Highway 136 to Whitney Portal Campground
09 October 2016
My satisfaction and stoke grew as I neared the visitor center this morning. Given the short 4.5 mile walk, I’d slept in today, so I arrived a little before 9a. I thought I was all set and ready to rock. I’d secured my permit at the end of July and organized the timing of the entire trip around climbing Whitney on Oct 10.
When I got to the counter to grab my permit, the ranger was asking about my car and my exit point. I told her my car is at SEKI and I’d be hiking out at Crescent Meadow. She said that I’d gotten the wrong permit, that I actually needed an overnight permit. I told her that I was going to climb Whitney and be down to Wallace Creek on the PCT by the end of the day, so I’d only be climbing Whitney as a day hike. She said it didn’t matter. If I was exiting from a different point than the Whitney Portal Trailhead, then I needed an overnight permit.
We cancelled my day permit even though there were no overnight permits available for tomorrow. She said there would likely be cancellations and that I could come back at 11a for the lottery. If that didn’t work out, I could get a permit for tonight and just hike beyond the trailhead and set up camp, then summit tomorrow and continue with my trip. Either way, I wasn’t really concerned. More annoyed at my mistake than anything else. And when 11a rolled around, there was no need. Four of us were waiting and there were four permits available, so we were all good. I got mine and headed up to Lone Pine to pass the heat of the day with lunch and some chores before walking the road up to the trailhead.
First, I headed over to the Whitney Portal Hostel to pick up and repack my resupply. I also went into a local outfitter and picked up a couple extra layers for the High Sierra Trail. The ranger at the visitor center was quite adamant that it’s going to snow in the Sierra tomorrow and possibly the next couple days. The forecast says 20%, but she assured me that that’s basically a certainty. I have my doubts, but she’s the expert, so I’ll plan accordingly.
Once I’d gotten lunch, called mom, and finished my errands, it was already nearly 4p. I picked up a Subway sandwich, stashed it in my pack and started up the Whitney Portal Road. Shin splint was acting up again, so I bought some gel insoles and doubled those up with my SOLEs. Worked like a charm for most of the road walk, but a few miles before the trailhead – pretty much right as the road steepened – that persistent shin splint came back in full force. Nothing I couldn’t handle long enough to reach Whitney and get back down. It’s a tricky game, though. Pushing through shin splints can lead to stress fractures. Like Russian roulette every other step. But since it had been coming and going, rather than full-on all the time, my thought was that it couldn’t be that serious. Figured I’d just keep playing it by ear. I’m still not sure whether I’ll continue down the HST. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
During the hike up toward the Whitney Portal, four different cars stopped to offer me a ride. Funny how that happens when I don’t want one. I respectfully declined each time, and everyone looked confused. Eventually, a big truck pulls over and an imposing dude gets out to offer me a ride. I declined again, and he asked my name. Immediately, I knew who it was and I couldn’t believe I’d run into him. “ADAM!” I burst into a dead sprint toward him, and he ran across the street to meet me.
Adam is a dear friend who I met doing trailwork on the PCT back in 2011. I knew he was in the area, but we hadn’t connected. I had resigned to the fact that I’d miss him on this trip, but there he was standing in front of me! We chatted for a little bit. He was there capturing some photos en route to a wedding. (He’s a professional photographer.) He was going a different way than me, otherwise I would’ve liked to have camped with him. Next time, my friend!
As it got darker, fewer and fewer cars were on the road. Then another stopped. They were heading down as I was heading up. They’d already passed me and turned around to drive back up. I was thinking: Wow, that’s so nice…but really, I don’t want a ride. They pulled up and asked if I was on the L2H. Heck yeah, I am! It was Snorkel, Drop ‘n Roll, and Naomi. Pretty rad chicks; they’d just finished earlier today. We chatted for a bit before they headed back to LA and I headed up the road. What a cool little community we get to be a part of.
Ended up scoring some sweet digs when I finally got up to the Whitney Campground. I was going to stealth camp, which wouldn’t have been very difficult. Instead, I’ve stumbled across an unlocked storage shed. I slipped in out of the wind and unrolled my sleeping bag. Cush crash pad. Seems like it should be too good to be true, but it’s almost 10p, so I can’t imagine anyone coming by tonight, and I’m planning on another early start tomorrow, so I should be long gone before anyone shows up. What a hiker trash move. Couldn’t have planned it any better!
Miles Hiked: 17