This is the sixth of a series of Guides to the High Sierra Trail, an approximately 70 mile trail that runs from Crescent Meadow on the ... more »western side of the Sierra Nevada to Whitney Portal on the eastern slope. Each segment roughly corresponds to a day on the trail. This Guide describes Segment 6 of 7: Upper Kern Canyon to Guitar Lake.
This segment takes you from the 'low' country of the Kern River to the launching point for a western-approach climb of Mount Whitney: Guitar Lake. This is a stretch that climbs about 3500 feet in ten miles, but by now you are strong and acclimated.
The first mile or so contours gently upwards around the walls of the Kern Canyon until Wallace Creek is in sight. If you look to the west you will see the peaks of the Kaweah Range, the same ones you saw from the other side while standing atop Kaweah Gap.
Upon meeting Wallace Creek (which is far below you), the trail turns to the east and parallels the creek until you eventually meet it at the junction with the John Muir Trail.
About 3.5 miles and 1500 feet into this stretch, the High Sierra Trail meets the John Muir Trail where it crosses Wallace Creek. At the junction there are many campsites and you'll likely meet some JMT through-hikers; from here on out you're sharing the same trail.
The trail continues rather uneventfully for a while. You'll pass by Sandy Meadow, the site of a tragic event where lightning killed and injured people from a Boy Scout Troop in 2005. Finally, you'll reach Crabtree Meadow where there is a backcountry ranger station, places to camp, and water access.
From here, the trail climbs another ~800 feet in 2.5 miles to Guitar Lake, which at 11,400 feet is the highest you've been on the trail thus far. less «