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Mt Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow
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Mount Whitney: Mountain Lore from the Whitney Store
Mt. Whitney: The Peak and Surrounding Highlands
Mount Whitney: The Complete Trailhead-To-Summit
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Whitney Portal 10 miles
Lone Pine 10 miles
Grays Meadows 24 miles
Onion Valley 24 miles
Oak Creek 28 miles

Trail Journals

Mt Whitney from Horseshoe Meadow


Pages:   Introduction   1   2   3   4
 
Miter Basin to Lake 12,125 Map: Miter Basin
Towards Primrose Lake
Towards Primrose Lake
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Lake 12,125
Lake 12,125
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It becomes obvious that you have entered a grand wilderness with mountains towering above on nearly all sides which reflect an amazing alpenglow in the evening. Camping is available in the first meadow, but you'll get more solitude if you continue on to the next meadow and limited camping is available as far as Sky Blue Lake.



Just past this meadow is Primrose Lake (left). Like Erin Lake, it is high above the valley floor and requires a fair amount of scrambling to get there. 



As you continue on to Sky Blue Lake you come across a few small ponds. The trail tends to vanish around these ponds and small meadows and you have to rely on your own route finding skills the farther up you go. In fact, once you get to Sky Blue Lake you're pretty much on your own.



There is a little bit of scrambling that must be done on the way to Sky Blue Lake. Upon reaching Sky Blue Lake you will find yourself confronted with your first real challenge: how does one get to Lake 12,125? There really isn't much scrambling, but it is steep and it is easy to lose your way.



Basically, you go around the right (east) side of the lake, cross the river on the other side, and go up and around to Lake 12,125. We met an older couple camping at Sky Blue Lake who pointed out a route which they followed in reverse the day before. We found ourselves at that Z-shaped pond you'll see on the map which is a bit off track, but I thought it was actually a neat looking area. You may find a number of cairns or ducks along the way. Don't pay too much attention to them because they do not seem to mark the way. They represent little more than somebody saying "I was here."



One more note. We saw a few campsites between Sky Blue Lake and Lake 12,125. We guess that people got stuck and camped there as a last resort because none of these campsites looked particularly pleasant. I recommend you leave early so that you can make it to Crabtree Lakes by nightfall.

Lake 12,125 to Crabtree Lakes Map: Crabtree Pass and Upper Crabtree Lake
Towards Crabtree Pass
Towards Crabtree Pass
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Lower Crabtree Lake
Lower Crabtree Lake
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The greatest challenge is getting to Crabtree Pass from Lake 12,125. This portion of the trip consists almost entirely of scrambling and hopping from one boulder to the next. We went around the left side of the lake along the top of the rock pile until we got around to the north shore. There may be an easier way, it's up to you to find one, but I'll bet that any way you go will be difficult and painful.



A short distance from the pass (roughly 200ft) you will have the option of going up to the left or to the right. Go right. If you continue up the left side you will not be able to find a way down. If you go up the right side you will find a path leading down to the lake below. This path is very steep and slippery. It is made not by any trail crew but from people slipping and sliding their way up and down the pass.



Once you get down to the lake you will go through a boulder field and then around the right (north) side. This is a bit tricky because some of those boulders are not as stable as they look and as you pass along the north side of the lake it is quite slippery in places. However, once around the lake your trip will suddenly become remarkably easier. Instead of walking on boulders and scree you get to walk down solid granite slab ledges (think of them as sidewalks) until you reach the river. Then it's more of the same until Upper Crabtree Lake.



Once at Upper Crabtree Lake you can turn around a get a rather dramatic view (left) of where you came from. There is camping just above Crabtree Lake, but not much. It is also very exposed with nothing to block the wind, so I recommend you not camp here if there is any weather. Fortunately, the weather was perfect when we arrived, there was no wind, and we were too exhausted to continue to Lower Crabtree Lake as was the plan. We camped just above Upper Crabtree Lake and it turned out to be our best campsite ever (until the morning when the wind arrived). Also, we've never had so much solitude in all our life. The sunset was amazing and the meteor shower that night was out of this world.



The trip from Upper to Lower Crabtree Lake is simple. It is just a matter of walking down the granite slabs. They can be very steep, but caution and a good pair of boots should suffice.



While descending to Upper Crabtree Lake you will notice that the trees are terribly stunted. They look more like pine bushes than trees. Once at Upper Crabtree Lake you get to walk along a nice sandy beach. The footprints on the sand indicate how many people have been around recently. We saw what appeared to be two pairs. This is also where the trail resumes. However, it vanishes before long.



There are two ways to travel between Upper and Lower Crabtree Lakes. The most obvious descent is where you pretty much stick to the right and stay on the granite. You will arrive at a river and follow that down. Then enter the meadow. Once you arrive at the meadow beside Lower Crabtree Lake you will find a trail. Turn right (west) on the trail.



The most obvious ascent from Lower to Upper Crabtree Lakes is to follow this trail east. It leads into a forested area. When the trail disappears you make your way up. This approach is more dirt and sand than granite.  



The short trail along Lower Crabtree Lake is the easiest and most refreshing hike in days. The air is much warmer down here and the trees block the wind. We met somebody who camped at Lower Crabtree Lake and fished for his dinner. He said that the trout was the best he had ever eaten. He explained that the trout in this lake eat shrimp which makes its meat very red and flavorful.

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