Or maybe Pine Creek Pass just north of there.

You really need to post at highsierratopix...LOTS of people there who know much more than me about your various options.