Follow Ellen and Sally on the High Sierra Trail

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Follow Ellen and Sally on the High Sierra Trail

Postby Ellen » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:28 pm

Howdy All :)

Sally and I start the High Sierra Trail Tuesday Sept 13 and come out via Mt. Whitney Portal (after summiting Whitney) on Sunday Sept 18. You can follow us via my SPOT shared page at:

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... M9qss1pPNN

After the JMT, my family is extremely happy I'm not doing this alone :lol:

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Postby avid » Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:45 pm

Looking forward to vicariously enjoying another adventure. Next season you need to have the new and yet to be released DeLorme InReach so we can have live updates. Okay?

http://www.delorme.com/inreach/

David
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Postby lesper4 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:10 pm

Another big trek? And I thought I was an animal. Go Ellen! Go Sally! I will be following.
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trekking

Postby HH8 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:15 pm

anticipating another intrepid saga
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Postby avid » Sat Sep 17, 2011 7:42 pm

Ellen and Sally summited Whitney at around 6:30PM, Saturday. I think they are planning on going for the huge pancakes at the Portal store in the morning. Only time will tell. :wink:
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Postby Ellen » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:41 am

Howdy All :)

We're baack...

Fabulous trip, perfect company. Sally and I watched the sunset and sunrise from Mt. Whitney and spent the night in the summit shelter on Saturday night.

It rained as we pitched in the campground near Bearpaw meadow on day one and hailed on us as we went over Kaweah Gap on day two. Gosh, what have I done to offend to Sierra weather gods?

Trip report and pictures to follow.

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Postby zippetydude » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:46 am

I'm glad you two had fun. I usually do my Mt. Whitney trip this time of year, and only canceled Saturday due to an overwhelming schedule. It would have been funny to run into you on the top of Whitney. Was there much ice on the way down past the cables? I find that section spooky enough when it's dry!

z
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Postby Sally » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:06 pm

Yep, folks, we're Baack...

Hi avid, nope, we didn't make it in time for a pancake breakfast, but we did reach the Portal in time for hamburgers. It's too bad we had to share them with a bi-zillion wasps, though!

Hi zip, so sorry to hear that you had to cancel your Whitney trip. It would have been a treat to run into you up there. As it was, every time we rounded a corner we ran into someone that knew Ellen! The ice at the cables wasnt too bad even though there had been a dusting of snow up top during the week.

Ellen m'dear, sharing this experience with you was the best! Thank you again for being such a great companion!

Hey HH8 and lesper4, the TR is coming!
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Postby Mike P » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:25 pm

Sally and Ellen-

It was nice to meet you on the Whitney trail on Sunday. Y'all were on your way down when we were heading up when we met on the trail between Lone Pine Lake and Outpost.

Congratulations!
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Postby Sally » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:29 pm

Hey Mike, it was nice meeting you too! Thank you!

I'm going to try and knock out a trip report, probably in sections...

Monday, Sept 12: Arrive at Crescent Meadow
Our journey begins when I met Ellen at her house. We picked up Ellen's brother-in-law, John, who accompanied us up to Sequoia Nat'l Park so he could drive Ellen's car back home after dropping us off. Thank you John! We arrived at the visitor center in time to pick up our permit before it closed. Then we drove to Crescent Meadow (the trailhead) and had dinner and celebratory drinks in the picnic area in a drizzle. There was also some thunder. Then we scouted out a campsite for the night.

Day 1, Tuesday, Sept. 13: Destination, Bearpaw Meadow
When we awoke we were fairly damp with dew. We got our act together and started at the High Sierra Trail trailhead. The forest floor is fern-covered in the beginning. As we continued, the trail opened up and hugged the side of the ridge. There were several sheer drop-offs and over-hangs. Suddenly views of the jagged outline of the mountains to the south appeared. The trail is gently graded and there are several stream crossings. We leap-frogged a church group from Laguna, who were headed for the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp. One of them told me, "We're not too religious, we just get together for Supper Club and hiking." Cool church! When we arrived at Bearpaw Meadow it started drizzling, just like the night before. As we pitched our tents, it started raining steadily. We had hot cocoa and dinner in the rain.

