Hiking Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
by Laurel Scheidt (Falcon Guides)
© 2016 Laurel Scheidt/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Lives up to expectations. We stayed at Horseshoe campgrounds at 10K ft to acclimate, then the following day drove to Whitney Portal, hiked to base camp and set up tent. next morning, we ascended up to the summit and came all the way down to the portal. Perfect itinerary.
This hike is a mental battle to overcome fatigue but it's a great physical challenge to do in one day.
This was my second attempt on Whitney. The first came nine months before in late September. My party of three got stopped by hip deep snow drifts at the chains on the switchbacks. It looked like everybody got stopped there that day. A small party of Marines tried to break trail higher; I don't know if they were successful. Despite the fact my small party didn't summit, the experience was exhilirating.
This summer I returned with my nephew. We camped the first night at Whitney Portal and then the second at Trail Camp. Carrying 40 pounds to Trail Camp was an immense physical exertion for me at 60. Our plan called for us to rise at 3:00 AM and head for the summit. I drifted in and out of sleep with lots of doubts about heading up the switchbacks but figured if my nephew was game, I'd go with him as far as I could. We headed up at 4:00 AM. Dawn at the top of the switchbacks was breathtaking. From Trail Crest to the top was a slogging meditation, no beautiful speed hiking here. The summit unbelievable! Clear in every direction, no wind, mild temperatures, a truly rare confluence of weather features! Headed back down to Trail Camp, broke camp and returned to the trail head. Took a well deserved overnight in a motel in Lone Pine.
Not nearly as hard as some make it out to be. It was definately not easy though. I started at 230am and finished at 4pm. I thought the hike down was much more difficult than the way up. the 97 switchback part is not bad if you keep a nice slow and steady pace, it took us 1.45 hrs. there are much better trails in the seirras than this. it is very crowded if you get a late start. I would say the elevation about Trail Crest is the hardest part of the up hill leg. I would do this hike again but either at the end of doing JMT or just from the CrabTree Meadow side/JMT side as a multi day trek. I would recommend it to any good backpacker.
I hiked up Mountaineer's Route and returned down Mt. Whitney Trail, 17 miles RT (6 up, 11 down). Awesome hiking and scrambling (class 3 at top). Views were incredible! This route is not for faint of heart. Doing this as a dayhike made it very enjoyable due to light pack weight. Permit required but got walk-in permit day before hike no problem.
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