Month: September 2014

Mt. Whitney via Mt. Whitney Trail

Hike: Mt. Whitney via Mt. Whitney Trail
Where: Inyo National Forest
Trailhead: Whitney Portal
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 17 hours
Length: 22~ miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Oasis Crew Long Sleeve, Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie, Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Compass Legging, REI Sahara pants, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Hybrid jacket, CamelBak Aventura pack, Black Diamond Ultra Distance trekking poles, Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves, Arc’teryx Bird Toque beanie, Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube, and Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX boots
Cost of Parking: Free

At some point last year, I decided that I wanted to tackle Mt. Whitney as a day hike. Applied for permits in February, got one, and assembled a crew of crazy folks, David Wherry of Hiker Adventures & Christopher Sunnen the Last Adventurer.

We spent the day meticulously preparing for the hike! We drove down to Lone Pine to pick up permits and postcards at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. We stopped in the Alabama Hills and visited the Mobius Arch and Lathe Arch. Absolutely breathtaking. It’s hard to believe things like these aren’t photoshopped!

Inyo National Forest: Mt. Whitney via Whitney TrailAlabama Hills Recreation Area
We ate a bunch of candy and snacks while playing a very sober, yet still disturbing game of Cards Against Humanity. We also tackled an Italian-made, slightly Japanese game called Samurai Sword. Many battle cries could be heard from camp.

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Alabama Hills Recreation Area

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California, you’re so unreal! A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll keep this pretty brief. First stop before heading up Whitney was Lone Pine and the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center to pick up our permits and Mt. Whitney postcards! The drive out through the Alabama Hills was incredible; I’d come in under the cover of night and couldn’t see any of this splendor.

On the way back to Whitney Portal, Chris the Last Adventurer suggested we stop and kill some time. We wandered over to the Mobius Arch and Lathe Arche and played tourist under the watchful gaze of Mt. Whitney.

For more information on the history of the hills and for fun movie facts & tidbits, check out the Bureau of Land Management page here or the Wikipedia article!

#HellHikeAndRaft Day 2: Dry Diggins Lookout, Hibbs Cow Camp

Miss out on #HellHikeAndRaft Day One? Click here.

Tuesday morning, I woke up to the sound of Russ’ snoring and to the sound of coffee being made. There was ice on our tent from condensation. It was cold and windy; the fog was being swirled around on Shelf Lake. And it was beautiful.

Today, we were planning on hiking up to Dry Diggins Lookout for a glimpse of Hells Canyon, and then off to Hibbs Cow Camp where we would be staying that night. We ate some delicious omelettes made in Ziploc baggies, and munched on leftover peach cobbler.

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We hiked past Basin Lake and the series of Bernard Lakes, complete with floating lily pads. We stopped at the junction to Hibbs Cow Camp and dropped our packs to continue up and up to Dry Diggins Lookout. The view from Dry Diggins was incredible. We waved to Hells Canyon and the Snake River. Snapped some photos, or maybe a lot. Poked around inside the lookout, which was only staffed during fires until it was abandoned after the Baldy Fire, and then we were on the way down again.

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Hibbs Cow Camp was located under the trees next to a babbling spring. Appetizers were smoked salmon, jalapeno jelly, cream cheese and crackers. Fish People Seafood and beer bread followed as the main course, and we finished off with peanut butter brownies for dessert. Also, we played a lot of fetch with Tubbs, the fetch dog.

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The night was cold, but I still slept pretty well.

Total mileage for the day was approximately 6.6 with 2,280′ of elevation gain.

If you missed out on #HellHikeAndRaft Day One, click here. Stay tuned for the other four days, and don’t forget to check out everyone else’s content!

LifeStraw Go

I first got wind of LifeStraw when bloggers were reviewing them left and right and sharing all over social media. I didn’t really get it. As hikers, backpackers, adventurers, we’re used to carting water all across the wilderness. But what if we didn’t have guaranteed reliable water sources to slurp from? The straw is useless.

