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#16766 - 07/26/11 04:58 AM TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
I know I'm late in getting this one in, but I've not had much of a chance to access the internet or my laptop till we arrived home in Atlanta last evening. I'll try to flesh it out with photos once I get them organized.

On Wed 7/20, I, my wife Barb, my daughter Brianne (11 YO), and my Brutha by Anutha Mutha, Joe Quillan(sculpture), started up the MMWT about 11:30 am after BSing too long at the Portal over breakfast. We were on a two-nighter, so our goal for the day was Consultation Lake, where Joe and I had camped last year. Our daughter Bri had declared Joe an uncle after last year's trip to the Eastern Sierra, and it was great to spend time with him again. Joe is one of those guys who makes every moment interesting, and is always in a good mood. His positivity is infectious, and he kept up a steady dialogue with Brianne over the 6 miles to CL.

Hiking during the afternoon was warm, to say the least, but we at least cut some mileage off by taking the Old Trail up to the JM Wilderness junction, avoiding the North Fork water crossing as well. I've heard others say that the Old Trail may be too steep to tackle with heavy overnight packs, but it seemed fine to us. Last year I took it on the descent with an overnight pack, so this was the first time going up it with serious weight. It may have taken us 35 minutes to reach the MMWT junction. This was Barb and Brianne's first trip up the mountain, and also their first time backpacking, so we took it slow and steady, with regular breaks. I was carrying 36 pounds (big-ass bear can!) and Barb had 33 (she can never have enough water). Joe had 31 and Bri weighed in with 17. We reached our target ledges at CL about 6:30 and set up camp. Water was close by, from a snowmelt stream on the other side of the trail, so we got what we needed for dinner and hot drinks pretty easily.

Temps got down to the mid-30s at CL that night, and we all had a restless time sleeping at 11,700', but by and large we got up about 5:30 feeling pretty decent. We decided to let Bri sleep some more, which in retrospect may have turned out to be a mistake. After finally getting her up, eating breakfast, and stripping packs down to day-weight, we set off for Trail Camp about 8:15 am. We needed to replenish water, so we spent 30 minutes at the pond filtering and filling up bladders and bottles and chatting with others.

We started up the switchbacks about 9:15 am, which was about two hours later than I would normally have wanted to hit them. Part of this was due to my being confident that there was virtually zero chance of afternoon storm activity due to the high pressure system that had stalled over the Sierra, so my thinking was that we had all day to get up and down the trail. I had also received recent first-hand beta that the snowfields that caused concern the last couple of weeks were quite do-able with just boots and trekking poles, so we left the micro-spikes in the car trunk.

We reached the cables about 10:15, and they were in great shape - much better than last year at this time. Snow is not an issue here, except just below the first cable post - the switchback immediately before it is packed with snow and you have to scramble up about 10 feet of boulders to access the trail again. While we were on the switchbacks we met a number of folks who we would see throughout the day, including a solo dayhiker, Michelle, who wound up staying with us through much of the hike. Actually, I should say she stayed with Joe - wink, wink . . .

After clearing the 97th switchback, the long traverse to Trail Crest has 3 snowfields. The first two are deeply trenched and supported by rocks and boulders just beneath them, so they were not an issue. The 3rd one, however, has the real risk and exposure. It is directly above the snow chute that is used to access Trail Crest in winter conditions, and the chute is still completely filled with snow. This area is not trenched and is maybe a foot wide, so there is nothing to stop a mistake from carrying you 1600 vertical feet into the boulders at the bottom of the chute.

A lot of people were wigging out over this crossing, and some were turning back, so we left it up to Brianne to decide whether to continue on or call it a day. Although she was clearly scared of the exposure and slippery footing (damn those spikes back in the car trunk!), she voted to continue. Slow, careful baby-steps on the soft snow trail, using trekking poles for stability, got her across fine. Bri even received a big hurrah when she completed the traverse from a group gathered on the opposite side waiting for their turn to cross, and that made her feel much better about it. I can honestly say, though, that the prospect of Bri having to repeat that one snow crossing was constantly on my mind the remainder of the day.

The logjams at these 3 snow crossings on the 97th switchback traverse slowed things down considerably. There was only room for one direction of travel, and this added to our time deficit, along with a deliberately slow pace to keep Barb and Bri relatively fresh. We hit Trail Crest just before noon, and took a lunch break of about 30 minutes. We all were free of any AMS symptoms, but I was really not thinking about summiting this day. My goal was to get my wife and daughter to Trail Crest this first trip up the mountain for them. That's the real visual payoff, and we accomplished that with them still in good shape to continue on, so we forged ahead.

