Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

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newossab
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Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by newossab » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:10 am

Hello All,

I am planning a trip to hike from Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney on July 14 to July 18. It is about a week out from trying to get permits. Therefore, I am looking for some feedback on my timeline. I will be coming from the East coast, flying into Las Vegas and taking a rental car to Lone Pine. I plan on taking a shuttle from Lone Pine to Onion Valley, then hitching from Whitney portal to Lone Pine. Rental car back to Vegas and fly home. I feel I have a good understanding of the trip from the research that I have done on this. But as a sanity check I am wanting feedback to make sure there isn’t a glaring hole in my plan that I am not seeing.

Now on to the background info and rough timeline. My goal it is to lock down the date for my exit permit from Whitney.

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 4 - Comfortable with trail and/or x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 3 terrain/pass/x-country
- River crossings
- Snow travel/Glacier crossings

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Forests
- Big Mountain scenery

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
5 days/4 nights

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
10-14 miles. No layovers.

Have you hiked at elevation before? Any prior issues with Altitude Sickness?
I have experience at elevation (6-7k) overseas deployment but my wife has no experience. We did visit Sequoia last year and day hiked around no issues with that elevation, for what it’s worth. We are both physically active and in good shape. I run 5-6 times a week, granted that is at sea level. Multiple overnight hiking trips on the AT but nothing at these altitudes. We have no issue with 15 to 20 mile days on section hikes on the AT.

Do you have a route logistics preference?
Point to point, leaving rental car at exit point and taking shuttle to entry point.

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in (Yosemite, SEKI, western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?
Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney

Have you hiked in the Sierra Nevada before, if yes, where?
No

Trip Plan:

Day 1 (July 12th): Fly to Las Vegas and rental car to Lone Pine.

Day 2 (July 13th): Pick up permit from Eastern Sierra Visitor Center.

Day 3 (July 14th): Leave rental car at hotel. Shuttle to Onion Valley Trail Head. Hike Onion Valley to Center Creek or somewhere in that area. Looking to get 10-12 miles depending on how we feel. Plan on starting from the trailhead at dawn and taking it slow.

Day 4 (July 15th) Over Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek. 10 miles. (Maybe Wallace Creek 14.7 miles depending on how we feel.)

Day 5 (July 16th) Tyndall Creek to Guitar Lake. 12 miles.

Day 6 (July 17th) Guitar Lake to Outpost Camp or Trail Camp. Depending to time of day and physical condition.

Day 7 (July 18th) Outpost Camp to Lone Pine. Hitching to Lone Pine. (Drive to Las Vegas, depending on what time I arrive in Lone Pine.) From my understanding I CANNOT park at the Whitney Portal for more than a couple of nights.

Day 8 (July 19th): Drive to Vegas, fly back home.

Question:
Is there is place in Lone Pine to buy food for the trip? Or Should I do that in Vegas?

Cheers,








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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by balzaccom » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:48 pm

The only comments I would make:

>> Day 3 seems unrealistic. A shuttle to the trail and then hiking 10-12 miles. My experience is that shuttles always take longer than you expect, and you won't be starting at dawn. And that trails goes right up. The first day is not the day to push things, and you seem to be doing that here.

>> If you've never hiked at this altitude before, you are biting off a lot in those first two days. And despite our warnings, my guess is that you won't take along enough water, won't drink enough, and will get dehydrated, which will make it worse. But now you've been warned.
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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by markskor » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:43 pm

Agree with Balz -
Never having hiked Sierra...altitude ...new legs...no layovers?
Can be done but, IMHO, you are doing too much in too short a time.
Add a few days...would make it a much better trip.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by Flamingo » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:02 pm

@newossab re: food. . . I've resupplied for backpacking trips at The Lone Pine Market, and it's usually great. Lone Pine is a major hub for mountain trips, and the market carries plenty of common backpacking foods, dried fruits, rice, breads, cheeses, etc. However, the options can be limited if you have specific dietary requirements or food allergies. It's also expensive. IMHO, I would buy your supplies in Vegas if you have dietary restrictions and/or you're shopping on a tight budget.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by maverick » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:08 pm

Trip Plan:

Day 1 (July 12th): Fly to Las Vegas and rental car to Lone Pine.

