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TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

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TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby KathyW » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:34 pm

I wanted to do a weekend backpacking trip where I would be able to carry a light pack, wear lightweight shoes, and where I could start at a high enough elevation that I wouldn't have to start too early in the morning; so last week I checked to see if I could reserve a permit for the weekend for Cottonwood Pass, Cottonwood Lakes, Whitney Portal, or Kearsarge Pass. Surprisingly enough, the only trail I could reserve a permit for Friday (8/5/11) was Whitney Portal

On Friday I went over Trail Crest to above Guitar Lake at about 11,800'. It was a struggle for me from Trail Camp to Trail Crest in the thin air after starting at 1500' above sea level in the morning, but I didn't want to camp at Trail Camp among all the discarded Wagbags; so I struggled over the Crest and found a nice spot above Guitar Lake to camp. The smoke from the Lion Fire was bad late in the day on Friday as I went over into Sequoia National Park, but it wasn't much of a problem the rest of the weekend.

Saturday, I hiked down to Guitar Lake and then up to Mount Hale and Mount Young, which turned out to be a nice easy hike and not a sand slog like I thought they would be. If you do Young first, you might get bogged down in the sand, but by going up to Hale first and then sticking close to the ridge for the traverse to Young it works great. I was back to camp early enough to relax with a book all afternoon.

Sunday, I backpacked back up to Trail Crest. The original plan was just to go back out to the portal, but after two nights sleeping at 11,800' I was feeling pretty good in the thin air; so I dropped my pack and did the hike up to Whitney when I reached the junction. This was the first time I was able to summit Whitney without having to stop to catch my breath and bring my heart rate down every few minutes - my other hikes to Whitney have been day hikes from the Portal. It was really wonderful to be able to do a nice steady hike to the summit of Whitney without struggling in the thin air. After the Whitney hike, I picked up my pack at the junction and continued on to Trail Crest and on down to the Portal.

A really nice weekend and just what I needed - The scenery was great, the weather was beautiful, bugs were not a problem, my pack only weighed 34 pounds when I started out (they have a scale at the portal).

Some pics: http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... 50_SmHtc9L



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Re: TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby copeg » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:45 pm

Thanks for sharing the report and pics. Those views bring back memories.

Whitney Portal to above guitar lake is tough enough in a single day but add on coming from 1500, ouch.
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Re: TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby Rainman » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:22 pm

KathyW: Did you have to hike in snow/ice going over Trail Crest?
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Re: TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby KathyW » Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:11 pm

Rainman wrote:KathyW: Did you have to hike in snow/ice going over Trail Crest?


There's some snow next to the trail on the switchbacks, but you don't have to step on it. There are a couple easy patches on the trail with deep boot tracks through them up near the summit of Whitney.
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Re: TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby Trailguru » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:15 pm

Does anybody know how to have your hike mapped on National Geographic Topo or similar without the use of a GPS?? I would love to have it for future reference in the future
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Re: TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby bluefintu » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:11 pm

Hi KathyW,

Thanks for the report. Now thats a trip, up and over trail crest to Guitar Lake, I may have a chance to peak Whitney next month. We'll see. If you stayed at Hitchcock Lakes, you could've caught some fish for lunch or dinner.
Don
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Re: TR: Summertime in the Southern Sierra

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:24 am

Very nice KW! Thanks for taking the time to post the report, and all the pictures.
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