If you happen to be in California, aswell as being near miles and miles of coastline, you also aren’t far from a great hiking or backpacking trail or area. These hiking areas are one of the states great secrets and new found friends helped me to unravel this secret on Wednesday. A casual chat over the lunch table turned into an offer to join them on an overnight hiking trip which i willingly took up! The culdesac pulled together and next thing i knew i had a proper hiking pack, clothes and almost all i needed. All that remained was a trip to the local outdoor store to pick us some freeze dried food – mmmmm? Yes thats exactly what i was thinking too, but i was amazed by the variety they had – like Sicilian Lasagna, Kung-Pow chicken and rice and what i eventually settled on Wild Mushroom and Cous Cous! I grabbed some power bars and a packet of Granola and blueberries for my breakfast and then i was set. Wednesday we set off in the car, nice and cosy with the 6 of us and all our packs for the 4 hours drive
to the mountain of choice – Langley, located in the Sierra Nevadas.
The Sierra Nevada (Spanish: snowy mountain range) is a mountain range in the states of California and Nevada, between the California Central Valley and the Basin and Range Province. The Sierra run 400 miles (640 km) north-to-south, and are approximately 70 miles (110 km) across east-to-west. Notable Sierra features include Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America; Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet (4,421 m), the highest point in the contiguous United States; and Yosemite Valley sculpted by glaciers out of 100-million-year-old granite.
The range was first sighted by Europeans in 1542, and then explored between 1844 and 1912. The tourism potential of the Sierra Nevada was recognized early in the European history of the range. Yosemite Valley was first protected by the federal government in 1864.
Mount Langley (14,042 ft) is located on the crest of the Sierra Nevada, on the border of Inyo and Tulare counties. It is the ninth highest peak in the state and the seventh highest in the Sierras. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States, lies 4.8 miles (7.7 km) to the northwest
Until we came to the Lone Pine visitors centre and looked up see the layers of mountains looming above. Passes collected (it’s a very regulated system to keep close track of the numbers and whereabouts of campers and hikers) and then headed into the mountains
driving up and up and up until we came to the carpark which is at about 10 400ft (Australia’s highest point is Mount Kosciuszko at 7310 ft). Due to the high altitudes there are ever present concerns about careful timing of the ascent to avoid altitude related illness. In preparation we’d been drinking gallons and gallons of water and we planned to camp overnight at a high level before the final summit ascent.
We set off and i was immediately in awe of the stunning pine trees, some thick with foliage, others peeling their bark to reveal bright yellow bark and my favorites were the bare trees with incredible patterns and twists.
and i saw my first Marmot! Marmots are generally large ground squirrels. Marmots typically live in burrows (often within rockpiles), and hibernate there through the winter which explains how they survuve the chilly winters in the Sierras. Most marmots are highly social, and use loud whistles to communicate with one another and i couldn’t believe how used they were to seeing people. They’d just sit sunbathing atop rocks as i crept closer and closer. Once i’d gone within about 5 m they’d give me a pissed off look and scurry away!
Then lakes again! Feeling quite tired ( i haven’t done proper exercise for about a month due to traveling through India and also hurting my foot which yes, was still quite sore) i was anticipating that each lake we came to might be “our lake”, meaning the lake we would be camping at for the night
until we finally arrived at our destination – high lake!
This camp offers great views of Cirque Peak, and many possible ways to climb it