Any week long backpacking trip will take a lot of logistical planning. Gear, water, food (packing your bear canister for 1 week) etc.
This post will focus on the logistics of getting to and from the start and finish of the hike. The High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney is a straight through hike with no easy way connecting the start and finish.
There are many ways to skin the cat on how to get to and from this hike, I am going to focus on what me and my friend did. If you have any other ideas that you were able to execute please share them in the comments below.
So what makes the logistics hard for traveling to and from this hike? Just take a look at the quickest driving route from start to finish:
Me and my buddy decided to both drive up and meet at Lone Pine. We would leave one car at the end of the trail and then drive to Sequoia National Park together in one car. After the trip we would drive back to Sequoia to pick up the first car, which resulted in a lot of driving for me after the trip.
Leaving a Car in Whitney Portal
So what are the options for leaving a car on the east side of the Mountain? Well unfortunately when I went (June 2016) there was no long term parking in Whitney Portal due to construction on the road leading into Whitney Portal. So I would have to leave my car in Lone Pine instead.
Option 1: Lone Pine Chamber on Commerce, apparently you can leave a car here. Because of my work schedule and not planning for this early enough I never got a hold of the chamber of commerce to ask about leaving my car there. Not sure if its free, cheap or expensive.
Option 2: Dow Villa Motel, were very accommodating after talking with them. They have a large parking lot and I asked if I could leave my car there. They told me the parking lot was only for customers. Knowing that I would want a place to stay after the last of the hike ( 15+ mile day) I asked if I booked a room for one night could I leave my car there for a week and they agreed. For $80 I got a clean room with two beds, and a bathroom and shower, and a week of parking. This ended up working really well for me, and my Jeep Wrangler was safe and sound when I came back a week later. It was also of course great to stay in a bed after a week in the woods, before an 11 hour day of driving.
Since we were driving from Southern California after work on a Friday, we were not just dropping one car off in Lone Pine and driving straight to Sequoia. We met up in Lone Pine on Friday night and were picking up permits and starting the hike the next day on Saturday. Friday night we camped for free in Alabama Hills, free public and in between Lone Pine and Whitney Portal.
If you have the time to camp a night in Alabama Hills, I highly recommend it, its absolutely beautiful and did I mention its free? The cool thing about Alabama Hills is a whole lot of Western and other movies have been filmed there. Also the stars at night were absolutely amazing!
One last thing to think of if you cant leave your car in Whitney Portal and you have to park in Lone Pine, is that there is no public transportation from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine. I also looked into Uber, and it looked like there were no Uber options between the too. Also when we did finish the hike, I didn’t have cell phone service until I got back to Lone Pine, so relying on Uber wouldn’t have been the best option. We ended up meeting some guys on the Climb up to Whitney. They were doing the day hike, and thus parked in Whitney Portal and graciously offered us a ride back to Lone Pine. We hiked down with them, and the extra company was fun!
Parking At Sequoia
Sequoia National Park is where this amazing hike will start. When you get to Sequoia you will need to pick up your Wilderness Permits from Lodege pool Visitor Center:
One thing to note when picking up your permits, is that if you can not pick up your wilderness permits by 9am you should give them a call the day before to schedule a late pick up. Any permits not picked up by 9am will be given out first come first serve unless you call ahead. I did this, and picked up my permits around noon.
After you pick up your permits you will be ready to go, drive down to Crescent Meadows to park your car and begin your hike.
Once you park at Crescent Meadows, make sure you clean out your care before you start your hike. This is a bear location, and if you leave any traces of food in your car while you are gone for a week backpacking a bear may break in to try and get the goodies. By clean out your car, this means anything with a smell!