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Whitney Trip Report

Day 5 of 7

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Sunday, August 1st
Drive to Whitney Portal

The next morning Jean was groggy, even after getting up to have breakfast.

We packed up our camp and got ready to drive to Mt. Whitney. It wasn't until nearly 11:30am that we left. The drive past Tioga Pass has some wonderful views. I'll probably stop at some of the turnoffs when I have the time.

We stopped for gas on the way, and then again in Bishop for lunch at Burger King. I was a bit concerned about taking too long. Some of the drive was at 7000 feet elevation, but after a while we dropped down to 4000 feet, where we would stay through Lone Pine. We checked into the motel there. We took turns taking showers and getting our food ready for the next day's assault on Mt. Whitney.

We finally started the drive up to Whitney Portal at about 5pm. The drive is one of the highlights of the trip. Mt. Whitney towers 10,000 feet above. But first the road weaves through the Alabama Hills, which have a completely different characteristic. Then it's up, up, up the steep switchbacked road. It's actually a very short drive -- only about 20 minutes.

The camps at Whitney Portal are set relatively far apart, which was a welcome change from Tuolumne Meadows. Reza, Weihaw, and I set up the tents while Jean and Jennie prepared a delicious meal of filet mignon and corn on the cob.

Filet mignon the night before the hike. Reza looks a little hungry!

We were now at about 8000 feet elevation. We got prepared for bed, and had everything packed and ready for a quick getaway in the morning. But then Weihaw revealed that he'd forgotten to bring sunglasses. He was willing to do without, but we convinced him that was a bad idea. Raw sunlight at 14,496 feet can be very damaging to your eyesight. Jennie and Weihaw drove down to Lone Pine to get sunglasses for him.

While they were away, Reza, Jean and I enjoyed the sun setting over the Mount Whitney massif. The sound of rushing water provided a pleasant backdrop.

Just about the time that Jennie and Weihaw returned, about 8:40pm, I came to a disturbing realization. I'd forgotten my hiking socks. Not only that, but I'd forgotten my entire bag of clothes, which included my jacket. I could get an extra pair of socks from Jennie, but I couldn't do without my jacket. Jean and I drove down to the motel, where I'd left it all. So it wasn't until about 9:30pm that we were finally able to get into our sleeping bags. By then it was completely dark, and everyone else was already asleep. Or trying to sleep.

The campsite next to us had a campfire going and they were talking and drinking beer. After enduring this for about a half hour, Jean finally told them to please keep it down.


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