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#17577 - 08/17/11 04:39 AM 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers
Steve Mitchell Offline

Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
Hi. My hiking Partner (Paul) and I successfully summited for the first time on Sunday 8/14 after an overnight at Trail Camp.

We both received lots of great information out of this forum to prepare us for our hike, so I'd like to return the karma by posting a trip report here in case there's any information of value to any future first timers..

My partner had some backpacking experience I have very little. We are in okay but not great physical condition. I think we had pretty good gear and supplies.

My partner spent the night on Thursday at Lone Pine campground in order to get an extra day of acclimation. I joined him on Friday at the Portal Campground. Lots of reported bear activity at the campground, but we didn't see/hear anything that night.

I was sure to carbo-load the night before with a big container of my wife's whole wheat pasta I'd brought from home.

We were up at 7:30 and I started chowing on power bars. Had a GU before setting off. It took longer than expected to get our gear ready and get parked (all the lots were full) and to the the trailhead. I ended up with a 45lb pack (my partner 40lb). In retrospect I was probably carrying too much water. I'd rather have filtered along the many opportunities along the way.

We were on the trail at 9:45AM.

We made the creek just below Lone Pine Lake by noon. We took a long break here and I fueled up on power bars, GU and trail mix. My partner used the opportunity to filter some water.

1:00 we made the meadow and Outpost Camp. We were fortunate to have good weather, but light cloud cover that really helped protect us from the sun as we left the tree line above Mirror Lake.

4:15 we made Trail Camp.

I started to get a low grade head ache. My partner was having trouble with his sinus' and allergies the entire time up. We were too exhausted to do much at this point but set up camp, eat and sit around getting cold (as soon as the shadow of the mountain reaches the camp site the temperature drops pretty dramatically).

Protein bars and Pasta for dinner.

We sacked out at 8:00PM set for a 5:00AM wake-up. Sleep was difficult but not impossible.

Woke up at 4:00AM couldn't sleep. Got up at 5:00AM feeling tired--still had a mild head ache, but rested enough to tackle the switchbacks. We did not bring day packs. We unloaded everything from our packs but our water bladders, trail food (power bars and GU for me), and emergency supplies.

Tiny bit of nausea but still had an appetite. A couple of power bars and GU. No nausea. I took some low-dose aspirin and did so regularly (maybe one every 4 hours) while above 11,000.

My partner has had migraine-style head aches due to AMS above 10,000 on previous hiking trips, but did not report any severe head aches on this trip.

5:30AM hit the trail.

I filled up a second bladder at the spring as we made our way up the switch backs. I'm carrying about 3.5L

99 Switchbacks were brutal but we were rested enough and the pre-dawn excitement made it one of the high points of the trip, personally.

6:30AM reached the cables.

7:30AM reached the crest. Walking up to the view of Sequoia NP made the entire trip, even if we hadn't summitted. Really breathtaking stuff.

9:35AM reached the snow field below the summit.

10:00AM summit. Plenty of people here during "prime time." Lots of friendly people both directions along the trail.

Still had a mild head ache but nothing major. Maybe a '4'.

10:30AM started back down.

12:00 noon reached the crest

99 Switchbacks were more brutal coming down than going up. They seem to last forever. Really took a beating in the lower legs.

1:45PM back to Trail Camp. More power bars/GU. Packing full packs with exhausted legs was pretty demoralizing at this point. It was going to be a long haul down.

2:30PM depart Trail Camp.

3:45PM reached the tree line again above Mirror Lake. Thank God! With no cloud cover the sun was brutal while descending the rocky terrain with exhausted legs between Trail Camp and Mirror Lake. Tough stuff. Do not forget the sun screen, people.

4:20PM reached the meadow.

5:00PM reached Lone Pine Lake. Lots of mosquitos! Bring insect repellent, people. They were biting me through my shirt!

Now at 10,000 realized that my head ache (which had been with me since 11K the previous day) was completely gone.

6:45PM reached the trail head. Exhausted.

Two days later I still have difficulty walking due to my sore calves and some blisters.

Lessons learned (what I would do the same or different next time):

* Powerbars and GU make great trail food for this type of physically demanding trek. Don't regret them at all. They gave me lots of energy and were convenient along the trail. When you're tired and just want to get "there" it's difficult to talk oneself into stopping and eating. So I think the GU/powerbars were convenient enough to keep fueling me. I would steer away from the GU with caffeine next time though as it made hydration more challenging.

* Trekking poles were helpful up and down.

* Carry less weight in water and plan on filling along the way given many good sites for water. I think a water filter is a must for this trip.

* Leave earlier to arrive a Trail Camp earlier. I would have liked to get a rest upon arrival then had more energy/time for the lake and to enjoy the view.

