2020 Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge Cheat Sheet


We’re excited to kick-off our 2020 Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge treks with you! After several months under stay at home orders, there is no place we’d rather be than the wide open back country. This summer we’ll be organizing four Trans-Sierra outings running from mid-July through early-September. On this page you’ll find important information about gear prep, pack-checks, trek logistics, and your team, including updates on how we’re managing our summer experiences.

Please read the following in detail!


We’ll be doing a few things different this year to manage the risk associated with COVID-19 and comply with evolving regulations.

First, we’ve updated our cancellation policy to enable participants to roll both deposits and balance payments forward until July 2022 should they choose to cancel. There is no timeline on when you need to cancel by. If you are exposed to the virus or show symptoms during the 14 day window leading up to the trek, or have a personal or work related circumstance that unexpectedly changes, you can confidently cancel up until the day of the trek without the risk of lost money. Read more.

Second, at our meet-up point before departure we will be privately be meeting with each individual to update our medical questionnaire for COVID-19 related symptoms and exposure. Individuals with symptoms or known exposure during the 14 day window leading up to the trek will not be permitted to participate. We are also expecting the park service to approve an updated Acknowledgment of Risks form which will include language specific to COVID-19 and multi-night backpacking. Each participant will be required to sign our updated Acknowledgement of Risks form prior to departure. Please contact us in advance if you have any questions or concerns.

Third, we’ve identified the first two hours of our trip (transportation to the trailhead) as the highest risk portion of our experience for COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, everyone will be expected to wear a mask during the two hour car ride to the trailhead. Here is a great article about how the virus spreads which helped inform this decision, and can help you manage your risks while traveling to our meet-up location (The Risks – Know Them, Avoid Them).

For the remainder of the trip will we be taking certain precautions to ensure the safety of our group, specifically around hand washing, water purification, food prep and interaction with others outside our team. Read more about hiking safety. While we expect everyone to respect the space and preferences of individual team members while traveling, ultimately our challenges require a team effort for success, and your team will serve as an extended wilderness quarantine family for the week.

We are preparing for additional scenarios and will communicate updates as expectations change or new and better information becomes available.


Now let’s get excited to start hiking! On the day of departure TSX will coordinate transportation from the following meeting points:

Confirmed pickup locations and times:

TSX will also coordinate return transportation to these meeting points when we exit the trail.

We will email each team independently to help coordinate pooled transportation to the above meeting points on a trek by trek basis for those who may need help getting to the meet-up location (some treks have a number of participants joining us from the Bay Area or Southern California).

Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your confirmed pickup time. If driving in, vehicles may be left in the hotel parking lot. While we cannot guarantee their safety, the area is generally safe, and we have not had any issues in the past. Coordinating with family, friends or cab/Uber for drop off are also options.

Getting to the trailhead: From the Fresno/Clovis Area it’s about a 1 hour 15 minute drive to Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon National Park where we will stop briefly to pick up permits. From there, it will be another 45 minute drive to the trailhead. Our goal is to make it to the trailhead just before dusk.

Front country meals: Meals are not provided while in transit. Please bring pocket money or pack a meal for an early dinner near the trailhead. For convenience, time will be allotted to purchase a hearty sandwich at a local Clovis sub shop just around the corner from the hotel before departing Clovis. A light snack will be provided at the trailhead after unloading gear and setting up camp.

Clean clothes: Please bring a small, separate bag with a clean set of clothes. The clean clothes will travel with return transportation and greet us on the eastern side of the Sierra as we exit the trail.

Gear and Pack Check

Below is a link to our official TSX Gear Checklist. Please start thinking about gathering your gear and getting prepared. Watch our gear checklist video for tips on selecting and preparing your gear. Remember, keep it simple! Every ounce counts. Packs should weigh between 15-20 lbs when loaded with personal gear. You should have capacity to accommodate about 12-15 lbs of food and miscellaneous group gear.

Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge Gear Checklist

Watch our Gear Checklist Video

If you have additional questions or are conflicted on what to bring, please contact us to schedule a 15 minute one-on-one phone call to ask any last minute questions before your trek. We’ll also be hosting a series of “Lets Talk Gear” live online events where you can get your gear questions answered while showing us your gear. Our first event is Wednesday, June 10th at 7pm pacific. Please register to attend.

Gear we provide: Any major gear requested (backpack, tent, sleeping bag etc.) will be waiting for you at the trailhead.

Pack-checks: We will do a final pack-check for everyone to help lighten the load at the trailhead on the day of departure. All items we remove from your pack will be sent down the mountain with return transportation, and will meet up with you on the eastern side of the Sierra.

Pro-tips: While this year was a relatively moderate snow year, early season trips (June through mid-July) typically have more water on the trail, which means more mosquitoes and multiple wet stream crossings each day. There are three things you can do to help improve your experience on the trail.

First, we strongly encourage you to pre-treat one set of clothing (hat, shirt, pants, socks) with permethrin before departure. You can order permethrin from your local REI or online. Watch this video for information about permethrin and how to apply it (there is no need to treat your tent or sleep system).

Second, while there are several alternative bug repellents on the market, we find products using deet to be the most effective for High Sierra mosquitoes. If not your first choice for insect repellent, consider bringing a few ounces for backup.

Third, if you haven’t yet purchased and broken in your hiking shoes, please do so soon. We suggest bringing shoes or boots that you can be comfortable hiking in wet. Consider footwear with lots of mesh for breathing and for water to escape. For more footwear tips, read our blog post Don’t Get The Blues Hiking In Wet Shoes. Traditional boots are great as well! The most important thing is to bring footwear that is comfortable.

On the Trail

On the morning we hit the trail we’ll distribute bear cans with group food and a personalized snack-bag (energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit etc.). The snack bag is yours to keep, ration and trade while on the trip. If you want to also bring a few of your favorite snacks from home that is okay; however, don’t go overboard! All together, we plan for 2-3 snacks per day. We’ll have coffee, tea and hot drinks available each morning and most evenings.

Meals: Your guides will be responsible for preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, cooking is a great social activity! Your participation, help and curiosity are always welcome.

Weather: Temperature can vary widely. If you follow our gear checklist, you’ll be well prepared. Generally, you can expect 60-80’s during the day, and mildly cold to freezing evenings. However, it can be hotter, and it can be colder. Afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Staying in touch: If you’d like to bring your phone, okay with us, they are great for pictures. However, there is zero reception for 99% of the trip! The exception is the summit of Mt. Whitney, where you can call, tweet, or text home. If you’d like to keep family and friends abreast of your progress, please have them join our Facebook page. We will be checking in each night via satellite text messaging device and posting our progress and GPS location to Facebook.

Team effort: Every TSX outing is a team effort. Throughout the trail we’ll need everyone’s eyes, ears, and voices working together and looking out for one another. Voices of encouragement are important! It’s a long, tough and incredibly rewarding experience. We’re here to help when you need it, and appreciate your positive encouragement and support for others as you’re able to give, and when they need it as well.

Exiting the Trail

Our return transportation will meet us as we exit the trail between 11am and 2pm on the final day of our trek. We will load the vehicles and descend to Lone Pine to shower (if open/available) and share our last group meal. Finally, we’ll head back to our original meeting points. Expect a five hour car ride back to the Clovis/Fresno area, and 6-8pm arrival. Bring some pocket money for meals on the drive back.

We’re in this as a Team

This summer, TSX will be leading several teams across the Sierra. Separately, co-founder Mike Murphy will be leading two similar youth treks.

We hope you can join in supporting each other throughout our summer adventures. We have incredibly diverse groups – different ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes joining us – but a common goal. If you use social media, please follow us, and join in sharing your experience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. As you train, prepare, trek and reflect, tag your posts with #tsxchallenge. Like and support other teams and their posts as well… we’re in this together!

Follow us: Facebook: @tsxchallenge // Instagram: @tsx.challenge

Thank you for deciding to spend a week of your summer with us! We look forward to sharing an experience that can provide inspiration for a lifetime.