SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Backpacker Magazine – May 2011

Going to Extremes

Can you ever really have too much of a good thing? Once you've seen the biggest tree, largest glacier, and deepest canyon, nothing else compares.

by: Ted Alvarez

Mt. Washington's Nelson Crag Trail (Jerry and Marcy Monkman)
Mt. Washington's Nelson Crag Trail (Jerry and Marcy Monkman)
Emerald Lake in the Weminuche (Tad Bowman)
Emerald Lake in the Weminuche (Tad Bowman)
White Fringed Phacelia in the Smokies (Paul Rezendes)
White Fringed Phacelia in the Smokies (Paul Rezendes)


Biggest Tree / Highest Peak
High Sierra Trail, Sequoia NP, CA

Few treks start and end with a bang quite like the High Sierra Trail. The 72-mile route begins at the foot of a giant sequoia called General Sherman, the world’s most massive tree, and ends atop Mt. Whitney, the Lower 48’s skyscraping highpoint. In between, you’ll slice east-west through the Sierra’s finest territory in half the time it takes to hike the JMT. Which means this trek also wins the most-granite-per-mile award.

A short paved trail leads past the 2,500-year-old General, which dwarfs even surrounding sequoias with its 275-foot height and 102.6-foot girth. Gape awhile, then continue 2.4 miles through the Giant Forest toward Crescent Meadows. Sequoias peter out by Eagle View, a rocky perch above the 1,000-foot gorge cut by the Middle Fork Kaweah River. Here, catch your first views of the glacier-scooped peaks of the Great Western Divide.

Now start your nonstop tour of Sierra highlights. Make first night’s camp at mile 11.4, among the daisies of Bearpaw Meadows. Day two: Begin climbing the Great Western Divide, with the sheer granite wall of Angel Wings rising 1,800 feet above the switchbacks. Pond-hop glacial tarns to reach 10,700-foot Kaweah Gap at mile 20 and camp 2.5 miles farther in Big Arroyo Junction. A mellow third day crosses the Chagoopah Plateau and Sky Parlor Meadow before dropping into U-shaped Kern Valley at mile 30.8 (it’s steep and dry; fill up at Sky Parlor). Camp at Upper Funston Meadow (mile 34.5). Soak in Kern Hot Springs at mile 36.8 on day four and overnight at Junction Meadow.

Next comes the Whitney approach and climb. Jump on the JMT at mile 48.9 and hike until Crabtree Meadow (53.1) or Guitar Lake (56.6), the last suitable basecamp with water before the big summit day. Start predawn and ascend Whitney’s back side; take the 2.4-mile summit spur trail and dash to 14,505 feet (carry layers and snacks). End your big-to-high epic at Whitney Portal and grab a shuttle.

Do it
From Visalia, go east on CA 198 to Giant Forest trailhead. (Whitney Portal shuttle: DIY or highsierrashuttle.com.) Map Tom Harrison Mt. Whitney High Country Map ($10, tomharrisonmaps.com) Guidebook Sierra South, by Kathy Morey ($19, wildernesspress.com) Contact Reserve permits at least two weeks prior to trip: nps.gov/seki. Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/25771

→ Most wintering bald eagles and most salmon in the Lower 48:
This two-fer goes to Washington’s Skagit River.

→ Most hot springs:
Yellowstone’s10,000 thermal features. Target Dunanda Falls for just-right 110°F pools.




Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Tammy Vanden Heuvel
Jun 30, 2011

I just was at Black Canyon in May 2011 and hiked to the bottom. The only animals I saw were the birds, squirrels and pikas. But there were posted signs around that the park was having an issue with a problem bear.

Don't let the predators scare you off - this is an absolutely gorgeous park. Take time and the right gear and hike to the bottom.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Israel/Gaza Conflict
Posted On: Jul 30, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
Midwest
Manistee Nat'l Forest
Posted On: Jul 30, 2014
Submitted By: nrsteinke
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions