Well the day finally came and we all made a successful trip out of it. We arrived in Lone Pine on Friday morning and ate breakfast in town, then went to the ranger station and picked up our permits and asked a few questions. We then headed up to the lone pine campground at around 5500 feet. This was supposed to be our camp for the next 2 nights. It was pretty much dessert terrain that looked almost like a lunar landscape. We decided to drive up and check out the Whitney Portal campground and we were lucky enough to get the last spot available. The camp host was also nice enough to switch our reservation for a different site that we had reserved for Sunday night. This was all great news because the sites we beautiful. Huge pine trees, a stream 30 feet away, bathrooms about 150 feet away, plenty of trees for shade and the altitude is around 7500 there. The temperature was perfect also, mid 50's at night and maybe 80's during the day. We were also thrilled that we wouldn't have to pack up camp at 3AM on summit day.
After we got all settled in we went for a hike to see where the trailhead was and to get familiar with the area. We followed a stream up for a while which had many waterfalls and very clear pools. Took lots of pictures on different parts of the falls. Unfortunately Brad's camera decided to take a swim while we all posed for a self-timer shot. We tossed a Frisbee around for a while too. Afterward we went back to camp and Brad made us some great steak and potatoes dinner. We relaxed and played card for a while, and a small Bear decided to go fishing about 30 feet from us. So I got my camera and tried to get what pictures I could but unfortunately it was too dark and they didn't come out that great.
The next day we got up and had breakfast at the Whitney Portal Store. They have a pancake that is $2.74 and is about the size of two large plates. It could easily feed three people. After breakfast we walked up to the falls for a few more photos, then went back to camp and relaxed for an hour or two. We knew we needed to get acclimated a little better so we went out to Cottonwood Lakes which is only about an hour away. It was a nice hike that started at about 9500 ft and at the 1st lake which is where we stopped the elevation was 11,000 ft. It was a nice easy 5 mile hike each way with a destination I would move to California for. We ate lunch there played toss with the Frisbee a bit and headed back. It took us 2:05 to hike in and 1:50 to hike out. I think we would have liked to hike this on Friday instead of Saturday because we all didn't exactly want a 10 mile hike the day before a 22 mile one. We all felt really good for being up at that altitude.
When we got back to camp Brad made some great chili and cornbread for dinner. While Brad was cooking someone spotted a bear so I grabbed the camera and chased after the bear again. It was a little more interested in fishing that it was me though but I did follow it about a 1/4 mile down the stream. It was just about dusk again so the pictures didn't really turn out but there still in my head. It was the same small bear from the night before so I wasn't too worried about it. I was more worried about Momma bear around the corner somewhere not liking me as bear paparazzi. I did get within about 15 feet of it numerous time though. Back at camp we all got all out packs ready for an early morning departure.
We awoke at 2:45 and were on the trail by 3:45 and the weather was a perfect 56 degrees. There was a scale at the trailhead so we all weighed our pack. Rob came in the lightest at 15 lbs and mine the heaviest at 20lbs. I was pretty mad about that. Why in the he** is a daypack 20lbs?(Lots of extra food) We got just high enough to get some sunrise pictures over lone pine lake. I really really regret not getting a tripod for this trip because some of those sunrise pictures could be a lot better. It was an amazing site. If I only had Glen (Boynhisdog) with us we all could see how truly beautiful it was. We got to consultation lake pretty easily and filtered water and eat some lunch there. This was the half way point to the peak at 6 miles. After a long break we go back on the trail and started the dreaded 96 switchbacks. We started off at a great pace but that was a bit much for us so we just slowed it down to a good conversational pace and we made much better progress. At the top of the switchbacks is trailcrest at 13,600 feet. But just around the corner you drop about 400 feet which has to be gained again. I found this to be the hardest part of the trail. We finally made our way to the summit 7 hours and 45 minutes after we left. We took a nice break up there and took lots of pictures. Talked with some other people that we met along the trail. I had brought my phone and it did happen to work up there so we made some celebration phone calls. (Verizon) We then started heading back down. Brad and I had also intended on bagging Mt. Muir while we were up there but we were unsure of which one it was. We got some information from some people that said it was right were we were, so we climbed up 100 feet or so and I knew it wasn't it so we headed down. I found it about 10 minutes later but had no energy and Brad had already started running down to catch up with Marissa because she didn't have a water filter. Rob and I made out way down a little slower and finished about 40 minutes after they did. Brad and Marissa finished at about 13 hours and Rob and I around 13hours 45 minutes. The trail is pretty rocky half of the way so it's pretty hard on your feet, but we all did pretty good. Only a few small blisters between all of us.
We all enjoyed our $5 shower at the Whitney Portal store and ate some burgers and picked up our I hiked Whitney souvenirs. We went back to camp and called it a pretty early night. For whatever reason I was having a very hard time catching my breath and didn't sleep much at all. A bear decided to visit us also and tried to get into our trailer but it ran away after Brad yelled at it from inside his tent about 5 feet from it. It hung out around our tent for a while that night but unfortunately I left my headlamp inside my pack in the trailer so I never got to see a good view of it that night. It was really a great trip but I could have been in far better shape for it. This hot summer thing is killing me. Got on the scale when I got home finding myself the heaviest I have been in my life. So I need to do some major conditioning before I set off on any other adventures.
Thanks to Brad, Marissa and Rob for making the trip memorable. It was a blast!!!