Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shrimp, Egg & Scallions

I went to Lotus Garden in San Bernardino with Wing Lau the other day and had a dish that I've had a number of other times with Wing there. It is not on the main menu. It is egg, shrimp and scallions and perhaps other less conspicuous items in a sort of omellete. Along with it, Wing orders a spicy red sauce which is also not on the menu. It appears to be a bean sauce, with chilies and oil. The oil separates quite quickly and you give it a quick stir to meld it altogether before placing it on the egg.
Below, a portion of the omellete slathered in the chilie sauce which is quite spicy.

It is amazing how something so simple can be so good. Of course, we ate it along side some Peking duck and life just does not get much better than that.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Isaac Sine and Marist Football

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego to see my nephew, Isaac Sine, play football. Below, Isaac, number 48, chats with a teammate on the sideline.

He plays for Marist, a private school in Poughkeepsie, New York, with a mascot that is the Red Fox. Marist was playing my law school alma mater, the University of San Diego (the Torreros).

Isaac, a freshman, plays special teams: kickoffs and punt coverage. He is also a reserve linebacker and hopes to get more play at that position next year.

Marist is in the Pioneer League which includes Butler (Indiana), Campbell (North Carolina), Davidson (North Carolina), Dayton (Ohio), Drake (Iowa), Jacksonville (Florida), Morehead State (Kentucky), Valparaiso (Indiana) and the University of San Diego. I was blown away to learn that this conference was so geographically large. What fun to get to travel to Florida and California, as well as North Carolina and the Midwest.

Isaac and the team arrived in San Diego on Thursday and got to visit Sea World and stay at the Marriott. Afterwards, we had a chance to go out to dinner and I noticed that the cute, young waitress was paying extra attention to our table. I would like to believe it was because of me, but I suspect it had something to do with the 6 foot 3 blonde hunk sitting with me in the booth.

Marist lost a very close game that was decided by a touchdown with about a minute left. Isaac has a scholarship to Marist and it sounds like it has great academics. What a great experience he has to travel and play football. I'm excited that we have a family member that plays football.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

JMT: Mount Whitney - Crabtree Meadow to Whitney Portal

Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet, is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. It is the highest point in the State of California and the terminus of the John Muir Trail, which starts in Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley (although Whitney Portal is sometimes treated as the terminus). I have been to the top of Mount Whitney four times and one additional time I went over Trail Crest but skipped the summit due to altitude sickness.

The purpose of this blog is to show pictures of the trip starting with the backside (western) approach, beginning at Crabtree Meadow, up to the Mount Whitney summit, then down the frontside (eastern) approach to Whitney Portal. I have gone up the backside of Mount Whitney (from Crabtree Meadow) three times and I have gone up the frontside (from Whitney Portal) twice.

Crabtree Meadow (10,700 feet):

In August 1998, my third trip to Mount Whitney, Jeff Brice and I took David Paxman, David Vilt, Sam Cannon, Joshua Brice, Andrew Cannon and Mark Martinsen over Kearsarge Pass and Forrester Pass and up the backside of Whitney and out to Whitney Portal. The picture below is of our group at Crabtree Meadow near the Ranger Station, at about 10,700 feet elevation. It rained on us earlier that day and Mark Martinsen ate a can of Spaghettios that appeared horrible when we first started our trip but that then looked very good after days of freeze dried meals. After leaving Crabtree Meadow you begin a gradual ascent upwards, occasionally getting views of Whitney Creek. You also enter the "Whitney Zone" where all waste must be placed in a wagbag and carried out. After a consistent climb you eventually reach Timberline Lake and are rewarded with marvelous views of Mount Whitney, the large rounded mountain left of center below (it is not nearly as impressive from the backside as from the front side). Camping is prohibited at Timberline Lake, so campers typically stay at either Crabtree Meadow, or at Guitar Lake, further along the trail.

Consistent with the name of the lake, the trees thin out as you gain altitude and enter the long valley on the west side of Mount Whitney. The first time I hiked Whitney was in August 1993. I was with my brother, Matt, my brother-in-law, David Kension, my nephew, Rick DeLong, Mark Richey, Mark's father, several of Mark's brothers and scouts from Redlands Troop 331. We came in over New Army Pass. Several of the scouts, particularly Brian Lehnhof and Peter Walker, were young and small. So we asked Matt and Rick to stick with them and help them up Mount Whitney. Below, Rick, Matt and Brian walk along just past Timberline Lake.

