Friday, August 17, 2007

The Whitney Hike: The Sequoia Side (Part 3)

Of course, the other factor one should be concerned with on this hike is the weather. Another reason I did not want to do this hike late in the middle of summer is the chances of lightning and bad conditions are greater. On this day there was no clouds in the sky. A perfect day so that issue was completely out of the picture I guess it makes sense to say. A few weeks later that would be a different story with lightning strikes causing fires in nearby Independence on the 395 affecting the whole area with dark smoke. On to the hike, at this point over the pass you enter Sequoia National Park and can see "behind" Mt. Whitney to the Great Western Divide range which is the dividing point between the Eastern and Western Sierras.
Looking back down from where I came:
At this point I was sure I would make it, but the last 2.5 miles goes on a lot further than one would think. You descend a few hundred feet right away knowning this is going to be troublesome on the way back. Keep in mind it is about 11 miles to the top, but you have to go back those 11 miles. Any uphill on the way down is annoying. There are a few spots like that.
The trail is a good one here assuming you do not encounter snow/ice. Lots of interesting rock formations to look at part of the way there.
I think my favorite viewing part of the hike is the area known as the "windows". These are the areas between the needles or spikes to the south of Whitney; most pictures you see of Whitney they are to the left of it. What is cool and can be a bit scary is on some of these the trail is only a few feet wide on these spots. There are long drop offs on both sides. Check this out:
It does not look like it, but the above picture is like a bridge. As you cross it and look to the right you get this:
Thats a nice drop off. On some of these it would take a while to hit bottom. On the left of me you get this:
On the above picture you might hit those rocks a bit quicker, but the results are still the same on a drop. I had no problems with this area, as most people, but some get scared and I can only imagine what it must feel like if there is a giant gust of wind coming through the windows.
The above picture is of Hitchcock Lakes. This is on the Sequoia side. There are lots of interesting things to see on this side of the hike that one cannot see from below.

More to come...