Lone Pine, CA
Friends, Eric and Laurel (Raven and Chickadee), arrived in Lone Pine a few days ago. They are avid hikers so we asked them to join us to do a hike down the Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail. The trail is four miles long and runs from the Whitney Portal (8,360 feet) to the Lone Pine Campground (5,640 feet). With a change in elevation of 2,720 feet, we followed the rangers recommendation and left our Jeep at the campground and drove to the Whitney Portal in their truck. That made for a nice, easy hike down along the Lone Pine Creek. Once back at the campground we drove the Jeep back up and retrieved the truck.
Notice the gloves and jackets worn by the hikers. It was only 47 degrees when we began the hike. As we descended into the lower elevations the gloves and jackets were taken off and placed in backpacks.
Early in the hike the trail goes through the Whitney Portal campground. We had a little problem finding where the trail exited the campground. John found what he thought was the trail we were seeking. As he pointed and said he thought it was the trail someone pointed out the “trail →” sign above his head!
At numerous spots along the trail we were treated to a waterfall on Lone Pine Creek.
After reaching the end of the trail, we drove the Jeep back up to the Portal to retrieve the truck. While there we wandered over to the trailhead for the Mt. Whitney trail. There is a structure there (the Portal) that serves as a staging area for hikers heading up the mountain.
At the staging area we came upon four young men preparing to set off up the Mt. Whitney Trail. We struck up a conversation and found that they just drove up from San Francisco (elevation 0′) and were headed for the summit of Mt. Whitney (14,505′). When asked about hiking experience, they told us this was their first outing. They all sported brand new hiking boots and packs! Now this hike is about 22 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 6,100 feet. Our friend Lisa (Metamorphosis Road) hiked this trail ten years ago after training for two months and found it very difficult. Congratulations to Lisa and her friend! They completed the hike in 14.5 hours which is amazing! It’s certainly not a hike for beginners! Wish we had been there when the fellows returned!
After driving back down to the valley, we pulled off of Whitney Portal Road as we approached the Alabama Hills to search for the Whitney Portal Arch. The directions to this arch are a bit vague but after some bushwhacking through the desert the arch came into view on top of a rocky hillside.
We climbed up to the arch and found the view of the mountains to be outstanding.
We really enjoy hiking with Eric and Laurel and hope to cross paths with them in the future. But since they are heading to Florida from here it may be a while before that happens. But you never know . . .