Joe and Michelle had departed TC about 10 minutes earlier than I and my family did. As we wound down the trail to the JMT junction, then back up towards the windows, Brianne began to show signs of real fatigue. We'd stop every 10 minutes or so for a brief break, and she would lean on something. That's not normal for her and indicated to Barb and I that she was reaching her limit. We also ran across Rob, the Crabtree Ranger, and he advised us to be back across the snow chute well before the sun got off of it.

We were a bit over a mile from the summit at this point. Barb and I discussed it and decided that, given the way Brianne was flagging on her pace, that it would be safest to turn back. We didn't want her crossing that chute when it was icing or while she was exhausted. Bri didn't like the decision and shed a few tears at not being able to tag the summit, but again, this trip was about introducing my girls to Whitney, not necessarily summiting. Getting back down safely was the priority, so we turned back with the summit hut in view. I don't regret it one bit - we got across the chute safely, but by the time Joe hit it on his return (yes, he summited again!), it was icing and getting a bit treacherous. He didn't care for that crossing at all!

Before we made the decision to turn around, we had the good fortune to cross paths with Brent N, his son, and his sister. I had hoped to be able to meet them, as we had corresponded a couple of weeks ago when we knew we'd be on the mountain at the same time. Unfortunately, as Brent related in his TR, they had to turn back as well since his son was displaying AMS symptoms. It was a pleasure meeting them, even under such tough circumstances. We seemed to be very fortunate with Brianne's acclimation, as we ran across several kids during our 3 days on the mountain who were in various stages of AMS.

We had an uneventful return trek to camp. After loading up on water and getting the stove going for dinner, Joe returned and we were able to explain what had happened. Bri's disappointment at missing the summit went away when "Uncle Joe" was back on her radar. We had dinner, hot drinks, then crawled into our sleeping bags. We all slept much better this second night at elevation. The next morning we packed up camp and returned to the Portal for burgers and good times with friends.

As much magic as the Eastern Sierra holds for us, the people that congregate around it are just as special. Reuniting with friends at the Portal and meeting new ones was another highlight of our trip. Everyone's favorite Moose made our trip extra special with several days of fun, and we can't thank Laura enough for the kindness she shows towards us, and especially Brianne. Seeing Jack and Betsy was once again a highlight for us, and I'm just sorry we didn't have the chance to be at the Portal when they descended on the big 100/50 day. A huge congratulations to both of you! One of Brianne's goals for the trip was to spend as much time "helping out" at the store with Doug, Earlene and Doug Jr. as she could, having been introduced to it last year, and she got plenty of that. The Thompsons were, as usual, just wonderful with her, as were Myles and Amy. The Portal Store is a special place, and it feels very much like our home away from home.

Chris (SoCalGirl) and her daughter Alana made the drive up from San Diego for the weekend, and it was great to see her again. Chris, you gotta do Mt. Dana - it'll make Corkscrew Peak pale in comparison! We're especially indebted to Doc Rod and his wonderful wife Jana for driving up from Santa Clarita and back the same day for a burger and a beer with us. Rod, it was great to finally meet you, my friend! We also got to meet Wazzu, Akichow, Ridgeline Dave, and John Lefevre and his wife (neighbors, essentially, from north Georgia, on their first trip up the mountain). Wazzu, Bri is still working on those M&Ms. Akichow, congrats on your summit! We also had some excellent Portal time with Richard P and Graham, in between their climbs up Candlelight and Stemwinder (Rick, what was that route up Thor christened again? Miles still insists you were off-route . . .). I also wound up hiking again with my SEC nemesis, Sierragator, and still stand by the philosophy that the mountains can overcome even SEC football rivalries - great to see you again Jim! And of course a huge thank you to Joe Q for taking the time to make this climb with us. Joe, you gave Bri the energy to do what she did - I don't think she would have been nearly as motivated if she didn't have your ear to chew on. You made the trip especially fun for all of us!

The best part of this year's Eastern Sierra visit, though, was watching Barb and Bri mature as hikers and take on a challenge that neither could have comprehended a year ago. Last year they hiked from the Portal to Lone Pine Lake, and Barb told me that was the toughest hike she had ever done in her life. Now she's knocked off Kearsarge Pass, Cathedral Peak, Mt. Dana, and nine-tenths of Mt. Whitney. You've come a long way, baby! I'm so proud of Barb and Bri for the way they tackled this mountain - at this rate I'll be chasing them up Whitney next year.

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#16769 - 07/26/11 05:41 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
Lady Bulldawg Offline


Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 17
Loc: Marietta, GA
Ditto to what Gary said!
What an incredible time we had! Thanks to everyone for making it a magical trip! Looking forward to tackling Mt. Whitney again ----- I think Laura mentioned something about the Mountaineer's Route next year..........
counting the days

Blessings,
Lady Bulldawg
aka Barb

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#16775 - 07/26/11 09:32 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Lady Bulldawg]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 564
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Some pics from the trail report above..... Thanks so much Gary, Barb and Bri.

