Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route

On Saturday August 3rd, my friend Julie McPherson and I embarked on a 5-day trek through the California High Sierra mountains.

We followed the Southern Sierra High Route, a challenging itinerary that combines on- and off-trail travel at high elevation (9000′ – 13,300′) and extends the classic Sierra High Route (which Julie and I tackled last summer alongside our friends David and Fred).

This is our trip report, written in rhyming verse. Enjoy.

[The maps below show our route, roughly speaking. Each color is a new day. Green = Day 0, Red = Day 1, etc.]

Day 0  – Saturday

From the desert floor we rose,

Accumulating dust between our toes.

To what elevation, who knows?

To sleep in the middle of the trail, we chose.


Day 1 – Sunday

From our slumber, early we woke

To a bear!

Trotting down to the creek, no joke!


Sawmill Pass was no lie,

We walked nearly to the sky.

Mt. Baxter invited us to the talus ballet,

We had no choice but to play.

From afar, Baxter Lake seemed serene,

Upon closer inspection, it was a war scene.

Mosquitoes to our left,

Mosquitoes to our right,

Those little bastards swarmed us all night.


Day 2 – Monday

Lesson learned: avoid green on the map.

That’s where mosquitoes live,

Your energy they will sap.

Henceforth to the trail we must go,

Thanks John Muir, Rae Lakes was a show!

Passing Vidette Meadow we had to chuckle,

Recalling our trip in 2016,

When our knees did buckle.

With daylight aplenty, we headed south.

When Blake heard a little cry from Julie’s mouth:

“How much farther must we go today?”

“How about on this granite slab we stay?”

Like fools we didn’t heed our own warning.

The mosquitoes attacked from dusk ’til morning.


Day 3 – Tuesday

An early start up an unnamed valley,

Two passes ahead,

But who’s keeping tally?

In the Land of Squish we met a ranger.

(Off duty, thank goodness)

Not long was she a stranger.

We ascended Junction Pass

And skied down its ass.

The next pass was a slog,

Our tongues out, we panted like dogs.

To our ranger friend,

We bid Adieu,

As we stepped over a little marmot poo.


Day 4 – Wednesday

Holy crap! It’s cold.

The frost creeping like mold.

Is that snow on your hair,

Or are you getting old?

Our ranger friend had warned us of imminent rain,

And isolated thunderstorms that may cause us some pain.

Like a bolt we set out,

Frosty sleeping bags in tow,

Of ensuing bad weather we had no doubt.

And soon we would know!

While the sun shone at Wallace Lake,

We yard-saled our soggy gear,

So it might bake.

At this point too, it deems a mention,

Our socks and shoes were soaked,

It’s a river invention.


We didn’t stop ’til we got to the top,

Climbing hand over hand,

The terrain did demand.

Cresting the saddle we caught a glimpse of Mt. Whitney,

Then came the hail,

The size of a jitney*.

Down scree fields, we slid with a vision,

‘Cause here came the thunder and lightning,

On a mission!

Descending the Mountaineers’ Route

Was sketchy at best.

We escaped the downpour in a cave,

Where we took a sweet rest.

Now at Lower Boy Scout,

These poetic words do pour out.

Tomorrow we depart

For tacos no doubt

And burgers

And hot springs

And coffee

And chocolate

Oh wait,

Weren’t we supposed to rhyme?

[* We made this word up.]

Day 5 – Thursday

(We walked down the Mountaineer’s Route and procured said burgers / coffee / hot springs. That is all.)

Want to explore our route in detail? Here’s the map.

Want to hear Blake and Julie narrate the trip report in silly voices? It’s your lucky day:



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