Base Camp @ Mt Whitney Portal

8.300 feet

August 13, 2003

Flew from RDU to Ontario California on America West Airlines. Airlines are getting cheap these days. My ticket cost around $240 with taxes. We had no food from RDU to Phoenix. The good news is we got in 30 minutes early. The bad news, the next plane left 30 minutes late due to toilet breakage.  

From Ontario, I took I-10 to I-15 to Highway 395. A nice easy drive. Stopped at a Sports Chalet on I-15 and picked up some stove fuel and an In N Out Burger. Yummy. Haven't had a burger from them in a long time.

It took about 3 hours to reach the Whitney Portal Campground.  Along the way I passed several dry lakebeds. On one of them they were harvesting salt.

I pulled into the Mt. Whitney family campground and found my reserved campsite. Site 8 was very nice. It was blocked from the road by big boulders. You had to go through the boulders to get to the campsite. The site was large and had plenty of space for me and Andrew and Kristina. 

Andrew and Kristina arrived about an hour after me. They were in Las Vegas and drove through Death Valley to get to Mt. Whitney.  On this trip they will have visited the lowest spot in the US and the highest in the lower 48 states.

We setup our tents and then went to the Whitney Portal Store for dinner. The portions here are huge! I had a great chicken sandwich. After dinner we went back to the campsite and played Gin Rummy by headlamp. It must be beginners luck, I won the first game.

August 14, 2003

Today was an acclimatization  day. First order of business was to go into town (Lone Pine) and get some breakfast. We then went to the Ranger office picked up our permits. After that we drove up to Horseshoe Meadow. This was a cool drive with great views of the valley below. Horseshoe  Meadow is at 10,000 feet. We took a nice hike over fairly flat terrain. There were a lot of interesting trees here. They looked like they had been varnished or something. We hiked for a while and found a nice spot for lunch and cards. We then hiked back to the car and back into Lone Pine. 

We stopped at Kirk's Barber Shop for a shower. Not the cleanest showers, but had great water pressure and tons of hot water. While waiting for Andrew and Kristina, I caught a bit of the news. It turns out New York City was having a massive power outage.

We then checked out the local culinary scene.  We ended up at the Pizza Factory. The food hit the spot. So we then headed back up to the Portal. Once again, cards by headlamp and then off to bed.


Andrew & Kristina on a log crossing in Horseshoe Meadows

Cool root

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills


Shot of Whitney from Lone Pine