How useful is the original Roper HSR book?

10:25 p.m. on May 19, 2014 (EDT)
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Years ago, my neighbor gave me some of those little books from various locales in the Yosemite area, southern Sierra, after his step-son went off to college, his bping partner, willing or not. I believe it to be the original, I'm away at work and do not recall the publish date.  How useful is it to at least get an idea of the HSR route?  I have a trip planned with two other seasoned bpers, one from Bishop and the other from SoCal who has done at least part of the route and over the section we plan on going thru, Mammoth to South Lake/Bishop Pass.


9:59 p.m. on May 20, 2014 (EDT)
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If the guide was useful to your neighbor back in the day, it will probably be just as useful for you today.  Most trails in the Sierra have changed little over the decades.  The biggest changes usually are at the road head; sometimes relocating a trailhead further up or down a road, but even these are minor in nature, certainly not something to make a trail guide useless.  The changes that most affect the interior would be related to identifying burn areas.  But the HSR should be minimally impacted by burns, given it travels through terrain near tree line.  Another aspect that has changed is fire and camping restrictions.  Old guides will not reflect current policies, but these are intricate and continually evolving, such that I prefer to glean these topics from park service web sites rather than third party publications. 

The one place do have problems applying maps and guides, however, is the trail system in the Cottonwood Lakes of the Eastern Sierra.  That area has undergone several significant reconfigurations over the past several decades, such that no map seems to accurately reflect the true trail layouts.  It also doesn't help that different publishers - indeed different revisions of USGS maps - do not consistently identify the numbered lakes (e.g. Lake 1, Lake 2, etc).  We had one trip where the group initially spent the first night split between two locations, because the maps did not coincide as to which lake was Lake 4.  But I digress; your trail guides should be just fine for your intended use. 

For what it is worth I have several editions of one of the Bibles of Sierra trail guides: Sierra South.  I prefer the 1980 3rd edition of this guide, even for planning a hike nowadays, despite the fact I own several later additions, including the most recent, 8th edition, published in 2006.


7:07 p.m. on May 21, 2014 (EDT)
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My neighbor gave me the North and South book also, not sure which edition.  Thank you.  I'm trying to go with a Caldera Cone, but have my Snow Peak or MSR canister top stoves in case of fire restrictions.


9:21 p.m. on May 21, 2014 (EDT)
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You should know that there are 2 Sierra High Routes. The original was the one by Dave Beck, an old friend of mine (old in more than one sense now). This was the American answer to the Haute Route in the Alps. It is a ski route traversing the Sierra from the East Side to the west. No, he is not the Dave Beck of Teamsters fame (or infamy, depending on your viewpoint).

The other, which I think is the one you are referring to, basically follows the crest of the Sierra. It is largely trail-less and involves a fair amount of serious climbing. It is mostly above timberline. Something like a third is on trails, the majority is "cross-country", if you call scrambling cross-country. I have a friend who has done the complete route in one continuous hike (including resupplies provided by his family hiking in at designated points). He did this after his 3rd (or 4th?) JMT hike in under 10 days (the JMT, that is, not the SHR). His trip this summer is a traverse of most of the Gates of the Arctic, unsupported.

Most people follow Roper's advice in do the SHR in 5 segments over a period of time. Few do it as my friend did, in a single push.

Since so much of the route is off-trail, the books are as good as you are going to get. It will depend in large part on your skills at route-finding.

1:54 p.m. on May 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Bill, I was not aware of the second route, just Roper's which I came across years ago from a "Backpacker" mag (1992)?, which got my attention due to the elevation of lakes, Golden trout. :)  That's when I started hitting the Southern Sierra instead of just the Lake Tahoe area.  You are correct on the trail segment being about a third is all, that's what I've read or heard.


December 8, 2019
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