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Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes

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Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 16, 2018 01:51PM
I took a pass on the Sierra this year, but I'm already contemplating next summer's trip. One option is Mt. Whitney via Cottonwood (map), as an out-and-back or semi-loop, avoiding Whitney Portal. My thinking is to take 2 or 3 days to get to the Crabtree Meadow area, dayhike the summit, and take 2 more days to return, for a total of 4 or 5 nights.

Questions:
  1. If we take 5 nights, food storage becomes a problem (we can't fit into one bear can). The official trip planner (PDF) says there are a few bear boxes on this route. Can we leave food in bear boxes unattended, or is theft a risk? I really don't feel like carrying a half-full bear can to the top of Whitney.
  2. Where are the best (legal and not too crowded) places to camp at or above Crabtree Meadow? I'm still a little spooked by the crowds in Lyell Canyon two years ago, and I want to avoid anything that crowded.
  3. There are two routes from Cottonwood to Rock Creek: the southern route via Cottonwood Pass, and the northern route via New Army Pass. New Army Pass adds a few lakes, for the cost of an extra 2 miles and ~800 feet of elevation gain. Recommendations?
  4. If we do one pass outbound and the other one returning, can we come back to the same trailhed? According to my National Geographic map, there are two trailheads, separated by a mile and a half of road.
avatar Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 17, 2018 11:09AM
We went in Cottonwood Pass and out New Army Pass last Aug. (2017)
(I also went up and down Old Army Pass for fun)

imo... huge mistake if you don't do New Army (or old... but New was super nice)
Cottonwood Pass was really really nice too...

so... yeah... you can hike back to your car at Cottonwood Pass TH OR Cottonwood Lakes TH.

I've only been to Crabtree once... and I camped between Timberline Lake and Guitar Lake.
You should be able to find what you are looking for... (I did) smiling smiley

We? one bear can? first day doesn't need to fit in can. Each carry a bear can?
I'd never commit to using bear lockers. They may not be available. They may be disgusting.
They may not be anywhere close to where you end up. Plus you need it on the first day anyway.
So I guess that's Soldier Lake? Don't even recall one there but we were able to find a nice
spot far way from everyone else there.
(as you know... pretty much you need a Bear Can for your entire trip)

Sorry if useless info or I said stuff you already know.
Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2018 11:09AM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 17, 2018 11:17AM
Ok. I looked at SEKI map... strangely... no can requirement around Crabtree
(I don't worry about such things since I ALWAYS bring a bear can) (sorry)
So, yeah, I dunno. Personally I wouldn't go with plan to camp at Rock Creek
like you did and HAVE to... since I couldn't fit everything in a bear can.

certainly you've seen this
https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/FoodStorageRequirements_8x11_20150729-2.pdf

but I put anyway

have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 22, 2018 08:36PM
Thanks for the tips!

Our Lost Coast trip this year was 4 nights x 2 people = 1 bear can. We're efficient packers, as long as we size our portions correctly.

I hadn't seen the map you showed. I did find the "Wilderness Trip Planner". I've actually never planned a backpacking trip in SEKI before, so not sure about the differences in rules from Yosemite. And I haven't even looked at Inyo NF / Golden Trout yet.

So it sounds like we really should shoot for a 4-night trip, without using bear boxes. Unfortunately, that means that going over New Army Pass will be a stretch. The good news is that we have plenty of time to mull it over.
avatar Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 24, 2018 07:23AM
You're going to get your permit from Inyo.

And once you do a couple of permits that way... you'll go … "ok, this is nice".

Yosemite JUST started online res. We'll see how that goes.

Horseshoe Meadow TH … has a LARGE quota... so... you'll have to step off the trail more than 10 feet to get solitude.
smiling smiley

(seriously kinda crazy how many campsites are right NEXT to the trail)

Check this:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5143453.pdf

that's a LOT of people!
(Cottonwood Lakes and Cottonwood Pass... yikes!)

You'll want to lookie here:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/inyo/passes-permits/recreation

and go from there

have fun

Z wifie and eye dooz Lost Coast from Mattole to Shelter Cove back in 2008.
We took 2 nights. She probably got sick of me saying Yosemite is better... but she usual does.
smiling smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 28, 2018 02:34PM
I hiked from the Cottonwood Lakes over New Army Pass to Crabtree Meadow and the top of Mt. Whitney in mid September of 2013.There were very few people in the New Army Pass area, and we didn't really run into many until Crabtree and the junction of the John Muir Trail.
It did snow on us at Crabtree Meadows, but it melted and we made it ot the top of Whitney.

We carried bear cans. I had a few bear incidents in the late nineties and I am still traumatized.

We took seven days-left a car a Whiney Portal and used a local shuttle service for a fee to get to the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead. I'm slow, and like to take my time.
I highly recommend the trip, particularly if you can push it a little later in the season when it is less crowded.

Photos for the curious are here.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lschaaf55/sets/72157635954892305/with/9969329236/
Re: Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes
September 28, 2018 02:41PM
Also, on a different hike I went in at Cottonwood Pass, went down to the Kern River Canyon and around, and came out New Army Pass and the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead. It's an easy walk between the two trailheads. The same also goes for going in over Trail Pass from Horseshoe Meadows and out
New Army Pass. Easy walk. Once again, few crowds late September, but I remember frost and ice on the edge of the creeks in the early morning.
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