Bri and my Outdoor Channel Moose.



Cutie Pie ;-)



Our Camp at Consultation Lake.



Joe and Gary at the beginning of the switchbacks




The Hicks family + 1



Taking a break.....good pic Bri!!!!!



Barb, Bri and Gary



Our new friend Michelle who I hurried up to the summit (or at least she made me think so.)

_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

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#16784 - 07/26/11 03:26 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Lady Bulldawg]
catpappy Offline


Registered: 03/06/10
Posts: 120
Loc: acworth, ga
Excellent tr as usual Gary. Sounds like you guys made wise decisions on the mountain and I'm sure Barb and Bri's appetite for Whitney is well whetted for next year.

I'm totally with you on the Sierra social scene. After four trips out there, I find I miss the people as much as the mountains. Sure wish I could have made the trip this year. How are Joe's eardrums after three days of Bri?

John

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#16786 - 07/26/11 03:47 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: catpappy]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Excellent TR. Looking forward to running into all of you again sometime soon.

Brent

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#16787 - 07/26/11 04:09 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: catpappy]
Lady Bulldawg Offline


Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 17
Loc: Marietta, GA
Originally Posted By: catpappy
How are Joe's eardrums after three days of Bri?

John


You could ask Joe, but he probably wouldn't be able to hear you wink

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#16788 - 07/26/11 04:25 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: catpappy]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
Sidebar on the hike, John: at one point Joe and Bri were marching off ahead of Barb and I, and they were getting a bit out of sight. Bri turns to Joe and says, "We need to stop and wait for our parents." Our parents. From that point on, Barb and I referred to Joe as "son", and the two of them as "you kids". Instead of "Uncle Joe", it became Joe-Bro.

Like I said, it's just a lot of fun hiking with Joe!

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#16789 - 07/26/11 04:51 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
DonCoqui Offline


Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 47
Loc: Chula Vista, CA
Gary, great TR and photos!

Joe, did you summit on Thursday? I recall crossing paths with Gary & Family as we made our way down Thursday afternoon, but can't recall if we (our group of four) saw you at the top. Anyway, besides being an artist/sculptor... are you a Herpetologist, i.e., reptile and amphibian lover?

Regards,
Luis

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#16790 - 07/26/11 04:57 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: quillansculpture]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
And a few other photos:

Chilling at camp



Nosy neighbor



Gun show at the cables



The Trail Crest payoff



One tuckered-out kid



The crew at camp at Consultation Lake



Good times at the Portal: wazzu, Doc Rod, Joe Q, SoCalGirl, me and Barb, Moosetracks



Akichow before she heads up



Three who know their way around the area: Richard P., Graham, and Moosetracks



Bri and her favorite Thompson Portal Crew!



Once I get a Flickr album loaded, I'll post the link.

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#16794 - 07/26/11 06:59 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: DonCoqui]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 564
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Yes, I did summit on Thursday. I remember your face from the pics you took. BTW....OUTSTANDING IMAGES!!!! Loved the TR. Also, I've never seen the summit with so few people. There were only 4 when we got there.

Gary......I mean dad, when are we hiking again? Remember, you said you'd get me to Atlanta one way or another :-) Say hi to mom and Bri.
_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

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#16801 - 07/26/11 10:57 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7740
Loc: Fresno, CA
Great report, Gary! And fantastic pictures of so many well-known people around the Portal.

It was like a Hikers National Conference.

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#16802 - 07/27/11 12:22 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
I'm bummed that I wasn't able to get up to MW to meet the Bulldog family, and Joe and the rest of the gang. Work trumped Whitney this time.

It sounds like a great time was had by all.

Congrats to Bri for making it up as far as she did. That's an incredible feat and one for which she should be very proud.

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#16818 - 07/27/11 06:26 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: tdtz]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Great TR. Great job by Bri and Barb. Gary I think you made the right decision to turn back after being so close.If you had gotten back to that frozen section near Trail Crest and a, too tied from summiting Bri, had a slip on that foot wide trail, you would have regretted it forever.Great wisdom to overcome the summit fever and do what was safest for your family.
Great to meet you finaly Gary Barb and Bri. Great to finaly meet my co-cancer survivor Joe and put a face to Wazzu (Barb).
Remind Bri that she thought Uncle Rod sounded pretty good.

