Arrowhead made of obsidian found near Helen Lake on the Yosemite High Route.

For a brief natural and human history of Yosemite National Park, read:

For more in-depth reading, consider:

For a longer list of curated books, visit the Yosemite Conservancy.

As a named or informal route, the known history of the Yosemite High Route is thin. A ski route by the same name is described in Backcountry Skiing California’s High Sierra, by John Moynier. But based on internet searches, the backpacking version appears to have not existed prior to my August 2018 trip report.

I know this to be untrue, however. Every valley, pass, ridge, and peak on the Yosemite High Route had been thoroughly explored by Sierra Miwok, European settlers, pioneering outdoorsmen, and trail crews long before I was there. Evidence of prior passage — including obsidian flakes, grown-in campfire rings, and rusty tin cans — is found throughout the route. The line is too obvious for it not to have been undertaken (at least in sections) by multiple parties. In fact, during my 2018 trip I encountered a 70-year-old couple who were doing a section of the route for the second time, thirty years after their first trip along it.

Some route beta has been recorded in authoritative guides, online resources, and trip reports, most notably The High Sierra, by R. J. Secor, and High Sierra Topix. Modern explorers stand on the shoulders of others.

My history with the Yosemite High Route started in 2012, while I was guiding backpacking trips in the park. I’d thru-hiked the Sierra High Route a few years prior, and ever since I’d been seeking out similar opportunities for cross-country travel. By the end of the guiding season, it was clear to me that Yosemite could host its own high route, distinct from Roper’s. It took me another six years to act on the idea.

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One Response to History

  1. John Dittli December 8, 2018 at 8:36 am #

    Um, many Yosemite High Routes have been completed by myself and others over the last 40 years summer and winter. Because it isn’t on the internet doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. In fact many of us purposely have not written up such routes as is now finally the accepted LNT protocol.

    That aside, best to you and your projects.

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