Planning for the High Sierra Trail was the most difficult part of the whole trip. After months of staring at bus schedules and fees, looking up rental car options (going as far as seeing if Enterprise will still pick you up), and reading blog posts from others who had hiked the High Sierra Trail, we finally came up with a plan.
Keep in mind that no one in our party lived near the trailheads, which are a 5.5 hour drive apart. If multiple people live in California, or just really like to drive long distances, this can be greatly simplified by leaving a car at Whitney Portal trailhead, driving to Crescent Meadows, completing the hike, then driving back to Crescent Meadows.
To start the hike, we decided that:
- Brendan would drive from Colorado and drop his car off at Whitney Portals.
- Mike and Tasha would drive down from Tahoe and pick up Brendan at Whitney Portals.
- Mike, Tasha, and Brendan would drive to Mojave and drop their car off at the Super 8 motel.
- Jason and I would fly into LA, rent a car, and drive to Mojave to pick up Mike, Tasha, and Brendan.
- We all would drive into the park to pick up our permit (which took extra time because the road from Visalia was closed for 50 minutes out of every hour for construction).
- We would drive to Visalia, dropped the backpacks at our hotels, and returned the car to the rental location.
- Jason and I took a Lyft back to the hotel.
- We all would wake up around 5:30 to catch the Sequoia Shuttle to the General Grant Forest in Sequoia National Park (where we met up with Wade).
- We would all take the in-park shuttle to Crescent Meadows.
To end the hike we decided to:
- After our celebratory beers at the Whitney Portals General Store, we would pile into Brendan’s Jeep to head down the hill to Lone Pine.
- After a night in the Whitney Portal Store and Hostel, we would board the Eastern Sierra Transit bus to Mojave.
- Mike, Tasha, and Wade would drive to Las Vegas (Brendan headed north to Yosemite from Lone Pine in his car).
- Jason and I would take three more buses to LAX (but we ended up sharing an Uber with a fellow High Sierra Trail hiker we had met on the bus into the park).
The most challenging part of the logistics is figuring out how to get down from Whitney Portals to Lone Pine. Many people hitch a ride, but with 6 people in our group that seemed like a big risk. Plus if we had finished after dark, we might have been stuck up there for the night with nowhere to camp. There is one “taxi” service but it was inordinately expensive.
Once that piece of the puzzle is sorted, it’s relatively easy, but time consuming, to just take buses to and from car parks or major airports.
Even with all the complicated logistics, travel to and from the trailhead went very smoothly. The buses were all on time, it was easy to make reservations in advance so we didn’t have to worry about not getting a seat, and it’s nice to have someone else drive you around once in a while.