Aug 16th
Horseshoe Creek Campsite(106.7)-Grouse Lake(120.3)
Mileage: 13.6mi
Campsite Elevation: 10,469ft

This morning was the big climb out of Simpson Meadow. The first 8mi of the day climbed 4,300ft from 5,900ft in Simpson Meadow to 10,200ft at State Lakes. We made the best choice of the trip by not doing that climb in 90 degree heat with intense sun on the mountain at the end of the day yesterday. It was quite long, steep, and dusty. We benefitted from much cooler temps today and shade most of the morning until lunch.

Going up the Simpson Meadow Tr.

We could look back across the canyon at Goddard Creek and get a different view of what we went through yesterday.

That’s the canyon we came down yesterday, Goddard Creek.

It definitely feels as though the hike is winding down, but it is weird because we are hiking up most of the day. Most of what is left is on trail and all the major obstacles have fortunately been completed now that Goddard and the Simpson crossing are done. To distract ourselves on the climb up, we had fun remembering each day in order and reciting the route without looking at anything. It was a fun way to look back on the last 11 days and remember all we did.

There were a handful of ups and downs with us topping out midday at 11,400ft on Goat Crest. That’s 5,500ft of climbing without even including the ups and downs in between. We woke up about 22mi from the end of the route this morning, and there is a temptation to just push and finish it out, but we both were in the mood to take it easy, have a relaxed final full day, and end at a scenic lake for one last night.

The climb out of Simpson was not bad with fresh morning legs and almost empty packs, but it could be brutal under less ideal conditions. It took about 3hrs to do the main part of the climb and then we took a break and lounged at the Upper State Lake.

Upper State Lake

From there, it was a short bit up Glacier Valley to Glacier Lakes, where we had a leisurely lunch.

Lower Glacier Lake lunch spot.

The last 13mi of this route is the same as the first 13mi I did on the Sierra High Route to kick-off this summer. Since that was an early season hike, I had fun taking comparison shots of what I had taken in the same place about 7wks ago on June 22nd.

A comparison to what I saw about 7wks ago on the SHR.

Valley before Grouse Lake Pass.

South side of Goat Crest Saddle.

On the climb up to Goat Crest we saw a group of three in the distance heading the opposite way down Glacier Valley and then we ran into two guys doing about a week along the SHR and some of their own stuff. It was fun to talk to them because they knew all we had done and had been to most of where the route goes. It was good that we played our recalling game this morning because we were able to recite it easily this afternoon. I need to write it down before I forget it, ha!

Going up to Goat Crest Saddle.

Goat Crest Saddle. Behind me is the full range we have hiked across.

Grouse Lake Pass, the final pass.

It’s been interesting to do this part of the SHR backwards and later in the summer without snow and high runoff. Some things I remember clearly, and some not at all. It’s quite fitting that the final pass I’ll do on this summer of high routes was also my first pass of the summer. Oh man, how I’ve changed as a hiker since that day. I can’t believe how comfortable I’ve gotten on this off trail stuff, especially the rocks. I never would have imagined I would have taken to it at all, much less do well in that terrain.

Grouse Lake Pass. The final pass of the KCHBR and first pass of the SHR.

Once over Grouse Lake Pass, we were already at our stopping point for our final night, Grouse Lake. I’ve been mentioning it as a possible ending campsite since we started this hike, and I’m really glad it worked out.

E heading down to Grouse Lake.

It was 4:20pm when when arrived and we were content with our day and our plan to camp here for the last night. We had a great leisurely night, ate dinner along the lake, and are tented on sites a bit up from the lake. We are both very content with this route overall and that we got a chance to do this one together. I will elaborate more tomorrow on our route thoughts, but we are quite pleased with what Skurka has put together.

Camp at Grouse Lake, we are quite excited to not have to carry bear canisters anymore this summer!

Evening light on Grouse Lake.

Well, it’s before 9pm, and I’m going to show some strong self control and go to sleep instead of watching the season finale of OITNB. We still have a morning of hiking to do and then quite a bit of driving, so I’m going to rest up and hopefully watch in a couple days. Goodnight!

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