Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 19 Guests and 72 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3844 Members
10 Forums
5643 Topics
51491 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >
Topic Options
#41568 - 01/23/15 09:20 AM HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
I'd like to plan a backpacking trip for this summer that involves a Mt. Whitney summit. I'm just in the beginning stages, but already have some questions. Here are the three possible trips I am thinking about, in no particular order.

A. The High Sierra Trail to Whitney Portal
B. Onion Valley to Whitney Portal
C. Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney Portal

Here are some things I am thinking about. I know most of these are wide open questions, but I would appreciate any information or opinions you can provide:

Q1. If you could take any of these trips, which would you choose and why?
Q2. What time of year should I get the permits for? Snow/ice, mosquitos and bad weather are concerns.
Q3. How many days do you recommend for each trip? I understand that this is a tough question to answer, but that's why I am seeking help. I believe we can hike 10 miles per day comfortably, but since I am in the early stages of planning this hike, I am unaware of any particular parts of the trail that may slow me down or be more difficult than they look on paper.

Permits
Q4. What permits are required?
Q5. Which trip has the easiest permits to obtain? The hardest?
Q6. Since I would be exiting at the Portal, does that mean I bypass the need to enter the lottery?

Transportation
Q7. This is what I've found searching Google. Any problems with these ideas or do you suggest other options?
A. High Sierra Trail - Take Greyhound bus from San Bernardino to Visalia (~$50). Take the Sequoia Shuttle(~$15) from Visalia to the trailhead. Have someone pick me up in Lone Pine.
B. Onion Valley - Drive my own vehicle to the trailhead. Take East Side Sierra Shuttle from WP to OV ($110 first passenger, $25 each additional.)
C. Horshoe Meadows - Drive my own vehicle to the trailhead. Take East Side Sierra Shuttle from WP to HM ($120 first passenger, $35 each additional.)

Q8. If leaving a vehicle at the trailheads, are parking permits or special arrangement required?
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41571 - 01/23/15 05:44 PM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Oklahoma
I've done the Horseshoe Meadow to WP route twice and I really like it. (In Aug and Sept the route was much less crowded than I would have expected, and there are no bugs then.) Acclimatize with a Trail Peak day hike as described awhile back by Steve C. Both times It was a 5-night trip, staying at Chicken Spring or Long Lake the first night, and staying at Lone Pine Lake the last night so as to be able to have huge pancakes for breakfast at the WPS. Get standard permit for entry trailhead (Cottonwood Lakes or Cottonwood Pass) but do it very, very early because you also need the Trail Crest exit permit which has a tight quota. You're right, the lottery is not involved.

Top
#41580 - 01/24/15 08:05 PM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: Glenn]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Thanks for the input Glenn, I appreciate it!
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41582 - 01/24/15 11:02 PM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
63Chevy:
Q1: I would do all 3! I've done 2, and hope to try some variation of "C" this year. Life is long, take your time, do them all.

B and C are shorter trips than the HST, if that makes any difference. I would take the HST later in summer on a wet year, due to the need to ford the Kern River Big Arroyo Creek without a bridge.

I did the Onion Valley trip in 4 days hiking, third night on the summit of Whitney. AMS was a factor the first two nights. My HST trip took 5 nights/6 days. An extra day would be nicer.

Permits: HST only requires a permit from Seki to start.
B and C require both a start and Trail Crest exit from Inyo. None in the lottery, they are available 6 months in advance, and a few are held back available to walk-in requests.

Q8: no parking permits required.


Edited by Steve C (01/25/15 11:48 AM)

Top
#41585 - 01/25/15 09:16 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
I've done 2 of 3...HM and OV. The former 3 times, the latter once. If I were to do either again, it would be a trip starting in Onion Valley. For beauty it has it all over the trip from Horseshoe Meadow...and I've done the both the Cottonwood Pass and NAP verisons, if this is your choice go over NAP or AP. I truly hate Cottonwood Pass.

My preference is for mid-September. I have done it in this time frame and have seen next no one between the pass and Lower Trail Crest. I true wilderness experience for a few days. You just need some warmies...we saw single digits on the summit one time and below freezing the other times.

I have done OV in 4 days and HM in 3. These are high paced trips. They can be done much more leisurely pace. The only thing recommend is not to stay at either of the east side ghettos. Either come out or stay at Consultation or Lone Pine Lakes.

Permits are generally not a problem for the trailhead and only a minor annoyance for the Exit...Trail Crest Permit. I never come out on the date of my permit. When I have been on a reserved permit, we take whatever date is available...no more than a week out or whatever is available as a walk-in. This process is made for lying and cheating.

No stinking lottery, period. Just call 6 months in advance of your entry. You will be in like Flynn.

The one time I did as a solo, I thumbed a ride over from WP to HM. Just park your car in the long term parking area at WP and make sure it is clean.

Top
#41586 - 01/25/15 10:27 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: wbtravis]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 193
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Just a couple bits of info......

