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Lone Pine Lake Trail - 2 members in 5 triplogs have rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 18 2020
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male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Mount Whitney 14,505Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jul 18 2020
John9LTriplogs 1,640
Hiking22.22 Miles 7,204 AEG
Hiking22.22 Miles   11 Hrs   6 Mns   2.15 mph
7,204 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Back in early March I decided to apply for a day hiking permit and I was surprised to see I was successful. Then Covid hit and I didn't think the trip would happen. Months passed and the date got closer & I was still skeptical. Finally the week of the trip hit and I decided to go for it & I'm glad I did.

I took PTO on Friday and left Phoenix around mid-morning and took my time driving to Lone Pine. I arrived in the evening and grabbed some dinner to go and drove up to Whitney Portal. I ate dinner as night set in & then organized my gear. I'm sleeping in my jeep and I'm going with an alpine start.

After a relatively restless night I got up at 4:10am and I was on trail at 4:30am. The Mount Whitney Trail makes a steady climb right from the start. I was using my headlamp and could see about a dozen headlamps further up trail. I kept at it as light appeared on the horizon. A few minutes later I shut off my light and continued up. I set a steady pace and passed a few small groups. The sun rose and I would pass Outpost Camp and then climbed to Trail Camp. From there it was time for the 99 switchbacks which were relentless. I set a steady pace that slowed as I neared the top.

I eventually arrived at Trail Crest and took a short break. From here it's 1.9 miles and 1,000ft to the summit. This section sound easy but is tough because of the elevation. I would go a few hundred yards and take a short break. I kept at it and played hop scotch with a few group. With much effort I topped off to a relatively crowded summit at 10:30am. Once there I signed the register and took a nice break & admired the views. This is my second time on the summit but first from the Portal side.

After I had my fill I started the return. The top section was a chore but I made steady progress. There are a few short uphill spots near Trail Crest. They are very short but took their toll & felt like a huge climb. I was spent from the hike up and the elevation. I hit the 99 switchbacks and headed down. Most of them are short and easy going. I cruised down and passed Trail Camp and kept heading down. With much effort I detoured over to Lone Pine Lake and took a short break to eat.

The last few miles to the trailhead were work. My legs were spent I wanted to be done. I kept heading down and was delighted to return to the trailhead and then back to the jeep. I was finally done! It was about 3:30pm and I decided to head home. I would spend the next 8+ hours driving and I pulled into home right at midnight. It was a good trip! Mount Whitney is a beast of the hike and took a lot of effort but was worth it!
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Jul 30 2019
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 Joined Jan 07 2017
 Fountain Hills,
Lone Pine Lake TrailSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jul 30 2019
DixieFlyerTriplogs 734
Hiking6.30 Miles 1,816 AEG
Hiking6.30 Miles   3 Hrs   25 Mns   2.44 mph
1,816 ft AEG      50 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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This hike was from the TH at the Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake and back. Actually we went a short distance past Lone Pine Lake to the boundary of the Whitney Zone, beyond which a permit is required.

We did this hike 2 days before hiking up to Mount Whitney -- we wanted to do this hike to acclimate a bit to the altitude and to check out at least a portion of the trail that we would be hiking on up to Whitney.

There were about 3 creek crossings, one of which was a bit of a challenge to keep your feet dry.

Lone Pine Lake was nice -- there was still some snow on one side of the lake.
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Lone Pine Lake
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Edward Abbey
Jun 15 2015
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40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
JMT-Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney, CA 
JMT-Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jun 15 2015
FOTGTriplogs 925
Backpack202.87 Miles 40,561 AEG
Backpack202.87 Miles10 Days         
40,561 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Inspired by the trips of Dave1 and 9L, I decided to give the John Muir Trail a shot this summer. Yosemite is very tough to get an entry permit from, so I started at Tuolumne. Therefore, we can call this a JMT light or a segment hike and I will go back and suffer through the crowds of Yosemite valley another time to complete the final segment.

I dropped the dogs off late Sunday morning on June 14 and headed for California. Having never been to California before, that turned out to be a minor adventure in itself. I missed the first turn for Yosemite and google rerouted me up the west coast. I toured Pasadena drove on a road I think they call the grape vine and was nearing Fresno when I realized it was not the way I wanted to go. I then took highway 58 across the bottom of the Sierra Nevada range and made my way back to the eastern side via a series of state roads. My detour only cost me about three and a half extra hours and 200 plus miles. I ended up seeing some more of California, but did not make Yosemite on the 14.

I finally arrived at the permits office around nine the next morning. The ranger informed me that if I wanted I could start a day early. Initially, I had planned to day hike Yosemite on the 15 and start my trek on the 16. However, the previous day's driving fiasco had me extra annoyed, I did not want to spend anymore money and the thought of hiking the sidewalks of Yosemite on a Sunday afternoon made me cringe. Consequently, after about a five minute deliberation in my head, I said let's start now! There would only be one small issue, I really only had four days worth of food until my resupply and this would be adding in an extra day, but I had some extra snacks in the car and I knew I would be fine splitting a Mountain House.

Day 1: Tuolumne Meadows to Lyell Fork Bridge (11.3 miles)

No reason to rush at all on this day one, as with an early entry date, any miles I gained would just be a nice little head start on the miles I would need to cover to complete the trail in my original permit dates of the 16-30. Not rush is exactly what I did on day one. I spent my late morning and early afternoon just absolute awestruck at the beauty of Lyell Canyon and the picturesque Tuolumne River. I stayed near where John camped in 2013. A great spot along the Lyell fork of Tuolomne, near the forks bridge. I set up camp and took a signature FOTG nap, woke up, ate half a mountain house and went back to bed. Perfect site, perfect day, perfect start to trek.

