Day 3 was our last day. Our final challenge was Kearsarge Pass (elevation 11,760 ft.). We left our campsite extra early at 5AM with the “best burgers in Lone Pine” at the Whitney Portal Store on our minds. We watched the sun rise as we set off, and from a safe distance, observed an avalanche (first photo). It started raining along the way, but cleared up before we started the climb up Kearsarge Pass. We celebrated at the top before we headed down to Onion Valley.
When we first went to pick up the permit in Lone Pine, the ranger seemed surprised that we were attempting Whitney Portal to Onion Valley in 3 days. After that, I didn’t know what to expect from this backpacking trip. All I knew was that we had good company and that I was up for the challenge. Three days in the Sierras, and I’m completely sold on this gorgeous part of California. The mountains look relentlessly steep from the valleys, and the elevation plays with your mind; but when you make it to the top, you feel infinite, as if you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO
Related Recaps: Day 1 and Day 2
Day 2, our goal was to summit Forester Pass, elevation 13,200′ and find a good place to camp. It was another long day with lots of mileage. The hardest part was knowing that the toughest climb was going to be towards the end of the day.
Everyone was hugely relieved when we reached Crabtree Ranger Station. We dropped our empty wag bags into the storage bin and immediately dug our holes. We met a man who was making a day trip trail running what we had planned to do in 3 days (and we thought we were crazy!). There were quite a few PCT hikers. One man told us that he was attempting the Triple Crown (when you hike the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail). You meet the most fit and inspiring people out in the wilderness. After Forester Pass. we encountered our first patch of snow on the trail, which I proceeded to immediately slip on. After a long day of backpacking, we were all excited to crawl into our tents and sleep.
PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO
Related Recaps: Day 1 and Day 3
Over the Fourth of July weekend, a group of six of us set out to summit Mount Whitney (elevation 14,505′), the highest peak in the lower 48. I was pretty nervous about the elevation beforehand since everyone kept telling me their horror stories about nausea and disorientation, but it fortunately did not end up being a problem except for the usual huffing and puffing up the mountain. We got pretty lucky with the conditions since California is in a drought. There weren’t any sketchy snow/ice spots on the trail to watch out for.
We started at Whitney Portal (elevation 7,851′) where we weighed our packs. (Mine was 32 lbs with my camera.) The trail took us through the forest in the John Muir Wilderness until we eventually entered the Whitney Zone, which requires a permit. We passed beautiful green meadows along the trail. Once we were above the tree line, the hike became very exposed. It’s amazing how much the scenery changed along the course of the trail We stopped for lunch at Consultation Lake. Then, we headed up the 99 switchbacks. The purple skypilot flowers were blooming in full force during this trip. The top of the ridge line is the entrance to Sequoia National Park. Once we reached the John Muir Trail Junction, we dropped our packs for the 1.9 miles to the summit. There were tons of marmots hanging around the backpacks scavenging for food from people’s packs. Once we summited, everyone took a quick nap since the altitude totally sucked the energy out of everyone. We headed back down towards Crabtree Ranger Station and camped at Guitar Lake (total miles: 16).
PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO
Our entire three day backpacking trip in summary.
Related Recaps: Day 2 and Day 3
I celebrated America on top of Whitney for Fourth of July and spent the rest of the weekend backpacking the Sierras. Trip breakdown to come.
PHOTO BY: KELVIN KUO
My friend Alpana and I got this idea to hike the SoCal Six Pack of Peaks together. Up to this point, we’d done Baldy (Mt. San Antonio) together. Gorgonio was our second peak challenge. We managed to get two other victims to do this extremely long day hike with us. I don’t think any of us knew what we were signing up for. The ascent isn’t too steep, but the hike is long. Hiking nearly 20 miles in one day is tiring.
On a personal note, I’m so happy that I finally summit-ed Gorgonio. This was not my first attempt to climb SoCal’s highest peak. The views were beautiful. Fortunately, the altitude wasn’t as hard on me this time around, and we didn’t get lost!
Accessing the Fish Creek trail head requires a high clearance vehicle. I took everyone for a wild ride on Kelvin’s 4Runner,. The trail head is 7 miles down a rugged dirt road.
Miles: 19.94 miles, out and back
Duration: 11 hours and 30 minutes
Elevation Change: 3,938 ft
Permit Required?: Yes. You can apply here.
All pumped up and totally unaware of the adventure ahead of us.
Alyssa, Alpana and Alex
Alyssa, Alpana and me
The remains of a plane wreck.
Along the way, we found some snow and built a snowman.
The peak literally looks like a pile of rocks.
Yoda summited as well.
You never know what you’ll find at the peak. There was an American flag, a notebook to sign in and a few other random items.
Goal #1: Cook at home at least 3 times a week.
Some weeks we do a good job. Other weeks, we get lazy. Whenever we cook, though, we eat much healthier. How we fuel our bodies is just as important as exercise and sleep.
Goal #2: Start renovations for the outside of the house.
At the end of last year, we had a huge push for a ton of indoor renovations. It’s time to start planning and doing the outdoor renovations.
Goal #3: Complete wedding photo album.
Our wedding photography package didn’t come with a wedding photo album, and I’d love to have one. By the end of August, I hope to have one.
Time to review my April and May 2014 goals.
Goal #1: Become a morning person.
I’m not a sleep-in-until-noon type of person, but I have my occasional oops-i-overslept kind of days. And they are soo embarrassing. I admire morning people like none other. How do they do it? I guess I’ll try to find out.
Result: Total fail. I’m not a morning person, and I would be a grumpy sleep deprived person if I woke up at 5AM each morning. On second thought, I don’t care so much about being a morning person as much as getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night and waking up in time to be ready to attend my next day’s activities.
Goal #2: Clean my closet and other trouble areas.
My goal is to have a home for everything in my home. Time for some spring cleaning.
Result: Success! Closet and home cleaned. I think the next focus should be getting our yard cleaned up and maybe painting the outside of our house.
Goal #3: Get outside.
I’m itching for an outdoor adventure. Time to plan out our trip to Alaska and block out weekends for camping trips this summer.
Result: Success! We’ve been carving out our weekends for tons of outdoor time. We hiked Mount Baden-Powell and Timber Mountain, attempted Gorgonio, visited the Bristlecone Pine Forest and Zion National Park, and most recently, spent a week backpacking Lake Clark National Park in Alaska.
I’m going to take a break from goals for June and resume back up with July & August 2014 goals.