Hell For Sure Challenge
5 NIGHTS | 40 MILES | LECONTE DIVIDE
JUNE, JULY, AUG, SEPT
Starts near Fresno/Clovis, CA
Experience the exhilaration of true wilderness backpacking off-trail routes in a slice of heaven south of Yosemite and north of Kings Canyon.
Our Hell For Sure Challenge may be the most exhilarating backpacking experience you ever encounter. Discover an off-the-beaten-path region of the Sierra brimming with jagged granite cliffs, dark pitted canyons and burnt-red mountains. Enjoy more than a dozen high Sierra lakes, including Hell For Sure Lake, with time to swim, fish and enjoy. Our five day, 40-mile guided looped route includes roughly 6-8 miles of off-trail travel with two hand and foot scrambles to ~12,000’ peaks along the Le Conte Divide (Red Mountain and The Knob). You won’t find this route in any guide book. It’s an experience we created out of love for the region and for people in search of new adventure.
- Transportation between designated Fresno/Clovis area meeting points and trailhead
- Guided 5-night backpacking trek through John Muir Wilderness to Le Conte Divide
- All meals and snacks in the back-country
- Backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad if needed
- Personalized pack-check prior to departure
- Group gear and equipment
- Flexible cancellation policy
- Inspiration for a lifetime
What’s not included
- Lodging in the front-country
- Meals in the front-country
How it works
A $500 deposit per person is required with balance due 60 days prior to the event. Typical group size of 7, including one guide. Maximum group size of 12, including two guides. An additional 5% charge will be applied when your reservation is made to offset new fees mandated by the U.S. Forest Service. Private, family and modified itinerary trips available through TSX Pods. Book with confidence! Review our flexible cancellation policy.
Day 1 – Afternoon arrival, pack-check, overnight on trail
Trail: Moderate with short stiff uphill gain and gradual downhill loss of 850′
We’ll meet up in the Fresno/Clovis area between 8am and 9am on the day of departure and then begin the journey to our trailhead at 8,000′ near Courtright Reservoir and John Muir Wilderness (about a 2.5 hour drive from the Fresno/Clovis area). Guests who are driving in may optionally meet us at our Shaver Lake Cabin at 10AM. Our goal is to make it to the trailhead by lunch where we’ll do a final pack-check, get to know our team and talk safety before beginning an afternoon hike to camp on the trail.
Day 2 – High Meadow to Disappointment Lake
Trail: Long moderate-to-intense uphill, with 2,000′ climb and multiple stream crossings
Our pace will be brisk as we cover miles on good trail with a long and gradual climb toward Red Mountain Basin to camp near Fleming and Disappointment Lakes, which never disappoint.
Day 3 – Disappointment Lake to LeConte Divide
Trail: Gradual uphill to camp near Hell For Sure Lake; up and back day hike to 12,000′ peak
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 camp on the ridge of on the LeConte Divide with views of Artic, Horseshoe and Hell For Sure Lakes.
Day 4 – 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, with time to explore Schoolmarm, Holster, Bullet, Wahoo, Crabtree, and the many other lakes surrounding our Bench Valley camp.
Day 5 – Continue traverse of Bench Valley, then drop to Kings River
Trail: Long gradual descent to all-natural waterpark, majority of day on-trail
We begin our descent on and off trail past Colt, Horsehead, Guest and McGuire Lakes, before a meeting up with the North Fork of the Kings River, and our camp near the “waterpark” with natural pools, waterfalls and slides.
Day 6 – Kings River to Courtright Reservoir
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.
Departure and pickup locations
On the day of departure, TSX will coordinate transportation from Central California (Fresno/Clovis area) and our Shaver Lake Cabin.
- Central California Pick-up Point: Clovis Cole Best Western, Clovis, CA – 8am – 9am
- Shaver Lake Cabin (address to be provided) – 10am
The specific departure time will be confirmed on a trek by trek basis. The Fresno/Clovis area is a 3 hour car drive from the Bay Area, and roughly 4 hours from Southern California. Meals are not provided when in transit, however, we will stop for food and to refuel before reaching the trailhead. Our goal is to make it to the trailhead around lunch time. Dinner will be provided that evening on the trail.
Pre- and post-trek accommodations (Out of State Guests)
For guest traveling in from out of state, we suggest flying into Fresno, CA the evening before departure and staying at the Best Western Clovis Cole, in historic downtown Clovis or Hampton Inn and Suites Clovis. Both are about a 10 minute cab/Uber ride from the airport. We can pick you up at the hotel on the morning of departure. If you plan on staying somewhere else, please let us know where you end up, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
At the trailhead
Bring your personal items and a positive attitude! All group gear and food will be provided on the trail. Any major personal gear you’ve indicated you’d like us to provide (sleeping bag, tents etc.) will be waiting for you at the trailhead. Please also bring a small bag with a clean set of clothes. Before we hit the trail, we’ll leave that bag at the cabin for optional showers after we exit.
We plan on exiting the trail between 10am and 12pm 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 4pm. Staying one additional night in the Clovis, Fresno or Shaver Lake area is also popular option. Expect to arrive back in Clovis by 3pm.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Don’t own a backpack, tent or sleeping bag? We provide all major gear for those who request it at no additional charge. We also take care of all group items like stoves, food, water filters, first aid and more. Your guides will do the cooking and dishes. Just show up with your personal items ready to hike!
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