High Sierra Trail to Mt. Whitney

In September of 2000, Janet and I hiked the High Sierra Trail for 72 miles through the Sequoia National Forest. We began our hike at the trailhead at Crescent Meadow, the trail heading East, and ended at Whitney Portal.  On the last day of the hike, we climbed Mount Whitney.  At 14,494 feet, it is the highest peak in the 48 contiguous United States. The trip took five days through some of the most fantastic scenery we have ever seen. We rarely saw a soul. The skies were completely clear, never saw a cloud. On two nights, it got below freezing, lots of hoar frost inside the tent and frozen water bottles. Except for the beginning at 6000 feet, the climbing was between 8000 and 11,000 feet. We reached 11,000 feet several times before getting to Whitney, and as a result, were extremely well acclimated. We did really well, passing everybody on the trail, including a couple of guys puking. We thought we were hot shit until some guy passed us actually RUNNING. We weren't even out of breath when we reached the top.

looking back
Looking back on the trail at the center of the picture, the light line running almost horizontal across the face of the slope.

camping on the at
Coneheads camp at Junction Meadow, where the High Sierra and John Muir Trails meet.  The temperature dipped down to 27 degrees this night.

ledge
Hamilton Gorge

hot tub
This was one of the few man-made structures we saw, but boy it was a good one.  Kern Hot Springs, a natural hot spring, is funnelled into this concrete bathtub. Words cannot tell you how this felt after days of hiking without a bath. It was surreal. If you ever hike this trail, you absolutely MUST plan to camp here at night.

chagoopa plateau
Chagoopa Plateau

kern canyon
Looking back into Kern Canyon, whence we came. This valley was formed originally by a glacier.

mirror lake
Mirror Lake

guitar lake
Leaving Guitar Lake, our last campsite, early morning on summit day.

precipice lake
Precipice Lake at over 11,000 feet. One of Ansel Adams' favorite spots.

whitney
On top with the Smithsonian Institution hut behind us. The hut was built for meterological observations.

ice
Treacherous little spot in the trail, constantly iced over.

breakfast
This is the sort of breakfast you need after a hike like that.

stump
Ric next to roots of fallen Sequoia.

sequoia
One final tree picture.