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Mt. Whitney from Cottonwood Lakes

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Mt. Whitney from Cottonwood Lakes

Postby backpacker92108 » Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:47 pm

Well, the rangers advised me to scrap my plans for the loop I had planned: Cottonwood Lakes, New Army Pass, Soldier Lakes, Siberian Pass, Big Whitney Meadow, Rocky Basin Lakes, Cottonwood Pass, Horseshoe Meadows.

I am now doing Cottonwood Lakes, New Army Pass, Mt. Whitney!

Any tips from you High Sierra veterans on where to camp along the way? Where is there reliable water? Details and suggestions? Thanks for your help.

John
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.



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Postby markskor » Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:04 pm

You never say how many days…or if you are fishing, but…
Having done this same trip twice with maximum fishing in mind, we:
1) Left our truck at the Portal, acclimated for the night, paid $80.00 for a morning shuttle up to Horseshoe Meadows, and made it to South Fork Lake the first trail night…an easy 4 miles
2) Crossed over the 1/8 mile boulder field and spent the day fishing for Goldens at the Cottonwoods…eventually spending the night at High Lake
3) Crossed over NAP in the morning, and worked our way down to Soldier Lake…great campground and good fishing - with a bear box near exit of Lower Soldier
4) This is where the trips differed…one, we went over into Miter Basin (beautiful) and made our way up to Sky Blue for the night. The other way was a hard day…around to Crabtree Meadows…no water after the Guyot Creek climb…(a real mother BTW) and stayed there at Crabtree Meadows…river…bear boxes. No water at all between Guyot Creek and Crabtree Meadows
5) The first trip, we crossed over Crabtree Pass and a hideous boulder field, eventually making our way down to lower Crabtree Lake. The other trip, we had a short day…also pausing for the night at Lower Crabtree. Hint - Great fishing at Lower Crabtree Lake
6) The next day we also did it short…only as far as to Guitar…camped above the lake…fishing Hitchcock and Guitar for multiple small Goldens
7) Summit Whitney and either stay at Trail Camp, Consultation Lake (or whatever it is called), and/or all the way to the Portal. Do not forget the Portal Burger.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Thanks

Postby backpacker92108 » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:02 pm

Thanks for your input. I am not into the fishing, but I appreciate those who are. I am more into the nature and adventure of it all.

I plan to take the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead through the Cottonwood Lakes area (I have backpacked into there before and dayhiked to all of the dozen lakes in the past), then over New Army Pass. Depending upon how I am feeling, I may stop at Long Lake at the foot of the pass or continue on to Soldier Lakes.

I'll follow the trail along Rock Creek, then head north. According to the map and "South Sierra" guide book, the only water on this stretch would be at Guyot Creek until Crabtree Meadow. I am worried about the water since it has been such a dry winter/spring/summer. I guess Crabtree Meadow is the next camp stop to shoot for...or maybe Timberline Lake or Guitar Lake? Not sure about the water. Guess I better call the ranger station again and quiz them.

It looks very dry from Guitar Lake to the summit and also dry on the way out to the portal. Concerned about that. Do I have to carry a couple gallons of water with me up to Trail Crest?

I was referred to a shuttle service guy by the ranger station and called him. He charges $80 for a ride from the portal to Cottonwood Lakes! Do you think it is worth it or should I just hitch for a ride back?

Thanks for your suggestions.

John
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Postby Trailtrekker06 » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:50 pm

When is your trip? There are quite a few of us who are somewhere up there quite regularly and might be able to shuttle you back to your car depending on when you plan on exiting.
Why did the rangers scrap your initial plans?
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Postby pat h » Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:39 pm

