High Sierra Trail


Dec 23, 2013
This is a backpacking trip I completed with a friend along the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow to the Whitney Portal back in August of 2012. It was an eight day trip of approximately 70 miles from west to east. The trip could easily be done in six or seven days, but we had an extremely short day from Crabtree Meadow to Guitar Lake so that we could take our time and enjoy our surroundings for a day. Our campsites along the route were from west to east: Bearpaw Meadow, Big Arroyo, Moraine Lake, Junction Meadow, Crabtree Meadow, Guitar Lake, and Outpost Camp. The first mile or so we hiked through a Sequoia Grove and forest. Once we opened out into the Kaweah Canyon, we had incredible mountain scenery for the rest of our trip. I only took my Canon Powershot point-and-shoot camera with me on this trip, so the pictures leave a little to be desired, but I'll let them do the talking from this point on.

For you @wsp_scott

Map - West Portion

Map - East Portion

Lodgepole Visitor Center - where we picked up our official permit

Touristy shot near our trailhead. Man, I look young. What the hell happened @Bob? :)

Mileage marker at trailhead - doesn't include additional mileage for Moraine Lake and the descent to the Whitney Portal.

My backpacking partner and a couple of Sequoias

Popping out above Kaweah Canyon, looking back at Moro Rock

The High Sierras ahead

Beautiful granite

Ranger station at Bearpaw Meadow. We camped on our first night just down the trail from here

Morning shot back down the canyon on day two

View along the High Sierra Trail

Morning shadow along the granite

Looking back at the trail crossing a granite face

Almost too much to take in at this point

Falls along Hamilton Creek


Part of Valhalla

Looking down on the first of the Hamilton Lakes

Short tunnel along the trail

More Valhalla

Second of the Hamilton Lakes

Granite cliffs along Precipice Lake

Looking up towards Kaweah Gap

Looking from Kaweah Gap down the Big Arroyo Drainage

One of the lakes in Nine Lake Basin

Stunning views heading down the drainage towards night two's campsite

It's beginning to get long in the day

Cabin at Big Arroyo. We camped just down the trail from here

Day three and the amazing scenery never stops

Starting to hike up from the Big Arroyo Drainage

High mountain scenery

Looking down the Big Arroyo Drainage towards the Kern River Canyon

Some pretty meadows along our route too.

Moraine Lake, our third night's campsite

More meadows to begin day four

Starting our descent down into Kern River Canyon

Kern Canyon

The Kern River in 2012 - could rock hop across

The Kern River in 2017 on my TST trip - over your head deep and raging

Making our way up the Kern Canyon

Of course I had to stop and take a soak at the Kern Hot Spring - There is a cement tub that you can fill with hot water in the wooden enclosure behind me.

More Kern Canyon hiking on our way to night four's campsite at Junction Meadow

View in the morning for day five

Looking down the Kern Canyon on our way to intersect with the JMT

Up above Wallace Creek - looking west

Heading towards Crabtree Meadow

Looking back to the west along the JMT

View from Crabtree Meadow where we camped for our fifth night

First view of Mount Whitney in the evening from upper Crabtree Meadow

Morning of day six. Hiking up Whitney Creek towards Guitar Lake

Mount Whitney

Guitar Lake - our sixth night campsite

Morning of day seven. I awoke at 2:30 am in order to see the sunrise from the top of Mount Whitney. It was a blue moon so I could hike up the trail in the moonlight. I could see from Trail Crest, all the people hiking up the east side of the Whitney Portal, with their steady stream of headlamps. Only 1.9 miles to go!

The shack on top of Mount Whitney, which I have to myself for the time being

The Scat hand on top of Mount Whitney

Sunrise on Mount Whitney. Waiting for this to happen I was the coldest I have ever been in my life. The wind was blowing really hard.

Blue moon setting to the west

A look down the Whitney Portal towards Lone Pine and Owens Valley

Absolutely Freezing! :cold: Or as I like to say, "Cold Scat!"

View to the south

View to the west from Mount Whitney

Looking down on Murdock Lakes and Guitar Lake, where we camped the night before

Looking south along the ridge towards Trail Crest

Impressive indeed

Heading down towards Outpost Camp

Making our way to night seven's campsite at Outpost Camp

View in the morning of day eight

Heading down the Whitney Portal

View down the portal towards Owens Valley

View back up the canyon

My pack weighed 46 pounds at trail's end.

Bacon cheese burger and fries at the Whitney Portal Store!

And of course I had to take a trip down to Death Valley and Badwater Basin before heading home.


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Wow, that looks like a great trip. Thanks for digging up the old photos, they make me very excited for my first trip to the Sierra in August.
All of this report is great. Especially the smile on Whitney...
Wow, that looks like a great trip. Thanks for digging up the old photos, they make me very excited for my first trip to the Sierra in August.

No problem. What part of the Sierras are you heading to?
No problem. What part of the Sierras are you heading to?

I'm entering and exiting at Kearsarge Pass, going to spend 6 days exploring the area, not sure of details yet other than checking out Rae Lakes. I have 2 nights before I enter to hopefully aclimatize in the Onion Valley area.
Great report! We backpacked to Hamilton Lake and back in July of 2017 with our ten month old at the time. There was a huge ice flow just past the rock tunnel, so we had to turn around - that was our plan from the beginning, but it was pretty cool to see the ice flow nonetheless! Beautiful area for sure.
Great photos @scatman !! Is this from the pre-kilt days? :smilecoffee:

That trail across the granite face - yikes!! I'm not sure I could pull that off.
I'm entering and exiting at Kearsarge Pass, going to spend 6 days exploring the area, not sure of details yet other than checking out Rae Lakes. I have 2 nights before I enter to hopefully aclimatize in the Onion Valley area.

That looks like a great area to explore! I'll be looking forward to your trip report. :twothumbs:
Great photos @scatman !! Is this from the pre-kilt days? :smilecoffee:

That trail across the granite face - yikes!! I'm not sure I could pull that off.

You are correct, this is pre-kilt Scatman. I think I bought my first kilt in 2013 at the end of the year when it was on sale - Elkommando Kilt.

The trail across the granite face is wider than it probably looks in the picture. I don't think you would have had any issues (hug the wall). :)
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Holy crap, you’ve been holding out on us Scatman. This is amazing.

I haven't been holding out. This trip took place before I knew that Backcountrypost existed. I've got a few trips where I was using my wife's Olympus digital point-and-shoot before I bought the Canon Powershot. But when I was using her camera, I was still hauling around my 35mm Minolta with about 10 rolls of film. I haven't converted any of my prints or negatives to a digital format though. I did a couple trips with a medium format camera, the Mamiya RB67. Best damn pictures I've ever taken. It was heavy though - I want to say twelve pounds? I'm sure someone here will know. No wonder my left knee is shot! :)
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