Peak 1290 behind Lake Wanda, below Muir Pass Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras East Whitney Rock Formation
Dinosaur, PCTer, heading North just after crossing into the Headwaters Bowl of the East Carson River
Peak 12960 North of Muir Pass Dinosaur, PCTer from North Carolina, heading North after dropping into the Headwaters Bowl of the East Carson River West side of Mt. Whitney
Late July
Early August 2010
High Sierra Trail Culture Report

High Sierra Trail Culture

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The Trails



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Gear List
Gettin Started
Testing yourself and your gear
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Trail Arts

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The trail
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Index of High Sierra Trail Encounters

Trail Culture in the High Sierras

Writing this trail guide made it impossible to complete a Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trip this Summer. To compensate, I just returned from a 100 mile Southbound backpacking trip along the Sierra Crest between July 21 and August 1st, 2010.

See The Trip Plan

The timing of this trip allowed me to encounter and talk to a large number of Pacific Crest Trail hikers. PCTers are a key component of High Sierra Trail Culture during the early Summer. In 2010 I was able to meet many PCTers in mid and late Summer.

The reason was the extreme late Spring snow fall that held the PCTers out of the Sierras until July, which is very late in the hiking season for PCTers hoping to reach Canada before snows again cover the trail.

Hey, I was there. I did trips along the Crest in March and June of 2010. The snow in mid June was deep and plentiful from 7500 feet on North facing slopes, and about 8500 on South facing slopes. All the Sierra passes were choked with snow until deep into the hiking season.

So I met a lot of PCTers as I headed South on the PCT between Bond Pass and Tuolumen Meadows in July and August.

I also met other representatives of trail culture. Horsemen, Scientists, Trail workers, Boy Scouts, as well as many many long distance backpackers decorated the trails.

Add to this the great staffs of the two resupply points I crossed, first at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station (Hwy 108) and then at Tuolumne Meadows, (Hwy 120) where this too-short trip ended.

Resupply points are centers of Trail Culture.

This section will give you a glimpse into the variety of travelers on, and the people along, the High Sierra trails in 2010.

You should be one of them!

July 21:
To Sonora Pass



July 22:
Sonora Pass, for a minute...

Stroker at Sonora Pass

Sonora Pass Monuments


July 23:
Entering the Eastern Flank of the Sierras

Solitude off the Pacific Crest Trail: Mill Canyon/Golden Gate Mine Road


July 24:
Back on the PCT
North of Sonora Pass


Seth and Merlin

Man-up, Gouda, lady leave no Trace, and unidentified

Turbo, Stanimal, Wide Angle, Big Foot


Killer Trail Work

Troop 13, Newcastle


Bristle Flower

Ted and Henry

Wolf Creek Lake

Leavitt from Sonora Gap

Sonora Gap inhabitant


Sat, July 24:
Kennedy Meadows

Dodge, Scott, Krissy

Kennedy Pack Station

Matt the Walking Ranger


July 25:

Quince the Dog

Jesse Mestrovic no pic

KM Staff: Casey the Saloon Keeper

Kennedy Meadows Lobby

KM Staff: Joan

Oz the Dog

Chuck Wagon

Kennedy Meadows Saloon Dance Floor

Kennedy Meadows Saloon

Colin and Chuckwagon

Corral in the evening


July 26

Matt and Nick

Relief Reservoir


July 27

National Forest Scientists frog counting team

California Conservation Corps Crew: Dimes, Heather, and Zack

Dimes, Heather, and Zack's Trail Work

CCC: A big chunck of the Stanislaus Backcountry Crew

CCC Trail Workers moving up mountain with tools

CCC: Steven, Stephine, and Morgan

Big Granite Formation with a flash of red on it

Red Flowers on Big Granite Formation

Part of the Granite Dome Massif


The Granite/Volcanic interface leading to Brown Bear Pass

Brown Bear Pass: Note trail through pass

Horse Packer Dog

Horse Packer

Emigrant Basin

Bond Pass

Ariel "Medic" and "Flyboy"


July 28


Tilden Fish

Brains No Pic

Red Cash and Lures

Crow, Dundee, and Scorpion



Stubblefield Ford


July 29

Stubblefield Camp

Singer and B2

Pack Breakdown

Pack Repaired

Dave Bewley and Nathan

Bensen Morning

Bensen Frost

Steve and Brenda

Wood Rose and Mule Skinner

Josh Meyers

Scott Wales


July 30

Leisha and Jim

Tom, Ian, and John

Don and Laurie

San Diego Desert Crew

PCTer: Stick

Reckless no pic

Pro from Dover no pic

Hawkeye no pic

Lone Ginger no pic

Hawkeye no pic

Approaching Glen Aulin

Glen Aulin Sign (2009)

Glen Aulin (2009)


July 31

Trail Worker Kids no pic

Jagrup, Mona, Neeti, and Matt


Tuolumne Meadows Sign

Tuolumne Meadows Tent

TM Store Ladies

TM Store

Tuolumne Meadows Post Office


Crazy German Dudes



Do you have questions or comments about trail culture?


