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TOPIC: White Mountain Peak Trip Report

White Mountain Peak Trip Report 2 years 4 months ago #12169


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On the 25th of July our motley crew assembled around noon at the Vons in Bishop. The list of attendees for this trip were myself, Erez, Jose, Richard, and Scott. On the way there Scott texted me and said that he was running a bit late. No worries. I spoke to the group and then told Scott we would wait for him. I went into Vons and did a little last minute shopping and filled the tank on the Rover as we waited. Scott had brought his son Grant along for the trip and had to make a few unexpected pit stops on the way. Scott arrived and our group finally got on the road around 2:00 PM. Our planned route was to head north out of Bishop, go through the town of Laws and head up into the Whites via Silver Canyon Road. Silver canyon starts out mellow with quite a few stream crossings. On the way up we passed a group of three Desert Bighorn Sheep which was a treat to see. A bit further up the trail, right before the switchbacks, Scott chimes in over the radio that he's got steam coming from under the hood and is stopping to check it out. It was hot that day in the lower elevations and my truck was beginning to run hot as well, venting pressure from the radiator cap which was odd since my truck never overheats. I pulled into a turnout, parked my truck and walked down the hill to where Scott was parked to help assess the situation with his truck. Turns lip on the plastic upper radiator flange that helps retain the hose had broken off. While this wasnt all bad, the little bit of broken plastic had fallen down an adjacent hose that goes to the thermostat. Not wanting to have some random bits of plastic circulating around his cooling system Scott decided to drop his front skid plate and remove the long hose and fish the offending bits of plastic out. After getting the hose off, and taking a warm antifreeze bath in the process, he was able to remove the broken bits of plastic and get everything sorted. He put the upper radiator hose and and used a screw type clamp from his spares instead of the OEM spring clamp to give a little more bite and hold the hose onto the compromised flange. Meanwhile while Scott was attending to his truck Richard gave me a lift back up the hill to see how my truck was doing and check on the rest of the group. Jose had moved his truck out of the way for a Jeep that was coming down the trail and after moving could not get his truck into gear. He was thinking the clutch had failed. Hrmm. I pulled Jose uphill with a strap past a place where he could back his truck in via gravity and turn it around had head back downhill to where Scott was working on his truck. While he was coasting downhill he played around with the T-case shifter and said when he was down there that he thought he had gotten it into gear. A minute later and he was moving under his own
power. What had happened was that the transfer case had popped out of gear unbeknownst to Jose. Disaster averted! Down but not out, we decided that with Scott’s cooling system at less than optimal we would turn around and take the long way up to the Whites by going back through Bishop, down 395 to Big Pine and take 168 north and enter the white mountains that way.

Other than being just overall hot, the drive up wasn't bad. It was pavement until we got to the NPS Schulman Grove Visitor Center then it turned into gravel. Since we were running way behind schedule we were just going to head up to the area we had planned on camping at. Fate decided to intervene again as we crossed 10K feet in elevation. Scott came across the radio saying that his truck had stalled out. The group halted and I went back to check out and see what was going on. Turns out the LR3 problem of the truck vapor locking at elevation had reared it's ugly head. Scott was able to pull the engine cover and bleed off the vapor and pressure from the schrader valve on the fuel rail and the truck started right up after that. Up where we had halted the group Erez's Land Cruiser seemed to be having the same problem of vapor lock. Unfortunately the Toyota doesn't have a schrader valve on the fuel rail so we were forced to bleed off the vapor and pressure by undoing the quick disconnect fitting at the fuel filter. With this sorted our group was once again under way towards our destination for the evening where we would set up camp. It was about 12 miles from where were at, and was all on gravel so it took about a half hour to get there. Once we reached the trail junction which was just shy of 12k feet and well above the tree line we started our way across a wide open plain till we came to the narrow shelf road that would lead us down into Cottonwood Valley which was to be our campsite for the evening. The views going down were great, loosing almost 1500 feet of elevation over the course of a mile or so where we dipped back down below the treeline. We stopped enroute and checked out the old miners cabin at the Eva Belle mine and took a few pics then continued on. Once we found a suitable flat wide open space we pulled off the side of the road and with daylight fading, we set up camp for the evening where everyone then proceeded to make dinner and hang out for a bit. Due to the fire restrictions in place I brought along my propane camp fire ring and the kids in attendance were able to roast some marshmallows over the pseudo campfire. Everyone retired to their respective tents/cots/vehicles for the evening around 10 after a long day on the road. I stayed up and tried to take advantage of the clear, dark skies and get some shots of the milky way. I was only partially successful due to the quarter moon that had not yet set, but I still managed to get a few good shots.

