Monday, September 12, 2011

Mt. Langley Trip Report & Photos

Monday September 5, 2011: Rest & Relaxation. The adventure continues......After Whitney I would be meeting up with my wife and our friend Patti to climb Mt. Langley. They would be meeting me Tuesday afternoon so I had Monday afternoon to rest up and clean up. I booked a room at the Dow Villa. I have stayed here before and have always enjoyed the experience. The rooms are nice and quaint, the only thing some don't like it the shared bathrooms with other guests, but I don't mind, a nice bed and a television to watch more football were all I needed. I finished Whitney earlier than expected which allowed me the time to do laundry across the street, it was nice to have clean clothes after a week and a half in the mountains. I had some more Subway for dinner and a nice ice cream for desert and hit the sack. After the terrible rest at the Portal Campground, the quiet room at the Dow Villa was wonderful and needed.
Tuesday September 6, 2011: Horseshoe Meadow Backpackers Camp. Woke up feeling refreshed and recharged after a great nights rest. Judy and Patti were due to arrive in Lone Pine around noon so I had time to grab some more Subway for breakfast and relax. I met Judy and Patti at the visitor center where we picked up our permit. We decided to have a good old Mexican lunch at Bonanza's. Judy and I have only eaten here after tough hikes and always enjoyed the food. But is it really good or were we just starving. Today we would find out. Turns out their food is good anytime. After picking up some firewood, hot dogs and a bottle of wine it was off to the Horseshoe Meadow Backpackers Campground. It was really nice to be with my wife backpacking again, a really special trip. She has been very supportive of my wild Sierra trips and I cannot thank her enough, couldn't do it without her. We set up a nice little camp, got a campfire going, grilled some hot dogs and drank some wine. Good times. The plan tomorrow was to make it to Cottonwood Lakes #3 and set up base camp. Another good night of sleep was in store.
Wednesday September 7, 2011: Cottonwood Lake #3. Woke up feeling good. We had an easy six mile trek into the Cottonwood Lakes Basin. We had some breakfast, packed up our gear and headed off at the leisurely hour of 9:30 am. The skies were filled with puffy white cumulus clouds. I had a weather report of a 20% chance of T-Storms tomorrow then some really nasty weather over the weekend, so these clouds shouldn't cause us any problems. We made good time to our camp alongside Cottonwood #3. We set up camp at an excellent site, very cozy. We would now watch the clouds come and go. Warm in the sun, quite chilly in the shade of the clouds. I had read reports that Army Pass was free of troublesome snow, so I decided this would be tomorrows route to Mt. Langley. We wandered on up to Cottonwood #4 to have a look at Army Pass and it was indeed very passable. We had a nice backpackers dinner and went to sleep rather early. Tomorrow would be a big day.

Mt. Whitney & Mt. Muir Trip Report & Photos

Saturday & Sunday September 3 & 4, 2011: Rest, Recover & Travel. Finished the Mineral King Backpack and craved a hot shower and bed. I had a permit to climb Mt. Whitney on Labor Day and needed to get over to Lone Pine Sunday afternoon. My awesome wife got me a room at the Econo Lodge in Bakersfield to piece the two trips together. A nice hot shower, some Subway and Long John Silver put me in a good place for a wonderful night of rest. It was also the opening weekend of College Football, so seeing some games and highlights while I rested were great. I woke up the next morning feeling great. Stopped off at Target to pick up some supplies and headed east for Lone Pine. I got my permit, drove up the Whitney Portal road and was able to obtain the last campsite at the backpackers site. It was going to be a busy Labor Day on Whitney. I had a delicious Portal burger and fries and bedded down at 6:00 pm. The plan was to get started around 2:00 am to beat the forecasted thunderstorms. I was able to fall asleep and all was well until the Portal Bear came a knocking and ran off with someones backpack. The subsequent yelling and screaming woke me up to say the least. Then around 11:00 pm a female hiker came into camp and was very noisy. She had completed the dayhike to Whitney in a lightning quick twenty hours and needed to tell her group how great it was. There were headlamps shining into my tent, fragrant cooking right outside my tent with the Bear on the prowl. I fully appreciate being excited after climbing Whitney, but you have to be respectful of others and this person was not. Needless to say, my night at the Whitney backpackers campground was not a good one.

Monday September 5, 2011: Mt. Whitney. I was able to get to get some breakfast, pack up my backpack and get on the trail at 2:20 am (no bear shenanigans either :o ). I always enjoy hiking the lower section of the main trail in the dark, can't really tell what progress you are making or not making, just hiking in the dark. There were quite a few people on the trail at this ungodly hour, they must have the same weather report. I made great time and before long I was on the switchbacks at the first hint of light. I could see the clouds out over the eastern desert, but nothing over the crest, so far so good. It was amusing watching the headlamps march up the switchbacks below me. You could make out most of the switchbacks there were so many headlamps dancing in the morning light. I reached trail crest in time to see the sunrise, very cool. The traverse over to the summit was nice, not too many people ahead of me. I reached the summit at 7:15 am, just a little under five hours and I felt good as a bonus. The only other people on the summit were Guitar Lake folk from the west. The views were outstanding as usual. The thunderstorms that were forecast were staying away so far. I sent out a message to my wife from my Spot Connect saying on was on the summit of Whitney and all was well. The Mineral King trip was the Spot Connect's first time out and I was impressed. Very easy to use and accurate, highly recommended.
I headed back down the summit at 8:30 am after spending a lengthy amount of time on top enjoying the wondrous views and great weather. When I reached the cut off for the class three climb of Mt. Muir I decided the weather was great and gave it a go. Mt. Muir is one of California's fifteen fourteen thousand foot peaks. It is an easy peak to obtain from the Whitney trail, just three hundred vertical feet above the trail. Its summit block is a nice class three climb to the 14,015' summit. The Whitney massif is impressive from here. There is also a bird eye view of the 97 switchbacks from the summit block. I signed in, took some photos and was on my way back to the Portal. I was able to make it back to the trailhead in a very leisurely five hours, those giant blocks between trail camp and outpost camp are best done slowly. I arrived back at my truck at 1:50 pm. Another successful day in the Sierra's.