The Hell For Sure Challenge may be the most exhilarating long-weekend backpacking experience you ever encounter. Discover an unspoiled, and relatively unknown slice of heaven south of Yosemite, and north of Kings Canyon National Park. The multi-night looped route, traverses over 40 miles through John Muir Wilderness, passing more than a dozen pristine High Sierra lakes, and includes up to three hand-and-foot off trail scrambles to ~12,000’ peaks along the Le Conte Divide (Red Mountain, Hutton's Knob, and Gunsight Pass) with unrivaled views of the Sierra Crest. The Hell For Sure Challenge is an aggressive hike with miles of travel over rugged, unmarked terrain. It's a route we created out of love for the region, and for people in search of true adventure. Expect roughly 6-8 miles of off-trail travel.
The Hell For Sure Challenge is offered as a 4 night or 5 night experience, which includes one night of cabin lodging in Shaver Lake, California on your day of arrival. The 5 night experience covers the same route at a more moderate pace, and includes an opportunity to explore the upper reaches of Bench Valley and Gunsight Pass (off-trail).
- One-night lodging in Shaver Lake, CA (multiple occupancy cabin)
- Guided multi-night trek through John Muir Wilderness to Le Conte Divide
- Orientation and personalized pack-check prior to departure
- All meals and snacks while in the back-country
- Group gear and equipment
- Backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad if needed
- Inspiration for a lifetime
What’s not included
- Meals in the front-country while in Shaver Lake, CA
- Transportation to and from Shaver Lake, CA
How it works
A $450 deposit per person is required with balance due 60 days prior to the event. Treks begin departing in late June when spring like conditions may still persist in the Sierra. Consequently, each itinerary may be modified to account for varied trail conditions and to ensure the safety of your group. Please contact us for custom dates or corporate/group pricing. Typical group size of 6, including one guide. Maximum group size of 12, including two guides.
Evening arrival, pack-check, overnight at cabin
On the day of arrival, you’ll be welcomed into our Shaver Lake, CA cabin like family. Swing by when you arrive in town. Driving in after work from the Bay Area or Southern California? No problem, we can accommodate late arrivals. The evening before departure we’ll host a one hour group orientation and pack-check on the cabin grounds. At orientation we’ll hand out gear that was requested. We’ll have a campfire if conditions permit, and get to know our team, before retreating indoors for a cozy night’s sleep.
Day 1 – Courtright Reservoir to High Meadow
Trail: Begins at 8,600′ and ends at 10,300′ with multiple stream crossings; long moderate-to-intense uphill
With an early, 5:30am departure from Shaver Lake, we’ll drive out to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir where our hike begins with a long and gradual climb toward the Red Mountain Basin. Our pace will be brisk, as we cover miles on good trail to camp near a high meadow between Fleming and Disappointment Lake, which never disappoints.
Day 2 – High Meadow to Red Mountain, Hell For Sure Lake
Trail: Stiff climb(s) to 12,000′, then descent, half of day off-trail
A moderate morning hike will take us to Hell For Sure Lake by lunch, where we’ll enjoy our afternoon. An optional up and back, off-trail scramble to the summit of Red Mountain (~12,000′) will be on the schedule. If trail and group conditions permit, we’ll begin our ascent toward the Knob of Mt. Hutton for camp with views of Artic, Horseshoe and Hell For Sure Lakes.
Day 3 – Off-trail traverse of Mt. Hutton and Bench Valley
Trail: Breathtaking and intense uphill, then down, majority of day off-trail
Weather and trail conditions permitting, with an early morning start we will Stomp, Shimmy and Hustle off-trail over The Knob of Mt. Hutton (~12,000′), traversing rugged granite terrain. We’ll continue off-trail toward lake-studded Bench Valley. Our 4-trail-night Hell For Sure Challenge treks will reach camp mid-day near Holster, Bullet and Wahoo Lakes. Our 3-trail-night treks will continue the Bench Valley traverse for camp near the Kings River.
Day 4 (Extended Itinerary Only) – Sunrise hike to Gunsight Pass, then traverse of Bench Valley
Trail: Optional sunrise hike to Gunsight Pass, then down, majority of day off-trail
We’ll start the morning with an optional off-trail scramble to Gunsight Pass to catch the first rays of sunlight filtering into Goddard Canyon. After returning to camp, and a hearty breakfast, we traverse off-trail through Bench Valley to Horsehead Lake, before beginning our gradual on-trail descent towards camp on the Kings River.
Day 4/5 – Kings River to Courtright Reservior
Trail: Reconnect with loop trail, and exit, moderate up and downhill
An early start will get us back to Courtright Reservoir around lunch where we will reload cars, and return to the town of Shaver Lake to share a hearty group meal. A final stop for showers at our cabin in Shaver Lake is optional, then it’s home to brag.
Pre and post-trip accommodations: Pre-trek accommodations in Shaver Lake, CA are included (multiple occupancy cabin – everyone will have a bed, but not everyone will have a room). If you’d like to arrange for accommodations on your own that is ok with us, please let us know where you end up! Post-trip accommodations are not included. If you’d like to stay at the cabin an additional night, please contact us to make arrangements and inquire about rates; additional fees required.
Transportation: If traveling by air, Fresno Yosemite International is the preferred airport. It is approximately a one hour drive from the airport to our staging area in Shaver Lake. Rental cars are available, or please contact us to inquire about arranging private guide-supported transportation to and from the Fresno Yosemite Airport. If traveling by car, it is a roughly 4 hour drive from the Bay Area, and 5 hour drive from Southern California to Shaver Lake. On the morning of departure, we will carpool and caravan for the one hour drive from Shaver Lake to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir.
Arrival time: When scheduling flights or planning your drive, ideally, please allow enough time to arrive no later than 7pm the evening before your trek begins so that you can attend the pre-trek orientation (scheduled at 7:00pm at our Shaver Lake cabin). Driving in after work from the Bay Area or Southern California? No problem, we can accommodate late arrivals.
Departure time: We plan on exiting the trail between 1pm and 3pm on the last day of the trek. Please plan your return transportation accordingly. If flying out of Fresno on the same day, we suggest scheduling flights for departure no earlier than 6:00pm. Staying one additional night in the Clovis, Fresno or Shaver Lake area is also popular option.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Joining a TSX experience is easy. Don’t own a backpack or tent? Not a problem. We provide backpacks, tents and sleeping pads for those who need them, at no additional charge. We also take care of all group items like pots, stoves, food, food storage, water filters, first aid and more. Your guides will do the cooking and dishes. Just show up with your boots and personal items, ready to hike!