6/7/14 – 6/8/14
6.3 miles (plus 4 miles off trail =10.3 miles)
756.6 miles total
Horseshoe Meadows to Lone Pine to tentsite after Cottonwood Pass
We had a mission to find a ride down to Lone Pine from a car camper. Before we could even finish packing up all of our stuff we had found someone headed down there and willing to let us tag along. He was a local who drove us the long way from the high mountains all the way to the hot desert floor to the east so he could tell us the town’s story – western movie stars and water wars with LA.
Lone Pine was a dusty old western town that sits right under Mt Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US. We booked a room for the 5 of us in the Whitney Motel and started our chores – laundry, resupply, gear shopping. I was set on buying a new sleeping bag. Mine has been so cold and I was finally fed up. I knew that we would be sleeping above 10,000 ft most nights and I didn’t want to risk being too cold.
Part way through the day I get a message from Whiskey, he was outside of my hotel with a car and was headed to Bishop an hour away. Bishop was our next planned resupply and it has an epic gear store. Surprised, I met Whiskey outside and heard the story of how the hostel owner just gave him his car to go get gear in Bishop. People are so trusting!
We switched from walking to driving and road tripped it north to Bishop. I found the perfect sleeping bag – a Western Mountaineering Alpinlite. Only problem was the price – 560$. Shoot, I decided to just go for it. I got to the register all set to spend tons of cash, only to realize that I had left my credit card in Lone Pine! Bummer!
Well, Whiskey got what he had come for – a brand new Osprey backpack – and we road tripped it back to Lone Pine. There, I went to the gear store to see what the sleeping bag options were. Luckily they had one of my favorite brands, Montbell, for a much more affordable price of $350. I jumped on it, knowing it would be significantly warmer but also heavier. A price I was definitely willing to pay for good sleep.
That afternoon we hung out around the motel pool eating subway and drinking Jameson. We migrated to one of two bars in town to play shuffle board and pool before retiring to our respective motels and hostels.
The next morning we knew that it would be tough to get back to the trail. We had to find someone on their way to the campground and willing to pick us up. Luckily, I had just put my things together at the hostel when Whiskey said that he had a ride and room for one more. I jumped in the car with him and 2 veteran climbers who were planning to go up Mt Whitney. After great conversation about the mountains we’ve each climbed, they dropped us at the trailhead to continue on.
When we got there we found 10 or so other hikers all just hanging out. No one was excited to get back on the trail and everyone was avoiding it by sitting around chatting and eating cup of noodle.
A couple hours later we got going up Cottonwood Pass, the 4 mile trail back to the PCT. We passed by our first real alpine lake, Chicken Spring Lake, and made our way closer to Mt. Whitney before setting up camp for the night.
It’s my first night in my new sleeping bag and I am so excited to be warm.