Day 1: Friday, October 24, 2008
We were all packed and heading down the trail by 1:00pm. Let me now warn you, it’s a good 5 – 6 miles to get to Cottonwood Basin and it’s all in a relatively thick forest. Walking down a trail in a thick forest can drive you nuts. About three hours later we were up at Lake 3 setting up a camp. There are pretty good camping spots near Lake 3, 4 and 5. After getting situated we cooked up some good mac-n-cheeze, replenished up the water, and headed to bed by 6pm. A few times I woke up and checked out the stars. I think I counted 5 or 6 between all the times I got up and the next morning. If you’ve never seen a shooting star in the Sierras, you haven’t been to the Sierras.
Day 2: Saturday, October 25, 2008
The next part of this hike is a nightmare. It’s a loose sandy walk, very gradual elevation gain and you basically go straight at the summit. It takes a long time and also took a lot out of us. Contrary to what people told us to go around left and go up the back side, we went straight to the summit blocks and had a nice 4th class scramble to the top of Langley. It’s a couple hundred feed of scattering and there are lots of ways to get up. We kind of went right up the middle of it. It was steep and FUN! Finally around 11am we were on the summit! What a beautiful sight, looking northward to see Mt. Muir, Whitney, Russel and the Palacide region was in the distance. It was perfect on the summit, just a light breeze.
After a few photos and snacking on some almonds, we started heading back down. We weren’t up for the 4th class down climb so we went west and around the normal way up. We ran into a couple of guys heading up once we got to the base of the blocks. These were the first guys we’d seen all day, before that the mountain was all ours. After quickly chatting with them and pointing them in the direction we went up, we sped down as fast as we could. It was more like walking on snow in the soft sand. We were gliding. At the top of Army Pass we took another break. It was getting quite warm by this point, especially since it got down to freezing at night. We ran down the pass and got back to camp at lake three. We were down to ½ a liter for both of us to share for the last 6 miles out. Oh great, back to the never ending forest again! It’s a lot worse on the way back, TRUST ME! A couple hours later we were back to the car and very happy. It took us a little longer than expected so our ladies were a little worried about us. Total time from starting at 6:30am and getting back at 5pm was 10 ½ hours.
Cottonwood basin is a beautiful area and I highly recommend anyone to head up there. Langley is one of the easiest 14ers, at least that’s what they say, and I agree. It’s a good intro hike for anyone looking to get into more higher altitude things. Even if you don’t summit Langley, spend a day or two in the basin exploring all the lakes. It looked like some fish were chillin in there!