Day 2: Lyell Fork Bridge to Gladys Lake (20 miles)

I hit the trail at 0630 on day two. This would be my latest start time of the entire trek. I quickly developed a pretty efficient morning routine that had me leaving camp usually on or just before six the rest of the way. The climb up Donohue Pass was nothing short of majestic with: partially frozen basins, a snowy backdrop, water gushing from every drainage and amazing views. Speaking of views, they only got better as I crested the pass and gazed south. From there I headed down down Rush Creek and up Island Pass. Island Pass is where things simply got breathtaking. I can't put into words the beauty of Thousand Island Lake and the several other crystal clear lakes the trail drops into and out of during this simply amazing stretch of JMT. I kept with John's 2013 itinerary and stayed at Gladys Lake, but at the south end. Another perfect campsite another perfect day.

Day 3: Gladys Lake to Purple Lake (22.7 miles)

Even though it was only day three, I woke up eager to get to Red's Meadow. I thought a quick bite to eat would not hurt and I had a few things I could trow away as well. However, as I was making my way down to the Devil's Postpile area, I decided I did not really need to go to Red's Meadow. I was afraid it would undo my two days in the wilderness and make me soft or yearn for things I could not have, besides I was getting resupplied in potentially another day anyways. From Devils Postpile it was through the eerie Ansel Adams Wilderness that has been recently impacted by a forest fire and a tremendous wind storm that took out several thousand trees. The next stretch of trail many find mundane and boring according to the Wenk book, however, I had no problem with it and enjoyed the views along with the very well-maintained trail. I was still keeping with John's old itinerary when I finally deviated at Duck Creek. He had selected an awesome and relatively popular site in 2013 from the looks of it. However, I did not stop at Reds and had hit Duck Creek a little early in the afternoon. I decided I would push up the trail to Purple Lake a lake formed by thousands of years of purple rain according to the guide book. Reaching Purple Lake included a pretty nasty little climb out of the Duck Creek drainage, but it proved to be worth it. I got a great spot nestled just inside the tree line and among some large slabs with a nicely flowing creek to avoid long walks to the lake for water. Ate well, slept well and enjoyed a cool but not cold evening.

Day 4: Purple Lake to the Junction with Bear Creek (24.2 miles)

Silver was another superb pass. It was preceded by a knee rattling drop down into the beautiful and robust flowing Fish Creek drainage and then followed by an even more aggressive drop into Tully Hole then a 2100 foot climb up Bear Ridge and another 1000 foot plus drop back down into Bear Creek. I took advantage of the tremendous downhills, the relative ease of the Bear Ridge Climb along with the great trail conditions and knocked out a 24 mile day that was not overly strenuous. Bear Creek is a powerful little creek pushing a lot of water. I enjoyed a pretty built up site near the trail, but not as close to the water as some of the nicer sites that I came across the next morning.

Day 5: Bear Creek Junction to Muir Trail Ranch, Hot Springs and finally Piute Creek Junction (16 miles, 1.6 miles, 4 miles)

I arrived at Muir Trail Ranch early in every way. I arrived just before noon and a day early. I was gambling that I could pick up my food bucket a day early and either push up the trail more, or get an earlier start on the following day. The worker at ranch had no problem grabbing my bucket a day early, however, immediately there was an issue. My bucket was not there, however, she was very confident it would be arriving on the five o'clock truck and told me I could come back and check later to ease my worries. Although slightly worried, it was tough to be too down. The hot springs were great and I was having a pretty good time socializing with the several backpackers that were slowly trickling in. Although, I was nearly swept down stream fording the very fast moving San Joaquin River not once, but twice. its amazing what a little quality time around the hot springs will drive one to do. Then the wheels came off my little vacation day at the ranch. My bucket never arrived. Under normal circumstances this is not that big of an issue, as M.T.R. is known for its great "community" bin. However, this was the day before the ranch opened officially and the only food they had available was left over from last year. I had no problem finding four days worth of Mountain Houses, however, there was nothing to take for a breakfast, nothing with electrolytes and no nice quick burning sugary snacks. I went from expecting to receive six days worth of my own hand selected dinners, snacks, breakfasts and comfort foods to four mountain houses of which only three I really liked and about 4.5 days worth of expired cliff bars and Kind bars. Oh when I say expired I mean expired with dates ranging from as early as April 2015 to as far back as August 2014. At this point I almost convinced myself to grab enough food to make it to Bishop and call the trek off for events that were obviously out of my control.

As I am mulling over what to do, one of the workers comes out and says, "Now I remember why your name sounded familiar!" I eagerly say, "yes?" as if he is going to pull my bucket out of his pocket. He then says, " A letter arrived for you today." I was completely perplexed, I took the letter and it was from my sister. My sister obviously realized that I could survive ten days without a correspondence from her, but she wanted to surprise me with something fun I guess. The letter was very nice. It had some personal things about my father, some words of encouragement about my new job and gave me way too much credit for undertaking a pretty modest 200 mile trek. Anyways, how does a guy say he is quitting the J.M.T after that? I said to myself quit being a little bitch grab what food you can, shorten the hike to five days and make do. I made a quick appeal to my new found friends at the river and collected some granola and homemade trail mix. Great! I went from coffee in the morning, circus peanuts, chips and my hand picked favorites to bird food and 12 expired cliff bars. At least now my greatest threat was a bird attacking me for my food and not a bear. Can't wait to see how 0500 goes now without a little instant coffee in the system.

Everyone was sympathetic to my situation, but they were all waiting on resupply as well. A couple cool girls I had met in passing the day before offered some breakfast the following morning, but by this point I was tired of being social and slightly annoyed by the situation, so I decided to get a few miles head start on Muir Pass and left M.T.R. sometime after six. I certainly had some anxiety about my food situation and had a feeling those hot springs may have been the place to be in the Sierras that night, but I left anyways and committed to completing the trail. Ended up staying near Karl and John's site from the year before. I shared a site with a PCT guy. Very cool kid, 24 years old, was living off fresh trout and wild onion as he slowly made his way through the Sierras. His name was Breaks and he was tackling the PCT after only one trip to Glacier national park! He was doing well though when I met up with him and was confident he would reach Canada before winter. We had a few pretty good conversations and he helped ease my anxiety over my very modest rations, saying something to the extent of, "don't worry the trail will take care of you."

Day 6: Piute Creek Junction to Big Pete's Meadow Crossing (24 miles)

I got a nice early start just before six. All of a sudden my morning routine had become considerably shorter with no oatmeal to cook or coffee to drink. Day six was also my first day where I felt I should start covering some ground. Muir Pass was beautiful but a tough climb for me with my newly albeit partially stocked five day pack. What compounded matters was that even with my head start from the night before, I was reached the pass at around mile 19 when I was not exactly at my most spry. Luckily, the beauty of Evolution Creek, valley and the basin area more than made up for the tough climb. The descent down the south side was amazing, more cascades, partially frozen lakes and quick trail with some amazing views of what lies ahead; the second of the M&M brothers, Mather Pass.

Day 7: Big Pete's Meadow to three miles before Pinchot Pass (24.7 miles)

If Muir Pass broke me off, than Mather Pass got medieval on my #$%. I cursed and crawled my way up the 12,000 foot plus devil pass, but was then able to enjoy a relative highway of a trail down the other side up a quick 800 feet to my campsite on an unnamed lake, just north of Lake Marjorie and just below 11,000 feet. Today, I realized after I dipped into some snacks reserved for another day, that my food rationing system may been a little optimistic. I was simply not getting what I needed, I am not saying my sugary snacks would have saved the day, but the old school year old Cliff Bars were certainly not meeting my nutritional needs on the trail.

Day 8: 3 miles before Pinchot Pass to Bubbs Creek Junction Area (23.8 miles)

My results of a lack of quality snacks, or at least quality snacks and food in my opinion came to fruition today. Day 8 was a big day. I had to start the day off with a three mile 1500 or so feet climb up Pinchot than a drop down to 8500 feet only to climb back up to just under 12,000 in order to get over Glen Pass. Day eight marked the first time during my entire trek that I was passed by hikers. It was by a considerably fresher group on day 12 of the same south bound hike, so I naturally passed them later and never saw them again, but they went by me like I was standing still on the way up to Pinchot. I literally took nearly two hours to cover those three hours and was feeling very worried about my overall level of energy all of a sudden. My boots felt like cement, hard to describe, but I could barely lift my feet during those first few hours of day light. Day 8 was kind of zero day for snacks, not a lot to go around, nothing at all for breakfast and three bars for the whole day, not counting dinner. I started to pick up some energy and speed with the downhill, but I was absolutely dreading Glen Pass. Then I met a pretty knowledgeable local hiker and fisherman named Mike. After filtering some water, several conversations about trout fishing and a couple miles of hiking we parted ways. However, before he left he gave me a packet of almond butter mixed with a touch of maple syrup and promised me that it would get me up Glen. I don't know if it was psychological, but that almond butter hit that spot and provided the energy he said it would. I cleared the first 2500 feet of the climb in two plus mile an hour fashion. I guess the trail does find away of taking care of one. With about a little less than half the ascent complete, I passed a few sites with stationary bear boxes provided by the forest service. For some crazy reason I stopped and went over and opened one. It was packed with food! It was an illegal, but definitely a community cache of supplies and food. There were several bags of food inside, some trash and a lot of basic trail supplies. I started going through the bags and this was my take: one row of Ritz crackers, one row of Oreos (not crushed amazingly), four granola bars, (you know the unhealthy kind that taste like candy) three small packages of peanut butter and get this a package of Lifesavers and four prepackaged Gatorade mixes! Not wanting to be greedy, but positive I had not raided some poor hikers supplies, I shut up the storage bin and headed for the pass grinning ear to ear. I told myself the Lifesavers would have to wait until after Glen, but I immediately had a Gatorade mix. The allure of new snacks quickly wore off and I had perhaps what I think is one of the steepest and toughest passes of the JMT ahead. It broke me off, but mentally all was good and I pushed all the way back down to 9500 feet after clearing the pass. I was now in a pretty good spot to tackle Forester and I was feeling so much better about my food situation. The trail had taken care of me. I got an awesome spot, but then the Bad Scouts of America showed up and ruined my night, but not worth the cliche rant about unruly scouts and poor scout masters.

Day 9: Bubbs Creek to Crabtree Creek south of the ranger station (23.4)

My food was not as big of an issue now and I really only had to have a decent day to set myself up for a Whitney Summit and Whitney Portal exit. But first loomed Forester a legitimate 13,000 plus foot pass to clear within the first eight miles of my hike. Surprisingly, Forester was a breeze! Imagine that hit a pass with a little food in your belly and hit the pass before mile 18 and all is well. Not to mention the grade and trail up to the pass from the north side were probably the best out of all of the other passes. Some talus to navigate, but not like Mather and Muir, generally long sandy or gravel switchbacks most of the way. A race track down Forester, but I will say the final 8-10 miles to Crabtree were my least favorite of the JMT, just dry and not a lot going on in the scenery department along with some annoying little 400 and 600 foot climbs mixed in there.

