Thursday, September 12, 2013

Up, Up and a WAY!

It's that time again! Tomorrow my brother Greg and I begin our annual backpacking extravaganza! We are meeting in Mojave around 9:30am, and then this year we will BOTH drive up hwy 395 (that runs from Mojave and goes up along the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains) all the way to Lone Pine. That's where the big new ranger station is. We will get our permit hopefully with no problems, then we will BOTH drive up to Mt Whitney Portal (the trailhead for the hike to Mt Whitney) and leave his car there. Then we'll load all his gear into my car and we will drive north to the Onion Valley trailhead (where we went out of last year). This year we are doing our FIRST point to point ONE WAY trip! We've never done this before...we've always packed in and unloaded/set up a 'base camp' and then day hiked and fished every day.

Our goal is to hike a nice chunk of the John Muir Trail. We hike from the Onion Valley trailhead and in about 7 miles (after we've gone up/over/down Kearsarge Pass) we will link into the JMT. Then the trail turns left (south sort of) and the fun really begins. We have 3 large passes to cross...Kearsarge, Forrester, and finally the hike up to Trail Crest (at the top of the ridge, a mere2 miles away from the Mt Whitney summit). Being a point to point we will be carrying the FULL weight of our packs every step of the way. We hope to be hiking down into Whitney Portal next Tuesday afternoon...however we've reserved Weds as a potential hike-out day if needed. We have no idea how hard this will be..but I think it's safe to say it will be harder than we think (but we Chapek boys are quite stubborn, so unless there is a broken femur and / or spouting arterial blood flow, I think we will make it).

OH...before I get any further, in case anybody out there is interested in following us, here is the SPOT (Satellite POsition Tracker) map that will show our location every 10 minutes (that the device is turned on) for the duration of the trip:

You have the option of choosing either Map or Satellite view or hybrid (a satellite map with any roads and such overlaid). If you hover over any of the position markers it gives you the time it was sent.

Hard or not, I'm pretty sure we will have a GREAT time! Greg has been down in San Diego all week for work (riding home on the train as I type) and doesn't get home until later this it's a "hi honey..I'm home...and I'll be leaving tomorrow morning to go backpacking with Matt". So he's rather frazzled (he sort-of got out all his stuff last weekend). I've been crazy busy at work, and then getting everything ready for this trip has left ME feeling frazzled all week too. But my car is loaded, and only a few tiny items left on my I'm much calmer now. We have our food pretty well figured out (we will each be carrying a bear can, and eating Mountain House dehydrated food for dinner, instant oatmeal for breakfast, and cliff bars and jerky for lunch/snacks as we hike. We drive up to the trailhead tomorrow afternoon and then decide if we should hike up/over Kearsarge pass or car-camp the night and go up early on Sat (keep in mind we live at Sea Level...Kearsarge is around 10,000' I believe...maybe a bit less...Forrester is over 13,000 but that won't be for a few days...and Mt Whitney goes to near 15,000). We have Sat/Sun/Mon as full days, with Tues as a planned 'hike out' day...our it can be a 4th full day and Weds is the hike-out day...that will be a day by day decision on how we are progressing each day. We'd need to hit pretty good miles to make it in 3.5 days...roughly 15 miles a day...not sure we are up to that with full packs...but we will soon see.

Here is an altitude profile of the entire hike we plan to do:

OK...enough on about the VUELTA!!!! GO CHRIS!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!! OMG..if he pulls this off it will be the most exciting thing in cycling in a LONG time as far as I'm concerned! He's still one of my 2 fav (still racing) riders...he and Fabian (so VERY sad he's out). I'll be sending him whatever spare energy I can (hopefully...if he suddenly starts looking like he's bonking, it's because my 'energy sending' wave-beam accidentally turned around and I'm sucking HIS energy to survive this 50 mile hike).

Anyway, have a great weekend and I'll check in late next week with the full story AND pictures.

Later gaters...and CHEERS!


  1. Watching the stage as I type-- Go Horner!

    Your trips always make me nostalgic, Matt.

    I did those climbs on one of my out-n-backs; I recall Forrester was VERY tough--take 2 steps, stop and breathe, take 2 steps... Went to Tyndall creek and turned around there.

    The camping area where I stayed 1 night (Bubbs Creek? don't remember now) had a bear cable and it was a good thing I used it as the site was visited by a bear at around 1am. I woke to the sound of it rummaging around. It got into some other camper's gear but fortunately left mine alone. I think that was the highest my heart rate has ever been!

    Passed through an area also on that trail where all the trees were down; avalanche, I suppose.

    Have fun and be safe!


  2. If you missed today's stage, do your best to find it somewhere on the internet, the final 7km. EPIC! Below is the link to my report - some inspiring quotes from Horner. He's the first grand tour winner I have a personal relationship with - very proud right now!!!

  3. Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!


  4. OK! Spot. So that's the coolest feature I've seen! Looks like you two have been steaming along. Can't wait to hear the report. So this satellite thingie. Something left over from the base? Lent to you by some GMen from No Such Agency? Or, just something you wired up yourself and tucked into a recent little departure? Too bad you didn't bring a bike for the downhill off of Whitney Portal. That would have been a Strava posting for you. Travel safe.

    1. Yeah, a folding bike, totally do-able!

  5. I have to really encourage all of you to watch/tivo the America's Cup yacht race on Wednesday. It's being shown on NBC Sports, same channel as Tour was on, and it starts at 1PM on the west coast. Oracle Team USA were originally docked 2 points (races) for an infraction of the rules in the prior series in smaller boats, so they started in a hole, which immediately got bigger because Emirates Team New Zealand starting running away with the wins. By Sept 18 the score was 8-1 and NZ was at match point, but....then Oracle made small changes to the boat, the after guard came together with a new tactician and BAM - after today's two wins, the score is dead even at 8-8 with winner take all in tomorrow's race! These catamarans are 72 foot, they foil across the water at speeds of more than 40mph and they are beautiful to watch in flight. My husband and son went up to SF the weekend of the 14th, thinking it was almost over, but it's still going and is now down to the wire. The way the race course is set up it makes it very easy to understand what's going on and the commentators are fabulous at explaining everything. Watch it!!!!