Day 2 (July 13th): Pick up permit from Eastern Sierra Visitor Center.

Day 3 (July 14th): Leave rental car at hotel. Shuttle to Onion Valley Trail Head. Hike Onion Valley to Center Creek or somewhere in that area. Looking to get 10-12 miles depending on how we feel. Plan on starting from the trailhead at dawn and taking it slow.

Day 4 (July 15th) Over Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek. 10 miles. (Maybe Wallace Creek 14.7 miles depending on how we feel.)

Day 5 (July 16th) Tyndall Creek to Guitar Lake. 12 miles.

Day 6 (July 17th) Guitar Lake to Outpost Camp or Trail Camp. Depending to time of day and physical condition.

Day 7 (July 18th) Outpost Camp to Lone Pine. Hitching to Lone Pine. (Drive to Las Vegas, depending on what time I arrive in Lone Pine.) From my understanding I CANNOT park at the Whitney Portal for more than a couple of nights.

Day 8 (July 19th): Drive to Vegas, fly back home.

Question:
Is there is place in Lone Pine to buy food for the trip? Or Should I do that in Vegas?
Why not get the shuttle ride on Day 2 to Onion Valley? You could then go over Kearsage Pass and stay at Kearsage Lakes, shorter day than the 14+ miles to Center Basin, and prettier. Your going right by some prime Sierra areas like Bighorn Plateau and maybe working in a day hike from Wallace Creek to Wales Lake. :nod:
Have you considered skipping the Whitney zoo (Guitar Lake-Whitney Trail) and exiting Horseshoe Meadow instead?

Vegas for food, Lone Pine doesn't have much selection and will be more expensive. REI is located at 710 S Rampart Blvd, Las Vegas (702) 951-4488.
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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:37 pm

balzaccom wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:48 pm
>> Day 3 seems unrealistic. A shuttle to the trail and then hiking 10-12 miles. My experience is that shuttles always take longer than you expect, and you won't be starting at dawn. And that trails goes right up. The first day is not the day to push things, and you seem to be doing that here.
To get 10-12 miles on Day 3, I'd suggest doing more on Day 2.

Picking up your permit will take about an hour, plus or minus. But that still leaves plenty of time to shuttle cars and start your trip. Even if you hike in 2 miles and camp, you'll be in a much better position to be 10-12 miles down the trail on Day 3. And sleeping at elevation will help acclimate you.

Following the PCT/JMT (commuter trails) the whole way doesn't sound like my kind of trip. To me, the JMT/PCT only take you near the good stuff, not actually to it (at least up here near around Yosemite). I personally would plan a side trip or two, just to get a flavor of what the landscape is like away from the wilderness freeway. Dropping your pack, and wandering around with the only goal of enjoying the scenery rather than putting in miles is a nice change of pace.

Drink water constantly, shove the food down, and bring advil. Altitude always wrecks my appetite, so for me, bringing tasty food is more important than saving weight.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:46 pm

July 14-18 could still have snow on passes, if it turns out to be a high snow year or late melt. You may want to bring micro-spikes if needed. The people in Bishop at Wilsons outdoor shop could give you information on conditions. Also, keep an eye on the Whitney Portal forum. They post daily conditions.

Why not climb Whitney? Seems like a lot of trail walking and then leaving out the highlight of the trip by skipping Whitney. Outpost is a nice campsite for the last day.

I feel different than some on this forum; although there are plenty of people on the Whitney trail, it is by far more scenic than going out Horseshoe Meadow. I would just put up with the crowds and do the classic exit via Whitney. The only reason to go out Horseshoe is if you cannot get an exit permit. Additionally it is quite easy to hitch from Whitney Portal.

