Day 1 - From Road's End to Grouse Lake

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
Elevation versus Distance graph for the section from Road's End to Grouse Lake for the Sierra High Route



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 he gave us some last minute tips which made us a bit more anxious. At around 11:20am we officially started our brutal first day. The first day is one of the most hated days of the SHR as you basically have to walk up the whole day with your FULL and HEAVY backpacks in the sun. The first day is at least along a trail, so you do not have to worry about route finding troubles yet. It was exhausting and for the first 2 hrs, I had to stop several times, I felt anxious and my shoulder was already hurting from the weight of the backpack. I was constantly rethinking my decision of doing the SHR, I felt anxious about the sheer loneliness that we will be encounter in the next 3 weeks and I had to cry. But, we did not stop, this was just the beginning and we want to make it happen!
On the way up, we encountered a rattle snake. The snake was as scared as me when we saw each other, I screamed and the snake rattled and fell off the path :-) Nothing happened, just our first encounter with nature. We stopped frequently to rest for a bit and to fuel up on snacks. We both had problems finishing our snacks because of the high altitude and we realized it is going to be a challenge to eat all of our 3,500 calories worth of food. After the first set of switchbacks which were mostly in the sun, we made it to Lower Tent Meadow which leads to a shady, forest section (Upper Tent meadow). Just before this section, we passed by a water stream and made sure to fill up our water bags again. The shade and water was a huge relief as the sun was burning. The section in the forest took a long time to finish and at some point we finally reached a swampy meadow indicating that we were near the end of day one. We reached Grouse lake at 6:12pm at an altitude of 3,200m.
Interestingly, there was another person camping overnight, a german guy who worked for IBM, what a coincidence. We talked to him for a while and shared our dinner time. We had couscous with beans for dinner which we never tested before and were surprised how good it tasted. It was a lot of food and we knew that we have to finish this every day to get our calories in and to not carry any extra unnecessary garbage/weight. In our tent, we read about tomorrows section in our Roper book. Tomorrow will be the first day off trail, this will be our standard for the remainder of the route. We never travelled off trail before, so we were excited and anxious. At 8:47pm, we went to bed. 


Zeno and Ann-Lauriene just before starting the route.

Such a wonderful but hot first day. 

The meadow after the first steep section.

Desperately needing some shade. 

What an exhausting first day.

Our first camping spot. 

The moon was out, what a great night. 

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