The weekends are generally the busiest time for mountains such as
White Mtn Peak so by hitting it on a Monday, I didn't expect to see al lot of other people. That turned out to be right on but I wasn't climbing on a monday to avoid people, I was climbing on a monday because that fit in with my schedule and overall plan. My main goal for this week was to climb Mt. Whitney (Aug 3rd permit) but I wanted to know if I was acclimatized well enough to day hike Mt Whitney instead of backpack into Trail Camp as originally scheduled so I chose to test myself first on White Mtn Peak. I had a friend or two who thought I would be making a mistake to do this because I might "tire" myself too much to do the 22 miles of the Whitney hike a couple days later but I figured that I'd prefer doing White Mtn first since after Whitney I might not have the desire or would be wiped out in the reverse aspect.
So, my wife and I camped at the Grandview Campground, located at a good elevation for acclimatization the night before the hike and I found myself driving up the road to the gate in the pre-dawn hours, arriving at the gate just before sunrise. My vehicle was the only one there so I quickly grabbed my pack, tightened my boots and headed up the road.
The wind was very chilling so I had to put on an extra layer until the sun decided to come out and warm the day up and I was glad to have my fleece gloves on since I often hike without them. As I neared the Barcroft lab area, I noticed two vehicles come up the road behind and park and about six guys got out and started setting up some type of equipment.
The sheep in the pens acknowledged my passing with some bleating and I was glad to get past them quickly since the aroma wasn't pleasant. The road up to the little observatory like structure went quickly and I was pleased with my progress since I was handling the altitude just fine.
As I crested the hill I could see White Mtn Peak clearly for the first time.
The discouraging aspect was that the road dipped down several hundred feet before it started back up to a point to where it then dipped again to a saddle before heading up the final bit to the peak's summit. I could see the structure on top of the peak and it just seemed strange to realize that one of the highest peaks in California not only had a road to the summit but had a scientific structure on it as well. Scientific in the sense that they use it for experiments (or so I've been told).
The road went quickly for me, since I'm good at downhill and before long I found myself heading up the final bit of road towards the top. I wasn't tempted to shortcut the road and its many switchbacks since the talus rocks looked unappealing and before long I was crunching through a remnant of snow prior to reaching to the top. Clouds were starting to build up towards the north and some were popping out on the eastward side of the mountain so I made my visit to the top relatively brief, pausing to get pictures of the benchmark on the back side of the structure and signing in to the summit register as well as snap a few pics.
On the way down, before hitting the first saddle, I ran into the only other hiker that I saw all day. This fellow was carrying a pack and mentioned that his goal was to go all the way to Boundary Peak and then return a few days later. We chatted a few minutes and then both of us went on our way. The trip back to my vehicle was uneventful and the clouds never turned into a thunder storm (which was good).
I found out what the six guys had done as I was about a 1/2 mile from the Barcroft area, there was some monitoring equipment set up that was most likely able to measure something that I have no clue about.
At the gate, there were several cars parked, including one belonging to the hiker who was headed for Boundary and another car belonging to two gals who were camped in an area just below the gate and who planned on hiking it the next day. A lady and her husband
were looking at flowers and were particularly interested in the Sky Pilot, a flower that grows at the 12,000 foot level or higher.
As I drove back over the very bumpy and somewhat nasty road, I had to dodge a couple of idiots who thought they owned the whole road.
Why is it that people can be pretty nice when they're hiking but can become total idiots when they drive. Still, I had a great day on White Mtn Peak and I was ready to do Mt. Whitney two days hence.
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