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Begins: May 6, 2017
Date: Thu, Oct 5th, 2017
Start: San Diego
End: San Diego
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 2,251.0
Entry Visits: 789
Journal Visits: 21,851
Guestbook Views: 193
Guestbook Entrys: 7
HST SUMMARY FOR FUTURE HIKERS - PART 3
Contrary to what is noted in the guidebook you do not need a bear canister! You might need an Ursack though. There are 4 areas in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI) which require bear canisters (Ursacks are not allowed in these parks). The HST only walks through one of these areas, Rae Lakes and only for 5 miles through the southwest corner. I called the Backcountry ranger station several times and was told you only need a bear canister if you are camping in a bear canister required area. If you are simply walking through then you don't need a bear canister and since it's only 5 miles total on your entire 250 mile route through the Sierra then you don't need a bear canister as you'll just walk through the area. Just don't camp in those 5 miles or stay in the camp with a bear box at the junction of the Avalanche and Bubbs Creek trails.
After you exit the parks and enter the Inyo National Forest there is a section which requires proper food storage but the Inyo allows Ursacks so that's what we carried. However this area is maybe 10-15 miles and you could just plan to not camp in this area. If I had noted that earlier I wouldn't have even brought my Ursack.
There are no other areas I'm aware of that require bear canisters but you should check as things do change year to year.
The main permit you need is for Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. You will get this permit at the Kernville Ranger Station. There is a policy where if you are entering the National Park from a neighboring National Forest then you get your permit for the entire itinerary from the National Forest you enter which borders the National Park. The people at the Kernville Ranger Station will probably have no idea about this policy. Save the website link below to your phone to show them their own policy. They are used to just issuing permits for the Golden Trout Wilderness. Once we showed them the website they said just write out whatever permit you want and we'll sign it. They didn't tell us about bear canisters, fires, anything.
I have AT&T and Heather has Verizon. They both worked about the same in California, AT&T seemed better in Nevada than Verizon and Verizon was better than AT&T in Idaho. I had a lot of reception in California and Nevada, very little in Idaho. Central Idaho for like 500 miles there is basically zero reception. Most real towns we had reception. Some of the smaller stops one of us might have reception and not the other or none at all.
Nothing you wouldn't really expect. We actually didn't see that much. I feel like Bernie saw a lot more. We did see bear, moose, elk, deer, big horn sheep, etc. but not a ton. A few rattlesnakes. Nothing problematic.
GETTING TO THE CANADA/IDAHO BORDER
I believe the easiest city to get to the end would be Spokane, Washington. Amtrak, Greyhound, plane, car rental, etc. From Spokane you can take a twice daily $ 5 bus to Newport with Specialty Mobility Services (Google it, reservation needed but easy). From there it's a 6 mile hitch to Priest River and highway 57 which you will hitch north. Hwy 57 turns into forest service road #302 which then becomes #1013 which will take you to the Upper Priest Falls area and the start of the trail. This would be a West side approach. You could do an East side approach from Sandpoint, ID but Sandpoint has fewer options than Spokane although it does have Greyhound and Amtrak. I don't know the route/roads to get there exactly.
The route from Priest River had more tiny towns and quantity of cars than I expected which is kind of good except that hitching is illegal in Idaho and we did see several Sheriff vehicles writing tickets to tourists. We were warned a couple times by locals that we might get hassled but we got lucky and a Sheriff never drove by while we were hitching so I don't know if it would have been a problem. Once you get past Nordam, the last tiny town, the road turns to dirt. It's a pretty heavily used dirt road for a national forest dirt road near the Canadian border but it's still like 30 miles to the trailhead. If you get lucky your ride will take you all the way to where the road ends where a 1 mile trail drops 1,000' down to the Priest River and then you walk 0.8 mile to Upper Priest Falls. You could also exit your ride about 7 trail miles from Upper Priest Falls and hike the trail from that trailhead. A longer out and back but your ride might not be going any farther as from this point the road switchbacks up and gets a little more narrow although still in pretty good shape. The last bunch of miles though not too many cars go. During the week maybe one or two a day possibly. The weekends would be much better if you have a choice. The HST uses road #1013 for 5 miles and we never saw a car while walking Friday around mid-morning so it could be pretty tough to get all the way to the trailhead.
Overall it was an about 75 mile hitch that took us 7 rides and 6 hours. Given we were going to the middle of nowhere a mile from the Canadian border this actually seemed like a complete success.
If you've gotten this far and have any questions feel free to email me at:
briantanzman (at) gmail.com
The Hot Springs Trail: The Hot Springs Trail Is A 2,421-mile Backpacking Route That Connects Sacred Places With Healing Waters.
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