The High Sierra: An Authentic Experience
Pushing Through it All
I can’t wait to be up in the Sierra, where the water runs and shade is a plenty, I thought to myself as I trudged up the sandy hills and sage brush slopes of the desert. Fast forward a few weeks to today, June 15th, Mammoth, CA. Mile 903. I Look back upon photos from the desert, and reminisce with friends about just how easy it was when days began at 7 am, not 4 and 10 miles took you 4 hours, not 8. Where Sun cups didn’t try and take you down with every step, and our packs didn’t jingle with crampons and clang with ice axes on the rock that looms over us each night. The High Sierra have been a project. They have been difficult, rewarding, dangerous, adventurers, testing, breathtaking, thrilling, and most importantly, authentic.
Cavemoney from Germany, Viking from Boston, Kate from the Czech Republic, and Strider from Sweden. Cavemoney and I started the same day, and have nearly hiked every mile together since. I met Viking way back just outside of Big Bear, Strider just before Kennedy Meadows, and Kate just before Forester Pass. A lovely group of people, from all around the world with all sorts of stories and experiences. It has been a pleasure doing the most difficult section so far with these fine folks, laughter and conversation makes the miles that much easier.
Snow in the Sierra?
If you have’t already heard, the Sierras are snowy this year. Hikers are skipping, flipflopping and walking right through, each having their reasons, or just getting a taste of the snow, each having their own experience. We decided to walk on through, as you do on a thru hike. Take the seasons and weather as it comes, and deal with the strenuous miles that are expected as a thru hiker, after all, thru hiking the PCT or AT isn’t a book you can read or a movie you watch. Thru hiking requires uncomfortable times, slow miles, and very very wet feet. Myself, and the group I am hiking with decided to do the Sierra as they are because it is a challenge. We knew this was going to be apart of this years hike.
I add the word “Authentic” into the title because this section isn’t the normal miles we have had before, it isn’t a groomed trail where you can zone out for a few hours while miles pass by, its the High Sierra. Hiking through the desert required you to just walk, and sometimes look at your guide to find the trail, it seemed routine. The last section we walked was from Kearsarge pass – Mammoth Pass was far from routine. Spanning 130 miles or so including the side trails to town, with 6 passes, most of them over 12,000 feet. The section took us about 7 days, each day beginning before the sun rose, with frosted tents and frozen water to greet us. Each day seemed more exhausting than the last, and each morning colder than the days prior.
In the end, Hike Your Own Hike!
Having a genuine experience is refreshing, and gives you perspective for the rest of the trail. I believe any thru hiker can do the at least some of Sierras, it will be harder than anything before, but I know most can do it. Give it a try, and if you can’t handle the authentic experience, or truly feel unsafe, than hopefully you at least come back and do those lost miles, for the High Sierra is what makes 2017 truly a special year to hike.
Having difficulty getting photos off of my Camera, so these are it for now!
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