The Hell For Sure Challenge may be the most exhilarating and playful 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. 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. Open to fit and motivated individuals of all experience levels.
- Guided 5-night backpacking trek through John Muir Wilderness to Le Conte Divide
- Personalized pack-check prior to departure
- All meals and snacks in the back-country
- Group gear and equipment
- Backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad if needed
- Post-hike shower
- Facilitate carpool transportation to/from Northern California and Clovis/Fresno
- Flexible cancellation policy
What’s not included
- Meals in the front-country, including while in Shaver Lake, CA
- Personal items
How it works
A $450 deposit per person is required with balance due 60 days prior to the event. Private, family and modified itinerary trips available through TSX Pods. 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. Cancel up until the day of the trip without the risk of lost money; see our amended COVID-19 cancellation policy for details.
Day 1 – Afternoon arrival, pack-check, overnight on trail
On the day of arrival, you’ll be welcomed into our Shaver Lake, CA cabin like family. Need a ride? Let us know and we can help with carpool arrangements. At the cabin we’ll hand out gear requested, complete a final pack-check and talk safety. We’ll get to know our team before driving out to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir where our John Muir Wilderness backpacking adventure begins with an early evening hike to camp on the trail.
Day 2 – Courtright Reservoir to High Meadow
Trail: Long moderate-to-intense uphill, with 1,500′ 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 – High Meadow to Red Mountain, Hell For Sure Lake
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 the Knob of Mt. Hutton for camp 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 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.
Transportation: We do our best do facilitate carpool arrangements from the Fresno Yosemite Airport, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. If you’ll need a ride, please let us know! If traveling by air, Fresno Yosemite International is the preferred airport. It’s a one hour drive from the airport to our meeting point in Shaver Lake. Rental cars are also available. 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. We will coordinate transportation from our Shaver Lake meet-up point to and from the trailhead.
Arrival time: When scheduling flights or planning your drive, ideally, please allow enough time to arrive at our Shaver Lake meet-up point between 1pm-2pm. This will allow enough time for welcome activities, a pack-check, and a drive to our trailhead where we will begin our trek that evening before making camp.
Departure time: 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 3pm. 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!