SHR Update #3: We made it! (Did we really do that?)

Somehow, some way, SpiceRack and I have finished our mashup of the Sierra High Route and Southern Sierra High Route.  I still need to total up the mileage and elevation gain, but looking back on the past three weeks has us both questioning, “how did we pull that off?”  Not that we weren’t ready and capable of meeting the challenge, just that it seems incredible that neither of us twisted an ankle or cracked a skull on the miles of unstable talus and boulders that kept us off balance almost daily.  In the end, I think it was a little luck combined into a delicious smoothie with our strong ankles, rubber knees, hippo-like balance, and Oreo-rich diet, that kept us going strong and free from injury.

The 100 miles south from Bishop started with a few trying days that tested our patience and desire.  Our hardest several miles yet, dangerous lighting, heavy packs, and demoralizing rain, skidded me toward my low point of the entire trip.  Many miles of trail travel on the JMT followed, which rekindled our hunger for tottering cross-country.  The final few days may have been our sweetest.  The Southern Sierra climbed from grand to grander, and summiting Mount Whitney via the Mountaineer’s Route provided an obvious climax that unfairly overshadows the rest in a long list of highlights:  Center Basin, Junction Pass, Wright Lakes Basin, Wallace Lake, Iceberg Lake, Miter Basin, Upper Soldier Lake.  One after the other, Spice and I both agree that these were some of the coolest place we visited on the entire trip.

Then it was over.  My emotions are mixed, which is unsurprising, yet still confusing.  Caught between missing the mountains and relishing the numbing comforts of modern life, I find myself on ground even more unstable than the loose talus on Snow Tongue Pass.  I’ve been here before, though, after other long hikes.  It is unsettling, but no longer scary.  Fortunately, there is still plenty of SHR-related work to keep me engaged with the trail as I ween myself off of fresh-squeezed water and rein in my farts.  Daily posts are mostly written and will trickle out once I am reunited with my laptop.  Thousands of photos will take me back to my happy place when the horizon begins to look too flat.  The stars at night will still be the same, if I can get off my butt to go look at them.  SpiceRack is still next to me to laugh with about how crazy it is that the only time either of us fell flat came while hiking on smooth trail.

Posts are coming.  I can’t wait to share this trip with you.  Until then, here are some more excellent photos from SpiceRack:

Swirling clouds crash on the Palisades after the rain and before the storm.
Infinity puddle.
When there is no trail, we scramble.
All rock from Cirque Pass.
Palisades Lakes. So close, yet so far when there is no trail through the cliffs below.
A little off-balance coming down from Junction Pass.
The grand grandeur of the Southern Sierra is off the charts.
Marmot drama.
Montana vibes below Wright Lakes Basin.
Trust that there is a way through the cliffs is useful on the SoSHR.
Getting scrambly above Tulainyo Lake.
Spice carried the sign all the way from the beginning. Nope, not even close to true.
Crabtree Lake. No crab. No tree.
Hugging it out at the end while standing on a stump.

6 thoughts on “SHR Update #3: We made it! (Did we really do that?)

  1. Vicky Williamson July 27, 2021 — 9:13 pm

    Hi Owen and SpiceRack, Congratulations on reaching your goal. That is the most difficult and challenging trail imaginable and you are superstars! I can’t believe all that rock, boulder and scree you chose to traverse for fun/pleasure or are you just plain young masochists!! I am in awe. Rest well while you plan your next challenge which I’m looking forward to doing with you from my couch in the lounge! Kia kaha, Vicky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Vicky! The SHR was a lofty goal that I’ve had for most of a decade. Finally giving it a shot, let alone finishing it is a dream come true. You’re right, it was hard, but the rewards were worth it. An awesome trip. Thanks for following!


  2. Christopher Schmidt July 27, 2021 — 11:01 pm

    Awesome work amigos! Glad you both made it out safe and healthy. Looking forward to hearing about it…and when I see ya I’ll have to tell you the terrifying image I saw when I first glanced at that marmot drama photo you posted 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brochacho! Can’t wait to see what you see. I might have found it, but I’m not sure.


  3. Vicky Williamson July 28, 2021 — 9:15 pm

    Kia Ora, Owen and SpiceRack, Now I have a challenge for you! Go onto the internet and look for Neatorama Longest Walk. Kia Kaha, Vicky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is that the one from Cape Town to Siberia? 13,000+ miles? That would be quite the trip, for sure. An amazing adventure. Hmmmm…


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