Climbing Mount Whitney
You may recall from the First Long Hike Complete post that a friend and I hiked up to the highest point in Orange County, Santiago Peak, in November of 2011 . The post created quite a number of comments via email, a few on the post’s Comments section, and a number on Facebook.
One particular reader was inspired to hike up to the peak and asked some clarifying questions. I figured there may be others who may be considering the hike and have similar questions. So, here they are with the answers:
- Q: How much water did you need (not counting water for the dog)? Just a 3L bladder?
A: I took two 3L bladders. A common recommendation I've seen is .7L per hour. We figured we would be gone for 7.5 hours, equating to about 5.5L. That's why I took what I did. However, the weather was very cool that day (at warmest, it was 57°F). So, I ended up using only 2L of water! I initially drank more, but as the first hour ended, I realized I didn't need it.
- Q: What was the temperature drop from the trail head to the top? Somebody said to expect about 10-15 degrees. Is this correct?
A: We had a very cool day when we went, with cloud cover. In fact, the clouds started at about 3,500 ft. So, we were in the clouds (insert your joke here), literally, for more than half of the trail. The temperature ranged from 57°F at the base to 38°F at the top. We also encountered rain part of the way down. So, you'll want to check the weather before going up to insure you have the right equipment. I started out with a T-Shirt, but half way up switched to a light wind-proof jacket, and later added a thermal layer below the jacket when we reached the top. Of course, I also wore a hat to insure against sun and rain.
- Q: I’m considering using my iPhone as GPS (MotionX GPS). which GPS did you use? Can you recommend it? Do you think the phone will do it?
A: I didn't use my GPS. My friend had the GPS Tracker app on his iPhone. I now use AllSport GPS on my Android phone that works very well also. Neither of the apps on the phone require wireless signal, only that you have GPS capabilities on the phone and turn on the receiver. Of course, your signal strength will determine the quality of recordings and GPS response you get.
- Q: Did you find a good map to help find the trail head and then the trail itself?
A: Absolutely. I used three maps. I'm big on having a paper map, in case the GPS fails. I bought the "Franko's Map of the Santa Ana Mountains and Chino Hills State Park" from REI. This has trail maps from various locations. I also used Google Maps to find our trailhead and map the walk to the peak. Google Maps has a 3D play mode that lets you visually see how your trail will wind up and down. When at the trail head, I also took a picture of the trail map (here for your reference) available on a post there.
Speaking of the trail, make sure you take a truck or a crossover car with high clearance. The road to the Holy Jim Trail is very rocky and bumpy. It also crosses the same stream multiple times. I didn't know this and I have a sedan. We braved the road anyway. For the last 2.5 miles of the drive though, my car bottomed out numerous times, and that was with me driving in first gear at about 5 miles per hour. We couldn't drive the last mile and walked it instead, since the road was too rough for our sedans.
Q: Did you need any kind of permit or parking pass for your cars?
A: Yes. You’ll need an adventure pass that you can purchase from REI for $15. Don’t forget to get this and, most importantly, don’t forget to place this on your dashboard before leaving for the trail. We DID forget to place it and had to walk back the first quarter mile to put it on and avoid a fine.
What Do You Think?
Feel free to ask any other questions and post your comments below.