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Message #3203 of 4034  *NEW*
My longest day hike
6/22/06, 10:00am (Last Edited: 6/22/06, 10:01am)

Every once in a while I go through old photos and journals and this is the story of the longest and hardest day hike I've ever done...

About a week after I climbed Mt. Silliman in Sequoia National park in July 2000 I was still feeling ambitious so I set off on a 14-mile hike from the Wolverton Trailhead to Alta Peak and back. This trail climbs about 4,500' in about 7 miles then back down again. I got a ride to the Wolverton Trailhead early that Monday and started hiking around 8:00 am. The first 1.8 miles of the trail was a familiar one as I'd hiked it when going to and from Pear Lake. But then the trail to Panther Gap and Alta Peak diverges from the Lakes Trail and I was in new territory. After Panther Gap the views of the Great Western Divide began to emerge and so did the wildflowers! There aren't many things more beautiful than July wildflowers in the High Sierra

From Panther Gap to Mehrten Meadow the trail is relatively easy. But after Mehrten Meadow it starts climbing more steeply. The last 2.5 miles are the steepest but the sights are beautiful! The Great Western Divide at this point seems so close that you can reach out and touch it! The rock gardens on Alta Peak were chock full of flowers and were magnificent. I saw Sierra Primrose for the first time near the sandy summit of Alta Peak. The last part of the hike is slow as you are basically slogging up sand at a steep angle :p But the view at the top is worth it! You can see Mt. Whitney from the top but it is nothing much when viewed across an endless sea of rugged Sierra peaks. I enjoyed seeing Mt. Silliman and Pear Lake from the top, as well.

I met two guys at the top of Alta Peak. At first I thought they were together but then one left and the other guy started talking to me. He also started to creep me out a little so I decided to leave and hike back down. About a mile down I left the trail and sat awhile on a rock hidden from view. A few minutes later I saw him pass me then I waited about 15 minutes and followed. Something about him just raised the hairs on the back of my neck. When I got down to within a few hundred yards of the Wolverton Trailhead, I decided that rather than return to the trailhead where I might run into the guy, I instead took the trail going west then switchbacking east to Lodgepole. That added another 2 miles or so to my dayhike and man was I tired when I finally got to Lodgepole around 5:00 pm and I was certainly sore the next day. But, despite the creepy guy and unplanned extra mileage at the end, it remains a good memory and to this day it remains my longest and hardest dayhike! 16 miles, 4,500' up and then 4,500' back down again.

More photos here http://www.tarol.com/altapeak.html

The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com

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