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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.
These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.
Chosen by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the Best New Trips of 2010, The Sierra High Route is packed with expedition-style adventure! Thinking about the trip, words like breathtaking, grand, exciting and awe-inspiring come to mind. But be warned: this one is not for the faint of heart. The High Route spans 195 miles along the highest and most remote regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and it is mostly off-trail. Backed by SYMG's seamless logistical planning, those up to the challenge will don ultralight backpacking gear and head off on what will surely be the adventure of a lifetime!
Accommodations: We provide your first night's lodging at the Piccadilly Inn at the Airport in Fresno and 25 days tent camping (price is based on double occupancy).
Equipment: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, trekking poles, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.
Meals: We provide meals starting with lunch on day two through breakfast and trail snacks the last day, except as noted above. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.
Included: Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as noted above), scheduled remote food drops, accommodations (as noted above), transportation to and from the remote trailheads, applicable permits, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.
Not Included: Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), transportation except as noted above, and optional trip cancellation insurance.
Preparation: Hike, hike and hike some more. The Sierra High Route is a committing trip where you have minimum mileage each day. Endurance is the key to your enjoyment. Participants should have experience on long backpacks such as the John Muir Trail, Trans Sierra Trail or on other significant undertakings. You should be aerobically and cardiovascularly fit, and should train by working out, carrying weight (up to 40 lbs), and hiking stadium bleachers up & down. Examples of getting prepared include: Hiking on and off-trail immediately prior to the trip; participating in longer backpacks along the JMT, TST or along other high country trails. Reading “The Guide to the Sierra High Route” by Steve Roper may also be helpful.
Day 1: We will meet at the Piccadilly Inn adjacent to the Fresno air terminal. Dinner is on your own at the hotel. Meet your guides in the hotel lobby at 6pm for an orientation and gear check. Extra luggage can be stored with the support guide, who will be on hand.
Day 2-6: Cirque Country: Kings Canyon to Busy Basin . Approx 39 miles
Day 7-11: Whitebark Country: Dusy Basin to Lake Italy. Approx 42 miles.
Day 12-17: Lake Country: Lake Italy to Devils Postpile. Approx 39 miles
Day 18-23: Headwaters Country: Devil's Postpile to Tuolumne Meadows. Approx 47 miles.
Day 24-26: Canyon Country: Tuolumne Meadows to Mono Village. Approx. 28 miles
Day 26: On our final day we will take a shuttle back to Fresno airport, arriving about noon.
*Similar trips include: John Muir Trail
Colby, I just wanted to drop you a quick note and thank you for putting this together. I know we asked you guys to take a few risks with our group, but everything worked out as planned. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our hike. From the route to the guides, everything was exactly what we were looking for. Additionally, both Drew and Ryan were fantastic. They did a great job working with us and ultimately, becoming part of our group. Towards the end, we felt like they were friends along with us.
-Jeff T. - YGT Fastpack, June 2013