Day 10: Crabtree Creek to Whitney Portal (19.3 miles)

Final food count for the last day was two expired cliff bars for the climb and exit. However, for breakfast three Oreos, a left over chicken breast from the previous night's Mountain House and a cup of hot cocoa. My largest and most filling breakfast since about day four I think. The breakfast did not help, nor did the last day mentality, climbing Whitney with a full pack just hurt! Although, I should note there is a convenient spot at 13,000 feet where you can leave your pack, so that leaves you only a 3000 foot climb with your full pack. The other 1400 you get to do like a rock star pack free with a nalgene bottle and puffy coat. I met a group of cool guys on the top, relished my moment a little, reflected on what I had done and then started down. However, during conversation the group I met, not only insisted that I accompany them to Lone Pine for celebratory brew and food after, but they also offered a ride back to Yosemite, as they were going that way. My problem of getting back to Yosemite was all of a sudden solved in five minutes, and believe me I had no real plan to get back, so it was a tremendous break for me. The summit of Whitney to the trail head can be summed up with one word switchback. I hiked out with my new friends after they packed up at base camp. They were all super cool guys a surfer, a lawyer and a couple of green thumbs from Santa Cruz, who could go wrong with that company? I confidently ordered a Stone IPA like I knew what I was doing, chugged it down and ate my food quicker than the entire table. I hopped in a car with Charlie the surfer and we had a nice safe, relaxing pleasant ride back to Yosemite. Next, I hopped in my car and drove straight through the night to get back to Cup and Blanco, I passed out for about an hour or two outside of Vegas and somehow arrived at Chumleys by about nine in the morning for my long awaited reunion with Cup and Blanco. A much quicker and efficient route home than the one there!

Final Notes

Had my food arrived this would have been a longer trek and less taxing on the body, but when the food situation became sketchy I had to turn it on a little. The only problem with this strategy was, I was now completing nearly an ultra light weight style hike with miles and AEG, but I was carrying nearly a 40 pound pack. I can do 12-15 miles all day with 35 plus pounds on the back, but once you start going over 20 the days can drag a tad out there.

A special thanks to John for help with the planning/logistics from the very first day I secured a permit and his other guidance along the way. Some more HAZ appreciation Dave1's way of course, he seems to be the inspiration behind most of my more ambitious hikes lately and he always remains a good source of info. Both Dave and John wrote great triplogs for JMT, must reads if doing trail in future. Finally, a very grateful thanks to Chumley for taking the pups on for ten days! Oh and I almost forgot, thank you Oregonhiker for sharing your California topo on Garmin and downloading the first 78 miles of the track for me, it certainly made the other 120 miles more interesting.

On the night I left M.T.R. I ran into two PCT guys that were in pretty rough shape, down to nothing for food and they had not ate much in the last few days. They still needed to make it to V.V.R. to resupply, so I went back to M.T.R grabbed two Mountain Houses for them and gave them two of the packages of trail mix that the girls had just given me. Two days later I found a ton of food and snacks, maybe in some weird way trail karma had came around to me for my good deed. I mean after all I did get a ride back to Tuolumne after only about five minutes on the top of Whitney.

I am not sure how I will go back to hiking in Arizona after spending ten days in an area I am now classifying as one of our nation's natural wonders, but I think I will manage. Similarly, I am now very intrigued by this PCT thing, I guess its that or the AZT up next ;)

I know the triplog is long and the photo-set will be excessive, however, no apologies. It was an amazing trip every step of the way and while its certainly not the feat of the century, I do have a strong sense of accomplishment after this one. The miles and days were modest, but I think I accomplished it under some less than ideal situations and with some trials and tribulations along the way.
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7 archives
Jun 29 2014
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 Routes 29
 Photos 1,548
 Triplogs 1,802

46 male
 Joined Jan 25 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
John Muir Trail, CA 
John Muir Trail, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jun 29 2014
Dave1Triplogs 1,802
Backpack222.00 Miles 46,000 AEG
Backpack222.00 Miles8 Days         
46,000 ft AEG24 LBS Pack
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1st trip
This was a trip I had been planning for about 6 months. The longest hike I've ever done. My goal was to finish in 7 days but really I had no idea if I'd be able to handle a trip this long and was expecting to drop out after day 3 or 4. I know most people do this trail in 2 or 3 weeks or more but I just can't get that much time off from work nor do I want to be away from home that long. I have to thank HAZ member keepmoving for bringing this trail to my attention about 2 years ago. Since reading his trip report and seeing his pictures, I've dreamed of hiking it. I started the hike from the official start point at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley and hiked it south to Whitney Portal, near Lone Pine, Ca. (I didn't bring a GPS so daily mileages are estimated based on the maps I brought along.)

Day 1, Sunday June 29th, 10 miles:
I left Phoenix late Saturday night and arrived in Mammoth Lakes early Sunday morning on no sleep. I parked my truck at Mammoth RV Park for $25 for 8 days. The reason I parked in Mammoth is because in the event I couldn't finish the entire JMT, I figured Mammoth would be easier to get back to than Whitney Portal or the other towns. In front of McDonalds just .3 miles from the RV park, I hopped on the 8:30a YARTS bus to Yosemite Valley. The ride took over 4 hours but it was a nice coach with comfortable seats and a restroom in the back. Cost was $18, paid in cash to driver. BTW, if you're looking for an extra challenge, try peeing in the back of a bus while it negotiates the switchbacks up Lee Vining Canyon. Good times! I got to the Wilderness Center (Yosemite's version of the backcountry office) to pick up my permit, which started on Monday, and was excited to find out they had one more permit left starting Sunday! This meant I could start hiking right away and didn't have to spend the night in the Valley's backpacker's campground. The ranger said I'd have to camp in Little Yosemite Valley so this would be a short day of just 4.5 miles. I was on trail by 1:30 and took my time getting up to Nevada Falls. Staying on the official JMT meant I would have to miss the Mist Trail and Vernal Falls and take a slightly longer route to Nevada Falls. The lower section of the alternate trail is obviously used frequently by equestrian stock as it's completely covered with feces.