You can also camp on the east side of Kearsarge Pass if you get the ride to Onion Valley on Day 2. You could even camp at the trailhead campground. Matlock Lake is stunning, although a short distance off the main trail. Otherwise there are plenty of campsites at Flower Lake, across the outlet.

Camping at timberline below Forrester Pass (north side of pass at 11275) is also more scenic than down on the creek lower. The best campsites are in timber across the creek to the south.

Worthwhile side trips, if you have time, Arctic Lake and Consultation Lake. Both are class 2 off-trail and a bit tricky in few places.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by JWreno » Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:10 pm

I have done the Horseshoe Meadows to Crabtree, day hike Whitney and out to Onion Valley. You might return over New Army pass and go back to Horseshoe Meadows and not have to worry about a shuttle. If you drive up and camp the first night at Horseshoe Meadows campground you would have 3 nights of acclimation before summiting Whitney. Much easier not have to get a Whitney Portal exit permit. The first day pass going up Cottonwood pass is very easy compared to Kearsarge.
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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by bobby49 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:17 pm

Yes, as others have said, your Day 3 is totally unrealistic. I've been with people who expected to get from Onion Valley to Center Basin on the first day, and it just did not happen. We got to lower Vidette. Some young guys are strong enough to carry a heavy pack when going over Forester Pass. Others will be puking their guts by halfway up the hill. If you can each keep your total pack loads down to 25-30 pounds per person, it will help. Besides, you may get slowed down by storms, so you have to build in some spare time to your schedule.
OTOH, you will be surprised at how fast you can walk downhill when you hear the lightning striking above you and behind you.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by newossab » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:23 pm

balzaccom wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:48 pm
The only comments I would make:

>> Day 3 seems unrealistic. A shuttle to the trail and then hiking 10-12 miles. My experience is that shuttles always take longer than you expect, and you won't be starting at dawn. And that trails goes right up. The first day is not the day to push things, and you seem to be doing that here.

>> If you've never hiked at this altitude before, you are biting off a lot in those first two days. And despite our warnings, my guess is that you won't take along enough water, won't drink enough, and will get dehydrated, which will make it worse. But now you've been warned.
Thanks for the feedback.
maverick wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:08 pm
Why not get the shuttle ride on Day 2 to Onion Valley? You could then go over Kearsage Pass and stay at Kearsage Lakes, shorter day than the 14+ miles to Center Basin, and prettier. Your going right by some prime Sierra areas like Bighorn Plateau and maybe working in a day hike from Wallace Creek to Wales Lake. :nod:
Have you considered skipping the Whitney zoo (Guitar Lake-Whitney Trail) and exiting Horseshoe Meadow instead?

Vegas for food, Lone Pine doesn't have much selection and will be more expensive. REI is located at 710 S Rampart Blvd, Las Vegas (702) 951-4488.
It is looking like I will move the start date up to DAY 2 to give more time. I can also add a day to the back end if need be. My only concern with that is being able to fit all the food into my BV500. My wife is set on climbing Whitney. Only reason we wouldn't is not being able to get the permit. Thanks for the input.
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:46 pm
Why not climb Whitney? Seems like a lot of trail walking and then leaving out the highlight of the trip by skipping Whitney. Outpost is a nice campsite for the last day.
I guess I didn't make it clear in the original post but we will be climbing Whitney. Also, it is looking like I should add 1-2 days to the trip to have enough time. Thanks for the input.
bobby49 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:17 pm
Yes, as others have said, your Day 3 is totally unrealistic. I've been with people who expected to get from Onion Valley to Center Basin on the first day, and it just did not happen. We got to lower Vidette. Some young guys are strong enough to carry a heavy pack when going over Forester Pass. Others will be puking their guts by halfway up the hill. If you can each keep your total pack loads down to 25-30 pounds per person, it will help. Besides, you may get slowed down by storms, so you have to build in some spare time to your schedule.
OTOH, you will be surprised at how fast you can walk downhill when you hear the lightning striking above you and behind you.
Looking like I will definitely add days to the trip. Thanks for the feedback.

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