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#42091 - 04/05/15 05:54 PM Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
Couldn't score an overnight permit for the Main Whitney Trail, so my partner & I decided to do a long trip in & out via Cottonwood Pass. We are really excited about it. We have already been training for months and are stepping up with more demanding workouts & hikes & will start hiking at elevation once the passes open.

As the trip will be much longer than originally planned, I'm fretting about our food needs. Will we be able to meet our needs with 2 bear canisters? Haven't purchased any yet. Will buy one & possibly rent the other. Any brand/size recommendations?

Also, my husband is contemplating getting me a personal locator beacon. Is this over the top? Wondering if my iPhone might be able to get out periodic texts/calls to reassure those at home (I have AT&T).

One more thing: should I bring rain jacket/pants or would a poncho suffice (trip is early July).
Thanks!

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#42094 - 04/05/15 11:34 PM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wendy1h]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7225
Loc: Fresno, CA
When you show up to pick up your permit to hike, and if you ask, you will probably be surprised to learn that you could pick up a no-show Whitney permit.

Two bear canisters should be enough. If not, it is ok to hang the extra in the area you are hiking. Be sure to re-bag all the food in zip-locks. Those foil freeze-dried bags take way too much space.

A PLB can only be used in an emergency. Look at a SPOT or DeLorme unit that can send out regular locations, etc. Iphones will not connect where you are going. They only work from a few spots on the Whitney summit.

Rain jacket/pants: Check the forecast when you go. Leave them home if you are taking a tent, unless foul weather is forecast. Early July if mostly dry.

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#42095 - 04/05/15 11:47 PM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: Steve C]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 446
Loc: Saugus, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C

Two bear canisters should be enough. If not, it is ok to hang the extra in the area you are hiking. Be sure to re-bag all the food in zip-locks. Those foil freeze-dried bags take way too much space.


Have you thought of renting one of these bad boys?
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#42160 - 04/11/15 09:24 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wendy1h]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
I hate Cottonwood Pass. It's too sandy, too up and down and too sun exposed. I prefer New Army Pass. Using the South Fork Trail to Long Lake...cross country through the South Fork Lakes Basin. This short cut will save you a mile plus the ups and downs of the Cottonwood Lakes/New Army Pass Trail.

As for bear canisters...for a six day trip, I filled a weekender up with the first days food in the pack. I would not buy a second canister but would use an Ursack, if needed. I do this trip in 3 days, so canister space is not an issue.

PLB? Ah, no! These are highly traveled trails all the way, even on the west side. Just study a good map for your route of travel and read about your trip.

I have spent a month worth of days on Whitney trips and have been rained on for 5 minutes. However, I have worn my rain gear to the mountain because of wind about 1/2 the time. I prefer shells to a poncho because of the wind.

Cell phones will only work with line of sight. Top of the passes and peak, usually. I only count on my phone to provide me with music during trips.


Edited by wbtravis (04/11/15 09:25 AM)

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#42168 - 04/12/15 08:14 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wendy1h]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1098
Loc: NorCal
Wendy, your food storage needs will depend on how many days the two of you will be out. My wife and I can go 5-6 days with one Bear Vault. Bear canisters weight over 2 lbs and they are very bulky. I would not bring a second canister unless you are going more than 5 days, maybe 6. Here are some ideas and numbers for guidelines that work for us, your actual mileage may vary.

Assume 1.0-1.5 lbs per day (per person) based on dry foods averaging about 125 calories per ounce. Choose high calorie-dense foods. Nuts are the highest (170-220 cal/oz), dried fruit on the low side but nutritious, meats pasta and packaged meals in the middle.

A bear vault or similar hard canister carries about 10 lbs of carefully packed typical dried food without too much effort cramming it in there. Repackage or poke a pinhole to get all the air out of bulky stuff. With more effort you can get 12-lbs, but above that, it takes more serious measures that pulverize things.

Remember, you don't need to pack your first lunch and dinner into the canister since they'll be in your stomach when you secure your food at camp for the first night.

The Ursack (ursack.com) that WB mentions is an excellent option, but keep in mind its not yet legal for food storage in SEKI. It's legal for Inyo NF jurisdiction at the begining part of your route, so it may work for the first few days. Its also great for trash. SEKI might start allowing it at any time since it was recently certified by the Grizzy Bear Agency. (http://sierrawild.gov/bears/food-storage-map)

The PLB or satellite tracking (SPOT or In-Reach) is a matter of your comfort in the wild. While this may be a popular route, things can happen to anyone in the wilderness. For 4-8 oz of weight, you can carry the ability to get help many hours or days earlier than otherwise. A nightly text to your your significant others might save them a few grey hairs as well, but that feature adds a lot of cost as you go from a cheap to PLB to a subscription fee.

Lastly, a light rain jacket is the standard for the high Sierra as it will double for wind use, as WB said. Rain pants are a luxury item. Regular fleece gloves will dry out. A poncho works too, it can keep your pack dry, and double for tarp or groundsheet. But don't go without any rain gear, anything can happen over an extended trip.

Try renting a hard canister and tracking your food needs on a weekend trip somewhere to help you dial in your plan. Have a great trip!