Hi, Just did this trip last year the 3rd week of September. This route had plenty of beauty, solitude, and adventure for a 50 year old by himself. Day 1 Cottonwood trailhead to Long Lake under New Army Pass. This day was short and easy and doesn't require an early start. I watched a guy across the lake catch a fish on virtually every cast. Day 2 This day was more ambitious. Started early and made it over NAP, then on down to the Soldier Lakes. A steep little grunt over the ridge on the west shore of the lake brought me down into Miter Basin. Then all the way up the basin to my camp at Sky Blue Lake. "Come and Go" use trails exist on most of this day even when the map shows it to be untrailed. What an awesome day! Day 3 Started straight uphill from Sky Blue Lake on towards Crabtree Pass. My route to the pass was not the same as "Secor" describes but got to the base of it anyway. The Pass is deceptive in that your perspective on the issue changes quickly and in a good way. It seems you are going somewhere beyond your expectations and then it's "Whoa, I'm Here! Cool" Just make sure to climb the rocky way on the right NOT the sandy chute on the left at the top! The descent to Upper Crabtree Lake was fun, not really as horrible as the previous poster says. But then again, I really enjoy the routefinding/concentrating thing. Then down to a campsite along the stream in the canyon below Upper Crabtree. This campsite, bivied in some crushed granite sand, among large random boulders, with Mt. McAddie framed by the canyon walls above and the next lake far below, was perhaps one of the most sublime places I have ever camped. Day 4 I descended down to the last of the Crabtree Lakes, rejoined the trail, went by the ranger station and up to Timberline Lake. I Left the trail at the end of Timberline Lake and ascended the Hitchcock Lakes drainage. Pretty steep but way more adventurous than the trail to Guitar Lake. Camped at the pondlets ENE of Lower Hitchcock Lakes. Day 5 This was a dayhike day. Descended to Guitar Lake then up the canyon to Arctic Lake and return. Very pretty, big solitude, and no load to hump. Day 6 Up the Muir Trail to the summit of Whitney. I had planned to then descend to camp that night at Trail Camp. When I arrived it was a very easy decision to keep going all the way to the Portal. After seeing 1 person for 5 1/2 days I had no desire to spend the night with scores of people in the sh*thole that is Trail Camp. This decision was continually reinforced as I passed group after group on their way to Trail Camp. I arrived at the Portal as the sun was setting. All I can say is I would hate to climb Whitney in 1 day from the Portal and back. Then a little hitchhike on to Cottonwood trailhead and my day and trip was done. Try it you'll like it!
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Thanks

Postby backpacker92108 » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:16 pm

Thanks to all of you for your great suggestions and information. I think I will be fine.

I called the ranger station again today on lunch break. He said there is a storm coming towards the mountains, so I better be prepared! How lovely. Don't most people fly off to a distant beach and lay there with a Corona all week? Ha.

He also said the shuttle price sounded high and he hears that from others. He suggested just hitching a ride. I think I'll just try to hitch for free. I am willing to pitch in some bucks for a ride from a nice backpacker or hiker.

Thanks again for your help and tips.

John
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Trailtrekker06

Postby backpacker92108 » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:25 pm

Trailtrekker06,

I originally had planned to do Cottonwood Lakes, New Army Pass, Soldier Lakes, Siberian Pass, Big Whitney Meadow, Rocky Basin Lakes, Stokes Stringer, Chicken Spring Lake, Cottonwood Pass, Horseshoe Meadow. They said it was likely I would not find water at the crucial Big Whitney Meadow since it has been so dry. So the ranger suggested doing Mt. Whitney from Cottonwood instead. That is how I ended up with a brand new route and backpack trip with less than a week to prepare.

I guess I am ready now and it doesn't sound quite as tough and scary as I initially thought. I am sure I will be ok. I will be solo. This will be my 40th backpack, so I'm not a novice or anything, but I try to be careful and prepared. I really appreciate getting advice and insight from people who have done the route though. It helps with the peace of mind.

That oncoming storm doesn't sound too good though. Yikes.

John
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
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Postby BigPsycheDadee » Sat Sep 22, 2007 4:42 pm

Not sure why the rangers advised against your original plan, we did similar except took the PCT out through Cottonwood Pass and passed up on Siberian Pass/Big Whitney Meadow.

Dry from High Lake, over NAP til you almost get to the trail junction which takes you to Soldier Lake. Could be an issue if you want to bag Langley or Cirque Peak.

Dry from just above Guitar Lake until I believe (it's been a few years) Trail Camp.
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Trip complete

Postby backpacker92108 » Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:39 pm

The 6-day backpack was really fun and nice to make all the decisions as I went along.

I actually got up there on that Saturday in 5 hours, much quicker than I expected, to pick up my permit, so I went ahead and started a day early at 3pm. I got about 5.5 miles up to Lake 2 of the Cottonwood Lakes area before the sun went down.

The 2nd day, I went smoked over New Army Pass and down into the Rock Creek watershed. I had heard that a storm was on the way, so I passed my planned 2nd night camping spot of Soldier Lakes and continued on to the Rock Creek last crossing where I found a great place to camp and had it to myself on the rushing creek. That was a 12-mile day. So I was way ahead of schedule at that point.

Then it was up another tough pass, Guyot, and down into the Crabtree Meadows area. I forged on to the upper Crabtree Meadow in the area of the ranger station. I had a fantastic camp spot above the meadow overlooking the meadow and Whitney Creek, plus a view of the mountain range I would be climbing up over. There were several sets of deer, plus marmots and birds of prey in this beautiful area.

Next, I got to Guitar Lake, the normal last camp with water before climbing up the mountain to attain the Mt. Whitney peak, but I got there at 11:30am, so decided to haul up some water and camp up there “somewhereâ€
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Postby Trailtrekker06 » Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:06 pm

Sounds like a fun adventure, thanks for the report. (brrrrr)
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