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#38739 - 07/17/14 09:36 AM Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal
Steve Chamberlin Offline


Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 55
Loc: California
Is there any prohibition against sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal, or other nearby locations? I'd planned to camp overnight at the campground there before my Whitney day hike, but then I realized my station wagon has enough room in back for two people to sleep if I fold down the rear seats. That way I won't need a campsite, and won't have to mess around with striking the tent and packing things in the dark at 2:00 AM.

Assuming it's OK, how's the noise level in the parking lot in the middle of the night? Will I get any sleep there?

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#38749 - 07/17/14 11:30 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1536
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Many do it but most report noise all night. In decent weather, i.e. no tent, its probably worth the walk to the BP campground. Or one of the first come drive in spots, where its much quieter.
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#38752 - 07/17/14 12:27 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: saltydog]
Steve Chamberlin Offline


Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 55
Loc: California
Thanks, sounds reasonable. Where can I find more info about the backpacker campground(s)? I understand a second one was added recently? I'm not clear where either one is exactly, and I've yet to find a really good map of the Whitney Portal area that shows them. The BP campgrounds are just walk-in right? No reservation or fee required? Can I park my car outside the BP campground, or do I need to park further away and then hike there?

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#38755 - 07/17/14 01:05 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 800
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
You can try Lone Pine Campground (elev. 5000). There are walk-ins...Heck, you may drive around or ask the camp host of any vacancies.

It can be very "warm" this time of year. There are bear boxes, pit toilets, and tap water. Also, Lone Pine Crekk flows next to the campground.

You may find vacant sites in WP due to no-shows. Ask the camp host.
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#38758 - 07/17/14 04:00 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: + @ti2d]
Steve Chamberlin Offline


Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 55
Loc: California
We'll want to sleep at the Portal to help with acclimatization - I think 5000' would be too low. But I'm confused what you mean about no-shows? I thought the backpacker campgrounds at the Portal were first come, first served? I'm just unclear where they are exactly, or the logistics of using them.

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#38759 - 07/17/14 04:25 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1536
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
There are first come slots, as well as no shows, at the drive in campground, and the BP walk-in ground is all first come. There is a resident host at the drive in CG who can help you out, and check at the store for other info. The BP camp is right across from there.
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#38761 - 07/17/14 05:36 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1097
Loc: NorCal
I concur with sleeping at 8,000 to acclimate, or consider Horseshoe Meadows/Cottonwood Pass Trailhead if you can sleep well at 10,000. If you can back in to a good spot at the Portal, it's not bad. Just show up, keep your options open, ask around, and things will work out fine - probably better than you hoped for. Just beware and be aware of the bears waiting to swoop in at any opportunity at the Portal. The campground host will know the usual suspects and their usual routine, but they can show up at any moment.

Have a great trip.

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#38764 - 07/17/14 06:32 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve Chamberlin Offline


Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 55
Loc: California
Found this on the Whitney Portal Store site, which mostly answers my questions:

Quote:
13. Where can we camp, at or near the Portal?

You can camp for one night only at the backpacker campground which has eighteen walk-in sites (no reservation needed). A new walk in campground (Ravine) was opened in 2012 now we have 25 walk in sites

Advantage of walk in sites:
1. They are several hundred feet from the Trail Head
2. Parking at the trailhead

The Trail Head sites are not on the reservation system you do not need a reservation just come they will never be full since they do not show on the Reservation system. Most people don't know about THE WALK IN SITES, So during July and August the walk in sites are your best answer,

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#38769 - 07/17/14 08:55 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Steve, there are a lot of spaces at the Backpackers Campground. It is located about 100 feet from the trailhead. There is a small fee ($8 last time I checked), and a one night max stay. You share sites with other people, you don't get the site to yourself. When I spent 3 weeks there in August a few years ago as part of a research project, I don't think I saw it ever full, and that was before the expansion. It has dedicated Bear Boxes, as well.

The no-show comment referred to the Family Campground (traditional drive-in campground a little bit further down the road)

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#38777 - 07/18/14 07:38 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 800
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Originally Posted By: Steve Chamberlin
We'll want to sleep at the Portal to help with acclimatization - I think 5000' would be too low. But I'm confused what you mean about no-shows? I thought the backpacker campgrounds at the Portal were first come, first served? I'm just unclear where they are exactly, or the logistics of using them.


What I meant my no-shows is that people reserve the sites via recreation.gov. Sometimes, life has changes and people are unable to make it.

Drive around to each vacant site. There is a placard with names and dates. For example, you see dates for 07-20-14 to 07-26-14. It's 07-23-14. Chances are those people were unable to make it.