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#16833 - 07/28/11 09:26 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
Lady Bulldawg Offline


Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 17
Loc: Marietta, GA
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
** This was Barb and Brianne's first trip up the mountain, and also their first time backpacking, so we took it slow and steady, with regular breaks. I was carrying 36 pounds (big-ass bear can!) and Barb had 33 (she can never have enough water). Joe had 31 and Bri weighed in with 17.

**After clearing the 97th switchback, the long traverse to Trail Crest has 3 snowfields. The first two are deeply trenched and supported by rocks and boulders just beneath them, so they were not an issue. The 3rd one, however, has the real risk and exposure. It is directly above the snow chute that is used to access Trail Crest in winter conditions, and the chute is still completely filled with snow. This area is not trenched and is maybe a foot wide, so there is nothing to stop a mistake from carrying you 1600 vertical feet into the boulders at the bottom of the chute.

**A lot of people were wigging out over this crossing, and some were turning back, so we left it up to Brianne to decide whether to continue on or call it a day. Although she was clearly scared of the exposure and slippery footing (damn those spikes back in the car trunk!), she voted to continue. Slow, careful baby-steps on the soft snow trail, using trekking poles for stability, got her across fine. Bri even received a big hurrah when she completed the traverse from a group gathered on the opposite side waiting for their turn to cross, and that made her feel much better about it. I can honestly say, though, that the prospect of Bri having to repeat that one snow crossing was constantly on my mind the remainder of the day.


** Brianne began to show signs of real fatigue. We'd stop every 10 minutes or so for a brief break, and she would lean on something. That's not normal for her and indicated to Barb and I that she was reaching her limit. We also ran across Rob, the Crabtree Ranger, and he advised us to be back across the snow chute well before the sun got off of it.

** We were a bit over a mile from the summit at this point. Barb and I discussed it and decided that, given the way Brianne was flagging on her pace, that it would be safest to turn back. We didn't want her crossing that chute when it was icing or while she was exhausted. Bri didn't like the decision and shed a few tears at not being able to tag the summit, but again, this trip was about introducing my girls to Whitney, not necessarily summiting. Getting back down safely was the priority, so we turned back with the summit hut in view. I don't regret it one bit - we got across the chute safely, but by the time Joe hit it on his return (yes, he summited again!), it was icing and getting a bit treacherous. He didn't care for that crossing at all!


**The best part of this year's Eastern Sierra visit, though, was watching Barb and Bri mature as hikers and take on a challenge that neither could have comprehended a year ago. Last year they hiked from the Portal to Lone Pine Lake, and Barb told me that was the toughest hike she had ever done in her life. Now she's knocked off Kearsarge Pass, Cathedral Peak, Mt. Dana, and nine-tenths of Mt. Whitney. You've come a long way, baby! I'm so proud of Barb and Bri for the way they tackled this mountain - at this rate I'll be chasing them up Whitney next year.


I had a BLAST doing the Whitney Main Trail! I am very proud of Brianne for getting as far as we did! My first goal was to get past the 97 switchbacks, and then it was to get to TrailCrest for the awesome view I kept hearing about- and how that was really the "payoff" for all that hard work! I guess I am one of those people who didn't have "summit fever", I wasn't upset that we didn't summit, my main concern was for all of us to get back to camp safely. Besides, I need a goal for next year and the summit and the hut just may be it. Besides, I am kicking around the idea of doing the Mountaineer's Route with a certain Sierra Moose.....

The Sierra's and the people we met hold a special place in my heart. I am counting the days until our next trip home.......

Blessings,
Lady Bulldawg

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#16834 - 07/28/11 10:09 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Lady Bulldawg]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 564
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Originally Posted By: Lady Bulldawg
Besides, I am kicking around the idea of doing the Mountaineer's Route with a certain Sierra Moose.....


Okay..... you convinced me. I'm there. :-)
_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

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#16841 - 07/28/11 01:37 PM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: quillansculpture]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Originally Posted By: quillansculpture
Originally Posted By: Lady Bulldawg
Besides, I am kicking around the idea of doing the Mountaineer's Route with a certain Sierra Moose.....


Okay..... you convinced me. I'm there. :-)


Wow, sounds like fun. Can I be adopted as Aunt Akichow and go too?

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#16854 - 07/29/11 11:37 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
James Offline


Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 66
Loc: CA
Great TR! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great trip.

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#17279 - 08/07/11 07:08 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
Finally got the Flickr albun loaded here . Mt. Whitney is in the last quarter of the album.

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#17280 - 08/07/11 07:36 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
The photos are great!

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#17282 - 08/07/11 08:14 AM Re: TR for July 20-22 - A Family Affair [Re: Bulldog34]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 403
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Great pictures, Gary. I was beginning to think you were enjoying work so much, you had forgotten to post them. How's the shoulder?

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