Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It

I decided to drive up to the Eastern Sierras a few days before my day hike to Mt. Whitney.  The decision to go up early was two-fold; to be able to better acclimate and to be able to do some more hikes in the area.  I have never been to the Eastern Sierras before and let's just say I was not disappointed.  By the time you drive into Lone Pine and see the silhouette of the mountains from the window in your car you are just awed and can't wait to see what they look like even closer.  
Mt. Whitney "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Mt. Whitney
Driving up the Whitney Portal Road your eyes are tantalized even more with the view and you have to remind yourself to breathe regularly.  This is what mountains and dreams are made of.  

I made my trusty car climb higher and higher up the mountain to go snag me a nice campsite and was ready to decide what hikes to do in the next few days. 
Since in a couple of days I would be starting my hike on this same trail in the dark and also since I arrived in the early afternoon I decided to do a nice little 5.6 mile out and back to Lone Pine Lake, the furthest point you can go on the Mt. Whitney Trail without a permit.  
Mt. Whitney Trail Sign "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Mt. Whitney Trail Sign
This hike starts at the Whitney Portal, which is at 8350 feet elevation, so you definitely begin to feel the thinner air as you start ascending long, but pleasant switchbacks where you can see the whole valley all the way down to the Alabama Hills opening up to you like a flower as you hike higher...and higher...and higher...
"Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Beautiful scenery along the trail
Seeing the John Muir Wilderness sign for the first time on this hike definitely put a smile on my face and an excitement through my body that can't be described.  His work and his writings shall forever be an inspiration to me.  
John Muir Wilderness Sign "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
John Muir Wilderness Sign
Continuing on in the Inyo National Forest, there are a couple of small creek crossings, followed by a slightly longer one where you have to walk on log after log that has been placed there for the hikers.  
Log crossing "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Log crossing
As I cross these amazing pieces of trail stewardship I can't help but wonder how many people have actually fallen off of them throughout the years and had their shoes take a brief dip in Lone Pine Creek.  Sloshy!
Lone Pine Lake Sign "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Lone Pine Lake Sign
Not too much farther and I reach the junction for Lone Pine Lake.  A few more steps downhill and at 10,050 feet elevation I have arrived at Lone Pine Lake, whose waters stretch out like an infinity pool in the distance.  
Log with Lone Pine Lake in the background "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Log with Lone Pine Lake in the background
I am now surrounded by towering cliffs, massive boulders, evergreens and a mirror-like lake.  Time to sit back, relax and breathe in that high elevation mountain air….aaahhhhhhhhh…….
Tranquil Lone Pine Lake "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
Lone Pine Lake "Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
"Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
"Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
"Lone Pine Lake Lovin' It"
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