By: Terry Morse
MT. WHITNEY OR BUST !!
After dropping off my dog at the kennels, I arrived at Barry's Acton rancho Saturday around 8:30 AM. We loaded everything for a weeks car camping into his truck and hit the road by 9:00. We weren't sure about fire restrictions, so decided to check at the ranger station in Mammoth before buying our food at the Vons located there. Then, driving on to the Mt Patterson trailhead near Lobdell Lake, we arrived there about 5:00 in the afternoon and found a nice isolated spot in the aspens next to a creek. We set up camp and barbecued chicken and baked potatoes before going to bed. Up at 5:00 AM and hiking by 6:00, we hiked right from our campsite to add some mileage to the trek (about 10 mi. RT & 2800') The views from the top were starkly beautiful, but we were chased off early by threatening thunderclouds. Thankfully, only a few drops of rain fell along with some thunder and lightening. We packed up and drove to Tioga Pass to climb Mt. Dana on Monday. All the campgrounds were full, so instead of driving all the way down the hill, we explored a 4-wheel drive road at the 9000' elevation. This turned out to be Warren Cyn. and had some beautiful primitive campsites. Located again in aspens next to a stream, no fires were allowed, so we fixed a pot of chili on the stove. Up at 5:00, hiking by 6:00, we reached the summit of Dana by 9:00. With great views in all directions and nobody else around, lunch turned into a two hour event. Hiking down, we encountered a heavy thundershower with hail which only lasted about a 1/2 hour. Back in camp in early afternoon, we took a siesta listening to the wind rustle through the trees. Tuesday morning found us at the Clouds Rest trailhead at Tenaya Lake. This would be a 14 mile day, culminating in unbelievable views from the summit. Even on film, the scenery looked fake. How could so much grandeur be visible from one place? After coming back down, we drove to Sawmill Meadows, the trailhead for Glass Mt., a desert peak. This area was totally deserted and proved to be a very comfortable place to camp. Glass Mt. was 2000' of pumice, so was frustrating to climb, but fun to run down. We were out of food, so drove to Lee Vining for restocking and camped again in Warren Cyn. Thursday, we took a six mile hike up Convict Creek for the exercise, and then headed for a motel in Lone Pine. After five days of hiking and camping, a shower felt incredibly good. We tackled our next objective, Mt. Whitney as a dayhike, at 5:45 Friday morning. Reaching the summit in 6 hours, I was surprised at the number of older people (40+) on top. It seems that climbing and backpacking aren't attracting as many young people as in the past. Being slow as an old dog on the way down, it took us an additional 6 hours to reach our vehicle at Whitney Portal. Back at the motel again, we went for a refreshing swim, but surprisingly weren't very hungry. In bed by 10:00 PM, we got up early for a delicious breakfast at Bobo's Bonanza and drove home ending a successful week of Sierra and desert peak bagging. Totals for the week were approximately 61 miles hiking with 18,000' elevation gain. As an addendum it should be noted that I found no registers on either Mt. Dana or on Clouds Rest.
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