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Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike
#8032 10/04/10 12:45 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
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Steve C Offline OP
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Last week, getting ready for an overnight on the Whitney summit, I camped two nights at Horseshoe Meadows (HM), at 10,000 ft elevation. The process paid off, as I only felt slight symptoms while at the summit.

On Monday evening, I drove up to HM, and made camp late. On Tuesday, after getting permits lined up at the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center, I returned to HM. I found a hike recommended by wbtravis (...Go to Trail Peak, I was blown away by the views from this peak...)

I found the peak on the map, and the trail leading from HM to Trail Pass. Here's a map (thanks to Postholer.com). Distance on the map appears to be about 1.5 mile to Trail Pass, with an elevation gain of 600'. Then the pass to the peak is less than a mile, gain of 1100'.  Incidentally, while on Mt Whitney and looking at Trail Peak, Bob R shared that he had taken his children on their first overnight backpack to Trail Peak!

Note: a Gmap4 map is below; Also, note that the trails on all online maps in this area are incorrect. The trail to Trail Peak (shown only on the My Topo version) does NOT go straight up. The trail head out of Horseshoe Meadow to Cottonwood Lakes leaves the north-most loop of the campground road, NOT the bend in the road as shown on the maps (that is the old trail location).

Getting a very late start, I started hiking at 4:30. It took one hour to the pass, then about 45 minutes to the peak. I was hurrying since I was running out of daylight. It took an hour to return, but I did not use the trail, making a cross-country bee-line for the HM trail head for the trail head.

Here's a map of my route. Purple line is my ascent, brown is the return:

The odd path followed at the end is ....well, a funny story.

All the pictures are here:  2010-09-28 Trail Peak Hike


Trail head




Nice log bridge. This was the only water on the trip. Not potable due to all the cows.




Trail Pass, one hour from the start. The trail intersects the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) at this pass. Mulkey Pass (south) and Cottonwood Pass (north) are on the PCT. I hiked from Horseshow Meadow (northwest from the pass)




A zoomed-in and cropped view of Mt Whitney with the summit hut. I could not see the hut, but discovered it in the photo afterward. The western flank of Mt Langley is in the foreground.




Shadow of Trail Peak, looking east as the sun sets. You can even see the sun rays converging in the distance.




Sunset. I ran out of light half way back to camp.




Some geek and a pretty foxtail pine skeleton. Horseshoe Meadows in the background.




The Horseshoe Meadows campground. I found these two guys, Robert and Randy, camping. They were also acclimating in preparation for a Whitney hike. (Met them again as I descended from the summit of Whitney.) They brought firewood from home, and were kicking back watching a movie on a laptop.



Here's the CalTopo map of the Horseshoe Meadow area:   Click here to see the full-screen map.



Re: Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike
Steve C #8035 10/04/10 11:50 AM
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Great MW warm-up. thanks Steve.That would be just a fun weekend.

Re: Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike
Steve C #8055 10/04/10 06:27 PM
Joined: Jun 2010
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A couple of weeks ago I had a great time at HM. Hiked up to Cottonwood pass, then along the ridgeline to Trail pass, then back to camp. It was a great hike. I thought of going up to Trail Peak, but wanted to save energy for my upcoming day hike. Hindsight being 20-20, should have gone up to Trail Peak.

I had an encounter with some of the cows at the first stream crossing up to Cottonwood pass. It was very early and the sun was comming up. I think both sides were startled at the meeting, but what really got my adrenaline going was out of the 5 black cows, there was a much bigger, rust color, with big horns, bull standing on the other side of the stream. Fortunately, he took off after the cows as they went back towards the meadow. I had a brief thought of 'who needs to go to Spain to run with the bulls? I can do it right here at 10k'

Also had some great campsite neighbors. We combined our resources and had a great happy hour. Beer, wine, whiskey, cheese, crackers, pretzels, peanuts, trail mix, double stuff oreos, fig newtons, a campfire and good conversation. A good time was had by all!

Re: Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike
wazzu #8059 10/04/10 06:52 PM
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Same here wazzu. Did Cottonwood Pass as a warm-up for Whitney last year and played around with the idea of Trail Peak. Passed for the same reason. I'll have to put this on my Sierra bucket list now that Steve's shown me the light!

And my experience was no cows - just a number of horseback riders. Watching a couple take their horses up the final short, gnarly switchbacks to Cottonwood Pass was amazing.

Re: Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike
Steve C #14263 05/20/11 05:59 AM
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We did Trail Peak and Cirque as a part of backpack trip last June, looped out over Trail Peak on the way out. The most beautiful part of the trip out was between Cottonwood Pass and Trail Peak.

This is worthwhile walk for anyone needing a high elevation walk.

Re: Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike
wbtravis #35326 03/16/14 05:29 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
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Nice photos Steve. The last time (c. 15 years ago) I hiked up Trail Peak there were quite a few of bones and what appeared to be a mountain lion lair on the western side of the peak. I don't know if there has been any mountain lion sightings in this area.


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