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Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

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Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby hjldennis » Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:05 am

Hello! Once again we need your help. It's that time of the year for our big family backpacking trip. We were origianlly thinking of out-of-state destinations, but this Whitney idea came about, and it sounds pretty exciting. So we are exploring the option and feasibility. Please advise your thoughts on the best route and offer any suggestions.

We have 4 nights / 5 days, next week. Kids are 9 and 11, and they have done 30-40 miles, 4-5 days backpacking, but nothing over 11000'. My wife and I should be ok, hopefully, :nod: (done Whitney day hike a couple of times)

My initianl thought was that it would be a little too much, especially at the altitude. If so, we will explore other regions. Our ultimate backup plan is to do 20 lakes basin which would be nice, relaxing and fun, but the kids are kinda excited about Whitney...

Thanks in advance for your input!

Dennis
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:35 pm

We have 4 nights / 5 days, next week. Kids are 9 and 11, and they have done 30-40 miles, 4-5 days backpacking, but nothing over 11000'. My wife and I should be ok, hopefully, :nod: (done Whitney day hike a couple of times)


Dennis, you may want to check the availability of wilderness permits first on Rec.gov., especially with 4 people, its high season, a lot of the popular permits are gone, unless you had planned to drive up in hopes of scoring permits.
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jul 30, 2015 5:34 pm

I took my then 14yo son on a 2 night, 3 day trip from Cottonwood to Whitney portal via Mt Whitney a couple of years ago. The actual mileage is slightly under 39 miles, which for a 5 day trip would only be 8 miles/day. In fact, I think even your youngest might go crazy over 5 days. This is what it would probably look like:

N1 - Chickenspring
N2 - Rock Creek
N3 - Crabtree
N4 - Outpost

Cottonwood has become more popular as a point of entry for the Muir trail, so the 24 daily reservation slots are now gone for next week. However, CWP still has 16 spots available each day as walk-in permits. To complement that 60/40 non-reserveable quota portion, there are 10 Whitney exit permits available each day on a walk-in basis as well:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC ... 143453.pdf

One last thing: the discussion above hasn't even addressed cancellations. There are always cancellations; SteveC over at the WhitneyZone compiles an annual list. I don't think there's more than 2-3 dates all summer long over the past few years that didn't have a cancellation.

My advice - for what's it's worth - is to go for it if your schedule, the weather and the family's motivation/health all line-up. The IAVC opens at 8am - just get there by 7:30am and take your spot before the door. There may be a few people in front, but the main herd shows after the doors have opened. The ranger may do a mini-lottery for the first 5-10 people in line to determine order of service for those without permits.

It would really be against the odds to (a) draw a bad ticket; and then (b) have everyone in front of you grab the remaining available walk-in permits for your exact dates & itinerary. If it did somehow happen, there are always alternatives. The USFS staff aren't there to bum your scene; they'll work to get you on the trail.
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby bluefintu » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:02 pm

I have too agree with Hobbes, but, I'm not sure witch trail you are planning on. The main trail up Whitney Portal maybe difficult to get. Keep in mind that we are in some major Monsoon weather in the next week and maybe longer. The down pore's freak me out, with lightning and thunder and a flash flood could be in the picture too. For the young one's, keep it simple, Mt. Whitney will be there next year. Stay safe and keep it simple for your young kids. It's way more enjoyable if they have an easy trip, than a grueling one. Be safe and happy trails!!!

Don
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby hjldennis » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:08 pm

Thank you guys! I talked to a ranger today, and he told me that I just need to be at the ranger station at 11am, and everyone there at 11 will draw a lottery. He thinks that we have a good chance but who knows... if all else work out, we will go there to take our chances. Heck we flew to Glacier NP last year without any solid plan and landed one of the most desired route (I camped in front of the office). Also later in the fall, we got the impossible Wave permit after driving all night (although my wife gave it up since we got the last two, not four).... So may our permit luck continue...

So it looks like we have get there one day earlier on Wednesday for the permit. That will give us one more day to stay up at horseshoe meadow. If we don't get it, we have a whole eastern Sierra to consider, so we really can't loose.

Another question. How are the camping spots in terms of the lot size? We love our hilleberg nallo gt4 but it has huge footprint, so if the finding a large spot is an issue I will take another tent. Still bit concerned for my 9 yr old since she is more prone to get ams than the rest of us....
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby hjldennis » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:18 pm

Don, thanks for heads up on the monsoon next week! If we are faced certain downpour, that changes everything. Yes, we are looking for fun time with adventure as an added bonus, so any advice we're getting here is very valuable!
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby hjldennis » Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:34 pm

We did get permits and completed the hike in 5 days from horseshoe meadow to whitney via cottonwood pass, exiting the main trail. It was a bit challenging for kids at times but they did really well, and they actually enjoyed the experience. The weather cooperated beautifully.

Thanks for all the info guys!
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:14 pm

Hope you will be posting a TR. :nod:
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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: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:35 am

hjldennis wrote:We did get permits and completed the hike in 5 days from horseshoe meadow to whitney via cottonwood pass, exiting the main trail. It was a bit challenging for kids at times but they did really well, and they actually enjoyed the experience. The weather cooperated beautifully. Thanks for all the info guys!


Congratulations. How were the crowds @ Guitar and the main trail from Trail camp? I've been up there when it's been like a music festival, and other times where I was one of the few around. Did you stopover @ Outpost on the way out, or make it all the way to the Portal?
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby hjldennis » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:01 pm

Guitar Lake was not at all crowded but we decided to hike up a little more and camped by the second small tarn, where only one other camp was set up. We found a nice flat area with walls already built away from the tarn and the other camp. It was a bit exposed, but it really helped on our summit day for our little ones. The summit was not all that crowded, and the smoke from the fire was not too bad either. At the summit we met the same friendly ranger from Crabtree who remembered our kids names from 2 days ago. He said it took him 3.5 hrs from Crabtree straight up to the summit. Wow..

We didn't even consider making it to outpost because we knew the kids would have had enough for one day, so we camped at the trail camp. It was crowded (not packed though) but relatively quite. We barely found a site that will accommodate our 4 ppl tent (BA copper spur), and I was glad that we didn't take hilleberg nallo gt, which has humongous footprint. One BIG turn off was that the campsite had many small litters AND a WAG bag wedged in between rocks. I didn't mind picking up the small trash, but didn't want to touch the WAG bag... later, on our way up to find a restroom spot, we saw more WAG bag left behind here and there. Absolutely no regard to the nature and other people.

Thanks Hobbes for clearing up cottonwood pass vs cottonwood lakes. We stayed up at horseshoe meadow the night before and after we got the permit. My 9 yo daughter did vomit a couple of times, after which we drove down a 1000ft or so and spend a few more hours, but she was fine after that throughout the hike.

All in all it was a great trip which gave our kids a big sense of achievement. We are not a souvenir type, but we had to buy them "I climbed my Whitney" shirt, lol.
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Re: Mt. Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow with Kids?

Postby Hobbes » Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:36 am

Ah yes, good old Trail camp, with the ongoing saga of the WAG bags.

I've been up Cottonwood (as well as New/Old Army) pass enough times to witness people asking out loud "where are the lakes?"

Glad it all worked out for you & your family. All of those backdoor hikes to Whitney are some of the best 3-5 day loops in the Sierra. If you ever come back, there's also Army to Miter/Crabtree, or Kearsarge over Forester heading south.
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