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Mt Whitney Loop, CA
mini location map2008-08-25
14 by photographer avatarBarrett
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Mt Whitney Loop, CA 
Mt Whitney Loop, CA
Backpack avatar Aug 25 2008
Backpack47.00 Miles 9,746 AEG
Backpack47.00 Miles4 Days         
9,746 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
It was my brother's turn to choose this years BroTrip itinerary - over the years the simple carcamps had grown to include backpacking the Bruce Peninsula and canoeing the Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, and now he wanted to climb a mountain. So of course he wanted to climb the highest in the lower 48, and throw in another 14'er on the way. Why start small - life is short :) .
After picking him up in Vegas from his flight from Michigan, we cruised through Death Valley for the old "laying down in the lowest point in the U.S." picture, and then on to Turtle Creek Campground (5000')for the first night. We packed up before dawn to watch the sunrise from the incredible Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, and then up to Whitney Portal to drop off the Taco and meet our shuttle driver. Robert W. Ennis,( us up in his van, and we headed of toward Horseshoe Meadow (10,400') campground. He was fully licensed, knowledgable, and friendly - which are all important things to look for before climbing into a stranger's van.
After a good night's sleep, we headed out with our 45 pound packs, bear canisters lashed on top, into the John Muir Wilderness. The air was cool and crisp as we slowly wound through the spiralled conifers, crossing small streams as we climbed above the treeline. Our first day was only about 8 miles, landing us at Long Lake (11,400'), near the base of the New Army Pass. We set up the tent in the huddle of trees at the end of the lake and ate dinner as the wind picked up.
The next morning the wind had stopped and Long Lake was a giant mirror as we hit the trail up New Army Pass. After reaching the top, we could see our day's destination to the north - Mt. Langley (14,027'). We left the trail and scrambled up the low-angle scree towards the jumble of huge rocks that make up the summit slope. We spent at least an hour trying to pick the best spot to breach the 50' or so of near-vertical that led to the relatively flat summit plateau. We found one that only required a few moves at 5.4 or so, and we were on our way. A short while later we stood at the summit, taking in the big views in every direction. My brother's first mountain, and it's a fourteener! We cruised down and regained the trail, taking it to Soldier Lake(10,624'), where we enjoyed the cool water and a hearty dinner.
Day three began with deer feeding in the early light as we donned our packs and headed towards Guyot Pass via the Rock Creek Trail. Our destination was Guitar Lake, far less AEG than our first two days, but 13 miles away. By time we reached our camp, I was bushed, staying awake only long enough to take a quick bath in the frigid water, followed by a nice warm dinner of Mountain House. The sunset's golden glow lit the high walls around us, true alpine beauty!
Day 4 dawned and we began the switchbacks leading up to the Whitney saddle, where we dumped our packs along side about 10 others, and continued on with a daypack and full pockets. The trail from this point is incredible, winding through killer views and vertical rock. Soon we were at the summit (14,505'), along with about a dozen others, high-fiving and feeling good.
After relaxing awhile, we headed down to the packs and began our descent towards Whitney Portal. I started to feel the toll again from the altitude and mileage, and the descent was relentless. My legs were jelly by time we reached Whitney Portal, where the famous hamburger was joined by an extremely satisfying malt beverage. 47 miles later, our packs now closer to 35 pounds, we put our feet up and shared stories with the other patrons. It turned out that they needed a ride down to Lone Pine, so 4 hikers with packs loaded into the back of the Taco, along with our packs and two large Action Packers. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies as we low-geared down to the Dow Motel, where a hot tub, pool, and additional malt beverages awaited. A perfect end to an exhausting but memorable trip. :D
Cushion buckwheat
Named place
Named place
Mount Langley 14,032ft
The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar.
It was tense.
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