Mount Whitney High Country

Owens Valley

Day IV

I did not sleep good the next night either, I had to get up a few times to use the bathroom. Our alarm was set for 0430 as we wanted to get an early start to hopefully beat the worst of the heat later in the day as we had 14 miles or so to go. I squeezed in a few minutes of fishing while my buddy made some last minute adjustments to his pack. I pulled one nice looking Golden Trout out of a the pool next to our camp and then we hit the trail.

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The high point of our trip was Shepherds Pass at just a hair over 12,000′. There was still some snow on the pass and so we crossed carefully. At the bottom of the snow field there was an entire herd of rotting deer (44 total). They had been killed the previous year during the fall migration. The smell was horrific so we quickly walked by but kept coming across legs or skulls alongside the trail for at least a mile – presumably transported there by snowmelt or wild animals.

The hike down was brutal and my body was wrecked – it was slow going for sure. A huge thank you to my buddy Chad, he was hurting but I don’t think on my level. He stuck with me the entire trip, even when he could have easily doubled or tripled my pace – a true friend who not only stuck with me but kept me distracted with conversation and electrolyte pills. When we got to the car at the trailhead the temperature registered at 106! The Yeti cooler in the trunk had kept the La Croix cool, which was a nice treat. We gorged ourselves on mexican food in Lone Pine then drove up to Horseshoe Meadows to retrieve my friend’s car. On the drive home I stopped to get second dinner at Carl’s Jr.

I made it home just after 9pm.

This trip made me realize a few things:

  • While I am in decent shape 95% of my workouts are on a bike. My joints were woefully underprepared for a trip of this magnitude.
  • I am not getting any younger. A few days after the trip I started taking GNC Mega Men Joint vitamins.
  • I am now a staunch ultra light nut. I will not go on another backpacking trip until I have revamped my backpacking kit.
  • Never skimp on pain killers, bug spray, and electrolytes when packing for a backpacking trip
  • HOKA ONE ONE Tor Hi boots are hands down the worst shoes on the planet.¬†As I write this, 18 days later, I still have huge black spots from the blood blisters on my feet and two toenails that look like they will eventually fall off.
  • I had packed a pair of La Sportiva Mutants but they are too tight in the forefoot for long days so I used them for wet wading. They offer good grip and dried quickly strapped to the outside of my pack. I should have packed a pair of sandals for camp though.
  • The four days allocated for the trip were not enough. Six or seven would have allowed more time for fishing.
  • The bugs on Day IV were non-existent. Never ration bug spray, you never know what tomorrow will bring…
  • For me fishing backpacking trips max mileage per day should be around 10-12 miles.

I am truly grateful that I got to go on the trip. I learned a lot about myself and pushed my body farther than I have in a long long time. I scouted out some cool areas that I really want to visit again. Perhaps someday, once my toenails grow back…

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