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A Day-Jaunt Up White Mountain Peak
Timestamp Free: 2020.01.18 - 11:16:40
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Sierra Nevada Range
  (1 days)
Participants: Ed Farrell, Doug Farrell Fairly strenuous 15 mile round trip day hike with 3,000 feet elevation gain (11,500 feet to 14,242 feet with minor ups and downs). Easy walking conditions on a rough 4WD road.
Describes a day hike to White Mountain Peak, California
Early in the month of August I tentatively planned to take a day hike to the top of White Mountain Peak in eastern California. I'd visited the White Mountains at various times in the past to see the bristlecone pines that live on the ridge, but I'd never been up to the peak. It's not a difficult hike, really, but the altitude is very high and the 15 mile round trip/3,000 foot elevation gain would make for a long day. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and figured I could do it on a three day weekend--before Labor Day, hopefully, to avoid the crowds on the road. I called my younger brother to see if he felt like going along and he was enthusiastic about it.

The White Mountains are a discreet range of peaks considering their 14,000 foot height. As you travel up or down the Owens Valley, your attention is inevitably drawn to the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada with its high serrated peaks and bold relief. But eventually you begin to see that the range to the east also looks quite high, though you didn't notice it at first. And the more you look at it, the more of itself it reveals, until it becomes quite compelling.

The White Mountains are far less often visited than the Sierras, even though there is a good road to the top. The road was built by the park service to provide access to the bristlecone pine forest at the top of the range. Twenty miles beyond the bristlecone pine area, the University of California runs the Barcroft Laboratory, a small high altitude research station. The station includes a small facility at 12,000 feet, a stone hut at 14,242 feet atop White Mountain Peak, and an astronomical observatory dome at 12,500 feet.

The week before the hike I developed a sinus infection that laid me low and I was going to call off the trip but instead...

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