DAY TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN
Today is our hike to Mount Langley in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Mount Langely is the southernmost 14 thousand footer in the Sierra and requires a round trip hike of over twenty miles to stand on the summit. Most people do it in two or three days and camp at one of the Cottonwood Lakes but we are going to push it and do it in one day. Then, we are driving back home. This should be fun.
Our adventure starts on the Cottonwood Lakes trail into the John Muir Wilderness.
I'm hiking today with Carl Garczynski and his son, Matt. Oh wait, that's the wrong picture.
Here are Carl (on the right) and Matt.
Here's Matt crossing a creek on a well positioned log.
After a long walk through the woods we get to a fork and head in the direction of New Army Pass.
Mount Langley is the tallest point in this picture.
Carl strolls by one of the many lakes along the way. This first section has very little elevation gain but that will change.
We leave the trees and lakes far behind as we steadily gain elevation.
Carl makes his way up the trail toward New Army Pass.
We get over New Army Pass and enter the Sequoia National Park. The advantage of entering the park this way is that you avoid the $20 entrance fee.
As we slog up the mountain to the summit, we can see the smoke of a controlled burn in the distance. We aren't concerned about any fires up here since there's nothing to burn.
After walking up a seemingly endless sand dune, we get to a little more stable surface but decide to bypass the snow and climb the rocks instead.
This is the little chute we have to climb. Fun stuff at almost fourteen thousand feet.
Carl's getting ready to have some fun climbing that chute.
At the top of the chute is a pleasant little surprise. Some beautiful little purple flowers are growing right in the rock.
The G Men trudging up to the summit as the rest of the world falls further and further away.
We've made it!
The view from the top is extraordinary looking north toward Mount Whitney.
The views in the other direction aren't bad, either.
A proud moment for father and son.
I stand on the summit and brace myself against the wind, which has been the one constant of our adventure today. That, and fine companionship.
On the way down, Matt decides to forgo downclimbing the chute and opts for the snow instead. It's nice to touch snow when the temperature at home is 110º.
On the way down we decide to do the Old Army Pass instead. This route is a little sketchier but will ultimately be shorter. We heard that a couple of weeks ago a woman on this route slipped on a snowfield and fell to her death. We use extreme caution.
Carl making his way down from Old Army Pass.
Old Army Pass as it looks from Cottonwood Lake 4.
Now all we've got to do is walk through the seemingly endless forest and drive home.
At this point the top of Mount Langley seems another world away.
It's been a long but rewarding day, one that will stand out for years to come. Now, we've got the long drive back to the desert but hopefully before the year is out we can make another Sierra road trip. Maybe next time we can stay a while.