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#51144 - 07/24/17 10:15 AM What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass)
terraelise Offline


Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 18
Loc: CA
The latest trip reports from Whitney sound vastly different than 10 days ago - I did a quick 1 nighter at Chicken Spring Lake out of Horseshoe Meadow this weekend (7-22 enter, 7-23 exit).

It was friggin' hot (full sun, 67 days, 47 nights at lake and about 10 deg hotter at trailhead) and NO sign of typical afternoon monsoon - only some adorable poofs here and there. The trails are only slightly muddy in parts as everything is drying out fast and water won't be running over any trails beneath Cottonwood Pass much longer: there is only one patch of snow off the trail at the top. Not many biting bugs - my clothes are treated, and I am usually covered for sun reasons, and have one bite on my foot and one behind my shoulder.

The parking lot was packed, the walk-in camp was fairly full (i slept in my car Friday night) and the bear boxes were stuffed. Somehow, though, I didn't think the trails were crowded at all. Seemed 3 good sized groups at the lake, but they were all at the front. I found suitable trees farther down the shore, and could still hear them w/the rocky bowl acoustics (amazing echo spot!), but it didn't feel like too many people and was silent at night - though some walked into meadows despite NO markers (many of which were missing or fallen over). smh

Lots of flowers near any water and a good amount of lovely iris at all meadows! There are two small patches of ice still providing clean water in a thin cascade to the lake - lots of low-lying flowers all along the shore. No signs of bears anywhere, only marmots.

My hammock w/no tarp = unable to sleep for it was impossible to tear my eyes away from the stunning night sky. The smoke blew north or west instead, and the air was very, very clear. Not a black spot - all stars - and the milky way was amazing arching completely overhead. Zero wind, zero clouds, the lake reflected the night sky - at long exposure there was a tad light pollution to the southwest only.

The view from further up the PCT (above the lake) gave outstanding views: pretty sure I was looking at a slice of heaven. Like the view from Trail Crest, the valley is all green with patches of yellow flowers throughout Big Whitney Meadow - and the seemingly endless row of purple mountains, white snow in the bowls and creases, stretched northwest - there were darker, larger clouds there and some signs of light rain. Amazing view!

Hope you all had fun this weekend! I only wish traffic out of the OC did make this better than an awful 6 hr drive - I'd be up every weekend if it was less! (the mountains are calling) Will we finally get more monsoon / typical afternoon rain in August?

*edits for spelling


Edited by terraelise (07/24/17 11:32 AM)
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#51338 - 08/02/17 08:34 AM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: terraelise]
EdHaynes Offline


Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 19
Loc: California
Thanks for that report. Not many gives information about the TH camping. I'm really hoping to get some good images of the night skies. I'll be heading through there on Aug 8th for a round trip to Mt. Whitney as a birthday gift to myself (turned 70). I'm really looking forward to this adventure.

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#51352 - 08/02/17 03:20 PM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: terraelise]
Mark K Offline


Registered: 05/22/17
Posts: 15
Loc: Merrimack, NH, USA
Terraelise,

Have been following this page for some time now. Really enjoy your post. Sounds like your from Orange County. I lived in Costa Mesa for 8 years a long time ago. I envy your regular visits to the Sierra's and the experience and insight you provide. Not that I would trade my regular hiking in the New Hampshire White Mountains.

Best regards to you on your future hiking adventures.

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#51353 - 08/02/17 03:21 PM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: EdHaynes]
Mark K Offline


Registered: 05/22/17
Posts: 15
Loc: Merrimack, NH, USA
Ed, Are you doing a day hike or overnight? I am starting an overnight on 8/8.

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#51367 - 08/03/17 09:31 AM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: Mark K]
EdHaynes Offline


Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 19
Loc: California
I'm old and slow so I'm planning on 8 nights (9 counting the trail head night) to make it to Mt. Whitney and back. This is my third attempt. 2 yrs ago the first blizzard of the year stopped us at Whitney Portal with blowing snow on the ground at the store and two on-going SARs going on during the same time we were to began our hike. Last year I went with a group for an overnight attempt but made the mistake of trying to keep up with those young whippersnappers <G>. I only made it to just below Trail Crest when altitude sickness was too much so I headed back down. Physically, I was fine - not a sore muscle the next day. Hiking is my retirement hobby.
This year I'm going solo at my own rate, spending much more time to acclimate, got drugs to help from doctor, know to force myself to eat and drink and mostly will take my time and enjoy the back country. Make it or not, I plan to take lots of photos and have a good time.
Perhaps I'll see you on the trials. I'm the old fat guy with a floppy hat. <G>

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#51374 - 08/03/17 02:26 PM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: EdHaynes]
Mark K Offline


Registered: 05/22/17
Posts: 15
Loc: Merrimack, NH, USA
Ed, I have a red osprey kestrel 48 pack, sunglasses all day. Perhaps we will meet.

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#51382 - 08/03/17 06:00 PM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: Mark K]
EdHaynes Offline


Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 19
Loc: California
Maybe so. I'm packing a dark blue Gregory Baltoro 65 and will be breathing hard. Hope to see you around, Mark.

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#51405 - 08/04/17 05:32 PM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: Mark K]
terraelise Offline


Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 18
Loc: CA
I really should post after every trip near-ish Whitney - I doubt west-side trips are appropriate for here (are there other forums?).

This year I did not hike in other states, but 2015 I did quite a bit! I should get my butt to your state - I love all the green of the east but typically miss the elevation of all the western mountains.

We're going to do more in WA & OR later this month (eclipse crowds be damned) and thinking about Onion Valley for Labor Day.

May the trails lead you to wonderful places!


Edited by terraelise (08/04/17 05:33 PM)
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#51406 - 08/04/17 08:04 PM Re: What a difference 10 days makes (Cottonwood Pass) [Re: terraelise]
EdHaynes Offline


Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 19
Loc: California
Just scanning through these messages it would appear that all Whitney area trail reports are welcomed here. Even those whom don't attempt Mt. Whitney still provide valuable information about the trials and conditions one might encounter.

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