Guitar Lake (11,600 feet):

After climbing 900 feet in 2.1 miles from the Crabtree Ranger Station you reach a creek flowing in to Guitar Lake, at 11,600 feet. It is completely above tree line. Below, backpackers are at the stream getting water. The lake is almost difficult to see as it reflects the rock behind it.

In the opposite direction is a pass that goes between Mount Whitney on the right and Mount Hale on the left. In the center is Mount Russell, a fourteener. The picture below is of me on my 1993 trip.

On my last (fifth) trip, in July 2008, we came in over Army Pass. We were on a trip sponsored by the Redlands Stake and had five different groups coming in from different trailheads. Leaders in my group included Mark Richey, Dave Haimsen, Mark Zollinger and Jeff Newton. We were camped at Rock Creek and the group was going to camp the next day at Guitar Lake, then do Mount Whitney the day after. I had altitude sickness and determined to go out early. My son, Andrew, who was along on his fourth Mount Whitney trip, decided to accompany me out. We got up at 2:00 a.m. and made a difficult hike into Crabtree Meadow, arriving near the bridge over Whitney Creek before 6:00 a.m. I had no energy and was freezing while we took a rest stop. The hike from Crabtree to the area above Guitar Lake seemed to take forever. I was uncharacteristically taking frequent breaks. Andrew and I were stopped, resting in this area. I was actually contemplating taking the pass between Whitney and Hale and going out the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. I was concerned I didn't have the energy to get up and over Trail Crest. About that time Larry Strong and his group approached us. They had come across the Sierras from Sequoia National Park. They offered me 32 ounces of milk which was the only thing I was able to keep down the entire day. It soothed my stomach and gave me some energy. In talking with him, we decided the unknown route was more risky than continuing our hike up the backside to Trail Crest. They also took some items from my backpack to lighten my load. I have since heard the term "trail angels" and they were my trail angels that day, as was Andrew who patiently stuck by me even as we slowly plodded along.

The map below shows the backside route. From Guitar Lake, which is almost directly under the Whitney summit, you continue south across the valley until reaching switchbacks below Trail Crest. There you take a series of switchbacks up to the Mount Whitney Trail, which is about 100 feet lower than Trail Crest, and perhaps a quarter mile away, then go north again to the Whitney summit.
Below, backpackers from our 1993 trip head south along the base of Mount Whitney.

Below, looking back, as you get above and past Guitar Lake, you can see how its distinctive shape gives it its name.
Another backward glancing photo taken from the Trail Crest vicinity gives another perspective on the area. Distinctive Guitar Lake is to the right. In the center, and further back, barely visible, is Timberline Lake, on the edge of the trees. Further beyond it, in the trees, is Crabtree Meadow. Closer, higher up and to the left is one of the two Hitchcock Lakes. The Hitchcock Lakes are quite a bit off the main trail and I have never taken the time to go to them.

In a photo from the 1993 trip, we continue south toward the end of the valley where we will encounter the switchbacks.

Below, we have entered the switchbacks and can look above us and see people higher up as well as the rocky spires near Trail Crest.

Mark Richey, from the 1993 trip, plods along the switchbacks ahead of me.

Dave Kenison, from the 1993 trip, takes a rest along the switchbacks. As you get higher the views get quite spectacular.

Mount Whitney Trail (13,500 feet):

Andrew took the picture of me below, at the junction of the Mount Whitney Trail (which goes left), in 2008. I was elated to reach that point as I had struggled with no energy due to my altitude sickness. I was happier to reach that point in 2008 than I was to reach the summit of Mount Whitney on other trips. In 2008 we continued on over Trail Crest (straight ahead) without summiting Mount Whitney.
On our 1998 trip, Andrew, Sam and David Paxman rest at the beginning of the Mount Whitney Trail. On trips up from the backside, we typically leave the backpacks here for the roundtrip up to Mount Whitney summit and back. This point is about 3.9 miles beyond Guitar Lake and 1,900 feet higher, at an elevation of 13,500 feet. On trips up from the frontside, we would only have daypacks and nothing to leave here.

From the same point, below, looking up at Mount Muir, a fourteener, that Dave Kenison and I climbed on our 1993 trip.

Below, hikers along the Mount Whitney Trail. Mount Whitney is the relatively flat looking mountain at the back with snow on it. The summit is all the way to the right near the edge where it drops off.
Matt Cannon and Dave Kenison in front of me among the impressive spires along the Whitney Trail on the 1993 trip.
In August 2005, I went up the frontside from Whitney Portal on a three day trip with Judy, Andrew and two of Andrew's friends, Eric Lau and Jason Bush. Many of the pictures from here on were taken by Andrew on this trip. The picture below was taken by Andrew through one of the windows along the Mount Whitney Trail, a break in the ridge caused by one of the ridge needles.

