White Mountain

  The following is a write up from our Blog last year (September 2014) but, a good thing about stories is that they never get old and in many cases might even get better. But we figured with summer being right around the corner and the fact that some of you might be getting ready for a Mt. Whitney hike or some other awesomeness we would throw this bad boy back up for you to enjoy…


 Last month found us traveling north into the Eastern Sierras to tackle White Mountain California’s third tallest peak at over fourteen thousand feet. In keeping with our tradition of being professionals and that with adventure the journey was just as fun as the destination.  With only a two day weekend and my buddy's wife’s car (much more comfortable than anything we drive) we set out with adventure in our hearts…


  That is until we pulled out onto the I15 North at 5:30 pm on a Friday, and so began the slow march of taillights that is southern California traffic. We left San Diego and had a relatively decent if not slow drive north until we realized there was no end of traffic in sight for the time being. So we made the command decision to pull off at the adventures last main hub, Rancho Cucamonga. I know what you’re thinking right; this is supposed to be like a blog of harrowing adventure, and we are getting there. Rancho Cucamonga is a veritable modern Zanzibar for the today’s traveler to the Sierras. There are plenty of convenient places for food including Slater 50/50 (guess where we ate), but more importantly there is the BassPro and REI in the same magical shopping center. Once again why this is important; after this stop you begin entering the realm of sleepy mountain towns with options for late night food and last minute gear dwindling quickly. 

  After about two hours hemorrhaging money and filling ourselves with bacon and beef we got back on to the fifteen and were able to enjoy reduced traffic. For the most part the fifteen is always busy with Vegas traffic and it is not until you get off onto the 395 that it settles down to a two lane highway that winds through small towns (don’t speed, trust us).  The ride is not a bad one, just long. At big pine we hung a right onto the 168 for a little while until we took a left onto White Mountain Road: this is when you get to enjoy good old fashioned dusty wash board roads which made time seem to drag on. We finally got to the trail head at around 3:00 am. There is parking and a nicely maintained vault toilet; oh did I also forget to mention it is at around 12,000 feet! This makes for a unique experience since instead of taking your time and acclimating you drive up to the site and step out winded with a little buzz. We made camp and crashed out in the balmy 24 degree weather; definitely suggest a good sleeping bag. 

 We woke up at around 8:30 am and got our stuff together and set off to a clear crisp morning. The trail was great with the first couple of miles actually consisting of a dirt road that leads to a Cal research facility that appeared to be shut down for the season. The road downgrades to nice jeep trail which was actually a joy to hike on. The views are absolutely amazing. Even without being on the summit you can see miles of what looks like a windswept arctic tundra. Little in the way of flora and fauna were visible and left you with a real alien feeling. The vast openness its self, served to play tricks on you and really made everything appear to be much closer than it really was. But for the most part minimal grades and a well maintained trail served to make for a quick hike until… 

  The final leg when you descend to the base of the summit down a steep trail only to begin the switchbacks. Up the loose rocky trail I found myself walking twenty yards before stopping with the altitude contributing significantly to my slow pace. Much like the lines at a certain mouse themed park, just as you think you are done you turn a corner to realize in fact you are not. The final push has you doing a large loop then marching to the top. We had ankle deep snow drifts obscuring the trail when we muscled to the top. The summit of White Mountain was definitely worth it, marked by a small research hut, we looked onto the valleys below and were amazed.  We could stare across and take in the Mur Wilderness while enjoying a well-deserved summit break and nap.

 As for the trip back, imagine the story up but in reverse. Just a few hints: this is a fourteen mile round trip that we did as a day hike in about ten and a half hours. With the Eastern Sierras, water is often plentiful there was none on this trip with the exception of the snow (a difficult and unreliable source at that). Don’t expect any shade, therefore plan accordingly with sun screen and lip balm! There was in fact minimal cell phone coverage in some areas although I will not talk about that as much as the other day hikers. Many seemed to be very competent outdoorsmen, but what stuck out to me were the groups that approached it as just a day hike with no real gear. I bring this up because of weather and general lack of natural resources should you became stranded. Up there you could expect to be in some trouble by the time help arrives, just food for thought. Finally, this is not the trip to break in boots!

  Upon conclusion of the hike we settled into a previously reserved a room in Bishop so we could drive back the next morning. The drive out was time consuming since we back tracked our route. Although, we did see a sign that said “Bishop 15” but at that point we figured “dance with the devil you know” and took the known route. We arrived in Bishop a little later than we hoped to. After rolling up to a Denny’s for some well deserved food, we grabbed some beer and checked into the hotel. We pretty much crashed out but we do fully expect to have enough energy to go scout the bars of Bishop One of these days and get back a full report, until next time.



Leave a comment