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Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State
by Author varies by trail (Wilderness Press)
© 2008 Author varies by trail/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.
Love this hike. Trail was very good all the way. Very few people, very nice campsites. Ranger dropped by at Crabtree Meadows camp and answered all our question Our first camp was Chicken Spring, Second Rock Creek , third at Crabtree Meadows, was located to the left just after crossing the creek(wonderful spot), fourth the Tar 1/2 mile passed Guitar Lake. We hiked to the junction with Mt Whitney Peak, dropped our heavy backpacks, made sure we had enough water (at least a liter more if it is hot) and hiked to the summit. Returned to pick up backpacks, went left/up to Trail Crest from junction. Many tend to go right to Guitar Lake, not good. Hiked down the 97 switchbacks to Trail Camp. Our fifth and last camp was very windy, with very hard ground, so we either tied the tents to rocks or placed rocks all around the tents. Next camp down from Trail Camp is about 2 miles away and the trail is very rocky. We decided this was to far to hike as it was already 4 PM. Next day we were up at first light. broke camp and were at Whitney Portal by 11 AM. Beautiful descent. We met many along the way that carried to much, walked to fast (altitude headaches) and who did not remember to drink lots of water(altitude headaches). Wonderful area, great trees, very few people, and almost no bugs.
If you can spare 4-5 days, then this is an amazing trip. Perfect weather and no-one else on the trail (til Whitney''s Trail Crest down to Whitney Portal) but the four of us. One point to watch for, do watch out at the top of Cottonwood Pass (day 1) for the NW connecting PCT - we missed it, but had a great side trip WSW via Big Whitney Meadow and up Siberian Pass to reconnect (which Rock Creek''s Ranger, Erica, thought was prettier) - though make sure you fill up with water in BWM as there''s nothing til Rock Creek (all dried up even though the map marks them - we had to melt/purify patches of snow at the top of Siberian Pass - the area has seen a decrease in snowfall of 36"!).
The switchbacks and views up the western flank of Whitney are awesome, and the icy snow down the eastern flank from Trail Crest to Trail Camp scary/fun - wish we''d had crampons for this time of the year, though small steps and poles very late in the evening just enough with heavy packs.
Do this trip! And it''s easier to get a permit for Whitney via this route.
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