Let the camp host know you would like to set up camp and pay your fee.
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Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

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#38780 - 07/18/14 08:21 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: + @ti2d]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Bring a sleeping mask because the folks have a tendency to come at all hours.

I did it once, I would not do it again.

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#38789 - 07/18/14 10:36 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: wbtravis]
gmaki Offline


Registered: 07/18/14
Posts: 17
Loc: CA
I just got back from Whitney and like you I was very confused about the walk in campsites so let me save you some time because I just finished going through it and I can help you not make the same mistakes.

There is a backpacker campground, which is a walk in. and a walk in campground.

despite being much closer to the trailhead than the reserved campsites they are surprising difficult to find. and even more confusing to figure out which is which.

When you drive in you will come UP the road and past right by the portal store. Just beyond that the road will turn around (heading back down) and right into the Day use parking, which seems to always have spaces available. As you pass through that lot you will have the choice to veer left (back to the main road) or stay right which will lead you right into the backpacker campground parking lot. This is a very small lot and there was never a space available there during my entire stay at Whitney Portal so i would not count on it.

However right at the end you will see the signs and the payment boxes for the backpacker campground. The campground is literally just below those signs. The cost os $12 a night and there are plenty of spaces available. Upon finding this I set my tent up in one of the spaces and paid my fee. This was a mistake (for me at least) because I was not yet aware of the second walk in campground.

There is nothing wrong with the backpacker campground except for one major issue. There are no individual bear vaults for these sites. If you camp here you must use the "community" lockers in the parking lot. This means if you are camping there and want to eat you will have to walk down to your locker and pull out your food. It also means you can't really keep an eye (or ear) on your food while camping, or sleeping as it will be at least 20 yards away from you.

It was only after I set my tent up that I discovered the even more difficult to find and MUCH quieter second walk in campground. Once you find the backpacker campground parking lot full (and you will) you will see a sign for "overflow parking" 500 feet ahead. You proceed about 500 feet down the road and make a right into this parking lot. It is actually just right below the same backpacker campground which leads one to believe it is simply overflow for the same campground. At least that is what I thought.

However later I noticed another set of signs on the LOWER side of the overflow parking lot. And below that is the walk in campsites. There are only about 10 of these but I was literally the only person camping in the entire campground. The drawback here is that you have to walk a little further to your site than the backpacker campground,

The advantage though is each site has its own bear locker. Each site has more space. But by far the biggest advantage is even though you are square in the middle of Whitney Portal you might as well be at trail camp because you will have privacy and quiet (other than the sound of the creek).

One more tip. Once you find this campground it turns out it is easier to park further down the road, rather than in the overflow parking as it makes for a flatter, and somewhat shorter walk to your site.

Hope this helps. I really wish someone would have described this better before I got there. Would have saved me setting up camp (and paying) twice.

The walk in campground is $10 a night.


Edited by gmaki (07/18/14 10:39 AM)

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#38836 - 07/21/14 11:56 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
Daves Not Here Offline


Registered: 06/12/14
Posts: 20
Loc: Lost Angeles
I used Recreation.gov to reserve my site at the portal. At this time of the season it is unlikely you will find anything available but it's worth looking into.

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#38864 - 07/22/14 11:37 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: gmaki]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7194
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: gmaki
...Hope this helps. I really wish someone would have described this better before I got there. Would have saved me setting up camp (and paying) twice.


gmaki, Thank You! thanks I am adding links to your post in several places so people can find it.

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#38866 - 07/22/14 02:03 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
Abhijit Offline


Registered: 03/19/14
Posts: 27
Loc: Chattanooga, TN
Now this may be a dumb question. Before I start my day hike in the dark if I sleep in my car for 4/5 hours do I need to put all the food items in the bear box or I can keep it in the car with me?
I don't want to get hassled by a bear. Also, can I get access to a bear box that late in the evening?

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#38867 - 07/22/14 02:50 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Abhijit]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Abhijit, better safe than sorry. The bears at the Portal rival the Yosemite bears in smarts. They're not aggressive, per se, but they are bold and very cunning. Check out the photos Doug posts regularly in the store of bear-damaged vehicles. Humans are not necessarily a deterrent - these bears have figured out they can bluff people away from their food/packs, then grab and go. They prowl the campgrounds looking for easy pickings, so the closer you are to one of them the higher your risk of being targeted.

It may seem like a lot of questionable effort, but using a locker even for just a few hours is worth it in my opinion. Make sure you include any scented toiletry items as well.

Your best bet in the evening is the lockers in the day use area around the pond. Be cautious about parking in the day use area - Doug has posted recently that the FS has begun ticketing vehicles parked there overnight.

