|Solid high altitude training means climbing high pointy places like this...|
|...looking down 10,200 feet like this...|
|....hanging out with beautiful people like this...|
|...to enjoy and celebrate awesome places like this.|
Alternate: If Whitney Portal has no availabilities, consider staying at Horseshoe Meadow in the Golden Trout Wilderness. You'll camp at almost 10,000 feet. The camping is more primitive but the whole place operates on a first-come-first-serve basis and is rarely full. Adjust your schedule accordingly for the 31-ish mile trip to the trailhead.
Tuesday: Head down to the Eastern Sierra Interagency Center and exchange paperwork for the actual Mt Whitney Zone Permit. You can do this on the way into town on Monday as well because you fall within 48 hours of your Whitney Zone entry date (Wednesday in this example) with a summit on Thursday. However, multi-day-ers have until 10:00 am of your entry date to pick up the permit. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Hit Joseph’s Bi-Rite Market or Elevation for any forgotten food or gear items. On the way back to Whitney Portal, turn left on Horseshoe Meadow Road all the way to the end at Horseshoe Meadow Camp at almost 10,000 feet (3048 m). Start hiking up towards Cottonwood Lakes. Hike as far as you want. A round trip all the way to the Lakes is 11 miles at 11,500 feet (3,505 m). We go in about 3 miles (5 km), find a nice spot to eat lunch, and spend quality time. It's 2 days before The Big One. You're either in shape by now or you're not. Return to the Portal for a shower, supper, and a good night's rest.
|Good snoozing conditions on the trail to Cottonwood Lakes|
If your destination is Outpost Camp at 10,365 feet (3159 m), you can leave up to about 1:00 pm. Outpost Camp is physically larger, less rocky, and less windswept so there's not the same pressure to find a good spot. However, be aware darkness comes early to the Eastern Sierra so make sure you leave enough time for setup and supper in daylight.
Alternate: If you have an extra day or you’re short of high altitude training, consider spending one night at Outpost Camp, then moving up to Trail Camp.
|Trail Camp from the bottom of the switchbacks|
Friday: If the weather prevents a Thursday summit, take another crack at it if your party has enough extra rations (actually you have 13 more days to try as long as you don’t leave the Zone). The extra day may bring altitude benefits as well. Otherwise, break camp and head back down to the Portal for a burger and a beer. There's a spring scale hanging from the trelliswork at the trailhead. Weigh each returning pack. The heaviest buys the beer.
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