The hot temperatures we are having right now made me long for the coolness of the High Sierra. I didn’t make it up there nearly as often as I wanted. October 2007 is one of the few times I did. It was a weekend, so we didn’t have the trail to ourselves but at least I got to summit nude. (You may take this as a warning about NSFW content later in the post if you wish.)
About a dozen years ago when I still had a reasonably functional body, I hiked up
Kearsarge Trail with a friend to the pass. It is not a strenuous hike. Or at least was not for us at the time.
If you look at that chart, the slope is almost continuous. No big dips and no super steep sections. Very well laid out trail. Being only a bit less than ten miles round trip, it made a perfect day hike.
Onion Valley campground was closed. They like to close camps right after Labor Day up there because of the potential for early storms. We camped at Lower Grey’s Meadow campground the night before at 6000 ft instead.
The weather was perfect. You don’t expect October to be warm and sunny up there. The high temp that day at elevation was probably in the 60s. You’d expect to have to walk thru snow every now and then. We didn’t. One of the reasons we went when we did was we expected the cold autumn weather to keep us comfortable. Instead, we ditched our cool weather gear on the way up.
I kind of ditched my clothes near the top…
The bigger issue was possible mountain sickness. The pass is almost 12k ft. in elevation. A night at 9.2k ft. would have acclimated us better. (People have gotten sick as low as 7K ft. but I don’t seem to be vulnerable that way.) A night at 6k feet wasn’t a lot of help. (Didn’t know it at the time but mountaineers have found that Viagara can treat mountain sickness and prevent it from happening.) Our strategy was to go slow and rest often and it worked.
From the pass, you can see into the Kings Canyon National Park backcountry and Kearsarge Lakes. Continue down the east side and you will meet the John Muir Trail. We didn’t have time for that. It wasn’t that bad a hike but I still had to take it slow.
We met few other people on the trail. There was a pack train on its way down and a couple of Marines who were running the trail. Always make sure the people ahead of you are behind you before you strip down.
The other reason to go this late in the season was to avoid the crowds. I imagine that during the summer season it would have been crowded. There are other trails that take off from the same parking area so I imagine it would fill up quickly.
Just a cool stroll down memory lane.