Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 57: lone pine and Whitney portal

Thursday 6/14/12
Miles 740-745 (8 miles including the connector trail from pct to horseshoe meadow)
Elevation 8,438'

My phone was out of juice this morning so all my pics are on my camera, doh! Sorry for the lack of photos today :)

Today was kind of a weird day. Lol. I mean, taking into consideration where we woke up, where we were in the afternoon, and where we are right now. And everything that happened in between.

At some point yesterday or the day before, we decided to stop in Lone Pine. This wasn't the original plan, as we were going to do the 6 days to Kearsarge Pass and a side trip up mt.whitney. But as is the nature of the trail and this journey, things change. We decided to stop in Lone Pine for a lot of reasons, I think only one of which was actually accomplished. Lol.

It is a 20 mile hitch from horseshoe meadow to Lone Pine and about a 7,000' drop in elevation. It's so trippy, because I imagined Lone Pine to be a mountain town like Wrightwood or Idyllwild, but it sits in a hot desert valley amongst a fortress of tall 10,000' mountains, including Whitney. Anyhow, as luck would have it, when Kyle got to the campground parking lot, there was a section hiker named Backpax (who I leapfrogged with since Julian) who drove up there looking for hikers to pick up. And he had beer and soda. WOW!! Thank you universe!!! <3 So we got into Lone Pine without much difficulty and without even needing to hitch.

Lone Pine is an interesting town. Lol but then again I don't think I've been in a town thus far that *wasnt* interesting. Most hikers that end up in lone pine come out over Kearsarge pass at mile 784, we took the southern route in at mile 745. But it was so cool to see all these hikers that I haven seen for a while who were ahead of me.

We ate a lot. Dang it's kinda nuts how much food I can consume it's quite scary. Lol. Kyle resupplied at the store (his metabolism is crazy, it's kinda nuts and cool at the same time), and we spent a good amount of time figuring out what to do. He was hoping his brother Turner (who drove up to Kennedy Meadows last weekend) would be able to visit. He couldn't. It's a longass drive from SoCal. So we contemplated our options all afternoon on what we would do re:Whitney and the trail, as there were several options. Originally we were going to do the mt.whitney side trip at mile 766 of the pct which is what most pct hikers do, and go up the west side of Whitney (17 miles round trip, 4,000' ish elevation gain). There is also a trail up the east side of Whitney through the Whitney Portal (20 miles round trip, 6,000'ish elevation gain), which is where the day hikers go up. The Whitney portal is more intense, since most hikers slackpack up. We decided to go up Whitney portal side and down the pct side, the gnarly thing about that is we can't slackpack so we have to carry all that weight up the insane elevation climb. Also, we will be cutting out about 20miles of the pct this way. I didn't really want to miss any of the Sierra miles, but then again I'm not a purist, so as long as I am walking to Canada, it's all good whatever trail i take. Plus the cool thing about doing it this way is I get to see both sides d the mountain :)

Earlier today there was rumor of a possible thunderstorm and snow up top. The clouds were indeed looking ominous. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a past hiker, prior to t start date was, "don't buy into the hype". And it's true. Weather won't always be perfect, I can't put the whole hike on hold. Lol. Besides, I already engineered a double walled tent so I knew we would stay warm and dry regardless. Anyhow, the weather got better. :)

We miraculously got a hitch from lone Pine to Whitney Portal (13 miles). It was towards evening and I was somewhat worried that we wouldn't get a ride, since it's not a well traffic'd road. We talked to some guys at the trailhead who had just come down Whitney, apparently there were indeed thunderstorms and rain up there. Yikes! Glad we missed it!

Anyhow, we're camped at the campground right now. Gonna do Whitney in the morning. This is exciting. Oh man I'm gonna freakin die going up that elevation with my Ah well, I can't wait!! :D

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