With plenty of daylight left (sunset was at 8:30), I lounged around the Merced River above Nevada Falls along with many other park visitors, enjoying the refreshing water. After a while I went over to Little Yosemite Valley Campground and then to the adjacent section of the Merced to refill my water. Some guy said he saw a bear on the other side of the river and so he went over to LYV CG to gather as many people as possible to bring back and gawk. Well the bear never appeared but seeing all those people made me realize quickly I didn't want to sleep anywhere near here. I took another look at my permit and noticed it said "you must get to LYV before camping". So that's what I did and I took off up the trail. I ended up spending the first night about 5 miles beyond LYV, on a ridge with nice views of Half Dome. There were a few annoying mosquitoes out while I set up my tent. Little did know just how bad the mosquito situation would get in the succeeding days... I was low on water so I skipped dinner. Had cell phone reception and was able to call home.

Day 2, Monday June 30th, 27 miles:
Up at 5:30 and on trail by 6. Ate breakfast (a Larabar) and then brushed my teeth while walking. This would be the reoccurring theme for the week. Passed by Long Meadow and then Cathedral Lakes. Some guy asked me to join him for a trip to Merced Lake. No thanks, I got too much trail to cover. Started seeing a lot more people and then began hearing traffic noise. I must be near Tuolumne Meadows.

I stopped at Tuolumne Meadows Store and Grill. There was quite a crowd of tourists and hikers hanging out. Bought a few Gatorades and 2 cheeseburgers. Burgers were good but I was pretty hungry so that may have clouded my judgment. I took a long break here from the mid-day sun, just doing a lot of people watching. On the way back to the trail, I stopped by the restroom to help conserve my limited supply of toilet paper.

Lyell Fork is a long, flat, wide open creek/meadow-deal. It took a while to get through this area. Supposedly this is a hot spot for bears, but not today. I was heading for Donahue Pass and I could see and hear thunder clouds approaching right over the pass. Hopefully they would pass before I got there. And they mostly did. The clouds gave a welcome break from the searing sun. Made it over 11,073' Donahue Pass without much trouble, I must be acclimating well to the elevation. I camped about a mile past Donahue on a granite slab surrounded by marsh. The mosquitoes became more prevalent this evening. Had cell reception so I was able to check in with my wife. Feels comforting to hear her familiar voice before bed. Had Mountain House Rice & Chicken for dinner.

Day 3, Tuesday July 1st, 29 miles:
Woke up to a cool morning, about 40 degrees. On trail by 5:45. Passed by lots of still-sleeping campers, especially near Rush Creek and Island Pass. This is a popular camping area. Most camp right next to the trail. It amazes me how late people get started in the morning, they're all missing the early morning light bouncing of the peaks! Some were still in bed at 9am! Island Pass went by quickly. On to the greatly anticipated Thousand Island Lake! Thousand was awesome but a large and very noise group camped along the shore spoiled it slightly. Ruby Lake became one of my favorites. I like the enclosed, quiet feeling of it. On to another big highlight of the trip: Shadow Creek. I love these high-flow, fast moving, steep creeks!

On the narrow, steep switchbacks leading up to Rosalie Lake, I met head to head with a growling, off leash dog. I picked up a large rock as my only defense. Along comes the owner: "He's friendly." Really? Could have fooled me. I long to be back in a national park where dogs aren't allowed on trails.

Devil's Postpile National Monument was a bit of a slog. Deep sand on the trail, little shade, and a fiery sun beating down on me weren't much fun. Also there was no shortage of horse droppings blanketing the trail. I would call this the low point of the trip. I was happy to find Reds Meadow store still open at 5pm. Got some more Gatorade and then a cheeseburger with fruit salad at the restaurant. After Reds I took a shortcut trail back to the JMT. After a while I expected to see a JMT sign or a merging trail but saw nothing. Up ahead I see a rugged looking forest service worker carrying a shovel and a hand saw. This guy looks like Grizzly Adams' grandfather. Surely he knows if I am on the right trail. "Hello sir, is this the JMT" I asked sheepishly. "I don't know, this is my first day here" he replies. You gotta be kidding me? Further up I ran into a northbound hiker. I ask him the same and he just laughs. Ok, I'll figure it out myself. One thing I do figured out is all the northbound hikers are doing the PCT, all have epic beards (and the women have hairy legs), and only about half are friendly or will give ascending hikers the right of way.

The Pacific Crest Trail runs about 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada. Most hike it northbound in about 5-6 months. And most have already started a couple of months ago. I would pass a PCT hiker just about every hour. Coming in December, look for Reese Witherspoon playing an over-sexed drug addict who embarks on a PCT journey in Wild.

I find camp about half way between Deer Creek and Duck Lake. This is also known as the driest section of trail, with about 6 miles between water sources. I do spot a very slight creek running into a dank pocket of water but the whole place is chocked with poisonous Corn Lilies. Fortunately I have enough water. The ground is steep above and below the trail but I'm able to find a flat spot built up behind a fallen tree to set up my bivy. The mosquitoes welcome me with open arms. For dinner, Mountain House Spaghetti & Meat Sauce mixed with a dry cheddar cheese packet from Annie's mac & cheese. Not bad, might try that again.

