Here's an "honorable mention" trip by Trevor Hallstein, posted on our old site. His time of 20h15m (with Whitney) was not an FKT, but pretty quick.
I had a spike of interest in ultra running after reading a report a friend of mine sent out about running the High Sierra Trail. The description made me think, "holy shit if I get in better shape I can run across the mountains too!@%@^ I CAN RUN ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS!!!”. It had never occurred to me that someone could or would do something like that. A year prior I had sent out a note about a midnight departure under full moon from Pear Lake cross country skirting around Moose Lake to Elizabeth Pass and out to Wolverton. A real highlight of that excursion was seeing a friendly Pika with evenly harvested stalks of grass stuffed sideways in its mouth. After sending this trip description to Topher, a few weeks later I got a message and a trip report from him which set me on a course that changed my relationship to traveling long distances in the mountains and put me in touch with a source of latent power for moving through and being in the mountains I didn’t know I had and which has been a real gift to discover and tap into.
Location Elapsed Time Time for Wednesday Sep 16th 2015
Whitney Portal Trailhead 0:00 (2AM)
JMT Intersection 3:39 (5:39 AM)
Summit 4:31 (6:31 AM)
JMT Intersection 5:10 (7:10 AM)
Crabtree Meadow 6:19 (8:19 AM)
Wallace Creek 7:14 (9:14 AM)
Upper Kern Canyon 7:48 (9:48 AM)
Junction Meadow 7:58 (9:58 AM)
Lower Kern Canyon 9:55 (11:55)
Big Arroyo Junction 13:45 (3:45 PM)
Kaweah Gap 14:56 (4:56 PM)
Bearpaw High Sierra Camp 17:15 (7:15 PM)
Crescent Meadow HST Trailhead 20:15 (10:15 PM)
Shortly after finishing I wrote down, “..and so, by means of 'replication of route' I have determined Leon Llevas Pantalones is a badass. But does he have a green banana sling? I think not. Outfit poorly received on the trail by the old timers. Finished up last night at 10:15 PM, 20 hrs 15 m."
So there you have it. Full trip report which will make the outfit comments clear now follows. A story of tingling nerves, scenic vistas, and how I nabbed the FKUT. Fastest Known Underwear Time.
Since reading the trip report of Topher’s excursion on the High Sierra Trail from Whitney Portal to Crescent Meadow, I had always had in my mind an intention to give it a shot. The thing that kind-of amazes me is that all of this got rolling in June of 2014, a little over 15 months earlier, when I had a few road marathons under my belt, but nothing quite like these long-ass mountain runs. The opportunity to do the HST popped into my mind as I was driving out to Shepherd Pass Trailhead. I had a few friends who had set out from Wolverton and were hiking across the Kaweahs and the great western divide on their way east. For some reason, I had not appreciated that the car drops would be in almost the perfect place for the HST shuttle needed. On the drive from Sausalito, the idea floated around in my mind, somewhere between “maybe”, “definitely”, "I’ll see”, and “hmmm". I had returned from Europe a week earlier where I had participated in UTMB, and wasn’t quite ready to join them at the start of the trip, so we planned that I would set up the car shuttle by dropping my vehicle at the terminus of the trip, and hike-run back in to meet them. A friend in the main group and I both had DeLorme InReach units which allowed us to send and receive messages via satellite. This allowed us to both track each other’s location, and we converged at Picket Creek near Kaweah Basin. It’s the first time we’d tried this so seeing the megamid poking out was a true relief to my eyes. I had with me a Mountain Hardwear Summit rocket 20 pack stuffed for the 4 day hike. After the trip, we drove down to Lone Pine and spent the night followed by breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe. While they were ordering breakfast I popped over to the drug store for some Vaseline, the hardware store for a space blanket, and then over to Elevation to pick up packets of sport beans. I had a liter of Roctane GU powder which I’d planned to take on the hike but which I left in my truck to use for the run if the crew agreed to drop me at Whitney Portal. I didn’t want to leave behind anything of value, so I planned to use some old pieces of an eggshell thermarest foam pad, a fleece sleeping bag, and the space blanket to bivy before departing Whitney Portal. I was hoping it would take me 15-20 hours, and so I thought leaving Whitney Portal at 2AM would allow me to run as much of the course in daylight. The Mountain Hardwear pack had a major flaw as a running pack in that the great suspension on their running vest and vestpack had been abandoned in favor of a rigging system which came down to one pivot point. This caused the pack to rock and put a lot of pressure on my lower back. I took off the compression straps and fed them across the front of the pack to give me an additional set of straps to pull the pack in and keep it from bouncing around. I was hoping the crew could drive back straight to the SF Bay Area, but some folks had left car keys and wallets in the truck at Wolverton, so in the end, they had to take the Generals Highway regardless. Kindly, they dropped my vehicle at Crescent Meadow. At noon we parted ways at WP, and I wandered up the old WP trail, found a nice spot behind a granite slab, and set up my bivy. I didn’t have running shorts, so my plan was to run in my boxer briefs. I brought two different styles, reasoning if that one started to chafe (my biggest concern) I would swap them out, and well, the second pair would hopefully chafe in a different area and things would be how do I say, uncomfortable in a nearby but suitably different location.
