Whitney or Won't We?

Granite Wonderland
  |  Gorp.com
View from Mt. Whitney summit
View from Mt. Whitney summit

Here's hoping that granite and thin air are to your liking, because that's all there is from here to Trail Crest, a killer of a climb that tops out at 13,590 feet, 27.5 miles from the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead you departed days ago. The lookout from Trail Crest is staggering, offering views all the way across the Owens Valley to the White Mountains on the eastern skyline. Your lungs will be crying for oxygen, but take some delight in the tortured faces of the beleaguered hikers coming from the east side who are trying to summit Mt. Whitney in a single day. From here the well-worn trail heads north toward Whitney, passing Mt. Muir and Keeler Needle on its two-mile course to the peak at 14,494 feet.

Begin the journey home by heading back to Trail Crest and turning left, then descending the nearly 100 switchbacks to Trail Camp, 4.7 miles from the peak. Although a very popular spot, this might be a good place to rest up for the night. That's Consultation Lake below to the right. Two miles beyond Trail Camp is exquisite little Mirror Lake (no camping allowed), and half a mile farther is Outpost Camp, with its solar latrine. From here Mt. Whitney Trail continues 3.8 miles to your exit point at Whitney Portal.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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