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The Sierra High Route (SHR 2016)

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The Sierra High Route (SHR) is a 314 km (195 mile) long backcountry hiking route in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, USA. It runs from Roads End in Kings Canyon National Park to Mammoth lakes in Yosemite national park. The famous climber Steve Roper wrote a book about this route back in 1997. In his book, he went through the north bound version of the route, this is also why we decided to follow the same direction. 

ABOUT US



We are Zeno (29) and Ann-Lauriene (30), a married outdoor-enthusiast couple. We were born in Switzerland and Germany and lived in Montreal for the last 4 1/2 year to get our doctoral degree in Physics. During a roadtrip through the USA back in 2009, we first hiked together more seriously and loved it. Since then, we hiked Mt. Whitney (the highest mountain in continuous US), Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, Mana Loa in Hawaii, all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks and many more.  TIMING  Possible times to complete the SHR is from June to Early October. In the …

Food Plan for Sierra High Route

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Planning your food for the Sierra High Route in California definitely takes some time and this part was something we have never optimized before.
There are two parts that are important when preparing the food: 
1.Calorie requirement. Hiking 10hrs a day up and down with a heavy backpack in high altitude requires the intake of a lot of calories. At times, you have to force yourself to eat. We planned a total of 3,731 calories per Person per day. 
2. Calorie per weight density. As you need so much calories you really want to make sure to eat high calorie density foods, meaning you want to pack as much calories per ounce so that your pack will not be unnecessary heavy. However, you still want to enjoy your meals and not drink pure olive oil all day long. Aiming for a calorie/ounce factor of at least 100 is crucial. Snickers is great food with a calorie/weight density of 134, pretty good and tasty. 
Having said that, below is a complete list of all the food we prepared for our trip. We prem…

Gear List for Sierra High Route

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Here is our complete gear list for the Sierra High Route (SHR 2016). The 'SHARED' weight was equally divided between Zeno and Ann-Lauriene and is added to both base weights. The base weight excluded all worn clothing. 
Our base weight was Ann-Lauriene was 11.9kg (26.2lb) and for Zeno 12.3kg (27.1lb). These base weight are by far not ultra light. Our packs including food were an additional 4.8kg (10.6lb) for the first section and 6.1kg (13.4lb) for the second section.
Weight can be saved by having a lighter backpack, tent and sleeping bag. 

Day 1 - From Road's End to Grouse Lake

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Distance: 15.4km (9.6mi) Hiking time: 7:13hr
Elevation gain: 1,722m (5,649ft)
Total people met: 9
‘The hiker must toil up 6,000 feet to the first major pass,  a disheartening prospect’ - Steve Roper


The first day was full of emotions: happiness, excitement, anxiety, fear, and many more. We started our journey in Fresno where we slept for about 4hrs in a motel. We dropped off our rental car that got us from LA to Fresno at the airport and got picked up by a friendly older gentleman who gave us a lift from the airport to Roads End in Kings Canyon National Park. We posted an ad on Craigslist (Rideshare Fresno) to organize this one-way transfer. On the way to the park, Kurtis (our driver) gave us a brief history of the area, which was very interesting. The drive took about 2.5hrs and once we were at Road’s End we were on our own.  We got a wilderness permit from the ranger on duty and filled up our water bags. We met someone at the ranger station who had done the SHR in two sections before and h…

DAY 2 - Grouse Lake to Horseshoe Lake

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Distance: 17.3km (11.1mi) Hiking time: 9:12hr Elevation gain: 1,507m (4,944ft) Total people met: 0 ‘And for the first time on the High Route the hiker encounters steep and rough terrain’ - Steve Roper


The night was warm and quiet, it was almost a full moon. It's our second day, how exciting! At this point we realized how long this trip and how remote the trail will be. Luckily, to our surprise our legs felt fine from yesterday's walking up. We had breakfast together with our German friend and headed out at 8:20am.
Today will be our first partly trail-less day! The route finding up Grouse Lake Pass was easy, however the waking up in the morning was hard. By the time we made it to the Pass we were definitely warmed up and ready for the day. It was time for our first Snickers break, oh how nice it is to have a Snickers for your second breakfast. From the pass we had to head down into the meadow. We stayed a bit too far to the left and made a small detour, our first realization that yo…

Day 3 - Horseshoe Lake to Lake Basin

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Distance: 14.2km (8,8mi) Hiking time: 10:30hr Elevation gain: 1,688m (5,538ft) Total people met: 0 ‘The terrain between the two passes proves far more complex than the previous section’ - Steve Roper



The night was very nice and we were on our way at 7:40am. From Horseshoe lake, we went up into the forest leaving the ridge to our left. This was a strenuous but rewarding morning workout. We quickly had to take off our first layer of clothing. At the top we reached a small meadow that offered excellent breathtaking views! This gave us a huge motivation boost, we felt like on top of the world, so remote and in line with nature, just pure joy.
The path to Gray pass was easy to find and it offered a great way. From there, we were first descending on a faint path downhill. However, we lost it at some point and decided to drop further down on the right side along grassy slabs and by a scree field that was not too bad too pass. At the south fork, we found a beautiful resting spot by a stream.
The n…