Edited by SierraNevada (04/12/15 08:16 AM)

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#42169 - 04/12/15 09:52 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: SierraNevada]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Although the Ursack is not legal in the parks, it is a good alternative to a second canister. Your legal option is an extra 2 pound canister and at a 1 more of pack to handle it. I'd take the chance for an Ursack for a day or two chancing fine.

I've seen a ranger once in the SEKI backcountry since 1997 and that was a seasonal ranger, not LE.

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#42170 - 04/12/15 04:42 PM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wbtravis]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1547
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: wbtravis


I've seen a ranger once in the SEKI backcountry since 1997 and that was a seasonal ranger, not LE.


WB: For several years now, seasonal backcountry rangers *are* LE. They have the training, authority, responsibility and yes, weaponry. Fortunately, they do not all also have the attitude, but its less of a difference now than in the past.
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Wherever you go, there you are.
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#42176 - 04/13/15 11:34 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: saltydog]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 172
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Hi,

Just a little more info on repackaging. Use only Ziploc quart size FREEZER bags
. The reason is that you can place boiling water in them for cooking and eat out of them. They are designed that way.

On the out side of the bag, write what the contents are, number of cups of water, and simmering time. For example: Chicken/Rice, 2 cups, 15 minutes......

When you transfer the contents, from the original packaging, seal the Ziploc by rolling out the air, thus making the package much smaller.

Now, the bag will be hot and difficult to hold and remain stable....I take a small dish which I use in conjunction with oatmeal, granola and milk. You can use the lid to the bear canister, if there is one.

Remember: You'll need to hike out toilet paper. Use a large Ziploc bag for the container.

paul



Edited by Paul (04/13/15 12:13 PM)

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#42258 - 04/21/15 07:21 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: Steve C]
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
Steve, thanks so much for the info. I believe we'll take 2 canisters, though I have access to an Ursack and have plenty of time to contemplate taking one of those instead of one of the canisters.

As for rain, I've decided to take a poncho (that can cover the pack, too) & waterproof gaiters.

Training hard; getting psyched up (trying not to get psyched OUT)!

Thanks for your stewardship of this wonderful site!

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#42259 - 04/21/15 07:23 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: Snacking Bear]
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
The Bearicade, yes, I'd heard of them. Thanks for the link to their site. Will go with the loaners I have available -- standard bear canisters & possibly an Ursack. Gotta think that one through. I appreciate your response. Thanks!

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#42260 - 04/21/15 07:28 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wbtravis]
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
I read a nice quote somewhere about some Whitney hikers on Cottonwood encountering some others who were dismayed about the sandy trail. Basically, it's better out on any trail than being cooped up at work. I'll try to keep such an attitude and train for some unstable ground.

My friend purchased a Spot; she & her husband have other uses for it. A daily "we're OK" notice will soothe both our husbands' minds.

Thanks for the reality check on the trail conditions and for your other insights!

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#42262 - 04/21/15 10:54 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wendy1h]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7225
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: wendy1h
My friend purchased a Spot; she & her husband have other uses for it. A daily "we're OK" notice will soothe both our husbands' minds.

Wendy, the SPOT is a fun tool. From my experience....

Please understand that SPOT should be left "On" for at least 30 minutes when you send out a signal; when down in a canyon, even longer. The signals don't always reach a satellite, so you need to give the unit time to repeat sending.

People have mistakenly used it by turning it on, sending a check-in and shutting it down in 5 minutes. Their signals don't get out very reliably.

My advice: If you are carrying a spot, why not use the "Track" mode or Check-in more often? The units will run for about 10 days on the batteries, so why not use them. Family can then see you are making progress on your hike, which gives them even more reassurance that all is well.

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#42275 - 04/22/15 08:34 AM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: SierraNevada]
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
Thanks for taking the time to give so much good advice!

I, too, figured about 1#/day for food with about 10# overall for the trip. Good to remember that day 1 doesn't have to go in the can! We have friends coming out of the woodwork with bear canisters & even an Ursack that we can borrow, so we'll be going the "free borrowed gear" route & each carry a canister. Still thinking about slinging an Ursack over a tree limb, though.

As far as rain gear, I'm going with a poncho & waterproof gaiters.

Working hard training; working on the "mental game" now!

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#42283 - 04/22/15 01:48 PM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: Paul]
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
Yes, a bag for the "pack it out" & wag bag items, FOR SURE! Thanks for the ideas on how to handle the ZipLoc freezer bag flimsiness. I really like to find uses for stuff we're already hauling so we don't need to add more weight. On the food front: A friend who's not taking the trip is thinking of all sorts of gourmet & exotic fare we can pack along. I don't have the heart to tell her that it's not gonna be like that!

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#42284 - 04/22/15 01:51 PM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: Steve C]
wendy1h Offline


Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Sonora,CA
My son advised me that sometimes it takes a while for the Spot emails to get delivered & to warn our husbands not to fret if notifications are a little late.

But I love your suggestion to keep the Spot running. I'll feel like I've been tagged, haha! grin

Again, thanks so much, Steve. You're a wonderful ambassador of this site and of Mt. Whitney!

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#42293 - 04/22/15 08:25 PM Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Pass, 7/4-7/11/15 [Re: wendy1h]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1098
Loc: NorCal
Wendy, thanks for replying to everyone, that's a nice touch. I think you're making good choices to hike your own hike and this trip will be a blast for you two. Post a trip report when you get back. Happy Trails!

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