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Mount Whitney High Sierra Trail Hike

Trail Description

Trip Pictures

Trip Summary (August 2003): (Links go to pictures) This was another backpacking trip with my BoyTrailhead at Crescent Meadow Scout troop. From Crescent Meadow to Whitney Portal along the High Sierra Trail. We started pretty early at Crescent Meadow in Sequoia and headed for 9-mile creek, our first destination for the hike. We hiked along the valley with Panther Creek far below us and the Great Western Divide on the other side of the valley. That first day we saw a lot of wildlife. Andrew almost ran into a bear cub, didn't see the mother so he slowly walked away. Then also at that stop Mike almost sat on a rattle snake. So after that bit of excitement we headed to 9-mile creek and set up camp. Then after a while at camp a bear and her cub (I think there was a cub) came through the camp. It didn't get aggressive or get into anything. Before the bear came we went for a "swim" in the creek. It was very cold, so we quickly got out.

Bearpaw Ranger Station
 The next day our destination was Hamilton Lake. We started off along the valley again. Stopped at Bearpaw ranger station for a picture then went on. Not a lot of interest this day, although we did come to a great spot to see the canyon we came up. It was a long steep climb that lasted most the day. We came to a new bridge over a creek that was in a narrow canyon. The old bridge was down below on the rocks. This was the first day we would be above the timberline. We got to Big Hamilton Lake and set up camp.


Vallery from Kaweah GapDay 3: one of our first big climbs. We had to go over Kaweah Gap, on the Great Western Divide to get to Big Arroyo Junction. Along the trail we came along a canyon where a bridge used to be and now the trail went around a short ways and through a tunnel. We got to Precipice Lake around lunch time. I wish I took a picture of the lake, it was pretty nice. After lunch we headed up for the gap. We went through some small meadows and finally came to the gap. The other side of the gap was very interesting. The valley was a shallow parabolic shape. Going down was interesting too because there were now trees at first, then some small trees appeared and slowly got bigger. So we got to our campsite and set up for another night.

Day 4: I woke up and found frost on my tent. I think it got down to about 26 that night. I didn't have any problem sleeping w/ my 0 degree bag. Our destination was Moraine Lake. So we had to go back up after going down the previous day. This was a fairly short day with little excitement a long the trail. We got to the lake probably around 2 or 3 o'clock and set up camp. The lake was very beautiful, a great place to camp and to swim in. There was a great sunset reflected on the lake.

Day 5: Destination was originally Kern Hot Springs, but changed to Junction Meadow. I think we got our first view of Whitney along the trail. It was far away, so a little hard to tell. The trail was pretty level until we got to Kern Canyon. We went down that steep descent pretty fast then started up the canyon. We had lunch at the hot spring. I was disappointed by the spring. it was small and was worse than the one at Blaney Meadow from one of my previous backpacks. The location was great however; very beautiful. So then we started up the canyon again. after a while of hiking we were wondering where it got level, it was actually quite a climb up that canyon. We did 17 miles that day and were finally relieved when we got to camp.

Sandy Meadow
 Day 6: Destination: Crabtree Meadow. Another day of up. Started up the canyon wall that morning. the trail wasn't too steep. We came to a beautiful meadow above the canyon and stopped for a picture. got to Crabtree and set up camp. Another beautiful meadow. We met some guy (forgot his name) and his family there, we would be seeing a lot of them the next couple days.


Day 7: Destination: Guitar Lake. This was the day before our ascent up Whitney. We passed Timberline Lake, another beautiful lake along the trail. I could now defiantly see Whitney towering above us. We got to Guitar Lake shortly afternoon and set up camp. We set up a tarp when some clouds came and looked like it might rain. We played Hearts for awhile. That was the game of the trip. This was the first place where there wasn't a bear box, so had to use my container. Also there had been pit toilets most of the way, so not much digging was required. After we were at camp for awhile we started to see people start to come over the hill. And they just kept coming for about 20 minutes or so. And ironically someone had brought a guitar to Guitar Lake. So we went to sleep. There wasn't any rain that day.

Day 8: Destination: Trail Camp. This was our last day of up. We started up in the shade of the ridge. Some people with very stripped down packs literally ran ahead of us. The climb was surprisingly short and wasn't very hard either. We got to the junction to the Whitney Portal Trail, ditched our backpacks and headed up to the summit. I got there ahead of everyone as usual, I think I waited for about half hour for the first of them to appear. We stayed at the top for awhile and enjoyed the views from the top. We started to go down and found a pit toilet up there. Has to be the best view you can get ;). We went down and got our packs and headed down to trail camp. It started to cloud over and about at Trail Crest it started to sprinkle a little. About halfway down it started to rain and by the time I got down to Trail Camp it was pouring. It rained for about an hour or so. thunder stuck some near by peaks and there were a few small rockslides. After the rain stopped we tried to dry everything out as much as we could. Everything was soaked. And I just happened to forget my emergency poncho on this trip, so my sweatshirt was soaked. Went to bed in a damp sleeping bag. luckily it didn't get too wet.

Mt. Whitney Final Day: Destination: Whitney Portal. Woke up and to a sunny day. We tried to dry some more stuff off before packing it up. After packing we headed down the mountain. We made a few short stops a long the way. Our finally short break was at Outpost Camp. I ran out of trail food there, but didn't matter. After that we went straight down the mountain without any more breaks and arrived at the trail head shortly before noon. After we had been at Whitney Portal for awhile it started to sprinkle. We went down to Lone Pine for a "real" meal at Carl's Jr. Then left to go back home.


External Links: Troop Pictures

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