LifeStraw Go ReviewLifeStraw Go Review

I was so excited to see that LifeStraw sent some of their LifeStraw Go bottles to Idaho for #HellHikeAndRaft. Thanks to Tara’s lightning quick snatching skills, I was able to get my hands on one of these babies. I can easily say that this is my most favorite piece of gear from the trip. It’s so easy to scoop water and not have to worry about filtering it! I’m a wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-because-I’m-thirsty-and-or-hot type of person, so this was great to have for ultimate laziness.

The bottle holds 650 mL (22 fluid oz) of water for on the go use. The plastic is BPA-free, with a soft, rubbery, flip top bite valve for comfortable drinking. The filter has a lifespan of about 1000 liters of water, and filters down to about .2 microns. It will remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites. If you’re an average adventurer in the North American backcountry, this should be perfect for you. But elsewhere? You’ll need to be wary of viruses in your water.

I found that the straw had a tendency to leak if placed upside down or on its side. This wasn’t isolated to my own bottle, which is quite a bummer. The carabiner is a little flimsy, and the gate tends to pop out past the nose. Not really a deal breaker, just annoying. There’s no lid or cover for the mouth piece. If you’re traveling through a dusty area, or if you’re prone to rolling around in dirt like me, your mouthpiece is going to get dirty.

Lastly, the biggest downside, once you’re at that 1000 liter mark, there’s no way to replace your filter! Granted, the average weekend warrior will go through 1000 liters of filtered water pretty slowly, but once you’re there, you need to buy a new bottle. It’s not cost or waste efficient. But maybe by a thousand liters, they’ll have replacement ones.

Update: The folks over at Eartheasy have let me know that replacement filters are now available for $18.95! Wahoo!

All in all, I think it’s a pretty nifty product. I don’t quite have anything like it, and never thought of picking up anything like it. Now that I have it, I’m super excited about it. And as an additional bonus, for every LifeStraw product you purchase, you help deliver clean, drinkable water to kids in Africa. A product that is good and does good gets a million points in my book.

Buy through LifeStraw or Amazon for $34.95.

LifeStraw Go Review

#HellHikeAndRaft Day 1: Goat Pass, He Devil, Shelf Lake

I’ve been dreading the writeup of these #HellHikeAndRaft posts. It means it’s really over! And I don’t want it to be over. Without getting too sentimental, this was one of the most fun trips I’ve ever been on with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Thanks Tara, Russ, Scott, Val, Trevor, Shannon, Jes, Annie, Wendy, Adam, Jeff, and Becky & Parker at America’s Rafting Company!

Now for the nitty gritty… Monday morning, we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Our guide, Marshall, picked us up from the Meadows Valley Motel in New Meadows and carted us off to Windy Saddle in the Seven Devils Wilderness. We met up with Rick, our other guide, and John and the horse team and into the wilderness we went.

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We quickly began ascending up the Goat Pass trail until we hit the ridge. We were rewarded with views of the Tower of BabelĀ and MirrorĀ Lake. We paused and snapped some photos. From there, we traversed across and began our descent to our lunch destination. The trail was steep and slippery with a bit of scree skiing at certain points. Sheep Lake was the reward, and we stopped to refuel.

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Post-lunch, we hiked around Sheep Lake, marveling at its cool, clear waters until we reached the junction to head up to He Devil or head to camp. Tara, Jes, Annie, Russ, Rick, and I decided to tackle He Devil; the rest decided to mosey off to camp.

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Our adventurous group began the ascent up, but quickly realized that there was no real trail. Up and up, we went, but as we reached the ridge to reach the summit, we decided to stop. It was late in the day, clouds were rolling in. All signs pointed to safety rather than summiting, and we began our descent and headed to camp.

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Shelf Lake was our home for the night! Coming into camp was like arriving at an oasis! A kitchen was set up, a fire was burning, the lake was pristine and clear. I set up camp and started to drink wine. Little did I know, guacamole, chips, and salsa awaited, and there were fajitas to be had.

I slept very well that night.

Total mileage for the day was 4.39 miles with about 1,657′ of elevation gain. This does not include He Devil.

Stay tuned for the other five days, and don’t forget to check out everyone else’s content!