Trip Number: 12126B
Staff: Margi Waller
- Learn to backpack in the High Sierra on an all-female trip
- Day hike, study natural history, or just relax far from the crowds
- Ease into the wilderness experience with the support of like-minded
- Instruction in backpacking basics
- All meals on trip
- Group cooking gear
Photo: Rebecca Bart
If you want a gentle introduction to the world of backpacking, this trip is for you! Just south of Yosemite, where sapphire lakes and rushing streams abound and wildflowers are everywhere, we'll learn and practice wilderness skills. Short backpacking days leave time for reflection, exploration, or relaxation. On most days, we will reach our campsite by early afternoon.
The trip is suitable for beginners or experienced women who want to develop skills needed for independent wilderness travel, including: reading topographic maps, cross-country routefinding, picking campsites, operating and cooking on portable stoves, starting campfires (below 10,000' only), stringing tarps, and minimizing our impact on this fragile terrain. Everyone takes turns with cooking and camp set-up, hauling water, and other chores. Prepare for a culture of mutual support and the camaraderie of like-minded mountain women.
We will meet at 5:00 p.m. on Day 1 at Clover Meadow Campground, where we'll have dinner and review our plans for the trip. The next morning we'll do a car shuttle to Granite Creek Campground and then head for Norris Trailhead, where our adventure will begin. Here is our day-by-day itinerary, including mileage and elevations.
Day 1: Camp at Clover Meadow Campground.
Day 2: Norris Trailhead (7,600') to Madera Creek (7,740'). Miles: 2.7. Elevation Change: 140' gain.
Day 3: Madera Creek (7,740') to Post Peak Outlet (9,600'). Miles: 4.5. Elevation Change: 1,860' gain.
Day 4: Post Peak Outlet (9,600') to Joe Crane Lake (9,625'). Miles: 1.5 (cross-country). Elevation Change: 25' gain.
Day 5: Layover, with option of Post Peak Climb.
Day 6: Joe Crane Lake (9,625') to Cora Lakes (8,348'). Miles: 4.7. Elevation Change: 1,277' gain.
Day 7: Cora Lakes (8,348') out to Granite Creek Campground (7,000'). Miles: 4.5. Elevation Change: 1,348' loss.
NOTE: Our itinerary may change due to weather, trail conditions, and other factors, so flexibility is necessary.
Clover Meadow Ranger Station is located on the west side of the High Sierra about
250 miles east of San Francisco and about 50 miles north of Fresno. Prior to
the trip, a roster will be distributed to facilitate ride sharing, though any
such arrangements will be the responsibility of the participants.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Rebecca Bart
Our first meal will be dinner on day one and the last meal will be lunch on
the last day. Our meals will be tasty one-pot dishes that can be easily adapted
for vegetarian preferences. Please notify the leader if you are vegetarian or
have any other dietary needs.
This beginner backpack is rated 2, but participants should be physically fit.
Elevations range from 7,000-10,000 feet and the total distance is about 20 miles,
with one layover day. Though we will not cover many miles, some of them will
be logged scrambling over boulders, talus, and scree slopes. The travel itself
will be as exciting as each day's destination.
Anyone in excellent aerobic condition can successfully complete and enjoy this
trip. While the trip is rated 2, backpacking at altitude is inherently strenuous.
Elevations range from 7,000'-9,600'. A good way to get in shape for this trip,
apart from having an active lifestyle year-round, is to load your pack with
35 pounds and hike several miles a couple of times a week between now and the
trip. Make sure to wear the boots you’ll take on the trip. This, in addition
to endurance building exercises (running, swimming, etc.), will prepare you.
Weather in the Sierra is highly variable and Mt. Humphreys seems to attract
a disproportionate share of the thunderstorm activity of the central Sierra.
August is a dry season; however, even on the sunniest day a major weather system
might move in and stay for a while. Temperatures may range from 80F during the
day to near freezing at night. Sun protection for eyes and skin is essential.
Come prepared for wind, rain, cold, and heat.
Equipment and Clothing
The Sierra Club provides food and cooking equipment, a first-aid kit, and
iodine for water purification. The Club provides a standard equipment list in
your reservation confirmation packet. We supplement this with our own list and
suggestions. Now is the time to make sure you have well broken-in, waterproof
boots with ample ankle support and lug soles. Similarly, this is not the trip
for making do with a borrowed pack or one that has outlived its usefulness.
Make sure your pack is fitted to you and is structured in such a way that it
can accommodate 15 lbs of commissary food and gear in addition to your personal
gear. Packs, including personal gear, should weigh no more than 25 pounds and
should have free space equivalent to two one-gallon milk jugs to accommodate
bulky commissary loads. As you go about gathering gear, feel free to call or
e-mail Margi to confer. Plan for temperatures ranging from the 70s during the
day to the 30s at night. Your sleeping bag should be rated for 20 degrees. You
may choose to share a tent or you may prefer to bring a solo tent or tarp.
- U.S.G.S. 7.5-minute series: "Timber Knob" and "Mt. Lyell"
- Storer, Tracy I. and Robert L. Usinger, Sierra Nevada Natural History.
- Graf, Michael, Plants of the Tahoe Basin.
Photo: Rebecca Bart
The Sierra Club's history is steeped in efforts to preserve endangered habitat
and wilderness. The club was instrumental in passing the Wilderness Act of 1964,
establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System, and affording the
High Sierra the highest level of protection possible. As Sierra Club members
we have reason to be proud of this accomplishment when we hike through the region.
The Sierra Club's work on conservation issues continues to this day. While
most of our outings in the Sierra Nevada visit places that have already been
protected either as parks or as wilderness, the lands surrounding them face
threats on several fronts. Logging practices are still extremely disruptive,
and logging roads leave scars that remain long after the forests recover. Cattle
grazing at the edges of wilderness areas pose a direct threat to water quality
and fish habitat. Recent efforts by local groups to "retire" grazing
permits, which would allow watersheds to recover and rejuvenate themselves,
are encountering opposition in the state legislature.
The areas we pass through on our way to the high country face many of the same
threats that prompted establishment of the parks and wilderness areas. While
on this trip, feel free to ask your leaders about any particular conservation
issues that are relevant to this outing. The Sierra Club believes that its outing
program provides a perfect opportunity for members to both enjoy the fruits
of past conservation victories and learn about current concerns.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Sierra National Forest.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The High Sierra has been Margi Waller's second home since her family first packed her in to a Sierra Club base camp in 1956 when she was two years old. Every summer for the next 14 years she and her family participated in Sierra Club base camps, with the exception of two summers climbing in the Swiss Alps. Since 1970 Margi has assisted in or led backcountry trips throughout the High Sierra and in the Rockies, the White Mountains, the Green Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Smokey Mountains, Bryce Canyon, the Lake Powell area, the Sangre de Cristo range in New Mexico, and all over Arizona. Beware -- Margi's enthusiasm for the outdoors and her comfort in the mountains are contagious! When she's not in the mountains, you can find her running, hiking with her dogs, kayaking, or riding her horse in the redwoods.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips