Portal to Trail Camp

8,360 to 12,000 feet

August 15, 2003

Woke up around 7:00 a.m. and started packing. On Whitney you must use bear canisters to store you food. These are essentially 5 lb plastic barrels. I spent forever trying to figure out how to attach this beast to my pack. I still didn't have it right when we started up the trail. What a pain.

We then headed up to the Portal for breakfast. I had the biggest pancake I've ever seen. This thing was a monster. I could feed a family of four. After breakfast we had to move our cars out of the day parking lot. All of the lots were full so we ended up parking on the road a good 1/2 mile from the trail.

So finally at 10:00 we hit the trail! I did not have a good day today. Right from the start my energy level sucked. In hindsight, I blame the pancake. I think I overdosed on carbs. We took it VERY slowly. I drank a ton of water and sucked down Carb Boom.  Nothing seemed to really help.

We made our way up to Lone Pine Lake and had lunch. This is a cool high alpine lake. A lot of people come up here to picnic and fish. This is as far as you can go with out a permit. Kristina showed a group of guys how to tie the famous boot Swiss knot. Yet another convert. These guys were doing a training hike today in preparation for a one day trip to the top and back the next day.

After lunch, back to climbing up and up. We were approaching Trail Camp when a storm came up on us. Rain and sleet followed. The temperature started dropping and we were cooling off. We hung out under an overhang for a while, but started to get cold and wet. In a break in the rain we setup our tents. I was dehydrated and breathing really hard at this point. Once my tent was up, I climbed into my sleeping bag to warm up and rest. I was pretty tired.

After two hours of rain, sleet, and loud lightning, I climbed out of my bag and went to look for water. I hiked down to a small lake we passed on the way up. The water looked terrible. Kristina and I collected some water and hiked back to our tents. About 5 minutes later, I looked around and spotted this large lake  40 yards from out tents. Ah, this is the water source. So we dumped our yucky water, and refilled with some nicer water. 

Andrew finally got up and we proceeded to make dinner. We setup my stove. I had a chicken and rice freeze dried dinner. It was good. I felt a lot better after dinner. My strength was up and felt hydrated. 

At Trail Camp they have a solar toilet for solid waste. These things STINK. You try and get in and out as quick as possible. Do not breath through your nose. You will gag. These toilets rank as the worst smelling things I've ever used. Here is my ranking of toilets from best to worst: home, hotel, gas station, pit toilet, porta potty, solar toilets.  The good news is I set my high altitude poop record here (12,000 feet).

So we all crowded into Andrew and Kristina's tent and played cards. Then off the bed. Tomorrow is summit day.


Packing up at Portal camp site. Trying to figure out how to attach the bear canister

The start of the trail

Still messing with canister

Log crossing

Lone Pine and Alabama Hills

Lone Pine Lake



Kristina having lunch

Andrew gazing at the lake

Solar toilet