Onion Valley to Whitney

donkiluminate

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Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
68
After being laid up all summer with back problems I figured it would be a great idea to put in a 48 miler from Onion Valley to Whitney. Seemed like a good idea but having only been backpacking 3 times in the last 9 months mistakes were made.

First, I was so worried about not having enough I way overpacked on food. So much so I had to rent a BV500 bear canister. I was disappointed with myself to finish the trip with so much food left. Plus, some of my food choices weren't great. Who brings tuna fish to bear country? Between the extra large canister and the food it probably added an additional 5 lbs to my pack. Second, I under packed on clothing. It got a bit chilly at night. Third, I owned myself with poor reading skills. I got a hole in my air mattress on my first night. Luckily I had a patch kit but didn’t read the directions well enough. I put the glue dot on the hole but didn't put the paper on top of the glue dot. I went to bed that night and in the middle of the night my bag adhered itself to the glue dot. There I was having a dream about a yummy piece of cake and I rolled over in my sleep, pulled the dot off the pad and woke up to a loud gush of air. Fourth, wait, I don’t think there was a fourth. Those three mistakes were enough.

Anyway, I’m not much of a story teller. Using business speak I would call this a trip 'breeze by'. Basic itinerary was;

Day 1: Leave Onion Valley, up and over Kearsarge Pass, down past the Videttes, and camp at Bubb’s Creek. We passed an unattended campsite where a bear was helping itself to some backpacker's food who they had left unattended in an open canister, or maybe the bear scared them off.



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Looking west of Kearsarge



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Bullfrog Lake


Day 2: Up and over Forrester pass, which I have to admit kicked my butt so much more than Whitney. Spent the night by Tyndall Creek. It was by far the coldest night. I Woke up with crunchy water in my water bottle.

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Looking back on Vidette peak. Absolute unit of a mountain.


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Top of Forrester


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Looking back at Forrester. If you look closely you can see someone standing at the notch.(For the life of me I can't get this pic to rotate)




Day 3: We got our first view of Whitney that day as we got up to Big Horn Plateau. It seemed so close but still had a lot of miles ahead of us. Generally speaking, this was the easiest day. I loved Timberline lake. It was so beautiful


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We spent an epic night at Guitar lake. We got a show of 5 F35’s flying in formation flying over Mt Whitney and a gorgeous sunset on Mt Morgenson.

Day 4: Up the JMT to Whitney. Once we got to the junction with the Whitney trail we dropped our packs and took small fanny packs to the summit. The view at the summit was awesome as usual. I’m always amazed at the various set of emotions you go through when hiking Whitney. Dread, doubt, exhaustion, relief, and then elation. I flew down the mountain on adrenaline, but when I got to my backpack and put all that weight back on I almost wanted to cry. Plus, this is the second time I've hiked Whitney and every time I've never counted 99 switch backs. Yes I count them. I always get 97.

Unlike last year where after I summited I went all of the way to the bottom of Whitney, this year we spent the night at Outpost camp. It was nice having a leisurely evening to recover from the 45 miles we put in. Especially since we had a 9 hour drive back to SLC the next day.

Day 5: Packed up and hiked the last 3.5 miles down to Whitney Portal. Great trip with a lot of epic views. As usual, I drove home thinking "I'm good. No need for any backpacking trips for a while." But, 3 weeks later I'm ready get out there again.

I'm not very good at taking pictures, both in quality and in just taking them. Plus, once I got to Whitney, I was kind of like "been there, done that" and didn't bother taking many pictures. So if you are wanting more pictures then...





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Ugly

Life really is better Here
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Joined
Apr 20, 2013
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1,144
I think breeze-by reports are totally fine.
I also have taken tuna into bear country, but that is a pretty strong leftover odor.
I have not been up Whitney, and I think Kearsarge and Forrester look like fantastic views, but not so fun to climb.

It's great you got out there with a pack and did all those miles and summitted Whitney.
 

regehr

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Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,919
love it!! I'm also in SLC, but have never visited the Sierras, and of course need to fix this. was the Whitney permitting painful?

I've had only bad experiences with canned fish while backpacking, even w/o bears the fishy oil is painful to deal with.

I've also had to stop carrying strongly flavored candy -- after a few days in a warm BV500 I once ended up with a bunch of food that all tasted just like the tropical gummy lifesavers I was carrying, it was nasty
 

donkiluminate

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
68
love it!! I'm also in SLC, but have never visited the Sierras, and of course need to fix this. was the Whitney permitting painful?

I've had only bad experiences with canned fish while backpacking, even w/o bears the fishy oil is painful to deal with.

I've also had to stop carrying strongly flavored candy -- after a few days in a warm BV500 I once ended up with a bunch of food that all tasted just like the tropical gummy lifesavers I was carrying, it was nasty
When I did Whitney last year I got my permit through the lottery system. It wasn’t hard to put in for it but I feel like I lucked out because I didn’t win a lottery permit this year. I was poking around the internet one night and found out that you don’t need a lottery permit if you come in from the JMT. Just a wilderness permit. So I got in rec.gov and did a search for “exit Whitney Portal” and basically put an itinerary together and had my reservation complete in 15 minutes.

Funny you mention a can of tuna. Thankfully I didn’t pack any cans. Just those individual packets. But on my last night there we found an old stash of canned green beans. It had an expiration date of August 2019 so I packed it up to take off the mountain. I didn’t think anyone was coming back for it.

Sounds pretty gross to have everything pick up the flavor of the gummies.
 

donkiluminate

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
68
I think breeze-by reports are totally fine.
I also have taken tuna into bear country, but that is a pretty strong leftover odor.
I have not been up Whitney, and I think Kearsarge and Forrester look like fantastic views, but not so fun to climb.

It's great you got out there with a pack and did all those miles and summitted Whitney.
Kearsarge is 12k feet, and Forrestor is 13k. While they were tough with fully loaded packs by the time I got to Whitney I felt pretty acclimatized to the altitude.
 

wsp_scott

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Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
1,073
I love that stretch of the Sierra, but I've never been over Whitney. It looks like you had good weather. I got crushed by the monsoon in the Sierra in early August. When was this trip?
 

donkiluminate

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
68
I love that stretch of the Sierra, but I've never been over Whitney. It looks like you had good weather. I got crushed by the monsoon in the Sierra in early August. When was this trip?
It was 9/25-9/29. We had pretty good weather. It got a little cold at night but I can’t complain. A lot better than getting hit with a monsoon. Sounds brutal.
 
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