The next picture was also taken through one of the windows and is of an unnamed lake below Pinnacle Ridge.

On our 1993 trip, Dave Kenison at the window between Keeler Needle and Mount Whitney. The Mount Whitney summit is high above Dave to the right.

From the Whitney massif, looking back at the serrated ridge which is traversed by the Mount Whitney Trail. Mount Muir, a fourteener, is the pointed peak at the far right end of the ridge. Mount Langley, another fourteener, is the tallest mountain in the picture, just left of center.

As you get close to the summit, the rock summit shelter becomes visible.

Mount Whitney (14,195 feet):

Finally, the summit, 2.3 miles down the Mount Whitney Trail with an elevation gain of 994 feet. It is a total of 8.3 miles and 3,795 feet in gain from the Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station. In contrast, from the front, Whitney Portal, side, the summit is 11.2 miles and 6,134 feet in elevation gain. Virtually every group to the summit has to take a summit photo. Below, in the 1993 group, are Dave Richey, Jeremiah Brice, James Richey, Matt Cannon, Dave Kenison, me, Rick DeLong, Kirk Thompson, Peter Walker, Brian Lenhof, Mark Richey and Brad Martinsen.

In August 1997, my second trip to Mount Whitney, I took a three day trip up from Whitney Portal with my two boys, Sam and Andrew. Sam was age 12 and Andrew was age 9. This is our summit picture.

Next is the 1998 group summit photo: Sam Cannon, David Vilt, Andrew Cannon, David Paxman and Joshua Brice.

In 2005, Judy and I at the summit.

In 1993, Matt near a summit sign.

From the summit, looking back at the summit shelter.
On the 1997 trip, we encountered a friendly marmot at the summit.

The next photo is a beautiful shot from the south side looking down the serrated ridge at the far left. Keeler Needle is the first cliff toward the front of the picture. One of the Hitchcock Lakes is right of center and Mount Guyot, a 12,000 plus foot peak I climbed with Rick DeLong in 1993, is toward the back at the far right beyond two ridges.

The next picture, taken in 2005, is from nearly the same vantage point, and shows Eric Lau laying on a rock near the cliff edge. It is oriented a little more to the left and shows the edge of Keeler Needle.

On the other side of the summit, closer to the north side, is a view of Iceberg Lake and the valley created by the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. The middle ridge, a little higher than center, which extends to the left side, goes up to the summit of Mount Russell, a nearby fourteener.

Mount Russell is to the right of the picture (the highest point is the left peak) and a view of the Sierras to the north.
Trail Crest (13,600 feet):

Continuing on, we jump back to the beginning of the Mount Whitney Trail. From there it is about a quarter mile and 100 feet of elevation gain up to Trail Crest, which is the pass over to the other side of the mountain. Below, in 2008, I struggle up toward Trail Crest which is the notch visible toward the top.

In 2005, a picture taken at Trail Crest. The backside is to the left and the frontside is to the right.

From Trail Crest, a picture of Guitar Lake and one of the Hitchcock Lakes.

From near the same vantage point, a picture of both Hitchcock Lakes and 13,184 foot Mount Hitchcock behind them.

Next is a photo diagram of the east side of Mount Whitney. From Trail Crest, the trail switchbacks down to Trail Camp, a good camping spot for those getting ready to do or just coming down from Whitney, then down to Outpost Camp, past Lone Pine Lake and then out of the picture to Whitney Portal.

From Trail Crest to Trail Camp there are approximately 99 switchbacks. In 2005, Andrew is near the top of the switchbacks. Trail Camp is next to the small lake at the left of the picture and Consultation Lake is to its right.
A similar picture, taken from further down the switchbacks in 1993. The switchbacks and other hikers are visible below and Trail Camp is to the right of the lake on the left.

From the switchbacks, three fourteeners are visible: Mount Muir (the pointy peak to the left), Mount Whitney (the peak in the center) and Mount Russell (the summit just visible to the right of the face of Whitney).
Partway up the switchbacks is a section protected by a fence with metal posts and wire rungs. This is an area that is often icy and treacherous. In fact I know a person who slipped here a number of years ago and had to be evacuated by a helecopter after he severely broke his leg in the fall. Mark Richey, in 1993, goes down the trail.