Are you featured in this section, and want to add biolographical or trip information?

Do you want to leave a message for another hiker?

Then get your ass to the


High Sierra Trail Culture 2010

Backpacker's Open Thread, Bulliten/Message Board, Information Exchange

See each page to post other comments or questions.



Ebbetts to Sonora Passes

Sonora Pass to Bensen Lake


Miles and Elevations

Ebbetts to Sonora Passes

Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows


Index By Page

Trail Head

Trail Culture Index

Hwy 395 to Corral Valley

Corral Valley to PCT at East Carson River

The E Carson Headwaters to the Sonora Pass

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station

Hiking towards Brown Bear Pass

Brown Bear Pass to Stubblefield Canyon

Stubblefield Canyon to Cold Canyon

Cold Canyon to Tuolumne Meadows



To all of you who I have met on the trails last year, and during previous years, your pictures will be incorporated into the main Trail Guide pages as they are constructed.

I have not forgotten any of you. It is just so time-consuming to build a trail guide.


High Sierra Trail Culture Introduction

One of the most delightful parts of a High Sierra Backpacking trip is the fine people who you meet in the Wilderness. I call this "Trail Culture."

Who you meet also depends on when you travel. Early season travelers will meet many Pacific Crest Trailers, rushing North through the Sierras to complete their journey to Canada before the Winter snows close the Cascades, and end their quest.

A few Pacific Crest Trailers may be seen in the Sierras later in the season, long after the main body of PCTers has passed, as they are doing the Pacific Crest Trail one section at a time, and are not rushing against the clock to beat Winter to the Cascades.

This allows the PCT section hiker much more lattitude in what part of the Summer they travel in, as they are not trying to beat the Winter snows up North.

This also allows them to tarry a bit on the trail, take side trips, and spend extra time at the beauitiful places and people they discover along the trail.

Along the way we often meet other aspects of trail culture. The range of horsemen, hunters, fishermen, day hikers, trail workers, rangers, and scientists also gives us a wider view by showing us how other people perceive the wilderness.

What follows is by no means a complete record of hikers. This is a representative sample of the elements of High Sierra trail culture that you will meet if you point yourself down the long trails that follow the Sierra Crest from Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney.


The Trip

July 21 to August 1, 2010: Up The Eastern Flank of the Sierras 2 miles North of Walker, Ca, West to the Pacific Crest Trail, and then South on the Pacific Crest Trail to Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite. This trip is around a hundred miles in length.

This particular backpacking trip began with a Craig's List ride from Berkeley, where I live, up to the Sonora Pass on Highway 108 on Thursday, July 21, 2010.

Rather than continuing over the Pass to the East, to Hwy 395, where my trail head lays 16 miles North of the junction between Hwys 395 and 108, I decided to spend my first night, the 21st of July, at Sonora Pass.

Sunset on clouds East of Sonora Pass

Sunset on clouds East of Sonora Pass, June 2009

The next morning, Friday the 22nd, I wandered over to the Sonora Pass to hitch a ride East to Hwy 395, I ran into my first Pacific Crest Trail hiker, Stroker.


I ran into Stroker on Thursday, July 22, 2010 at the Sonora Pass.

Stroker is a Pacific Crest Trail Hiker who has, like the rest of his fellow PCTers, completed 1000 miles on the trail North from Mexico to reach Sonora Pass.

When I walked over to the Sonora Pass the next morning, Stroker was sitting where I was going to hitch. No problem for the Stroker, so we hitch hiked together East on Hwy 108from the Sonora Pass.

Stroker was heading to Bridgeport to resupply, which I do not recommend. I highly suggest that you resupply at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station .

But other than missing the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station experience, Stroker is doing the Pacific Crest Trail right: Though Stroker covers big miles on the trail, he never neglects to take the time necessary to take in all the sights and experiences. At least the ones he knows about!

Stroker detoured to climb Mt. Whitney, exited to Bishop to resupply and hang out, explored Mammoth Lakes, and also detoured off the PCT to head down to Yosemite Valley to check it out, and climb Half Dome.


Stroker at Sonora Pass

The Stroker and I caught a great ride from a retired teacher/Marine/backpacker from the town of Sonora down to Hwy 395.

Sonora Pass Historical Monuments

National Forest Monument

Stanislaus National Forest Historical Marker about Sonora Pass

Sonora Pass Historical Monuments

All Sierra Monuments

Clamper Monument

Clampers Monument also cites "Grizzly Adams"

History of Sonora Pass Road

High Sierra History Forum

Next Page
Highway 395 to Corral Valley


Alex Wierbinski

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Bear at Silver King Creek                                                                                                                                                           Lake Aloha below Pyramid Peak
Bear at Silver King Camp

Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: your backpacking guide to the Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, the Pacific Crest, and the John Muir Trails

Aloha Lake below Pyramid Peak, in the Desolation Wilderness
©Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail