Sierra High Route Day 1: Grinning and Bearing It to Roads Ends

Day: 1
Total Miles: 17.3
Cumulative Miles: 17.3
Elevation Gain: 2588 ft
Elevation Loss: 5587 ft
Camp: Bubbs Creek/Sphinx Creek
Map of Sierra High Route Day 1: Onion Valley Trailhead (Kearsarge Pass) to Bubbs Creek/Sphinx Creek Junction

Daily Neet Beat

We started our Sierra High Route hike today but  it isn’t officially where it starts yet. We have added 20 miles to the beginning of the hike so we can start on the east side of the Sierras which makes the transportation back to our car at the start easier.

Ray and I at the start of our Sierra High Route hike at Onion Valley trailhead above Independence, CA.

We get started around 6:30am at the Onion Valley Trailhead and Kearsarge Pass trail. We have hiked here before as we exited the John Muir Trail for a resupply to Onion Valley and Independence, Ca in 2016. We will be on a trail all day as we work our way across the Sierras to the west side. The challenge will be hiking all the way up to Kearsarge Pass and then all the way back down to close to the Roads End where the Copper Creek trail is. Nothing like starting with over 2500 feet up and 5500 feet down!

Kearsarge Range with it’s beautiful jagged peaks and lakes
We are starting off with 5 days of food. We will resupply at Parcher’s Resort which is about 14 miles up in the mountains above Bishop, CA. We start off strong as we steadily work our way up over 2500 feet to the top of Kearsarge Pass which we reach after 4.7 miles. It feels good to be back in the Sierras. Although they are more crowded than other ranges, it doesn’t get any prettier or more majestic.
I am glad that we are up at an elevation over 11,700 feet as it is HOT in California with 100 degree temperatures in the Owens Valley below.
Ray and I at the top of Kearsarge Pass, our first pass of at least 34 planned on our Sierra High Route hike
But it doesn’t last long as we have to hike back down to 5,000 feet at Road’s End in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. So we start back down.
Heading Down Kearsarge Pass
For a good portion of the day we hike alongside the skipping, jumping and bubbly Bubb’s Creek with it’s dense forests of Jeffrey and Sugar Pines.
The beautiful and stately Jeffrey Pines
It is humid and the clouds start to build as I feel stickier than I have felt since I grew up in Ohio.
While we are walking along Bubb’s Creek we pass a hiker who warn us of a bear ahead and and second group of two hikers who warn us about a very angry rattlesnake a 1/4 mile down the trail. I start to laugh as we come across a third group of hiker’s. What now, I say to Ray, a mountain lion on a kill? But no, this hiker talks about a bear again.
And sure enough, we see our first bear!! He is little and cute to my way of thinking. Maybe it is because I worked as a Park Ranger in Alaska in Katmai and those bears were at least 5 times the size of these little black bears.
I immediately go into my “hey bear” mode and start clicking my poles together. Mr. Bear runs off like he should and I feel a surge of excitement. So beautiful to see these bears in their natural habitat.
Black bear along Bubb’s Creek
Camp 1 along Bubb’s Creek at the junction with Sphinx Creek
We had hoped to camp close to Road’s End but the closest we can get is at Sphinx Creek junction as there is no camping within 4 miles of Roads End. We stop for the day early around 3:30pm as it starts to rain. So nice to be under the majestic trees.

Leave a Reply