Day 4, Wednesday July 2nd, 31 miles:
Another early morning. Lots of people camped next to the creek flowing from Duck Lake. I stop at Virginia Lake to fill up my water and clean up a bit. I try to get all my water from either the larger lakes or from a high flowing creek. I find a hiking shoe on the Virginia Lake bridge. How do you leave behind one shoe? I drop down the long switchbacks into Tully Hole and begin the trek along Fish Creek. Another awesome creek with breathtaking waterfalls! The mosquitoes continue to build up their force. No more extended breaks for me. All breaks must be one minute or less, they demand. Silver Pass (10,900') gets checked off.

The climb up from Mono Creek to Bear Ridge is supposed to be 2,000' but feels 10 times that. These are the longest, most unrelenting switchbacks I have ever experienced. I hope to get a view of Lake Edison from Bear Ridge but the trees prevent it. I also make what would be the last phone call to my wife on top of BR. After this I would have no more cell reception and would communicate with her by Delorme inReach instead.

I reach Bear Creek and find myself at ground zero of the mosquito territory. I need water but get absolutely swarmed with those bastards. It's painful but necessary. I learn exactly how long each bite will itch for. I meet up with a German? PCT hiker. He has an interesting bug shelter and is dressed from head to toe in nylon. Must be steamy by the creek. We are completely covered with mozzies as we talk for just a few minutes. I have on my wind breaker for protection even though it's a warm and humid evening. They bite right through my double layers. Camp is found on a granite slab about 500' feet from the creek. I set up in record time. Mountain House Pasta Primavera for dinner. Meh. Egads! The mosquitoes find a way in between where the two zipper pulls meet! I send these kamikaze pilots to an early grave and then seal up the zipper with duct tape. After laying on my mattress for about a half hour, I noticed I was now feeling the granite slab under me. Damn! My mattress has a hole! Not able to find it while inside the bivy and not wanting to go outside and fight the mosquitoes to find a softer campsite, I suffer through a near sleepless night.


Day 5, Thursday July 3rd, 27 miles:
Wasn't able to get much sleep so the mosquitoes and I packed up early and hit the trail. Almost immediately we have to make a wet crossing of Bear Creek. Fortunately the creek is only ankle-deep but that cold water sure wakes me up quick. Later, I stopped at Marie Lakes and dunked my mattress into the water to find the leak. Found it and made a mental note of the location so I could tape it up later tonight. Hopefully tonight I'll get some much needed sleep. Selden Pass was a breeze at 10,880'.

I ran into a Sierra NF ranger on the way down to Muir Trail Ranch. We had a nice conversation, mostly about the mosquitoes. He then checked my permit. This would be the only time a ranger asked to see my permit during the entire trip. Muir Trail Ranch is a private ranch located just off the JMT near mile 108 (north to south). They offer resupply services for hikers and riders. They also have cabins and mules for rent. They have a very small store with a few supplies but no food. MTR is one of four popular resupply points for JMT hikers. The others being: Tuolumne Meadows, Reds Meadow, and Vermillion Valley Ranch. MTR is last one you'll pass if you're one of the 90% of JMT hikers that are hiking north to south.

I got to MTR and picked up my resupply bucket that I had sent to them 3 weeks prior. The cost for them to pick up the bucket from the nearest post office and hold it for me was $65. Add to that the USPS postage and this gets expensive. I hadn't been eating much and had so much food left over that I probably could have skipped the resupply. I did need some more freeze-dried dinners though. And it was nice to change into some fresh, clean socks. I ended up shipping most of the food back home. Cost was $27 to ship in a priority mail box. I would have just donated the extra food but I had some other items I didn't need and wanted to ship home. The value of the food was probably about $27 so it ended up being a wash. Don't ask me why MTR requires you to ship stuff to them in a 5-gallon bucket yet you can ship stuff out from there in a cardboard box. Anyways, others donate their extra food and it's put into buckets that anyone can take from. It's usually Pacific Crest Trail hikers that raid the buckets. The buckets contain everything from prepackaged food to home-made food, clothing, batteries, fuel, gear, etc... When I was there a couple was receiving 2 buckets of food (mostly REI-type stuff, Mountain House, Probars, etc...) but they were ending their trip early so they donating everything. There were some very happy PCT hikers that day! They broke out their stoves and immediately started cooking!

After leaving MTR, the temps seamed to soar. Not like AZ of course but the intense sun made it seam brutal. I passed over the San Joaquin River via a bridge and entered Kings Canyon National Park. The SJ was really awesome! Huge water flow and so many amazing waterfalls. Saw a NPS ranger and we exchanges hellos. Fast forward to Evolution Creek, this would be the second of two water crossing on this trip (and the deepest) requiring me to get wet. There is a sign at the crossing stating that if the creek is too high to cross, one can take an alternate trail about a half mile up creek and cross at a meadow. Not knowing whether it was higher than normal or not, I opted to check out the meadow. It was almost exactly the same. I just kept my sneakers and socks on and forded the knee deep water. My sneakers remained wet for the remainder of the day and my feet became itchy and uncomfortable. Looking back, I should have removed my footwear as the creek bottom was mostly soft sand.

I follow along Evolution Creek for quite a ways, passing the ranger cabin at McClure Meadow. I may have found some wild onions alongside the trail. I'm not brave enough to try them. By evening I am making the steep climb up to Evolution Lake where I'll spend the night. My campsites get higher and higher as this one is at 10,800'. The mosquitoes give me a slight break, sending just a few 3rd stringers out to say hi. MH Rice & Chicken with dry mixed vegetables for dinner, one of my favorites.

