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Do you have 2 days or 2 weeks? Yosemite High Route thru- & section-hikes

By Andrew Skurka / December 1, 2018 / 0 Comments

For the fullest experience, the Yosemite High Route is best completed as an end-to-end thru-hike. For most backpackers, however, it will be more practical to undertake the route in more bite-sized pieces. These section-hikes are: More compatible with family and work commitments; Loops, and therefore logistically simpler than point-to-point itineraries; and, Less physically difficult, due to…

Comparison: Nolan’s 14 vs. Pfiffner Traverse || Wilderness, difficulty, and flow

By Samuel Chaneles / November 27, 2018 / 1 Comment

As part of a 650-mile, 39-day self-supported hike along Colorado’s Continental Divide last summer, Sam Chaneles completed both Nolan’s 14 and the Pfiffner Traverse. Nolan’s 14 and the Pfiffner Traverse are both high routes in the Colorado Rockies, suitable for advanced backpackers and adventurous ultra runners. While they both feature lengthy off-trail sections and alpine…

Yosemite High Route: A route overview || Its general track, challenges, and highlights

By Andrew Skurka / November 20, 2018 / 0 Comments

The core of the Yosemite High Route spans 95 miles between Grace Meadow in Falls Creek near park’s northern boundary, and Quartzite Peak at the tip of the Clark Range. Per mile, the best route to Grace Meadow starts at Sonora Pass, and follows the Pacific Crest Trail south. The approach from Hetch Hetchy also looks…

Words of caution: FKT’ing or “running” the Pfiffner Traverse

By Andrew Skurka / October 12, 2018 / 1 Comment

In a recent photo essay in Trail Runner, Sunny Stroeer gave a hearty endorsement of the Pfiffner Traverse, for which she set a 55-hour fastest known time (FKT) last summer: “The Pfiffner Traverse is a mountain runner’s dream: miles of smooth, gentle singletrack that flow through high mountain meadows and across infrequently traveled passes along the…

Where should the Yosemite High Route start and finish?

By Andrew Skurka / October 10, 2018 / 17 Comments

As a distraction from more time-sensitive and critical work, recently I began drafting the Yosemite High Route Guide, which I’m planning to release in late-winter. This first edition will be about 90 percent right; it will need a revision after double- or triple- checking my work and field-researching some minor areas of interest in summer 2019.…

Trip Report: Scouting the Yosemite High Route

By Andrew Skurka / September 4, 2018 / 42 Comments

Last month I had two goals for a 9-day backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park. First, to simply enjoy what is likely to be my only solo trip in 2018. This year I will spend about 55 nights out, but the bulk of them will be on guided and private group trips that come with responsibilities…

Quickstart guide: Cedar Mesa & Grand Gulch, Utah || Wild archaeological epicenter

By Andrew Skurka / April 24, 2018 / 13 Comments

Years ago I was turned on to Cedar Mesa by Alan Dixon, but needed inspiration this spring from the roamings of Paul Magnanti to plan a trip of my own there. It was a perfect couples trip for Amanda and me: the wilderness that I needed after a winter inside, with an additional and more unique dimension…

Route beta || Pfiffner Traverse: Thunderbolt Creek & Paiute Pass

By Andrew Skurka / August 1, 2017 / 4 Comments

To connect Buchanan Creek with Cascade Creek in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Pfiffner Traverse ascends a knife-edge pass at the head of trail-less Thunderbolt Creek that offers sweeping views of the Pawnee Lake basin and the Continental Divide. The alternative to this route is an ordinary and relatively view-less all-trail route around the west…

Route beta || Pfiffner Traverse: Northeast Gully, Lone Eagle Cirque & Lost Tribe Lakes

By Andrew Skurka / July 29, 2017 / 4 Comments

The Northeast Gully is the most difficult feature on the Pfiffner Traverse: it’s filled with snow through mid-summer, covered with talus and loose scree in late-summer, and always steep. Unfortunately, it’s also a critical connector between Lone Eagle Cirque, Lost Tribe Lakes, and upper Arapaho Creek, all in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness. An easy all-trail…

In 12 photos || Trip Report: Pfiffner Traverse Yo-Yo

By Andrew Skurka / July 23, 2017 / 7 Comments

Thanks to a delayed arrival of winter, in late-October of last year I finished piecing together the Pfiffner Traverse, a 77-mile high route through Colorado’s Front Range between Milner and Berthoud Passes. But I felt it important to get on the route again this year as a thru-hiker and as soon as conditions permitted, to…