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#38881 - 07/23/14 09:24 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: gmaki]
Steve Chamberlin Offline


Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 55
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: gmaki
I just got back from Whitney and like you I was very confused about the walk in campsites so let me save you some time because I just finished going through it and I can help you not make the same mistakes.


Thanks, this was super helpful! I found the "secret" Ravine Campground exactly as you described, first come first served, and there was literally nobody else in the whole campground except us. The way it's set up, this campground seems almost intentionally hidden, invisible from the road, and there's no signage and only a faint trail leading into the trees. Beautiful location, away from all the noise and traffic, which made it a lot easier to get some sleep.

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#38885 - 07/23/14 01:00 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
LindsayN Online


Registered: 05/21/14
Posts: 11
Loc: San Jose, CA
thanks to gmaki for the info and your confirmation of it.

is it feasible to sleep in the car at the overflow parking near this 'hidden' campground if there isn't space in the campground or the weather isn't suitable for just throwing a sleeping bag down on a waterproof mat? (I don't own a tent)

how far is it from the parking to the actual campsites?

For the reason Bulldog noted (as well as traffic/noise), I don't want to sleep in the car in the day use parking.

thanks.


Edited by LindsayN (07/23/14 01:01 PM)

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#38895 - 07/23/14 03:38 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: LindsayN]
gmaki Offline


Registered: 07/18/14
Posts: 17
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: LindsayN
thanks to gmaki for the info and your confirmation of it.

is it feasible to sleep in the car at the overflow parking near this 'hidden' campground if there isn't space in the campground or the weather isn't suitable for just throwing a sleeping bag down on a waterproof mat? (I don't own a tent)


When I was there last weekend a couple of my friends slept in their cars in the overflow parking lot from about 9:00 PM to 11:30 PM without incident. I don't know if it is strictly allowed but it doesn't seem like anyone is hassling people sleeping in their cars.

Quote:
how far is it from the parking to the actual campsites?


The overflow parking lot sits right in between the backpacker campground and the walk in "secret" campground. I would say it is only about 20 yards UP to the backpacker campground, and 50 - 60 yards DOWN to the "secret" campground. It's also down a pretty faint and surprisingly difficult to follow trail (although you can see the campground the whole time so even if you lose the trail you will still eventually get there).

As I mentioned though your best bet is to leave the overflow parking, make a right as if you are heading down to the reserved campsite and park on the shoulder of the road right where the "road" to the campsites intersects the road out of Whitney Portal. (this road does not actually connect to the main road so don't think you can drive on it but you CAN walk on it). It is hard to explain but once you make it down into the campground the first time you can pick out a tree or a car as a landmark to your preferred parking spot and easily find it when you move your car. Once I got it down that is where I parked my car the rest of my stay and it made entering and exiting much easier. It also made packing up my campsite a thousand times easier


Edited by gmaki (07/23/14 03:42 PM)

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#38897 - 07/23/14 04:47 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: gmaki]
gmaki Offline


Registered: 07/18/14
Posts: 17
Loc: CA
Here is a Google map view I tagged up to make it a bit easier to envision. I hope.

The blue squares that represent campsites are not exact campsite locations, just more of an idea of how the sites are arrayed in each campground.

"Ravine" campground labelled on the map is the "secret" one most talked about here that I camped in.



Edited by gmaki (07/23/14 05:28 PM)
Edit Reason: Replaced image with updated version (thanks Steve C)

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#38899 - 07/23/14 05:05 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: gmaki]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7194
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: gmaki
Here is a Google map view I tagged up to make it a bit easier to envision. I hope.

The blue squares that represent campsites are not exact campsite locations, just more of an idea of how the sites are arrayed in each campground.

"Ravine" campground labelled on the map is the "secret" one most talked about here that I camped in.



Excellent work, gmaki! So very helpful. If you don't mind...

Could you add to the map:

Whitney Portal Store

Mt Whitney Trailhead

An arrow on the left end of the green road with something like "From/To Lone Pine")

Is your right-most red line a walking trail or ?


Edited by Steve C (07/23/14 08:40 PM)
Edit Reason: new map

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#38902 - 07/23/14 05:33 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
gmaki Offline


Registered: 07/18/14
Posts: 17
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C


Excellent work, gmaki! So very helpful. If you don't mind...

Could you add to the map:

Whitney Portal Store

Mt Whitney Trailhead

An arrow on the left end of the green road with something like "From/To Lone Pine")

Is your right-most red line a walking trail or ?


Edited my original post to replace the image with these updates.

The red line is actually a paved road and the walk in campsites are situated along it (although only in the areas I put the blue squares. my guess is there is room for expansion but the campground is so little used there is probably no reason for it). However it is blocked at both ends so is inaccessible by car. It accommodates a rolling cooler quite nicely though.