For equipment I brought:
Mountain Hardwear Summit Rocket 20, modified with extra straps
3 Soft 500ml Hydrapak flasks
1 liter Gu Roctane Powder
10 packs Sport Beans
Hooded Mtn Hwr Ghost Whisper Down Puffy
Two pairs underwear
Z packs rain kilt
Z Packs Rain Jacket
Long Sleeve wool shirt
Montrail Bajada running shoes
LED Lenser SEO 7R
It got really effing cold around 8PM, so I moved back down the trail to the overnight backpackers area, and went back to sleep. I did discover that your body (well, my body) releases a lot of water vapor. I didn’t even have my head in the space blanket bivy, but just the water vapor leaving my body had made the fleece super damp in only a few hours. I squirreled this information away since as a rescue item, I’m not sure a non-breathable space blanket is a really great survival item any longer. The victim will end up getting damp, wet, and then probably cold. Around 10PM I got super cold again, so I squirreled myself away in one of the outhouses until 1AM. It was out of the wind and warm, but boy was I glad when it was time to start getting ready for the run! I remember looking up at the clear crisp points of light and felt the stars blazing through me and cleansing my nostrils and chest.
I headed out at exactly 2AM wearing my exoficio boxer briefs.
Sure enough, at about 2 hours, I had to swap them out due to some chaffing which seemed like it was not gonna be real fun for much longer. But, the 2nd pair of underwear would turn out not just to be extra weight for no reason. Approaching trail crest, the weather was gusting, and after turning the corner, it really started howling on the west side of Whitney. I had to bust out the retired pair and pull it over my head and use it as an impromptu face guard as it must have been subzero with wind chill and everything speckled with snow and ice. I was also wearing a z-packs rain kilt, but with Whitney howling and the Marilyn Monroe effect on the kilt I thought my popsicle dick would fall off. I arrived at the summit at sunrise and saw an orange sun rise over the horizon. I had passed a well clad man on the trail to the top, and he found me in the summit hut, remarking, “I am not understanding how you do this in the shorts.” in a thick european accent. I was like, “What! First of all they are not shorts, and second of all, I also have a pair on my head.”.
I had the weirdest mind/body disassociation from the JMT cutoff going west from Whitney all the way to the Kern Hot Springs. It was crazy. My mind was dizzy, hallucinating, and mixing up the past and future by plus/minus 5 seconds. I'd go by people and say ‘hi' and then be like, 'were those people, did I just say hi?'. A couple of times I saw donkeys which turned out to be tree stumps, tents which were boulders. I eventually had a conversation with my body and said - “Well, you don't seem to be tripping ( actual falling ) so I'll surrender control and go along for the ride." It involved a mastery of paranoia aspect to be honest because I was running and all like whoa - how is this possible - I'm so dizzy but I'm not falling. It was CRAZY. Upon later reflection I'm guessing I had some hypoxia altitude sickness brain thing and a nervy C5 C6 issue from the backpack. It was the coolest thing ever, but I'm glad it ended. Leaving Big Arroyo and approaching Kaweah Gap from Nine Lake Basin was stunning and the Middle Fork Kaweah River drainage west of the gap is infucckingcredible. After coming over the kaweah gap at 5pm and watching the sun glaze the water falls and granite spires I could hardly run over the next two hours as I kept looking back eyes feasting on the scenery, and musing that I might die from "inundation of beauty” - the granite domes, deep pools of water, and cascades absorbing the setting sun’s rays and growing in golden intensity. At Precipice Lake a Pika said “hi” and welcomed me to her watershed for the final leg! The guests were finishing dinner when I dropped down to the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp and it was all I could to not bust in like a hungry bear and eat everything in sight. Instead I simply said ‘hi’ and ogled their piles of bananas and stirfy. Exiting to Crescent Meadow I thought of that initial excrusion that included the Pika that inspired the HST that inspired me. Thanks Pikas! Thanks Topher!