Sierra High Route Day 2: Climbing High and Off Trail We Go!

Day 2
Total Miles: 16.1
Cumulative Miles: 33.4
Elevation Gain: 6507 ft
Elevation Loss: 2083 ft
Camp: Glacier Lake

Daily Neet Beat

Today goal was to get back in the high country and start crossing the high lakes and mountain passes off trail. But first we have to climb down to Road’s End, on the west side of the Sierras and hike back up the Copper Creek Trail to the high country. We will have to hike down 2000 feet in elevation and than back up at least 6000 feet which is like climbing out of the Grand Canyon.

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Hiking down 2,000 feet to Roads End on the west side of Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park so that we can then turn around and climb back up 6,000 feet on the Copper Creek Trail

I keep telling myself I can do it because I have hiked in and out of the Grand Canyon many times.  Maybe I can fool myself that the elevation of going up to over 10,000 feet is no different (ha!).

If you go to the National Park Service website, it says that the climb out of Road’s End up the Copper Creek trail is hot and steep and to leave early in the day or late in the evening. They are not kidding! We hiked the 4 miles from Sphinx Creek to Road’s End where the Copper Creek trail starts and started up the Copper Creek trail around 8:30am.

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Working our way up the Copper Creek Trail looking back towards Bubbs Creek.

It was probably getting to be a marginal time to start up. It was HOT as we wound our way up the trail of many switchbacks. I felt like I was climbing a coil; spiraling up with no sign of stopping. And sweating, I was surprised I had that much liquid in my body.

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Not a very flattering picture but you can see how sweaty I am as I am filtering water on our way up the Copper Creek Trail

After 8 miles on the trail, we finally leave it to start cross country where we will go over two of our first passes on the Sierra High Route. The route cross country to Grouse Lake is pleasant with meadows and a nice creek.

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Hiking through a meadow towards Grouse Lake after leaving the Copper Creek Trail

It is a gentle way to start the “off-trail” part of the Sierra High Route and get into the rhythm of navigating through the high country. The first two passes, Grouse Lake Pass and Goat Crest Pass are fairly straightforward and are good confidence builders for some of the much harder passes to navigate and get over coming up in the next few days. Grouse Lake Pass has grass benches and granite ramps that lead right up to the saddle.

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Ray climbing up Grouse Lake Pass where the granite has been fractured.

Ray and I start reading the geology. A fracture here, a fault there, it all helps when figuring out how to move through the landscape.    Quite simply, we end up hiking where the landscape has buckled, folded, cracked, shifted and wrinkled in geologic times past.

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Epidote, a green mineral, indicates there has likely been hot fluids moving along a fault or fracture zone

The hardest part of the day is coming down the north side of Goat Crest Saddle.

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Ray and I at the top of Goat Crest Pass

Steve Roper in his book “Sierra High Route” explains that for the first time the hiker encounters steep and rough terrain and year-round snowfields. We keep to the left as Roper suggests and drop down some granite slabs. We stop after 16 miles at upper Glacier Lake.

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Coming over Goat Crest Pass and down toward Glacier Lake where we spend the night.

It feels quiet and peaceful here as we are not on a trail and have this place to ourselves. A great way to end a tough second day on the Sierra High Route.

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The sun setting on Upper Glacier Lake

Vlog of the Day: Grouse Lake Pass

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