This past year the lions share of my vacation time was used up on a car camping trip with my family hitting Lassen and Crater Lake National Parks over the 4th of July and spending a week with my son’s Boy Scout Troop at summer camp as an ASM. Using up all my vacation time ruled out any grand week long backpacking trips this year.
In September of 2016 I had planned on hiking from Shepherds Pass and summiting Tyndall, Williamson, Trojan Peak, Barnard, Russell, Whitney, and Muir all in one shot over a period of 5 days, mostly off trail. I lined up the time off and found a hiking partner that was interested. Well, when planning grand adventure such as that one must be sure of your hiking partners abilities. The first night after starting late at the Shepherds Pass trailhead and stopping at Mahogany Flat for the night my hiking partner had decided he had bitten off more than he could chew. I rolled with it, we changed up our plans and still had a good time and summited Tyndall.
Whitney was still on my to do list so I got a hold of a friend that I had hiked White Mountain Peak with a couple of years ago to see if he was game to fit a trip in between a couple of other trips he had on the books for September. I laid out my plan for him and he was interested as the route went through some areas he wanted to check out as well. I scheduled a three day trip starting on the 15th of September and proceeded to get things ready.
On Thursday the 14th I worked a half day and left my office just south of Downtown LA around 12:30 to head up to Lone Pine and secure a walk-in permit before they closed for the day. The drive to Lone Pine from LA was uneventful and I made decent time arriving at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center about 3:45. Went up to the permit desk, explained my route and walked out a few minutes later with a permit for my trip.
I had a little time to kill as my hiking partner Jose wasn't due to arrive until around 7:30 so I sat in the parking lot for a while trying to figure out why my Suunto Ambit 3 had decided to go blank and give up the ghost on the drive up. Not making any headway on that front I left the visitor center and drove to the gas station to fill up my truck so I wouldn't have to worry about it after we were done with our trip. I still had some time to kill so I grabbed a bite to eat and then headed up to the Portal to look around the store, chat with Doug Jr, and wander around until Jose arrived. At 7:00 I got a message from Jose on my inreach that he was in Lone Pine and was making his way up the hill and should be there around 7:30. About 7:40 Jose arrived, we parked his truck and transferred his gear to my truck. The drive from the Portal to Horseshoe Meadows was uneventful and we arrived just before 9:00. We parked at the trailhead lot and from initial observations things looked pretty full. We lucked out and managed to find an unoccupied site at the back of the Cottonwood Lakes walk-in campground. We set up our sleeping arrangements and hung out around the campfire until about 11 when we both decided to douse the fire and call it a night.