* Bring and use sun screen, bug spray, chapstick, and plan on blisters.

* I appreciated my hiking boots for the ankle support, but would rather have worn something more breathable for better care of the feet. On way down I started rotating socks--carrying used socks on the back of my pack to dry. I would rotate socks more often if I did it over again.

* Layers and warm yet weight-economical clothing is essential. We were blessed with good weather but temperature changes at Trail Camp in the evening and behind the mountain on summit morning were dramatic.

* My physical conditioning could have been better, of course. If you're a first timer planning this trip spend plenty of time on the stair-master, run, and take demanding hikes with a full pack and work out the kinks in your gear.

* Don't really know if water, fuel, acclimation and/or aspirin helped with the AMS, but it didn't seem to be a problem with either of us.

Overall a fantastic experience. I don't think I'll do it again until my boys are old enough to join me--then I think it would be a wonderful family experience.

#17603 - 08/17/11 07:51 PM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: Steve Mitchell]
Anonymous1 Offline

Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
You must be an accountant. laugh I kid. Those are some good notes on the times at the major landmarks. It's always good reading trip reports from first timers. Brings back memories. Mine wasn't nearly as great as yours. I think my AMS was a bad as you can get before keeling over.

You might be back sooner than you think!

#17760 - 08/24/11 11:45 AM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: Steve Mitchell]
Marty Offline

Registered: 01/25/10
Posts: 91
Loc: CT
Hello Steve,

I'm just back from a hike with my son, his first time. I agree with you - it is a nice family experience.

By the way, do you know what triggered your partner's allergic reaction? I found the portion of the trail below Lone Pine Lake quite dusty and felt some allergic symptoms too. If not the dust, I also wonder if some mold from the recent wet weather may have been stirred up by the wind. Any thoughts?

We took water from Trailside Meadow and Trail Camp then treated it with purification pills. Saves a lot of lugging.

Congrats on your hike!

#17764 - 08/24/11 06:00 PM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: Marty]
CaT Offline

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 695
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
I know some people are allergic to pine tree pollen. Just a thought.

If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

#17766 - 08/24/11 09:17 PM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: CaT]
tdtz Offline

Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
I know some people are allergic to pine tree pollen. Just a thought.

I am one of those people. It is actually my biggest worry for any extended backpacking trip. Every time I spend the night in the sierra it takes me a couple of days to recover from the scratchy throat that inevitably develops.

#17773 - 08/25/11 07:25 AM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: tdtz]
CaT Offline

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 695
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Another reason for scratchy throat could also be the overly dry climate.

If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

#17780 - 08/25/11 09:40 AM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: Anonymous1]
quillansculpture Offline

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 564
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Originally Posted By: 2600fromatari

You might be back sooner than you think!

Yea.... he'll be back there next year. In fact, since he's had a couple of days to rest, I'm sure he's already planning his next trip. I don't know how this mountain does it, maybe a witches spell or something.....but it does.

Great report, especially the tips at the end. If every first timer followed them, they would be much more prepared. Thanks for sharing.
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"
twitter: @josephquillan

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

#18477 - 09/17/11 10:00 PM Re: 8/13-8/14 Trip Report: Two First Timers [Re: Steve Mitchell]
RenoFrank Offline

Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 439
Loc: Reno, NV
I too was a 1 day first-timer 8-17-11. I'll share and compare some of my Whitney Experience: I carried a snack pack on my hip with GU Energy Gel, little packs of cracker snacks, small Snicker bars, small Cliff bars, and plain MM's. I carried a 30 liter day pack but when I took breaks I preferred not to sit and not to take off my pack so the little pack on my belt worked great. My GU had caffeine and as far as I know I had no problem hydrating. I carried 3 1/2 liters of water from the start, filtered and filled at Trailside Meadows, and filled without filtering at switchback 23 on the descent. I wore lowcut Goretex trail runners with no ankle support and my feet were fine (except for several black toenails-I traded in my shoes at REI for a half size bigger when I got back home even though I had worn them for a season and a half, I guess that 11 mile descent is hard on the toes)I did bring extra socks but didn't bother changing them. I find trekking poles essential after using them for the last 2 years. Before that I never did. They take a load off my knees and ankles and keep my hands elevated above my waist. Before I started using poles my hands used to swell up while hiking but with the poles I do not have that problem. I mentioned this on my TR: I preloaded Ibuprofen starting 2 days before my hike and the day of the hike. My joints were fine the whole day (I'm 60 yrs old and a couple of years ago my knees and ankles ached going down hill. Maybe I get some relief since I started taking a Glucosamine supplement about 6 months ago.)

Edited by RenoFrank (09/17/11 10:00 PM)