The next morning the plan was for Jose and I to go take advantage of the fact that the gate to the Barcroft research station was open and make the 11 mile round trip hike to White Mountain Peak, shaving off four miles round trip. The remainder of the group was planning to explore Crooked Creek road to where it would eventually intersect Wyman Canyon road and led them out of the mountains and take them to the ruins of White Mountain City on the eastern side of the range.

I woke up early, took some pre-sunrise photos and re-packed all the stuff in my truck. The rest of the group followed suit and began cooking breakfast and breaking down camp. Jose and I had initially planned on being up near the gate when they opened it up around 6:30 but alas, best laid plans often don't come to fruition. We ended up poking around and not departing camp till a bit after 7:30 am when we said our goodbyes to the rest of the group and headed on our way to the Barcroft Research Station. The scenery up there with the long rolling hills and no trees present to give anything a sense of scale is pretty breathtaking. We arrived at the research station at about 8:30 and began our trek up the service road that leads from the Barcroft station all the way up to the top of White Mountain Peak, the third highest peak in CA at 14,242 feet, where they have another research facility to test the effects of altitude on plants and animals. Unless you’ve done a whole lot of acclimating at high elevation the lack of available oxygen really does a number on you. I’m in decent shape and I would often have to stop and catch my breath and allow my heart rate to go back down. Jose and I stayed together up until the point where you start climbing the switchbacks that lead up to the top of White Mountain Peak, at around 13K feet. After that point he started to pull ahead of me and I just continued to trudge along stopping to catch my breath often. Finally at around 12:50 I joined Jose who was waiting at the summit. We stopped, rested and ate some food at the peak and then looked around for about a half hour before we started our descent. While the majority of the hike was downhill, there are a few places where you lose elevation and then have to climb back up. Again Jose pulled ahead a bit and waited at the top of the hill before the long gradual descent back to the research station. We finally arrived back at the Barcroft Research Station and our trucks at about 4:00. Summit achieved! We both at a little bit and used the blue room before starting our long trek out of the mountains at 4:30. We arrived in Big Pine around 6:00 and finally made it home after being battered on the 14 by the winds between Inyokern and Mojave at 11:00. Made for a long but enjoyable day and a great cap to the weekend.

I touched base with Scott on Monday to see how their trek down Crooked Creek road had went. Turns out it was another day full of adventure. After being good samaritans and helping someone get unstuck, Scott getting a flat and having to put on his spare, and Erez’s truck vapor locking again they got within a ¼ mile of the intersection for Crooked Creek Road and Wyman Canyon to find the track washed out and impassable. They ended up having to backtrack all the way to White Mountain Road and leave the same way we entered a day before. It turns out that they were about an hour behind Jose and I with them reaching Big Pine and 395 around 7:00 and Richard and Scott arriving home near Newport around midnight.

Thanks to Erez, Jose, Richard and Scott for joining me on this trip. Had a great time and can't wait until the next adventure.
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White Mountain Peak Trip Report 2 years 4 months ago #12170


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White Mountain Peak Trip Report 2 years 4 months ago #12171


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White Mountain Peak Trip Report 2 years 4 months ago #12172


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White Mountain Peak Trip Report 2 years 4 months ago #12173


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White Mountain Peak Trip Report 2 years 4 months ago #12175


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Jake,
Great trip report.
Richard
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