-Trail Crest Exit (Permits 25 per day)
-Kearsarge Pass Entry (Permits 60, with 36 reserved, 24 walk-in)
-Cottonwood Pass Entry (Permits 40, with 24 reserve, 16 walk-in)

Last year was my 50th year of hiking and have done all the routes several times. The key question for me is, how much time are you allocating for the trip since that will determine route?

Obviously logistics is a major issue. For that matter, I'd skip the HST and do it at a later date. As for entry point, again, how much time?

For me, the Onion Valley to Portal is the most enjoyable and really gives you a excellent feel for the backcountry.

As for timing, last year I had snow on my May 4th trip down to the Kern River. My last trip, end of September, first of October...two days of snow. Both times, nothing significant.

Fall is a great time. Less people, nicer weather, cooler days and nights.

By the way, how many people are going?

paul

Top
#41589 - 01/25/15 11:46 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: Paul]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
63Chevy: I think I erred on the Kern River crossing. There is a bridge to cross it, just S of Kern Hot Springs. It is the Big Arroyo crossing that could be an issue in the early summer of a high water year. By the way, Kern Hot Spring is a nice attraction on the HST trip, but you are guaranteed there will be significant numbers of people there.

You can always vary your HST trip and leave out some of the trail. Both the Pants Pass shortcut and the Whitney Creek shortcut would guarantee you miles and miles of solitude.

Now, no matter which of the three hikes you take, there is a sweet "wilderness solitude" experience on Whitney Creek, about an hour down from the Crabtree R.S. area. It is the old packers camp I found last summer. I am extremely interested in seeing what the spring looks like that ranger Rob P mentioned near there. I want to get back there and check it out, or maybe someone like you (or Paul) could do it.

Top
#41599 - 01/26/15 10:06 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Thanks for the input everyone.

Just looking at the trips themselves (not considering logistics, permits, etc), my order of preference is:
HST
OV
HM

Originally Posted By: Paul

By the way, how many people are going?

I am planning the trip with one other person. After we get our dates and itinerary nailed down, there are a couple of other people that I'll extend an invite to. I don't think I want to lead a trip like this with more than 4 people at this point.

Originally Posted By: Paul

The key question for me is, how much time are you allocating for the trip since that will determine route?

Obviously logistics is a major issue. For that matter, I'd skip the HST and do it at a later date. As for entry point, again, how much time?

In terms of time for the trip - essentially I want to figure out how much time I think we need to complete each hike. How much time is needed will play into the decision of which hike I try to do, but it is a secondary concern. I forsee myself taking 5 days off from work (M-F) and possibly tacking on another day on either end if it is needed for travel.

I would like to do all of these trips eventually. To make matters more complicated, our family may be moving to NH this year. I don't think this will happen until mid-summer or early fall. With that in mind, I am hoping to get this trip in while I am still living here, or maybe extend my stay in CA for a few weeks after we move all of our stuff. Logistically, the HST trip is giving me a headache, but I wonder if it would be easier for me to do it while I am still living in CA. In terms of getting time off, HST would be easier now since I won't need to spend 2 days travelling from & to the east coast.


Originally Posted By: wbtravis
I never come out on the date of my permit... This process is made for lying and cheating.

I've read similar statements regarding overnight permits on MMWT. If I understood correctly, they were saying that if you have a reserved permit for 1 night, 'it's not a big problem if you need to say a second' or something along those lines.

Originally Posted By: Steve C
It is the Big Arroyo crossing that could be an issue in the early summer of a high water year.

Good to know, thanks! If I need to do this trip early in the season (see possible move above), I think I should save HST for another time.

Originally Posted By: Steve C

By the way, Kern Hot Spring is a nice attraction on the HST trip... There is a sweet "wilderness solitude" experience on Whitney Creek...

Cool,I am interested in checking out both
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41602 - 01/26/15 10:59 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
If you are leaving CA, I would definitely do the HST now!

That Big Arroyo crossing would just require care. This is not playing out to be a high water year. Sierra snowpack is 64% of normal at this point, with zilch on the radar.

The public transportation options from LA using Amtrak and the public shuttles will work, though the Visalia connection may require an overnight (from what I have read). Thinking more about it, you could possibly even hire a taxi out of Visalia to get to Sequoia -- I asked a driver once, and he told me it would be about $150 to get to Sequoia.


Edited by Steve C (01/26/15 11:01 AM)

Top
#41665 - 01/31/15 08:46 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
The exit date is really between you and your family, not the government. They are not going to report you missing unless you are late.

The exit permit idea is bureaucratic stupidity. If it puts 4 or 5 extra people on MMWT one day, 4 or 5 less the next...who cares other than the bureaucrat? Issue 25 entry permits per day with a Whitney Zone enhancement, the rest will take care of itself.