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#38903 - 07/23/14 05:45 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: gmaki]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Since we're exposing secret areas around the Portal, there's almost enough room on the map to designate the double-secret "old" trailhead that bypasses the North Fork . . .

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#38905 - 07/23/14 05:56 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Bulldog34]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
Since we're exposing secret areas around the Portal, there's almost enough room on the map to designate the double-secret "old" trailhead that bypasses the North Fork . . .


is that the route rangers take when they're in a hurry to get up the mountain?
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#38906 - 07/23/14 06:02 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
is that the route rangers take when they're in a hurry to get up the mountain?


Yep. It's what used to be the MWMT hiking trailhead years ago, before the FS re-routed it. What is now the current trailhead used to be a stock trail (roughly) - gentler grade, less sharp switchers. It starts behind a BIG boulder near the Portal Road bridge and sharply switches up to re-join the trail just to the south of the North Fork, bypassing it. That is it's biggest benefit, especially during a heavy creek flow that may inundate the rock hops. It's not maintained and is a bit gnarly. May cut 15 minutes off from the normal route. Maybe.

It's also the first of the Bob Rockwell Shortcuts that draw as straight a C2 line as possible between the Portal and Trail Camp.


Edited by Bulldog34 (07/23/14 06:22 PM)
Edit Reason: Added Rockwell Shortcut detail

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#38915 - 07/23/14 08:45 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7194
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's the thread with pictures and maps: Old Trail - Trailhead

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#38927 - 07/23/14 11:09 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
britonwhit(ney) Offline


Registered: 03/06/14
Posts: 59
Loc: UK
When looking at where to camp I also came across this map from the FS:

http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc...PLT2_105958.pdf

Frankly, the one posted earlier is better, but you can never have too many maps :-)

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#39169 - 07/29/14 03:31 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: britonwhit(ney)]
Sewellymon Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 6
Loc: LA, CA
Steve C- thanks for your good work. I've got reservations for the car campground for Friday night, but we're free agents Saturday and the Ravine Backpacker's Camp sounds like the ticket!

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#39408 - 08/03/14 04:24 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Sewellymon]
Sewellymon Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 6
Loc: LA, CA
Checked out "Ravine" Walk In Campground. Not aesthetic IMO.

Far prefer enhanced vibe being close to river in backpacker's campground, even though other folks were around.

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#39505 - 08/07/14 12:22 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Sewellymon]
cantare Offline


Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 13
Loc: California
Not incredibly aesthetic, and some of the bear lockers are broken already. Ravine CG was built Sep 2012 according to the notice-board, and it still looks very rough-hewn with the possibility for adding more sites. But it's great to be able to count on it if there are no other sites available (I could only reserve 1 night out of 4 ahead of time in the main CG).

On my recent trip (7/28 summit) some campers were walking downhill towards the group CG for water etc. But I believe the best access is actually via the use trail next to the paybox, which leads uphill to the toilets & spigot just above the overflow parking lot.

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#50960 - 07/17/17 11:19 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: cantare]
Ruslvmusl Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Lincoln, CA
Originally Posted By: cantare
Not incredibly aesthetic, and some of the bear lockers are broken already. Ravine CG was built Sep 2012 according to the notice-board, and it still looks very rough-hewn with the possibility for adding more sites. But it's great to be able to count on it if there are no other sites available (I could only reserve 1 night out of 4 ahead of time in the main CG).

On my recent trip (7/28 summit) some campers were walking downhill towards the group CG for water etc. But I believe the best access is actually via the use trail next to the paybox, which leads uphill to the toilets & spigot just above the overflow parking lot.


Are these locations still available 3 years later? I would assume but 'Murphy's Law'. I am trying to decide when to arrive here, less than 4 hour drive away.

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#51064 - 07/21/17 01:01 PM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: Ruslvmusl]
cantare Offline


Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 13
Loc: California
I summited Mon 7/17 and stayed at the main family CG. I looked from the road and saw the bear boxes & sites are still there. There was only one in use. I didn't go check the sign-in board for current policies, but I believe unaesthetic, haul-your-gear-in-from-the-road Ravine CG continues to be a useful, off-the-radar option for walk-ins.

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#52114 - 09/08/17 09:05 AM Re: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal [Re: cantare]
SierraDave Offline


Registered: 09/03/17
Posts: 12
Loc: Sacramento, California
So good news, our plans have changed and it look we are able to get to WP this evening around 10p to begin acclimatizing.

Is ravine still the place to go for last minute camping and somewhat away from all the noise of people getting ready for their hike?

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