High Sierra Trail Day 5 – Junction Meadow to Crabtree Ranger Station
Sequoia National Park, California
When planning out our High Sierra Trail logistics, on our sixth day we initially aimed on hiking nearly 12 miles all the way through from Junction Meadow to Guitar Lake at the western base of Mt Whitney. We’d then just chill at Guitar Lake for an entire day to rest, knowing summiting Whitney and getting out to Whitney Portal was an unavoidably long and tough day.
Waking up on our fifth morning, we were already a day ahead of schedule and still technically had that Guitar Lake rest day built-in, so we decided to break up that section with a night at Crabtree Ranger Station before continuing on the Guitar Lake. Because Crabtree to Guitar Lake was so short, it would keep us fresh with plenty of energy to summit on day seven and in the end, we’d still get off-trail a day earlier than planned.
Solitary Western Junipers mingled with Mountain Mohogany, foxtail, and lodgepole pines as we climbed from the upper-montane zone to the arid, alpine high country of the Sierra Crest. About a mile from Junction Meadow, the High Sierra Trail forked right to begin its ascent up Wallace Creek and towards the junction with the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails. Everything grew drier and drier as we continued deeper into the Great Western Divide’s rain shadow.
After merging with the John Muir / Pacific Crest Trail, it was noticeably busier than we had seen the previous days. Given the popularity of the 211-mile John Muir Trail, that was no surprise and it still wasn’t too bad. (The PCT hikers should have been well-north by that time of year.)
A little over 4-miles later, we were at Crabtree with plenty of time to set up and relax at camp.
Again, not much of a write-up, but it was another ‘blah’ and uneventful day when comparing it to the others…
Tips for this Section of Trail:
- I don’t remember a water source after the junction with the JMT until we got to Crabtree. This was a super hot and dry section.
- It’s important to know for any of you you low-landers, that once you reach the junction with the JMT/PCT, you will not be below 10,000′ of elevation again until you pass Lone Pine Lake on the way down to Whitney Portal.
Crabtree Ranger Station Backpacker Camp:
- More-or-less a wide-open field with more than enough tent sites. This was a real eye-opener of how busy the JMT can actually be because there looked like there was enough space for hundreds of people.
- Despite the space, I don’t remember see too many bear lockers.
- Nicest pit toilet of the trip! It’s WAG bags from there on out so take advantage while you can!
- No fires allowed.
- Again, from camp at Junction Meadow, continue on the HST for another 10 minutes or so to gain some quick elevation over the valley floor. The higher you go, the better the views of the Kaweahs Peaks Ridge are…
- Before getting to Crabtree, there was a real nice meadow facing west and overlooking Kaweah Peak and Kern Point. This might have been about 2 miles before camp?
- From camp at Crabtree if you head southeast through the woods and scramble up a rocky ridge for approximately 5-10 minutes, you’ll reach a cliff-band overlooking Crabtree Meadows and Mt Chamberlin.
General Information & Planning:
- The History of the High Sierra Trail
- Planning for the High Sierra Trail
- Packing List & Tips
- Photography Spots & Tips
- Day 1: Crescent Meadow to Bearpaw
- Day 2: Bearpaw to Hamilton Lake
- Day 3 (Part 1): Hamilton Lake to Kaweah Gap
- Day 3 (Part 2): Kaweah Gap to Moraine Lake
- Day 4: Moraine Lake to Junction Meadow
- Day 5: Junction Meadow to Crabtree Ranger Station
- Day 6: Crabtree Ranger Station to Guitar Lake
- Mt Whitney: The Tallest Peak in the Lower US
- Day 7: Guitar Lake, up Mount Whitney, and out to Whitney Portal