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#5994 - 07/14/10 02:55 PM Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground
Hangin' Tough Offline


Registered: 07/14/10
Posts: 7
Loc: Lancaster, CA
Hello Mt. Whitney Hikers Association. I registered today after checking out the webcam and forums for the last week or so. This is a great site with lots of information and insightful opinions. I am a long time Sierra hiker but until now have not gotten into using the web for info. That said, My wife and I are bringing our daughter and her friend (Both newbies to backpacking and first timers) to experience the summit at sunrise. We are doing a three day trip and I would like to know what is the acceptable time to occupy a site at the trailhead campground the day prior to starting up the trail?

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#5997 - 07/14/10 05:25 PM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: Hangin' Tough]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1242
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Acceptable...any time. I think legally any time after noon. I know I've had my tent up in the hiker-in before noon.

Sunrise is the best time to be on this mountain. Make sure you look on the western horizon just after sunrise for the shadow cast by Mt. Whitney...I know this maybe a mid-September thingy but it is worth mentioning because it is a truly awesome sight.

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#6015 - 07/14/10 11:28 PM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: Hangin' Tough]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7392
Loc: Fresno, CA
Welcome HT! Good luck with your plans! I hope you make that sunrise goal -- it will be memorable.

Now... be sure to read up in the Orientation Notes (link on the left) about the importance of acclimatization. Driving to Whitney Portal, spending the night, then hiking to Trail Camp usually brings on headache and worse symptoms for the majority of Whitney hikers. An extra 24 hours at Horseshoe Meadows or other high elevation place will help ensure a better experience.

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#6040 - 07/15/10 03:09 PM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: Steve C]
Hangin' Tough Offline


Registered: 07/14/10
Posts: 7
Loc: Lancaster, CA
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
Acceptable...any time. I think legally any time after noon. I know I've had my tent up in the hiker-in before noon.

Sunrise is the best time to be on this mountain. Make sure you look on the western horizon just after sunrise for the shadow cast by Mt. Whitney...I know this maybe a mid-September thingy but it is worth mentioning because it is a truly awesome sight.


^^^ Thanks for the response. It is good to know that we can get there early. Orignally We had planned on arriving at 5 am to get almost 23 hours at the portal before starting with the day hikers at 4 am the next morning. Looks like we are shooting for around 9am now unless I can convice the girls to go up to Horseshoe Meadow the night before.

Thanks for the tip on the Mt. Whitney shadow cast. When the wife and I made our first summit at sunrise our gaze was fixed to the east.

Originally Posted By: Steve C
Welcome HT! Good luck with your plans! I hope you make that sunrise goal -- it will be memorable.

Now... be sure to read up in the Orientation Notes (link on the left) about the importance of acclimatization. Driving to Whitney Portal, spending the night, then hiking to Trail Camp usually brings on headache and worse symptoms for the majority of Whitney hikers. An extra 24 hours at Horseshoe Meadows or other high elevation place will help ensure a better experience.


^^^ Thanks for the response. The wife and I have some first hand experience with AMS. She got hit with it going up New Army Pass on our way to Mt. Langley. Then we didn't know why she was feeling sick.

I read on timberlinetrails.net that Campers, Motorhomes, Travel Trailers and other types of specialty overnight setups are not allowed in the Portal parking area. Do you know if this restiction is just for the portal parking area right in front of the trailhead or does it include the overflow parking area just below the trailhead parking? It would be nice to use our cabover at Horseshoe Meadow and then just park it in the overflow during our time on the mountain.

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#6042 - 07/15/10 03:48 PM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: Hangin' Tough]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7392
Loc: Fresno, CA
> I read on timberlinetrails.net that Campers, Motorhomes, Travel Trailers and other types of specialty overnight setups are not allowed in the Portal parking area. Do you know if this restiction is just for the portal parking area right in front of the trailhead or does it include the overflow parking area just below the trailhead parking? It would be nice to use our cabover at Horseshoe Meadow and then just park it in the overflow during our time on the mountain.

I hope somebody else can better answer this...

I am pretty sure that is only due to the limited parking space -- cars park side-by-side, and long vehicles would be a problem.

It is quite likely you can find a parking spot, either in the overflow, or parallel parked along the road.

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#6043 - 07/15/10 04:59 PM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: Hangin' Tough]
SoCalGirl Offline


Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Spring Valley, CA
Originally Posted By: Hangin' Tough
Thanks for the tip on the Mt. Whitney shadow cast. When the wife and I made our first summit at sunrise our gaze was fixed to the east.


I was taught by one of the utmost authoritative people on the Eastern Sierra that you ALWAYS have to look in the opposite direction of what your watching for... if you're watching sunrise... always make sure to look west... if you're sitting back to watch the sunset... always make sure you look east... its a good chance that you're missing the best part of the light show behind you...

I was lucky enough to catch a winter sunrise at Lake Mono last year. I was standing there in the sub-freezing temperatures very patiently watching the eastern sky (and getting a very nice show I might add just before the sun hit the horizon) when my friend told me "here it comes... here it comes... look to the west"... I turned around to look and was positivly mesmerized by the light and shadow show... watching the sun chase the shadows of the Mono Craters off Mt Dana and color the snow blanketed Sierra shades of reds and pinks was a sight I will never forget... (I think it was Dana.. correct me if I'm wrong)....

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#6076 - 07/16/10 11:07 AM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: SoCalGirl]
Hangin' Tough Offline


Registered: 07/14/10
Posts: 7
Loc: Lancaster, CA
Originally Posted By: SoCalGirl
Originally Posted By: Hangin' Tough
Thanks for the tip on the Mt. Whitney shadow cast. When the wife and I made our first summit at sunrise our gaze was fixed to the east.


I was taught by one of the utmost authoritative people on the Eastern Sierra that you ALWAYS have to look in the opposite direction of what your watching for... if you're watching sunrise... always make sure to look west... if you're sitting back to watch the sunset... always make sure you look east... its a good chance that you're missing the best part of the light show behind you...


I know some of those people too, the utmost authoritative people on the Sierras. After all of my years pounding down the trails of this beloved range I still haven't figured out how one becomes one. However,I am sure glad they are out there to pass on their insights.

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#6086 - 07/16/10 05:14 PM Re: Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground [Re: Hangin' Tough]
VersatileFred Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 130
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Hangin' Tough

I read on timberlinetrails.net that Campers, Motorhomes, Travel Trailers and other types of specialty overnight setups are not allowed in the Portal parking area. Do you know if this restiction is just for the portal parking area right in front of the trailhead or does it include the overflow parking area just below the trailhead parking? It would be nice to use our cabover at Horseshoe Meadow and then just park it in the overflow during our time on the mountain.


You can read the Forest Service policy on the Dispersed Camping page of their website.

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