And it felt like they were turning over faster than they ever had before, to the tempo of “All Eyes On Me” by Girl Talk. And there, in the talus field surrounding Cecile Lake, I found myself in an intense flow state. It made for a great start to the day. Many women have attempted it, but none have finished it and submitted their effort to the FKT database. Powerful trip planning tools and high quality maps. Route / Conditions: Character: The SHR is a largely cross-country hike, which as the name suggests, takes the walker on a high-level route (virtually all between 9,000 and 12,000 ft.) through some of the most pristine wilderness in California’s High Sierra. Relief! Do not be too concerned. I would carry his bike and/or sand toys (for beach destinations) and give him a break when he got tired of being trapped in the chariot. I had a smile on my face and I was bounding past all the JMTers like a deer. If you have to take this route, skirt back over towards the low point on the descent for some fantastic scree, rather than dealing with the tedious, firm slope covered in loose gravel directly below you. The descent off Blue Lake Pass surprised me a little. In 1999 we used a combination of Georges Veron’s, Pyrenees High Level Route (1990 – now out of print) and the French IGN series 1:50,000 Topographical maps.Unable to find topos for the Spanish side, we made do with the sketch maps in Veron’s bare-bones guide while hiking on the southern side of the border. I was disappointed to see so much smoke in the Owen’s Valley, but the views and the mild slope angle helped my mood immensely. The more technical side of passes tends to be on the north. Then I’d get a second chance to run back to the car when he got hungry for lunchtime. Luckily, I narrowly missed all the excitement that afternoon. Once again, I lucked out… While I was heading up to Frozen Lake Pass, the thunder lessened, eventually stopped, and did not start again. I watched a storm near The Hermit to the southwest as I contoured around to the John Muir Trail (JMT). “Thankful to have this inspiring mama in my life! Two crew members (Sean O’Rourke and Carol Patterson) met me at the Sprinter van this time. Free USGS topo maps! Past students wanting a refresher or to learn the new curriculum, please join us to teach. And before I knew it, I can see Sean’s headlamp in our camp. Stanton Pass is one of those spots that might leave you concerned after reading Roper’s book and online beta. During its course, it passes through Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Forest and Yosemite National Park. SNAP! The cost of commercial maps, especially for longer trips, can be significant and are not tailored to your planned start, route, or campsites. From the lake, climb Crater Pass, the low point at 3720 north of Crater Mountain. It’s pretty obnoxious. This is often not the case. Tax ID: 27-3009280. The Sierra High Route (SHR), a trek designed by Steve Roper to traverse the High Sierra, is near the top of my list of hikes to complete. ( Log Out /  The south side of passes tends to offer easier terrain for descending, such as scree and alpine meadows. Many women have attempted it, but none have finished it. When I got back into bed, it was a little after 12am…. In particular, I found satellite imagery and slope angle shading layers to be particularly helpful. CalTopo is a free and paid online service for making custom maps to print at home. As the weeks passed, I used CalTopo’s weekly hi-resolution satellite images to watch the winter white recede from monolithic iceberg, to mosquito wonderland, to High Sierra drought. It enables you to research trails, cross country routes, topography, snow levels, and even track weather forecasts. It was dark. Other random tricks include wearing a weighted pack when on walks with him (and/or carrying him in the backpack when he got tired of walking). Below the steepest part of the pass (the head wall) on the north side is a massive boulder field. The High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney is a challenging 75-mile trek whose scenery ranges from the giant forest of Sequoia National park, gorgeous mountain lakes, the Kern River Valley and of course the rocky jagged terrain of Mt Whitney. Kern is burnt out and brutal isothermic junk, good coverage and skiing up high through Tablelands. Your map can now talk to your GPS. After, I felt my energy and stoke increase and I caught every trip before it turned into a fall. !” Oh yeah, did I mention it was my wedding anniversary? CalTopo has made this seamless with their new Gaia GPS competitor app for iOS and Android. Want outdoor gear and skills info you can really trust? I found it to be particularly challenging to make sense of this section from home using Roper’s book, satellite imagery on Caltopo, and google earth. Shockingly, although there was some segments that were over/under my estimate, my total time on feet for the entire FKT matched my estimate to the second. In fact, I felt delirious. I left the van feeling strong but my spirits were quickly squashed when I couldn’t find the Mammoth Pass Trail leaving Reds Meadow Campground. Since it wasn’t part of any of my recon trips, I wasn’t sure how it would go… I ended up right in the middle if a disconnected ledge system on a very sheer face. I was particularly worried about whether my energy would plummet after I passed our campsite at Twin Lakes. We trek above Rosy Finch Lake then continue on the Sierra High Route over Bighorn pass and finally Shout-of-Relief Pass (11,400 feet). The location of Nancy Pass is a little ambiguous. It sounds like the kind of route that can chew you up and spit you out. And to his parents, that helped with childcare when daycare was not an option. Most of the route traverses the trailless backcountry, and, thus, carries the risks and beauties associated … Twitch. ( Log Out /  Trip Report: 2020.08 Southern Sierra High Route. And something about that break was magical… Maybe it was the food I ate (jerky?) It was amazing, even mind-blowing. It might have helped that I was ascending rather than descending, but I don’t think that explains all of the discrepancy. I found myself enjoying the scenery and even joking around a bit…. One thing worth noting is that my first trip was still relatively early season and we could traverse snow fields near the frozen lake. I decided to look at my InReach messages and I discovered some messages of support from friends: A smile spread across my face and a thought, “This is what I am out here for!” And of course, then I think about my toolkit: These were my tools to get through the miles. Speed check – can I go just a little bit faster. My legs held strong through all that continuous downhill running and about 5,200 feet of descent later, 7 minutes shy of 5 days, I saw the cars in the parking lot…. Travelling north to south means that rather than having to deal with blind descents through difficult terrain, you will be able to see the terrain and find a good route on the approach. for all ages and levels in the Pacific Northwest. Before doing the FKT, I did 4 reconnaissance trips that helped me to further set my course on a significant portion of the route: Twin Lakes to Devil’s Postpile, Piute Creek to the John Muir Trail (JMT), and Mather Pass to Road’s End. This is definitely not the case for the terrain on the north side of passes (generally talus and large boulder fields). We will follow the Sierra High Route to Upper Basin, just south of Mather Pass, where … Although I have been getting really interested in fast-packing and overnight running, when I discovered that the route passed highway 120 in Yosemite, went through Red’s Meadow/Devil’s Postpile, and got reasonably close to a number of trail heads, I got really excited about the idea of doing the entire route with a daypack, rather than carrying multiple days worth of food and overnight gear. Descend from Crater Pass across the open basin at the north end of the White Fork. It was only a little over 7 miles of fantastic run-able trail and there was a good chance I would hit the trail head before my 5-day goal. I would start at snack time so he would be content in the stroller while eating. I’ve been in two of the three obvious ones. It was a relatively flawless day overall and this leg took an hour less than planned. The Helen Memorial Plaque is just west of a use trail on the west shore of Marion Lake, on the side of a large triangular rock facing the lake. It was like I was watching the polar ice caps of Mars—before I landed at the trailhead I knew I would not need axe or crampons this year. (In fact, it was kind of shocking how many lakes and streams marked as year-round features were dry during my FKT! My favorite way to experience the mountains is to move freely and quickly over vast quantities of rugged terrain. Username: Password: Keep me signed in . Trimming down your pack weight as much as possible will really help! I discovered that they were not fully run-able for a variety of reasons during the recon and apparently neglected to fix his in my estimate after the fact. Luckily, I was not doing this a week or two earlier, when lighting seemed to be pummeling the entire state of California. 6 day sections) Expecting 30's-40's at night, 60's-70's during the day. And I had a small blister that needed to be dealt with before it became a real issue (my first in a long time). This was definitely the lowest point of the day. Keep off the steep slabs. I imagined it as being a series of scenic ridge traverses through the Sierra. The trick is to avoid going too high as you contour around to the white slabby section described in Roper’s book. Climb to the small shoulder at 3630 south of the lakes. The smoke stayed at bay for the rest of the day until I got close to Tuolumne Meadows. Last night’s sleep, the heat, whatever, was starting to get to me. that would sometimes lead to mommy and me yoga sessions. In this way, I could get 6-8 miles (or more) with him. But as soon as I hit the trail, the ecstasy returned. Quite the opposite in fact – I was absolutely ecstatic during the last climb up to Goat Crest Saddle (3 miles and 1,600 feet). Turns out, my timing was perfect. The climb to Gabbot Pass was absolutely the low point of my day (although there was certainly some competition for that on this leg). Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total) You must be logged in to reply to this topic. (Of course, glaciers can change on a daily basis and you should never fully rely on a model like this, but it’s a great start.) Different route, different challenges, but same endeavor of going after a fast time on a hard, multi-day adventure. Twitch. If you’re also plotting an escape, access the Webinar recording (or watch below) to add CalTopo to your repertoire or pick up some tips and tricks. It is a rugged alternate to the John Muir Trail (JMT)– it boasts about 100 miles of cross-country travel, numerous Class III scrambles, and endless miles of … Custom mapmaking is a new tool for our toolbox and, while more complicated, enables you to plan explorations of any corner of the planet. I imagined it as being a series of scenic ridge traverses through the Sierra. When I hit the JMT that day, I was quite ecstatic. In the Sierra and higher Cascade valleys, they are usually pretty tame … The “short class 3 slot” between Cecile and Minaret Lakes is very easy. “What am I getting myself into?” I sent InReach messages to my stepfather in Mammoth Lakes and my husband at home in Truckee to try to figure out where the fires were and how bad the smoke might be throughout the Sierra. It was raining, but I didn’t care. I think this might be due to the route-finding challenges, but I would guess it is usually from being uncomfortable with class 3 climbing while wearing a pack. And there were a lot of sticker bushes… Eventually, I found the trail. When coming from the north, the “gap” that leads to the use trail above Shadow Creek is not obvious at all. Essentially they told me that massive fires had been sparked throughout California by the recent lightning storms and I wondered if I would have to abandon the FKT for health reasons. Alan Dixon created his map sets for the Wind River High Route and the Southern Sierra High routes using Caltopo. It certainly made stream crossings easier though…) So I had to detour to McCloud Lake for water. I eventually gave up and just started climbing straight up the slope, in the approximate location of the supposed trail, which was not fun. I took the most direct line and was rewarded with a full body experience climbing around boulders that were sometimes larger than vehicles. He met me in Devil’s Postpile at night 2, hiked in our overnight gear and my food resupply at both Toe lake and the Bishop Pass Trail for night 3 and 4, stayed up until I got there, cooked dinner for me every night, woke up with me to make my hot water and get me on my feet in the morning, and drove my Sprinter van to Road’s End to meet me when I finished. But I found the process of selecting my route to be one of the most fun aspects of the project! I hadn’t been on a trail more than maybe a mile or so all day and I was looking forward to opening things up a bit and doing some running! Slabs and snow, not the best combination. Whether on skis, running shoes, or rock shoes, there is no other experience that blends speed, beauty, and technicality so wonderfully in my mind. I started hearing thunder and saw the most ominous of clouds directly over the Frozen Lake Pass area, my next destination. or the amino acids+carbs+electrolytes drink I put in my body bottle, but somehow I suddenly had energy to tackle the next climb up to Cecile Lake with gusto. The Mountaineers teaches skills and leads outdoor activities I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through Yosemite in 2006 and 2007, on the Sierra High Route in 2008, and on the John Muir Trail in 2011. From our vantage point on the “inconspicuous saddle” to the north, this saddle looked easier and more direct. It is easier to use but gives you less control over the output, particularly scale. It is only a small challenge to download these as a “GPX” file and import into Gaia GPS or another app. I was about to start my last massive climb (almost 4,000 ft over 6 miles) before camp and it was daunting. This is one of the few short sections of the route where travelling south to north could help a lot! This also seemed to be where Secor located the pass (in his book The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, Trails). But no fear – there is a fine (albeit loose and obnoxious) route to a higher point just to the east. After finishing this section, I shared this moment in an InReach message to my crew member Sean O’Rourke, “Feeling sky high wahoo!” I also found myself to be mesmerized by the patterns of sunlight on the lapping waves on Cecile Lake and the sunlight beams streaming through the smoke on the Minarets. But soon thereafter I hit the JMT and was able to enjoy some trail running, which was just what I needed at the time. I shared my stoke in a InReach message to family and friends “Running in the rain! During my recon trip with Liz, we opted for the west option. There was a bit of an interruption in the flow around Grouse Lake Pass (I went too high), the cliffs around Grouse Lake, and the Manzanita bushwhacking just before the Copper Creek Trail. It was a magical moment that had me dancing inside. I agree that $25-30 per year would be a better price point - think you would get many more subscriptions. CalTopo’s optional overlays expand the very concept of “a map.” Overlays can enhance your map with weather forecasts (temperature, precipitation, wind speed), slope shading, and real-time data from SnoTel sites, water gauges and weather stations. The high point? But I was prepared with a plan. Stay high and aim for the cluster of small lakes at 3470. This is one of the spots were north to south is very advantageous. After some time, I was a little surprised that both Sean and Carol did not seem to be stirring yet, because we had all decided to set our alarms for 5:30am. That meant a lot of stroller runs, primarily. Roper intentionally keeps this route vague, describing way points rather than a specific route, in order to maintain the wild nature of the terrain. This absolutely could not have been done without my wonderful husband’s support. Snow in the early season makes this all