FKT: Carling Ursem - High Sierra Trail (CA) - 2022-07-11

Route variation
with Whitney summit
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
22h 39m 45s

I have so much respect for everyone that has previously run this route. The whole concept of crossing the entire Sierra Nevada range from east to west including summiting Mt Whitney is so awesome, and has been a goal of mine the last couple years. I wasn’t sure I would be able to put in the training necessary until about 6 months ago when I decided to really focus my efforts.

My husband Scott drove me down to Lone Pine Saturday, where my friend J Lai picked me up at 2:30am Sunday morning. We started up the Mt Whitney trail a few mins after 3am and had a wonderful time. Between perfect temps and amazing company the climb flew by and we were at the summit 4:15 later. J Lai and I parted ways at the JMT junction and I set off solo.

By the time I got to guitar lake I had taken off all my summit layers and was feeling quite warm, as well as worried about what that meant for temps to come. I filtered water and set out on a the JMT. This section is great and runnable trail. After the turn onto the HST at Wallace Creek I was feeling pretty hot, but it’s also a beautiful section and there was a decent breeze. The next major junction is where you turn to follow the Kern River and for the next 30ish miles I roasted. I dunked my hat, poured water on my neck and filled my BeFree at every water crossing, but by the start of the climb up to Big Arroyo I was already cursing the sun in the sky.

The bottom of the climb up to Big Arroyo is steep and I was happy to take a short break to fill my hydration bladder where the trail crosses funston creek a few switchbacks up. After about 2-3 miles of climbing the grade backs way off and I think for the right person on the right day there would be a lot of runnable trail. But I was not that person and it was not that day. I slogged away in the roasting sun for many more miles until the trail unceremoniously turned downhill. I found a breeze and my why in some sections of shade and enjoyed those miles of descent. Little did I know the mosquito feeding frenzy awaiting me at the bottom of Big Arroyo! Even while running they devoured me until I was saved by a heavenly breeze. The mosquitoes were still too intense to stop and filter water and I definitely got a bit behind in fluids through here.

I climbed up to Kaweah gap as the sun was getting low and the alpine glow on the peaks back there was a highlight of the trip. My photos do no justice to the majesty of the peaks above precipice lake reflecting on the water. I headed down into Hamilton lake just as the sun was setting, but with enough light to appreciate the consequence of my tired legs stepping off the trail’s steep drop off!

It was dark by the time I got to Hamilton lake so I was finally free from mosquitoes and could plunge my BeFree for some much needed hydration. The big log for crossing the river was much appreciated in the dark. I am incredibly fortunate to have a partner who supports me in chasing my dreams, and Scott had driven around the southern end of the sierras to come to crescent meadow and hiked in 14 miles to run me out to the finish. I had underestimated the amount of climbing in the last 12ish miles. In my head I thought I had a cruiser downhill finish so it was a mental blow. I had brought some open ear headphones and threw on some music to get me through those final miles. Somewhere around there Scott let me know that the road to crescent meadow was closed and he had parked 3 miles up and taken a shuttle to the trailhead, which would not be running at 1:45am when we finished. Fortunately he still had the gas to sprint to the car while I lay on the ground at the trailhead, and the road was open enough for him to come pick me up. After an entire day of holding back heat induced nausea, the windy route out of Sequioa put me over the top and I puked on the side of the road to three rivers. I crawled into bed knowing I truly had given my all.

Although this is maybe an odd route to do supported because there’s no way to really get support the middle 50 miles, I am so grateful to have these two special people be part of my adventure.