Day 2, Wednesday, Sept 14: Destination, Big Arroyo Junction
We woke up to clear skies and got coffeed and oatmealed up for what was to be a pretty strenuous day. First, we headed for Hamilton Lake. Just after crossing a bridge, on a fairly steep and narrow section of the trail we ran into a long pack train. The guy and gal leading the train were friendly (I've run into some pretty "crusty" one's before!) Hamilton Lake is very pretty, but we had to keep going and started switch-backing up the north-east wall. The view was spectacular. We had lunch high up on the wall by a creek.. At one point the trail actually goes through a tunnel. In 1932 a steel suspension bridge was built over Hamilton Gorge, but it was wiped out by an avalanche in 1937. The tunnel was blasted through one section, and a ledge was built the following summer by the CCC.
When we topped out I was completely overcome by emotion by what loomed before us: a sheer rock wall with vertical black streaks above a lake that was outlined in snow banks. The mass, Eagle Scout Peak, was shrouded in misty clouds. The lake was Precipice Lake. It was the eeriest, most beautiful alpine scene I've ever seen.
At this point the trail suddenly dissappeared. Ellen thought we ought to go up to the left and I thought the trail was probably somewhere to the right. Unfortunately we went with my hunch, which was the wrong hunch. We wound up being mired in a massive morraine field of large boulders. To make things more interesting, the clouds began to lower, and before we knew it, we were stuck in a white-out. At this point I got the brilliant idea to turn on my GPS, and there on the screen was the trail, up and to the left. We headed in that direction and much to our relief came upon the trail.
We made our way to Kaweah Gap in the rain. At the Gap it started to hail, and we donned our rain gear. At this point Ellen was beginning to really wonder what she had done to tick off the Sierra Gods so much. The trail began descending the Big Arroyo. Were it not for the rain and hail this would have been a most pleasant leg of the journey - mildly downhill with the lofty Kaweahs coming into view.
Quite soggy (Ellen had, on top of everything else, slipped a boot under the water at one of the stream crossings) we pulled into Big Arroyo Junction and set up camp. Much to our dismay, neither of our stoves wanted to fire up in the rain. Argh, no fun! All we wanted was some hot food and drink! To make matters worse, there was a group of guys with a roaring campfire in the site right next to us. Finally, after a lot of coaxing, we got the stove to work. After dinner, the the guys invited us to share their fire. They turned out to be really nice Texans on a male-bonding outing. We got warm and even dried out a bit. The rain let up and we hung our dry-ish gear out for the night. Big mistake - it started raining again later in the night and everything got soaked all over again!

Day 3 Thursday, Sept 15: Destination. Kern River
With the morning came the sun again. We spent the morning drying our gear on the big rock slabs and trees in our campsite.
When we finally started hiking, the trail went slightly uphill until we reached the Chagoopa Plateau. Here we were treated to a winter wonderland. The ground had patches of hail up to 6 inches deep from the previous day's storm. It would have been smooth sailing except the hail was melting and the trail was a giant puddle. The views were beautiful.
The trail is supposed to split at some point and then meet up again, with the trail to the right being the the longer segment and leading to Morraine Lake, and the trail to the left being shorter by a few 10ths of a mile. We had the intention of taking the shorter, left-hand trail. "Um, Ellen, there's a lake to our right" I declared after we had hiked a long while. How the heck did we end up at Morraine Lake?! If there was a junction with a sign, we never saw it. Also, according to the trail description put out by the Park Service, we should fill up with water at "Sky Parlor Meadow" which is where the 2 trails re-connect, so as to have water for a "long, dry section of rocky switchbacks" that lead to the Kern River. Well, we passed many meadows, but no trail junction or sign. Where was this confounded "Sky Parlor Meadow," anyway?! By and by we came to the rocky switchbacks. But we were a bit spooked that we may have been on the wrong trail because there was water everywhere. I had visions of us mistakingly taking a trail that would have dumped us at the Kern miles south of of where we were supposed to end up. Well, happy day, we did arrive at the Kern at the intended spot. We walked upstream and found a very nice place to pitch next to the river and right below Chagoopa Falls. We bathed and ate dinner. No rain this day!

(to be continued...)
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