Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Horseshoe Meadow Backpacking

This trip was originally suppose to be a Mt. Langley summit climb but soon faded to a leisurely backpacking trip.  I signed up with the Sierra Club to do this climb.  I also needed this trip in order to graduate WTC (the wilderness class I took last winter).   I was excited to do this trip as one of my goals is to climb all of California's 14,000 foot  peaks.  Unfortunately, the Sierra Club trip was misrepresented in labeling the trip as a Mt. Langley climb.  It should have been labeled a leisurely Cirque Peak climb, which is 12,900 feet.  

Thursday:  Drove up to Horseshoe Meadow (Golden Trout) parking lot and spent the night in the car.
Friday:  I packed up my gear and met up with the 2 Sierra Club leaders and the 5 other group members. I shared a tent with David Hong a fellow WTC classmate.  Cary couldn't make the trip due to food poisoning.  We left the Golden  Trout trail head and headed up the mountain around 11am.  7 miles and 8 hrs later we reached our camping area just below the unnamed lake just west of Cirque peak.   Half way to our camp site we stopped at Chicken Spring lake to get water and take a break(one of many). 
Saturday: Most of the group members were ready to leave at 7, however, we had to wait another hour or so for one of the leaders to get ready.  This pushed our starting time from 7 to 8.  So with the late start we headed down the PCT until we hit the wilderness border about a mile down the trail.  We then did some cross-country climbing up the ridge until we hit New Army Pass.  We stashed some water bottles to lighten our weight climbing the mountain.  At this point I knew we were not going to summit.  Our turn around time was 2 and it was already 11.  We still needed to climb 2200 feet and go 4 miles and at our very slow pace there was no way we were going to make it.  So we climbed until about 1:45 and stopped at 13,150 feet.  We took a 30 minute break and then headed back.  It was hard to handle the frustration and disappointment of not summitting.  What made it so frustrating was the fact that we didn't summit because of the late start (poor planning) of one of the leaders and the slow pace they took.  I could understand turning around because of bad weather, illness, or injury, but not because of poor planning and a slow pace.   The group members were disappointed as well because we all could have easily made it.  We trained for this for weeks, climbing peaks, running stairs and so on.  Even though I was disappointed I still couldn't believe just how beautiful the landscape was.  I was in the middle of  Cirque Peak, Mt. Whitney, Mt. Langley, and the Sequoia wilderness.  After we stopped climbing I changed my mindset for a summit climb to a leisurely backpacking trip.  This helped me enjoy the wilderness that surrounded me.  On the way back down I got to use the "go to" function on my GPS unit to lead us back to were we stashed our water.  I took a waypoint where we left our water, this waypoint later directed us back to the spot.  After we got back to our camp we shared our food and conversed over random topics.  The day's hiked totaled 9 miles and 2200 feet elevation gain in 11 hours.
Sunday:  We packed up our stuff and wanted to leave around 7:30, but once again we had to wait for one of our leaders.  2 members got fed up with waiting and signed themselves out and left around 8.  I know we were all thinking about doing that, but I didn't want to burn any bridges. After 5 hours of hiking we made it back to the trailhead and rushed down to the Pizza Factory where David, me and the leaders had some delicious pizza.

Reflection:  The trip had it's highs and lows.  I was frustrated by the lack of preparation and very slow pace, they should have never labeled it a Mt. Langley climbing trip,  they should have labeled it a leisurely Cirque peak climb.  Having said this, the leaders were very friendly and nice.  I enjoyed their company.  Even though we did not summit, it was still one of the most beautiful backpacking trips I have gone on, and that makes it all worth it!

Trip stats:
  • Total Mileage: 23 miles
  • Total Elevation: 3,800 feet
  • Trailhead:  Golden Trout to PCT.
  • Camp area:  Unnamed Lake off the PCT a few miles past Chicken Spring Lake.

note:  I have the GPS map info, however, I need to use my work computer to download the info.  I will get that up in a week or so.
  • Click on the pano picture to enlarge it.  

View Langley in a larger map

1 comment:

Holly said...

Beautiful scenery (& looks pretty high up there to me), but what a bummer the trip was misrepresented. Guess this one will be a do over :-)