In 2005, the same section of the trail looking up from the opposite direction. Andrew and his friends, Jason and Eric.

Another view from the switchbacks. Mount Whitney is top left, Pinnacle Ridge is lower center and Mount Russell is beyond it in the center.

Trail Camp (12,040 feet):
Trail Camp is 2.2 miles below Trail Crest and 1,560 feet lower, at 12,040 feet. On both of our 3 day trips up the front side we camped at Trail Camp. It is 6.7 miles up from Whitney Portal and 3,680 feet in elevation gain. It is a good acclimatiztion altitude and makes the summit day the next day easier than starting lower down. However, I find that I don't sleep as well at that altitude and it is not as pretty as Outpost Camp, further down below treeline. Below, Judy, Eric Lau and I and our camp at Trail Camp.

The same campsite with a view further to the south.

The lake near Trail Camp with a view of Mount Whitney behind it.

Another view of the lake and Mount Muir behind it with the summit clipped off. The switchbacks up to Trail Crest go up the side of the mountain to the left and Trail Crest is near where that mountain meets the back ridge.

Judy and I in 2005 at Trail Camp. It is very nice when Judy will go with me on a backpacking or hiking trip.

One problem with Trail Camp is the marmots. They will chew through backpacks to access food. It is less of an issue now that bear cannisters are required.

Consultation Lake, below and to the south of Trail Camp. It is walk off the main trail.

In 2008, I go down the trail between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp. Fortunately, even with altitude sickness, gravity drags your body down hill and I made good time.

This portion of the trail is rock stairs visible in the center of the picture.

In 2008, I hike below Andrew below Trail Camp.

The most beautiful spot on either side of Mount Whitney is a small meadow fed by a stream coming out of a snow banck.

It is always a good place to fill up water bottles, take off boots or shoes and rest, laying in the grass. In 2005, Andrew is barely visible in the center of the picture, standing on a rock above the grass and below the snow.

Judy, Eric and Jason rest in the grass next to the stream.

One of my neatest outdoor experiences happened here with Judy in 2005. I looked at her and she had tears going down her cheeks. I asked her what was wrong, and she replied, "you never told me how beautiful it was."

That is why this section of the hike gets so many pictures.

A closeup of one of the purple flowers in the meadow.

And of some small pink flowers.

From the stream looking back toward Whitne Portal.

A large tree above Mirror Lake, which is about a quarter mile above Outpost Camp.

A view of the mountains above Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake.
Flowers near Mirror Lake and the mountains on the south side of it.

A beautiful picture of the east side of Mirror Lake.

Andrew and his friends fished in Mirror Lake which is full of golden trout.

A pan full of golden trout which we took with us up to Trail Camp and ate for dinner in 2005.

Outpost Camp (10,600 feet):

Outpost Camp is 3.6 miles below Trail Camp and is 1,460 feet lower. It is a much nicer place to camp than Trail Camp. There are trees and bushes and running water nearby, including a beautiful waterfall. It is the ideal place to camp after a day of summiting Whitney. Before a summit day, Trail Camp is still best because it is so much closer. Below, Eric Lau near our tents in 2005.

Trees and a meadow just east of the campsite.

The waterfall, just south of Outpost Camp.

A different view of the waterfall.

Looking toward Outpost Camp from the east.

Lone Pine Lake (9,960 feet):
Lone Pine Lake below, 1.0 mile below Outpost Camp and 640 feet lower. Andrew, Sam and I camped there following summiting Whitney in 1997. However, I don't believe camping is allowed there now.
Below Lone Pine Lake is a beautiful rushing stream. It is a nice resting spot, particularly when climbing up toward Whitney.

In 2005, Judy and I climbing up toward Lone Pine Lake.

In 2008, I cross a log across a stream.

Whitney Portal (8,360 feet):

In 2005, Eric Lau, Jason Bush, Andrew, Judy and I at the trailhead at Whitney Portal. It is 2.1 miles below Lone Pine Lake and 1,600 feet lower.

Right near the trailhead is the Whitney store. It is a must stop at the end of every trip. In 1993, after days of eating trail food, double hamburger, hashbrowns and fries are mighty tasty.

The store is known for its large portions. James Richey and Matt Cannon display plate sized pancakes and some hashbrowns.

Judy, Jason and Eric enjoy a meal there in 2005.

Judy and I in the Whitney Portal parking lot in 2005.

A view of Mount Whitney from the Whitney Portal road. Whitney is the tallest pointed mountain in the center. Keeler Needle is the next left.

Mount Whitney from further down the Whitney Portal Road.