Top
#41732 - 02/09/15 10:21 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: wbtravis]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Do they issue/hold walk-in permits for those that want to hike Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, or do you need to get the Trail Crest permit through recreation.gov?
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41735 - 02/09/15 02:17 PM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Oklahoma
63ChevyII,

The Trail Crest exit quota is 25 with 15 reservable and 10 walk-in. You get that at the same time/same place as your Onion Valley entry permit.

Glenn

Top
#41858 - 02/26/15 09:47 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: Glenn]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Are the SEKI permits transferable? I don't see anywhere to list a alternate leader.
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41860 - 02/26/15 08:08 PM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Well... I'm going in Kearsarge and exiting New Army (visiting Whitney) over 8 days at the end of June (6/20-6/28)

I've got 2 possible open spots on the permit. Interested in a slot if you can't get your days?

You can purchase permits on Recreation.gov 6 months out (sans lottery) so long as you aren't entering via WP. They show the available number of permits in real-time.

Also, hitchhike, ALWAYS hitchhike.

smile
_________________________
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

Top
#41861 - 02/26/15 08:22 PM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Do they issue/hold walk-in permits for those that want to hike Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, or do you need to get the Trail Crest permit through recreation.gov?


Yes, through Rec.gov.

I have never had any problem getting one or two walk-ins so long as I walk-in on a Weds or Thurs.

Also I've done the HST and JMT and I preferred the JMT approach from Kearsarge. I hear the Siberian Outpost is pretty dry, sandy and miserable (the section of PCT as it wraps around the west face of Cirque Peak)
See here: http://www.sierradescents.com/hiking/pacific-crest-trail/2008/onion-to-cottonwood-10.html
_________________________
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

Top
#41862 - 02/27/15 07:48 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: Snacking Bear]
britonwhit(ney) Offline


Registered: 03/06/14
Posts: 76
Loc: UK
The HM/Cottonwood pass route gets a lot of flak - I think its worth putting in context... This is the High Sierra. Within reason, its all absolutely stunning. I've done the HM route a couple of times, and its spectacular. Might not be the best route out there, but hard to see how you'd find it disappointing. Its also logistically very easy - both times I've left my car in Lone Pine and gotten a shuttle up to the start and back from the end, saving a couple of hours of driving.

The section over Siberian Outpost is sandy and undulating, but the alternate dropping down to rock creek is beautiful and has lots of water and is only 0.5 mile longer - well worth going this route.

There'a also an amusing trail sign on the way that was obviously once meant to be on Whitney but they made a spelling mistake, so flipped it around and engraved one of the park boundary signs on the back instead... anyone else ever seen this?

It's 42 miles and total about 9k ft ascent. I've done it in 1.5 days once and 8 days once (with a 7 and 9 yr old). I think 4 days would be really comfortable.

Top
#41882 - 03/04/15 08:09 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: Snacking Bear]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Thanks for the input everyone.

Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
Well... I'm going in Kearsarge and exiting New Army (visiting Whitney) over 8 days at the end of June (6/20-6/28)

I've got 2 possible open spots on the permit. Interested in a slot if you can't get your days?


That's an option we hadn't considered. Is the mileage on that trip about 70 miles? If you don't mind sharing, what's the planned itinerary (mileage each day, etc).

If I can get that block of time off, I would certainly consider joining you. I will have to step up my training though- your TRs are a little intimidating!
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41883 - 03/04/15 08:10 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: britonwhit(ney)]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: britonwhit(ney)


It's 42 miles and total about 9k ft ascent. I've done it in 1.5 days once and 8 days once (with a 7 and 9 yr old). I think 4 days would be really comfortable.


Thanks, that great info.

I grabbed Cottonwood Lakes permits with a WP exit as a backup. I submitted my HST application Sunday. It took 3 hours for the fax to go through. I am guessing it will be a while before I hear back.


Edited by 63ChevyII.com (03/04/15 08:10 AM)
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#41886 - 03/04/15 08:58 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
If I can get that block of time off, I would certainly consider joining you. I will have to step up my training though- your TRs are a little intimidating!


Chevy! You're making me blush!

This trip is purposely going to be easier than I would normally go.

If you want to PM me your email I can email you a spreadsheet with my itinerary, daily mileage, daily elevation gain (all approximate). I'm hoping to keep the backpacking modest and permit a few options for side peak scrambles.

Again I'm the only one going thus far, everyone else is a tentative yes, so the sooner I can get a confirmation I can save a slot for you and other friend.

If nothing else this could be a future 'to-do' on your list!
_________________________
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

Top
#41887 - 03/04/15 09:28 AM Re: HST vs. Onion Valley vs. Horseshoe Meadows to WP [Re: Snacking Bear]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
> If you want to PM me your email I can email you a spreadsheet with my itinerary, daily mileage, daily elevation gain (all approximate).

Send it to me and I'll post it in this thread! (email is in my profile, or use the "Contact us" link.)
Stats are always fun to see.

Top
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >