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TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

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TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:24 pm

Just got back from a quick 3 day, 2 night trip from Onion to Portal:

D1 - 14.5 miles, Onion to 11.4k plateau 2.2 miles north of Forester
Left OC a little after 4am Monday morning and got to the visitor center just after 8am. It was a little backed up, but got my permit, got changed/prepped, met my ride & parked my car in Lone Pine by 9am. (Drop me a PM if you want some shuttle contact info.) Got dropped off and hit the trail @ 10am. Crossed Kearsarge @ 12:20 and hung out for a bit to have lunch. Took the Kearsarge lakes/Bullfrog junction to the PCT and pulled in for the night @ 5:40pm. View of the Kings-Kern divide from the campsite with only me and some marmots for company.

Image

D2 - 16 miles, campsite to Crabtree RS.
I had been reading some PCT blog reports about poor snow/ice conditions on Forester, so I decided at the last minute to take my micro-spikes - best decision I've made in some time. Got going at 6:30am and hit the snow fields @ 7am. Made the pass @ 8:30am, which made for a very slow ascent, but the spikes (along with poles which I always take) worked like a charm for these particular conditions.

The snow was still icy, so I was able to easily walk alongside the existing postholes & boot tracks created by the northbound PCTers. Only near the top did I posthole myself up to my waist. Going up/down even an hour later could produce the kinds of horror stories being reported by PCTers hitting the pass in the afternoon. What ever happened to 'passes & peaks in the morning'?

Anyway, my guess is that these conditions could persist for a few more weeks; not just on Forester, but all the other usual suspects as well ie Glen, et al. If you're heading out, I would try and deal with snow crossings before 8am.

The snow fields continued for 2.5 miles south of Forester along the PCT until the Tyndall watershed nears the x-c shoulder to LSA. I didn't bother wearing my spikes since I simply walked through the snow free light talus alongside the trail covered with snow/ice patches. I couldn't see the actual trail for about a mile, but I knew it was between me and the still frozen lakes. I got back on the PCT @ the bluff overlooking the Tyndall basin (with a good view of Rockwell) and headed on out.

It had taken me 4.5 hrs to go 7 miles, but I still needed to make another 9 miles to get where I wanted to be for my last day. Pulled in across Whitney creek from the ranger station before 4pm, made camp; all in all, a long day.

Forester 2 miles way (notch with snowfield underneath):
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Getting closer:
Image

Final traverse:
Image

Lower Wright/Wallace meadow looking down towards Kern Cyn (HST meet-up is the other way):
Image

D3 - 18 miles, Crabtree RS to Portal, via Mt Whitney
It had started to cloud up around 2pm the day before, and sure enough right after I set up camp, the Sierra put on a weather spectacular: wind, hail, thunder & lightning. I cozied up and began reading my book, but I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up @ 9pm and is was perfectly clear with an almost full moon just coming up and lighting up everything. Pretty bitchin'.

I had another big day ahead of me, so I just went back to sleep and hit the trail once again before 6:30 am. It turned out to be sort of an eventful day, which I posted an account over @ the Whitney zone for those interested in my little 'adventure'.

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthread ... #Post37400

PS - Water crossings (I just wade through with my shoes on - I wear trail runners that drain & dry very quickly):
1. The first major water crossing was the drainage coming from Center basin in Upper Vidette. A PCTer got there at the same time as me from the other side, and tried for a rock about 1/3 the way in a semi narrow section with the hope of getting across dry, but got stuck, and decided to plunge from there at about waist high water. I said forget that and went back to the washed out trail point and waded through around mid-calf to knee.

2. Tyndal was running at a pretty good clip. Some hikers were drying their feet & pull their shoes back on, but once again, I just waded on through with my poles fully extended. Water was mid-thigh to crotch high (I'm 6'1").

3. Wright - for a little creek, this one was around mid-calf.

4. Wallace - more water, wider crossing, around knee high.

Lots of other crossings of course, but all were doable with a little patience, trekking poles fully extended, and careful stepping/leap frogging.

PPS - A note about mosquitoes. Unfortunately, I'm the worst person to ask about mosquitoes since I take along my nuclear DEET (Ben's + 3m). So, even though some PCTers were complaining about the pests, especially in Vidette, they never landed on me even though I could see them flying around. However, according to others, they seem to think they're bad, so there's a second hand report.
Last edited by Hobbes on Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:47 pm

Thanks Hobbes for posting this useful TR and pictures, especially for those who are
heading out to that area in the next few weeks. By the way, which spikes did you
use, Kohtoola or Yak Trax?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:02 pm

maverick wrote:Thanks Hobbes for posting this useful TR and pictures, especially for those who are
heading out to that area in the next few weeks. By the way, which spikes did you
use, Kohtoola or Yak Trax?


Kohtoola. If any PCTers are reading this, you might try and get a pair @ Kennedy before you hit Forester, et al. You can always mail them back after Donohue.

Of course, they won't do anyone any good if crossings are attempted after 8am (or even earlier). I ran into a few PCTers who were anxious about Forester. I said the same thing to each one "camp under the switchbacks" at the base of the south side ie around 1.75 miles across the snow fields and .75 till the pass. Get going around 6am, and don't lollygag on the top. Catch your breath and follow the traverse to the west (left looking north).
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:07 pm

Your absolutely right Hobbes, timing passes, especially this time of the year, and these
conditions, is very important.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Bluewater » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:19 pm

Thanks Hobbes. I've been hoping to get some updates for the area and your report and photos are very much appreciated. Gotta love those trail runners! I still have a few pairs of the old Montrail Sabino's in the gear closet:).
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:40 pm

Bluewater wrote: Gotta love those trail runners! I still have a few pairs of the old Montrail Sabino's in the gear closet:).


These New Balance MT1010v2 are the best shoes I've ever owned. I had to buy a new pair in neon blue (pictured) since I think they were the last available pair in my size/width in the USA.

Image

If you follow my link to the Whitney weather report, the Vibram soles literally stuck to wet granite. NB has been messing around with their shoes, so I'll have to see what the new v3 looks like.
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TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Bluewater » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:56 pm

Thanks for your recommendation! I've been in the market for a new trail runner since the Sabinos were discontinued. New Balance is the only brand I've found with the EE width I need. I've been considering the MT1210. Do you have any thoughts regarding the difference between the two? I'm 6'/195 lbs and like something reasonably lightweight but usually not under 24-26 ozs/pair.


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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby macchiolives » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:56 pm

Check out 6pm.com. They are zappos.com's outlet store. They have great deals on New Balances. I bought a pair of new balance 890v2s last summer for 60% off and they're amazing. Great pics BTW!!!!
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby RiseToADry » Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:26 pm

Thanks for the report Hobbes! You're a stud hiker, you covered some miles on this trip.

How were the higher elevation lakes (WLB, Guitar, Wallace, Crabtree etc)? Still frozen?
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Hobbes » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:23 am

Bluewater wrote:New Balance is the only brand I've found with the EE width I need. I've been considering the MT1210. I'm 6'/195 lbs and like something reasonably lightweight but usually not under 24-26 ozs/pair.


I wear NB because they carry 2E and their NL-1 last used for their minimus line of trail runners has a very wide shoebox. I've never tried the MT1210 - I'm sort of hooked into the 10, 101 & 1010 line.
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Hobbes » Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:32 am

RiseToADry wrote:Thanks for the report Hobbes! You're a stud hiker, you covered some miles on this trip.

Well, to be honest, I train year-round by running around 25+ miles/week in order to hike (longer distances). In addition, I have what is referred to as a 'super ultra-light' setup: 14lbs total going in, 10 coming out. Last, I'm precise about what I can/can't do - I carefully plot/plan each trip (based on records of past trips), and then record my actual times while on the trail (I take along a small pencil). Here's my updated record for this trip:

Image

* The Kings NP mileage sign on the PCT shows 3 miles to Kearsarge and of 7.5 to Onion vs the Inyo TH sign saying 5 miles to Kearsarge.

For many/most, that's just too much effort and/or hassle just to go hiking a few times in the Sierra. I totally get that; this is just one of my things. (The other is surfing for over 4 decades.)

How were the higher elevation lakes (WLB, Guitar, Wallace, Crabtree etc)? Still frozen?

If you check the Whitney link, there are some photos of Guitar & Hitchcock that are ice free. From Whitney, I could see that Wales was ice free as well, but I didn't take a photo. However, here's a shot of Tulainyo completely iced over:

Image
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Re: TR: JMT Kearsarge -> Whitney 6/9-11

Postby Ska-T » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:01 pm

Hobbes wrote:Pretty bitchin'.

I suspected you had a surfing background. :nod:
Thanks for the entertaining and instructional report!

-Scott in Surf City USA
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