that much more complicated. It’s gorgeous thinking of us hiking jmt together Matt for our honeymoon happy anniversary! My start time of 1:35am left me with a lot of time following a tunnel of light from my headlamp, seeing animal eyes that turned out to be specks of mica. The instructors also indicated that printing UTM or Lat/Long grid lines is optional. Dusy Basin in the morning is so very special. Thankfully, I wasn’t wearing a big pack and I was comfortable soloing 4th and low 5th class terrain, so I managed to get through it without wasting much time. Cross-country travel can be exhausting. We welcome diverse skill bases and will develop you as an instructor. I primarily use it to make and print topographic maps, including for all of my guided trips and high route guides. The low point? To plan your next escape, try “rolling your own” maps using the CalTopo or Gaia GPS online services. It’s easy to find. Apparently I had forgotten to turn off last nights alarm. Taught by the CalTopo training team, the webinar covered the basics of using CalTopo for planning a trip, including navigating the map tools, saving and sharing maps, working with layers and overlays, using their new mobile app, creating routes, and more. I can see how you could get screwed and waste a lot of time if you were descending blind. In this section we cross the Sierra crest for the first time, and then descend to join Roper’s Sierra High Route (SHR) near Dusy Basin. Roper’s very fine Sierra High Route fixes these problems with the JMT, but requires a lot of skilled off-trail travel and and navigation. This area was a time sink for me during an early-season reconnaissance trip. The sun starts feeling low in the sky and my brain begins to think “If you aren’t heading home yet, you should be.” I was getting tired. I promise my students I will haunt them if they fail to print grid lines, which are the critical link between GPS devices and the physical map. I think this is the most daunting part to other mom’s so I want to make sure to mention it, but I wrote about this pretty extensively in my CA 14ers FKT Trip Report and I don’t want to go into that much depth again. Sean O’Rourke went above and beyond anything I could have asked for. Luckily, I had an idea that brightened my mood… Crossing the outlet of Twin Lakes required a thigh-deep wade. Not only is this faster, but safer. Other interested branches, Seattle will happily provide the curriculum and help you develop your instructors. Roper advises going one at a time here. Keep going Renee!”, “As a brand new Mama, Renee’s feats give me hope that I will be in the mountains once more.”, “Wishing you luck on the finish-What you are doing is amazing & something that lots of moms dream of-you are one of the strongest & smartest woman I know”, Breath in for three steps, breath out for two, repeat to infinity, Forget about what happened an hour ago, “do now right”. CalTopo has a smorgasbord of map types available, including the gold standard USGS, Forest Service, marine charts, satellite imagery, and a variety based on OpenStreetMap. As the terrain switched from forest to talus en route to Gabbott Pass, it was time to put on the scree gloves again, which lived in my pockets, available at a moment’s notice. And later, I did get a little rain while I was on the JMT, but the ground was drenched – it could have been a lot worse if I was there earlier in the day. But I finished feeling good, mentally and physically. I was plodding. They also stayed up until I made it to camp/my car every night, sending messages of encouragement all the while. Snow Tongue Pass is one of the more notorious passes on the route. There was definitely no trail where it was indicated on my gps watch. 5) to reflect modern best practices along with revisions to “navigation” in The Mountaineers Ten Essentials™. But for miles thereafter, the ground was soaked, making me glad I was not there earlier in the day. This was not helped when I saw a fellow SHR’er going the other way on Blue Lake Pass. I decided I would opt for the east option during the FKT, which seemed to be the pass described by Roper. This is a KML network link for displaying the Caltopo high resolution (7.5') version of the USGS topographic maps in Google Earth. cross country terain, but the route is pretty obvious from a good vantage point near Twin Lakes. The Southern Sierra High Route (SoSHR) starts at the South Lake trailhead, west of Bishop, CA. I didn’t have to register and calculate my steps around rocks in the trail – my legs did it for me. The sound of putting them on reminded me of a doctor putting on latex gloves, getting ready for surgery. Why am I in my early 40’s and only now learning about all of this? All time on feet counts!! When was almost ready to go I checked the time and… It was only 2:30! My route involved one steep slab section that might intimidate most backpackers. And over the col, in the Saddlebag Lake area, the skies were blue! Past instructors, please rejoin us—we promise to bring you up to speed. August 15, 2020 - August 24, 2020. If anything, I’d rather be ascending the slippery slope rather than having gravity threatening to pull me down it uncontrollably. The only concern with them is how steeper slabs can become dangerous when wet, from rain or snow melt above. I’d much rather finish with that as a descent. Somewhere in the basin, a very talented singer was expressing what I was feeling in song. 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