Monday morning I woke up at 5:00 a.m. in my tent at Lone Pine campground and decided it was too cold and too windy to try and go back to sleep. I turned on my headlight and packed up my tent. At 6:00 a.m. when I heard Sally walk by I got out of my tent and then packed it up too. We had plenty of time to make coffee and try to warm up. As we were drinking our coffee the sun started shining the most amazing light on Mt. Whitney and the surrounding mountains.
We were in awe, it was truly breathtaking. After lots of coffee and a breakfast of an almost frozen protein bar, we headed up Whitney Portal Road to hike 3 miles to Lone Pine Lake.
Whitney Portal Trail
We started our hike were hikers that summit Mt. Whitney start and we foolishly thought that this hike would not be too tough considering we were only going a little over 3 miles each way. Wrong. We underestimated the effects of hiking at such a high altitude. The entire 3 miles were uphill and the entire time it felt like I was trying to suck air through a straw. We had to stop many times to catch our breath and to peel off layers of clothing because although it was cold outside we were working hard.
Hiking in Snow and Ice
There were a few sketchy parts where we had to walk very carefully because the entire path was ice. One of the craziest parts was the iconic log bridge that we had to cross. We got halfway across and realized that there was ice on top of the log. I was sure that I was going to slip on the ice and fall into the frigid water.
Lone Pine Lake
We stopped to talk to some fellow hikers and then headed down to the lake. The lake is beautiful, but it is very different looking from the Big Pine Lakes. The entire lake was in the shade, even though it was close to 11:00 a.m.
We did not have a thermometer, but it was the kind of cold that makes your skin sting. I boulder hopped around the lake looking for a camera angle that showed a little more light.
We took pictures and tried to eat a protein bar, but they were frozen solid. We decided it was too cold to hang around. Lone Pine Lake is as far up the Whitney Portal as you can go without a permit, so this was the end of the road for us. We headed back down. Thankfully, the sun had started to warm up the trail and melt some of the ice that was on it. We came down much faster than we had hiked up.
Hiking Down Whitney Portal
When we got to the bottom we decided that we would go to Alabama Hills Cafe once more. We had some delicious sandwiches and even though it was warm in town we were still frozen from that hike. On the way out of town, we stopped at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine to buy some stickers. While we were there I bought a book about the JMT (John Muir Trail.) A seed has been planted and Sally and I are considering doing either the JMT or the High Sierra Trail this summer. We are going to apply for permits and wait and see how much snow the Sierras receive this winter. Luckily, we had an easy 3 1/2 hour drive home to a nice warm shower and a comfy bed.