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Initial thoughts on the Sierra High Route

Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa tackles the Sierra High Route
Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa tackles the Sierra High Route

Hey folks!

I’ve been out on the Sierra High Route these past few weeks, trading the blogging world for mountain time and the laptop for good ol’ fashioned unplugging.

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Now that I’m back, I’ll be covering the Sierra High Route in detail. It’s a hike that a lot of people have interest in, but that is viewed by many as a little intimidating (including a recent article referring to it as the “most difficult hike in the Lower 48”). Here are a few initial thoughts (snarky comments, really) about the Route and a teaser for the bigger details to come.

Felicia “Princess of Darkness” Hermosillo enjoying the SHR beauty
Felicia “Princess of Darkness” Hermosillo enjoying the SHR beauty

-Want to calculate your Sierra High Route average mileage? Take your biggest on-trail hiking day and divide by 5.

-The Sierra High Route has about as much in common with thru-hiking as dayhiking has in common with backpacking.

-Steve Roper, who wrote the Sierra High Route guidebook is a famous rock climber. He calls those who do the SHR neither “hikers” nor “climbers”. You are “travelers”, and if you can take that to heart, you’ll get a better idea of what it means to be on the Route.

-This route is not forgiving of those who rely on GPS. It requires map reading skills, using your eyeballs, and a sound head.

-The SHR can change how you think about trail and how you think about time in the outdoors, and how you think about your relationship to the landscape.

-This trip really cemented in my mind an idea I’ve been toying with—how difficult you find a trail or route to be is relative to the hiker—her/his experience, fitness level, skills and knowledge, and mental state. It depends on the person, but I’d venture to say a normal PCT thru-hike probably isn’t enough experience to tackle this one quite yet.

I’ll be posting more articles about the SHR shortly. Stay tuned!

Liz "Snorkel" Thomas

Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States. While not on trail, Liz lives in Denver, Colorado.