Day 6, Friday July 4th, 31 miles:
Knocked out 2 big passes today. Muir Pass (11,955') and Mather Pass (12,080'). Feeling more confident that I may finish this by Sunday or Monday! I was excited to get up to Muir Pass so I could check out the stone hut on top but when I arrive I find a group camped inside. They're all smoking weed, as if they weren't high enough. As I drop down into Le Conte Canyon, I discover the infamous shark rock! Smile, you son of a bitch! I take an extended break at North Fork Kings River to do some laundry. Mather Pass is a long climb up from Palisade Creek and I topped out with just about an hour of daylight left. I hoof it down the tundra to seek out a suitable camp, still above tree line but not so high I can't breathe. Another Granite slab, the best surface to avoid condensation in the morning. MH Mexican Rice & Chicken with added mixed vegetables for dinner. Very good! My new favorite?

Day 7, Saturday July 5th, 32 miles:
I visit Pinchot Pass (12,100') early in the day and run into some southbound JMT hikers. We are a rarity in these parts. After Pinchot, I drop down into Woods Creek as the temperature climbs. The creeks are still too cold to jump fully in so I took a "bandana" shower today and rinsed my clothes out in a creek. Feeling fresh now! At the intersection of Woods and South Baxter Creeks, I meet the whacky suspension bridge. This thing is fun! It looks stable at first but as you cross, the bridge bounces up and down and sways side to side. On top of that, some of the slats are missing or loose so you have to watch every step. The trail along Baxter becomes a slog as all I can think about is fresh fruit and not what I am carrying in my bear canister.

Fortunately the trail levels out for a while and I get some welcome overcast clouds. The walk through Arrowhead and Rae lakes is pleasant but soon ends when the steep climb up to Glen Pass (11,978') rears its ugly head. After Glen I drop back down to Bubbs Creek at 9515'. Up and down is the theme of this hike. I pass through Vidette Meadows which is a popular area for campers, and thus bears. I don't want to camp here so I try to pick up the pace as best I can.

I continue climbing up along Bubbs Creek and past tree line. It's 15 minutes after sunset and I need to find a spot soon but the trail is the only flat land around. I round a corner and luckily find a huge, unoccupied camp. It has multiple level spots for me to choose from and is just a short walk to a feeder creek for Bubbs. This will do. I quickly set up camp as darkness sets in and then wash my feet and legs in the freezing creek as the mozzies get a quick snack. This will be my highest camp at 11,200'. MH Mac & Cheese for dinner. Ok but at least it gives me 950 calories.

Day 8, Sunday July 6th, 35 miles:
I got up early today and was moving by 5:40. I need to get Forester Pass and Whitney done today so I can go home! This has been a long trip!

At 12,000' I'm still breathing easy. My lungs sip o2 like a Prius sips gas. I feel invincible. I top Forester and am at the highest elevation I've ever been, 13,180'. Forester Pass comes and goes but I notice lots of clouds moving in from all directions. Will this be my first rain day? How will my cheap plastic poncho hold up? I high-tail it across the tundra below Forester and rain starts sprinkling. The cool air feels good and I'm moving faster than any of the previous days. Good thing too because this will be my highest mileage day if I want to finish.

I drop down into Wallace Creek at 10,400'. This is going to be a major effort to get up to Whitney at 14,495'. As I get closer to Guitar Lake, the weather starts getting worse. The wind is picking up considerably and the rain is spitting harder. I pass several guys who will be terminating their summit bid at Guitar for fear of lightning on Whitney. Many are setting up camp, and it's only 1pm. The clouds over Whitney are dark and ominous. But a blue spot appears over what may be Trail Crest. I continue on cautiously. I meet another group who is coming down from Trail Crest. They inform me that the rangers have instructed everyone to get off the mountain due to lightning danger. The fear builds but so does the blue spot. I continue on. By now I'm determined to just get over Trail Crest so I can descend down into Whitney Portal. Whitney will have to be done another time. I'm disappointed but determined to finish today. As I reach Trail Crest (13,650') on this usually busy but now deserted trail, the clouds indeed were clearing over me but were building again over Whitney. I made the right decision to avoid the summit. I cruised down the many switchbacks from Trail Crest and passed through a bustling Trail Camp. I suppose many were waiting for the weather to break or maybe just acclimating for a summit bid tomorrow. The trail down to Lone Pine Lake is steep and rocky and my knees and feet have had all they could take. This needs to end soon! I swear this is the worst trail I've ever been on (it's not)!

I stopped by the small restaurant and store at Whitney Portal and got a cheeseburger and fries. Not the best I ever had but luckily I was hungry. Rested for a bit and then started out for the long 9 mile walk down to the town of Lone Pine, hoping I wouldn't have to walk long before someone would pick me up. Well I guess I had that scary no-shower-in-eight-days look about me because it took about 5 miles and many passing cars before I got a ride. A nice couple who happened to live in Lone Pine picked me up. Just in time too, my feet were so sore. I would need to get on the Eastern Sierra Transit bus heading north to Mammoth to pick up my truck but the next bus was the following morning at 6:15am. I got a room at Portal Motel in the center of town and took the most satisfying and needed shower of my life! Think the shower scene from Silkwood.

Overall it was a good trip with awesome scenery and an endless number of lakes, creeks and water falls. I just wish I could have completed the final trek to Whitney. Also the mosquitoes and intense mid-day sun sucked out a lot of the enjoyment. It was also way more physically and mentally difficult than I was expecting. Mid-week, when I was less than half-way, just knowing I would be hiking from sun up to sun down for the next 4 or 5 days was very mentally draining. I'm glad I stuck it out though.

Distance is based on the Tom Harrison maps stating 220.4 miles from Happy Isles to Whitney Portal. My distance excludes the 3.8 mile round trip to Whitney Summit from Trail Crest and includes about 5 miles on Whitney Portal Road until I got a ride. Elevation gain is based on various internet sources stating anywhere from 46k to 48k AEG, hiking north to south. I'll split the difference and call it 47k, minus 900' for not going all the way up to Whitney from Trail Crest at 13,600'. I didn't keep track of my water usage but it was probably something like 3-4 liters per day. I took over 950 pictures throughout the week so I'll see if I can narrow them down to 15 or so.

As for signage, most of the trail junctions have signs posted but not all of them say JMT. The national parks seem to be better at labeling JMT signs than the national forests. I don't think a GPS is necessary but I would definitely recommend a set of maps. I don't think the JMT is an official trail so it gets sporadic signage.

Wildlife was somewhat rare during my trek. I usually saw about 2-3 deer per day and a few marmots per day at higher elevations. Lots of chipmunks and just one lizard and one prairie dog. I saw no bear scat or bear prints at all. I'm not so sure bears are as common here as the land managers lead you to believe.

When I got home I was happy to see I only lost about 6 lbs. I thought I would lose more due to only eating 1800 calories per day.


Gear
Shelter: I used a Nemo GoGo Elite (24.5oz) which is a hybrid tent/bivy. This wouldn't have been bad if not for the mosquitoes. Having to dress, eat, pack and do everything else inside when I didn't have enough room to sit was difficult to say the least. This was the first trip (and probably the last) I've used it on.

Sleeping bag: I brought my Western Mountaineering Highlite (16.5oz) bag which I've had for a few years. It's rated down to 35 degrees. This worked out well as it only got down to 40 and some nights I had to keep it unzipped.

Pad: I picked up a REI Flash pad (16.8oz) right before the trip and didn't get to test it beforehand. Luckily it worked out well, well until it got a hole. It's comfortable, kept me insulated from the ground, and is easy to inflate and deflate. I don't know if I can complain about its durability as something sharp in my pack may have abraded it, causing the hole.

Pack: Osprey Exos 38. This was the perfect size pack for my gear. It's reasonably comfortable with a 25 lbs load and my back stayed well ventilated with the trampoline back panel. The load stayed on my hips as long as I kept the hipbelt tight, which needed to be adjusted quite often. That's my only complaint is that the straps don't hold their tension for long.

Food protection: Last year I bought a Bare Boxer (26.3oz) bear canister. This is the smallest and lightest on Yosemite's approved list. I was able to stuff about 4 days' worth of food in it as long as I brought calorically-dense food.

Footwear: Upon recommendation by Johnlp, I picked a pair of Brooks Cascadia 8. They felt great for the first 3 days and then I started getting blisters. Probably inevitable no matter what shoe. Still the best trail shoe I've tried so far. Thanks, John!
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Jun 06 2014
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 Guides 1
 Routes 80
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61 male
 Joined Apr 02 2005
 Mesa, AZ
Mount Whitney 14,505Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jun 06 2014
Tortoise_HikerTriplogs 3,090
Hiking18.30 Miles 6,868 AEG
Hiking18.30 Miles   12 Hrs   40 Mns   1.44 mph
6,868 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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PrestonSands
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A big thanks goes out to Wally for sitting this whole thing up! :thanx: Throw in Bob and Preston and it made for an awesome road trip. We hit the road Thursday in the am. Wally gave us a break every couple hours to break up the looong drive. We went straight to the Portal campground and sit up camp. From there it was an eleven mile drive or so back to Lone Pine. we ate a Pizza and headed back to camp. We did some exploring and found it to be a cool little campground. Watching the two little boys next to us run around and explore reminded me of my kids and some of our camping trips(Good times). I was in bed early as we were getting up at 4:00am.
We hit the trail around 5:15 and were on our way to the Whitney summit. Yeah! Bob feels better at a fast pace and he took off and would see us at the top. Wally set the pace for Preston and I and it worked out to be a great pace for me. There were great views and cool things to see around every corner. Lakes, waterfalls, creeks, pines, foxtail pines, ridgelines, snow, ice, views, more views, and The Summit! Awesome! Bob had waited for us and we hung out for a little while. We didn't stay to long as we wanted to lose some elevation and get into some thicker air. Bob and Preston did some extra exploring and Wally and I headed on down. One other guy had joined us about half way up and stayed with Wally and I most of the way done. He wasn't sure of the route and liked Wally as a guide. All the cool stuff was cool on the way down too :D . Bob and Preston meet up with us around Mirror Lake and we stayed together the rest of the way down.
This was an awesome trip! Our campground had our own Bear locker and the Outhouse was not to far away. The weather was awesome. We all had yaktrax and such but really didn't need them. The hiking poles were really helpful. One little spot in the switchbacks were you needed your hands and one at the saddle and the rest was pretty good. Great Hike!
Wally had us a room in Lone Pine. We grabbed burgers and headed to the room. We were up early for the hotel breakfast and on the road by 6am. One stop for a lady Preston looked up to then a break every couple hours and home by Saturday afternoon. Plenty of car time to start talking about future adventures.
Thanks to Wally, Preston, and Bob for making this such an awesome fun trip! You all rock! :y:
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Tortoise Hiking. Stop and smell the Petrichor.
average hiking speed 2.01 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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