I went backpacking with Gina and one of our friends, Mary Clare, from 8/12/20 to 8/18/20. We started at the Wolverton trailhead in Sequoia National Park and headed East on the High Sierra Trail (HST). After a few days we turned off the HST at Big Arroyo Creek and looped through Little Five Lakes and Black Rock Pass before returning back to Sequoia NP on the HST.
As usual, hiking in the Sierras and carrying a heavy backpack was more difficult in practice than in my memories. But the views were awesome, the company was great, and getting away from the house and my computer screen was much-needed. The chance to not see or think about the Covid 19 pandemic for a few days was also very nice.
While hiking there was some scattered rain and some visible lightning, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for the Sierras. Unfortunately when we returned home a big portion of northern California was on fire and we're now even more homebound.
A few lessons learned this trip:
- Trader Joe's Indian food pouches were perfectly fine substitutes for backpacking food, which is hard to find at outdoors stores right now. A little heavier but much tastier and way cheaper
- Don't buy Trader Joe's tortillas of any kind - they get moldy instantly
- Don't use the plastic bags that come with the Sawyer squeeze filters. All of ours broke open. Luckily, we brought a few Smart water bottles as backups or we'd have been screwed!
Day 1 - Wolverton to Mehrton Creek @ HST
We started at the Wolverton trailhead in Sequoia National Park and took the Wolverton cutoff trail down to the HST. We camped where the cutoff trail intersected the High Sierra Trail.
Day 2 - HST and Hamilton Lakes
The day started with a beautiful hike along a ridge overlooking a valley on the HST. At a rest stop we were pondering the meaning of Valhalla - in this instance a rocky peak above the valley we learned about from the map - and were informed of its Nordic significance by some passing dudes. After our mythology lesson we passed through High Sierra Camp and ascended a tough set of switchbacks up to Hamilton Lake. We were going to head up to Precipice lake, but a wise old dude at the bottom said there were no campsites and the rain forecast didn't look good (it didn't rain lol).
Day 3 - Precipice Lake to Kaweah Gap to Little Five Lakes
We began the day with a super pretty and steep ("well graded" according to wise old guy) hike up to Precipice Lake. Some guy asked us if we sprouted wings and flew up the ascent, which pumped our egos unnecessarily. We then summited Kaweah Gap and crushed the long descent to Big Arroyo Creek. At this junction we turned off the HST and headed up (steep and not well graded, according to us - old guy opinion unclear) to Little Five Lakes (yes, that's the correct ordering of those words). The trail up to the lakes took as past a couple really nice lakes before we found a campground at the foot of the biggest of the Little Five Lakes.
Day 4 - Little Five Lakes to Black Rock Pass to Redwood Meadow Grove
The ascent up Black Rock Pass was no match for our uphill hiking skillz, but the descent was horrendous. The trail was very steep, extremely rocky, and very exposed. After what felt like 5 hours we finally descended all the way down to Redwood Meadow Grove which was super buggy, had no water, and featured some very zombie-apocalypse-looking buildings. Bright spots on the way down were seeing 2 bears (polar bears, we think) that minded their own business and trundled past as well as a huge grove of Sequoias! Without water for camping we pushed past Redwood Meadow and eventually found a campsite right near a bridge along Granite Creek.
Day 5 - Bearpaw Meadow to Mehrten Meadow
The trail brought us back to the HST where we passed through Bearpaw Meadow and filled up on water at a convenient spigot. The weather was noticeably hotter and storm clouds rumbled above, but we didn't get any rain. We retraced our steps back to our first campsite where we discussed a game plan for how to deal with potential rainstorm and the requirement to be home by 4 PM the following day. We ultimately settled on pressing past our first day's campsite and ascending the Wolverton cutoff trail up to Mehrtent Meadows. We saw another bear on the trail, except this one was not scared of us at all, possibly because we were singing Taylor Swift. More study is needed to know for sure. It eventually ambled past and we found a nice campsite and ate the rest of our food before falling asleep at 7:45 PM.
Day 6 - Back to Wolverton
A pretty uneventful morning hike brought us back to the trailhead where we made coffee and oatmeal in the parking lot and said our goodbyes!
All photos from trip: https://photos.app.goo.gl/XNbEdV3E4XifndCY7