Unbeknownst to most people, California was the place where glaciers were “discovered” in the United States, atop Mount Shasta. And while the words “California” and “glacier” will never be synonymous, the state still has twenty glaciers (seven located on Mount Shasta, and thirteen are located in the Sierra Nevada). While each of California’s remaining glaciers offer their own individual logistical challenges, the Palisade Glacier is one of the easiest to visit from May to mid-October. In this case, easy is a relative term, as visitors to the Palisade Glacier will have to traverse ten miles of trail to the end of the glacier, and gain 4,000 feet of elevation, before returning back to the trailhead. From mid-October through May, the ascent to the Palisade Glacier becomes substantially more difficult, as it is over snow and ice, and requires proper preparation and navigation. However, for those willing to make the trek, the Palisade Glacier is a spectacular sight to behold; and is a relic from a long lost past that is disappearing in the modern age.
Before there were any of the superstars that grace magazines, social media postings, and every aspect of modern day life, there were a smaller series of stars of early Hollywood that first America, and then the world knew. Out of this group, by far, the most infamous was Lon Chaney. While Lon Chaney has somewhat disappears into the mists of history, in his heyday, he was well-known as “The Manof a Thousand Faces”, and turned in iconic performances as the Phantom of the Opera, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, among many others. Although there are many interesting facts about Lon Chaney, one of the more little-known facts about him is that he had a 1,288 square foot cabin built in the Inyo National Forest. While Lon Chaney is long gone the cabin remains to this day, and is a great halfway point for a day-hike through some of the more pristine wilderness in the Eastern Sierra.
Last Friday, I took a morning off to see how things were looking up at the higher elevations. Rather than head up the Whitney Portal Trail, I went up the Meysan Lakes Trail instead. Over the years, I’ve found that the main danger of such an early season hike is traversing the iced over parking lot for the campground early in the morning. Fortunately, I was able to not slip on the inch of black ice present, and I did make it to the trailhead, which was partially covered in places with one-three inches of iced out snow.
The more I travel in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the more convinced I am that one of its best spots is also one of the most accessible spots, the Meysan Lake Trail. I first hiked the Meysan Lake trail back in 1998; and when I came back to it in 2013, I wondered why I had avoided it for that length of time. Fortunately I did not have to wait another fifteen years to revisit the Meysan Lake trail, as I hiked it this last weekend. As this trail is very straightforward to follow, I'm going to focus on current trail conditions in 2015 that I experienced.
Climb the mountains, and get their good tidings…-John Muir, 1901. A hundred and twelve years ago, when Muir wrote this quote, mountaineering, hiking, and being outdoors was limited to a small segment of the general public. Muir wrote these words, in part, to inspire the nation to venture outside into the wild, and to appreciate what existed there, in order that they could better preserve and protect it. Today, these while these words are still applicable they have become more of a rallying cry – “CLIMB THE MOUNTAINS! GET THEIR GOOD TIDINGS!” Being outdoors is more popular than it has ever been – and with such popularity comes hordes of people; these hordes make it hard to find the “good tidings” of solitude at times. However, as in Muir’s day, such solitude and good tidings can still be found in the mountains if one only knows where to look.
So, you’re looking to climb Mt. Whitney? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve climbed Mt. Whitney a number of times – without snow, with snow, on the mountaineer’s route, on the Mt. Whitney trail, under sunny skies, and under cloudy skies with thundersnow. I’ve seen bears, lots of marmots, and all sorts of hikers, mountaineers, and climbers. While I’m not going to say that I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve written a lot, so this is a great time to recap all of the resources that are present on this site (and off this site). So, without any further ado, if you want to know how to climb Mt. Whitney, here’s what you need to know!