At 14,505 feet, Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the continental United States, and one of the most popular spots to hike and climb. In addition to these things, it also has a number of high alpine lakes located nearby (such as the Meysan Lakes), and a number of lakes located along the trail to the summit - such as Mirror, Consultation - and Lone Pine Lake. While Lone Pine Lake is technically not on the trail to the summit, as it is off a short spur trail, it is a great short hike for beginner backpackers and hikers, and for those parties looking to take more than one day to summit Mount Whitney.
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.