H.A.P.E. is an acronym for High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, it sucks to have...
I finally get out on a solo backpacking trek into the Sierra Nevada mountains. I have gold fever. The plan was to head up and camp out at near 10,000 foot in elevation to help with acclimatization. Well as we all know shit happens and things don't always go according to plan.
I left Los Angeles a bit late and arrived at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center 5 minutes before closing. One of the rangers/employee was standing at the gate telling everyone that they had already closed. I told the lady it was not 5pm yet. She just smiled and said sorry were closed. Most places let you in even with a minute to spare. Not so here. Well this sucks I have to come back tomorrow at 8am to pick up my permit. I decided to get something to eat in town and stopped to eat at Bonanza Mexican restaurant. I had chicken enchiladas rancheras, they were okay. If you are looking for spiciness you're likely not going to find it here. What do you expect, it's Lone Pine, food was okay though. I was trying to find some place to stay for the night. I called and checked all the local motels and all of them were booked solid for the night. So I headed up to the Alabama Hills and was going to try and sleep in the truck bed. Well I found a decent spot off road and it turned out to be quite a nice night. I could hear coyote howling in the distances as soon as the sun dropped behind the Sierra. The temps were in the 80's at night so I was going to try and sleep with out my sleeping bag, well apparently the wind was going to blow for most of the night making a warm night seem cooler than it really was. I was up on and off the entire night at one point I just said let me try and capture one of the hundreds of shooting stars. I brought the tripod out and shot a few frames of the Milky Way.
In this shot you could barely make out a shooting star. Not the best composition but it captured what I wanted in a 15 second exposure. The Persiad Meteor shower did not disappoint, and this was not even the peak day. It was a good decision to stay in the Alabama Hills even if I didn't sleep very well. Morning came and off I went to get my wilderness permit. When I got to the Visitor Center there were already people waiting in line for permits. Most of the people raised their hands when asked if they were there for Mt Whitney permits. Everyone got a Mt Whitney permit who wanted one. I think someone might have odds of getting a same day permit by just showing up at the visitor center, anyhow just some food for thought for those wanting to summit Mt Whitney.
Well I made my way up this gnarly road.
The road goes up pretty darn fast, it leaves very little chances for making a mistake, drive very carefully on this road.
I arrived at the trail head parking lot and found plenty of empty spaces close to the trail head. With a methodical check of all my gear I was not going to be forgetting anything on this trek, not even my fishing licence. I thought carefully and decided I did not want to carry an extra 4 lbs and left my tripod behind. I still brought two pieces of glass, a 17-40mm and a 100mm. I think for the next time I will only bring one lens. we'll see...
I made my way up the trail and felt good and strong despite not sleeping very well. My water holder system was working perfectly and held the water bottles in place. I made my way up the trail and over obstacles or make shift bridges I should say.
The thought of falling crossed my mind. I was thinking it would really suck to fall off this log and into the creek and smack the boulders. I wondered if anyone had ever fallen in. Anyhow I didn't fall in and took my first break on the other side of the creek. I watched a few people opt for walking on the boulders vs walking over the narrow log bridge. They were probably thinking the same thing as I was...
I hiked and came across Bigfoot's Old Cabin, I thought to myself... It's feel'n real Sqauchy in these woods.
Maybe not Sqauchy, but it was a cool to see.
The hike is fairly moderate to easy hiking for the most part. With beautiful views of meadows and if you take the time to look some very cool flora. I spotted this twisted tree in the middle of normal looking trees. I wondered what made it twist like it did. If it was wind why was it only this one in the bunch?
Also found flowers reaching up toward the sun.
I crossed meadows and mountains to make my destination. This meadow looks as if eventually it will turn into a forest sooner or later.
As I summit the last section of the trail which is the hardest part of the trail by the way, the greeting Marmot is perched on his rock likely watching me as I work my way up the trail wondering why the hell this guy is moving so slowly.
Here is a view from where I just came hiking through. As you can see the views are spectacular and very well worth all the dirt, sweat and more sweat..
Yes! I made it to my destination.
I know it's a cheesy self portrait, but I was happy to arrive.
I quickly unload my pack and my body is happy to get rid of the extra weight. I set up my tent and go back down to the water to fill up my Katadyn base camp filter and never had to refill the entire time I was there. I filled up on water remembering to drink more water than I think is enough. A good sign is that you keep having to pee and it's clear. I'm drinking plenty of water on this trek. The last trek up here I felt like crap with a nasty headache and feeling sick almost the entire trip. It was a lack of drinking enough water. I'm still definitely learning how to deal with the constantly changing elements and on this trek it would be no different.
Here is a shot of my new ultralight tent.
Oh and just after entering the trail you see this sign.
No wood fires anywhere over 10,000', I don't like it but I abide by the law. It's just so nice to sit by the fire at night.
Yes yes I did fly fish on this trip. Here is a sample of what I caught and released during my stay. Meet the California State Fresh Water Fish the "O. mykiss aguabonita" aka Golden Trout.
Those were the only fish shots taken. I was waiting for a decent sized fish to photograph, well that fish never showed up to the party. The flies of choice were small and green. It's what worked for me. Oh yeah sorry about the barb little fish.
I could have taken a photos of the dozens and dozens of small goldens, some more colorful than others, but really I didn't want to stress the fish even more just to show everyone another mini golden.
Here is my bear canister aka Bearikade, it too is super light and worth every penny. See those m&m cookies? They were the best snack of the trip.
For the most part I was alone the entire time with contact with only a lone day hiker named Jim who was preparing for Mt Whitney in a few days. The solitude was nice but I did miss social interaction especially with my girlfriend and our little guy. This experience should be shared with someone you love and enjoy spending time with.
On Tuesday early morning I awoke to a nasty dry cough. I didn't make much of it until I got up and started moving around, I was feeling great the entire trip up until this point. This nasty dry cough would plague me the rest of my trip. I bail out a half day early because I can't stop coughing, nasty dry cough. Anyhow this morning I head to the ER without really wanting to, but thought about my cough getting worse and the possibilities of having developed H.A.P.E., the good thing is my X-rays showed no signs of fluid in them, although the doctor did say if I would have stayed at the higher elevations H.A.P.E. can be fatal and I made the right choice in coming down early. I should get rid of the dry cough in a few days the doctor said, and he gave me some literature to read on how to avoid getting H.A.P.E..
Hope you all enjoyed my trek for Gold.
The SoCal FlyFisher