Sunday, August 04, 2019

2019 Sierra Solo Trek


Day 0 - After work I drove up to Lone Pine and spent the night at Tuttle Creek Campground.  The creek was running nicely and provided a great background noise to all the stars on the moonless night.

Day 1 -  Woke up early and headed into town for coffee before picking up my permit at the ranger station. Then headed up to the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead.  I quickly got my stuff ready and headed out on the trail to Cottonwood Pass.  It was pretty quick getting up to the top where I took a break to eat and get checked out by a load marmot on top of a boulder..  The view down into Big Whitney Meadows was quite nice.  I started down into the meadow and stopped for lunch with great views of the meadow and the nearby mountains.  From the meadow, I headed south along Golden Trout Creek to Tunnel Station.  After getting water there, I headed back up the trail a bit to a flat spot without as many skeeters.  I sacked out early.

The Marmot King

Big Whitney Meadow

More Meadow

Tunnel Station


Day 2 - The night and morning where colder than expected.  But after packing and started hiking back up the creek, I warmed up fast.  On the way to Siberian Pass, I wanted to take a side trail towards Rock Basin.  I had trouble finding the junction to the east.  I think the Tom Harrison map had it a bit farther south that it really is.  I eventually found it but quickly lost the poorly-maintained track.  I did some cross country scrambling and eventually met up with the trail as it followed Berigan Stringer.  After a few more miles I was back at Big Whitney Meadow.  After a lunch break, I headed up towards Siberian Pass. The trail was surprisingly sparse.  It was essentially a pack trail and mule droppings where the main markers.  Crossing over the pass led to stunning views to the north.  The trail headed across a meadows and crossed the PCT as I headed towards Soldier Lake.  At the lake, the bugs were awful so I headed back up trail to a place farther from water.  It was another early bedtime as I read my Kindle and counted the mosquitos on my tent.

Camp near Tunnel Station

Pines and Mountains

Siberian Pass

Camp near Soldier Lake
 
Day 3 - The night was much warmer than the first and it was easy to get up and going in the morning.  I headed up towards New Army Pass.  I met some hikers coming down from the pass and they said it still had a big cornice but was passable.  I got to the pass fairly quickly.  I stashed my bear can and tent and then headed towards Mt. Langely.  The summit trail starts on a gradual incline but then turns straight up.  It is about a steep as you can go without using climbing equipment; 2000' feat of gain in about a mile.  I also started getting the first symptoms of AMS.  2 1/2 hours after leaving New Army Pass, I reached the summit.  Awesome views in every directions.  To the north was Mt. Whitney, just a few hundred feet higher (but with many more people).  To the east was the Miter Basin and the western Sierra.  To the east was the Owens Valley and the White Mountains.  To the south was Cirque Peak. Heading down, my altitude sickness got worse with bad naseua.  At least it was downhill; but slippery.  Back at New Army Pass, I took a break to try to get better.  After a bit, I decided to get lower quickly.  Due to the snow still on the pass, there was a cairned path around the cornice that was a bit hairy, but short.  It was quick going on true path.  It still didn't feel better as I passed the wonderful Cottonwood Lakes.  Since it was still early, I decided to hike all the way to the car and head back down.  I finally got to car and drove back home.  Since AMS goes away immedietely after getting to lower elevations, I was feeling much better.  A pit stop at Subway cured by hunger and dehydration.

New Army Pass

USGS Marker on Mt. Langely

View to the east from the summit

Summit Selfie

Mt. Langely from Cottonwood Lakes

Overall it was a great, but short trip.  I hiked about 45 miles.  However, there are some things I need to work on future hikes:
  • Food and drink - get better about having foods I want to eat.  Probably need to consider no-cook since dehydrated options aren't appetizing most of the time.  Also need some flavored drink powders since plain water is not appealing especially when AMS sets in
  • Altitude sickness - might be time to checkout some OTC or prescription options
  • Aerobic fitness - for last several years, my training has been concentrated on sprints and other anaerobic activities.  I think by doing some boring old cardio at targeted heart rates, I can increase my ease of movement, especially at altitude
  • Backpack - for loads over 25 lbs and with a bear can, my trusty old G4 is not comfortable anymore.  Having all the weight on the shoulders got annoying.  I will start looking at packs that are more conformable at the higher weights.