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August trip in California's White Mountains
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Chris Kopp
(ckopp) - F

Locale: SoCal
August trip in California's White Mountains on 11/08/2010 21:52:03 MST Print View

I'm a graduate student and conduct research on historical shifts in vegetation in the White Mountains. In mid-August I took a three day trip to the remote northern part of the range. I left from Barcroft Station and summited White Mountain Peak and then continued north. The traverse north of the peak was pretty sketchy and I now realize why so few people visit the north part of the range.
I had hoped to make it all the way to Boundary Peak on the 2nd day but I was running out of daylight and the traverse over Montgomery Peak looked even sketchier than the one north of Wht Mt. Pk. So I turned back and enjoyed the rest of the trip with the exception of having to make the earlier mentioned traverse on the way back.
All it all, this was one of the coolest trips I've done. 90% is off trail and I saw zero people once I got past Wht. Mt. Pk. Mt Dubois (13,500+) had a peak register that had only 22 signatures for 2010 (13 from one group alone).

View north from White Mountain Peak
View north from White Mountain Peak

Sierra Nevada from White Mountain Peak
Sierra Nevada from White Mountain Peak

Bluebells
Bluebells

This was a scary traverse.
This was a scary traverse

A ribbon of green in a sea of sagebrush.
A ribbon of green in a sea of sagebrush.

Montgomery and Boundary Peaks
Montgomery and Boundary Peaks

Z-Pack Hexamid at 12,000 ft campsite.
Z-Pack Hexamid at 12,000 ft campsite.

Incipient failure at the head of a landslide scarp.  There is going to be a hell of a landslide here
Incipient failure at the head of a landslide scarp. There is going to be a hell of a landslide here.

Frost polygons.
Frost polygons.

Pelissier Flats
Pelissier Flats

Edited by ckopp on 11/08/2010 21:54:54 MST.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 11/08/2010 22:01:29 MST Print View

Chris,

Thanks for sharing the awesome pictures of an often overlooked area of California. I need to make it up there someday.

DW

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"August trip in California's White Mountains" on 11/08/2010 22:21:56 MST Print View

Loved this Chris.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
white mountains on 11/08/2010 22:26:42 MST Print View

Shoot, next time you do something like this, I want in. I've been meaning to get up there for a few years now. Just drove past it last Friday and looked up at it. Great trip! Love the offtrail wandering above treeline.

Chris Kopp
(ckopp) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: white mountains on 11/08/2010 22:43:46 MST Print View

@ Dave T
I'll be working up there for the next couple summers and will definitely make this trip again. I welcome anyone that wants to go along!

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
White Mountains on 11/08/2010 22:51:00 MST Print View

Nice stuff--I really enjoy remote places...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 11/08/2010 23:41:24 MST Print View

Chris,

Nice trip!! Just reminded me that this has been on my "bucket list" for several decades.

Andy Schill
(Aschill) - F
great photos on 11/09/2010 09:51:49 MST Print View

Great Photos, looks like blast.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Amazing space on 12/06/2010 08:46:54 MST Print View

Looks like one of those places where a whistle would be of little use. most excellent, thank you.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 12/06/2010 10:48:40 MST Print View

Neat!

I've only gazed at the Whites from the eastern Sierra, across Owens Valley, and have long wondered what they might be like. How much of your trip planning revolves around finding water? (On one trip we watched an incredibly violent lightning storm pound the Whites for hours into the night. Never have I been more glad to be many miles west.)

Would also love to know more about your research. I've read some interesting things recently about the possible fate of the bristlecones.

Thanks for posting!

Rick

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Brisstlecones on 12/06/2010 13:06:19 MST Print View

Yes, I think the oldest living thing on earth "Prometheus" was found and cut down there. Well over 4,000 years old.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Re: Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 12/06/2010 13:12:16 MST Print View

That looked pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 12/06/2010 13:39:17 MST Print View

A year ago I was in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, and I was hiking around the standard bristlecone trail. I ran across some volunteers doing tree coring. Basically, these trees that are thousands of years old are cored, and the cores are placed under a lens to count the rings. The volunteers told me where to find the senior scientist working at the field lab in the area. An hour spent there was quite rewarding.

If you get tired of bristlecone pines, there are many gold mines in the area.

--B.G.--

Chris Kopp
(ckopp) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 12/10/2010 22:01:50 MST Print View

Thank you everyone for the comments!

@ Rick. Water was certainly a consideration. Water is hard to come by in the Whites with only two perennial streams and a few springs. Many of the springs have stopped flowing in the past couple years. The north half of the range (covered in this trip report) has one stream (Birch Cr) and a few springs. The picture of my tent was at a spring to the north of Birch Cr.
I'm at PhD student at UC San Diego. This past summer was my 1st summer of research in the Whites.. I was doing a 50 year vegetation resurvey. The results are very interesting with upward expansion of Artemisia arbuscula (little sagebrush). Two alpine forbs appear to have been displaced by this expansion and my research moving forward will be examining the mechanism (competition, long-term warming, ect.) that is causing these disappearances. I'm not doing anything with Bristlecones but there are others working up there that are.
@ Steven. Prometheus was felled in the Snake Range. Methuselah is now the oldest Bristelcone and is found in the Whites.
@ Bob. I got to see people counting rings this summer. Looked tedious but there are come cool ways to speed the process. Did you visit Crooked Creek Station when you visited the researcher?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: August trip in California's White Mountains on 12/10/2010 22:07:06 MST Print View

"Did you visit Crooked Creek Station when you visited the researcher?"

No, I had already come down from the White Mountain Peak road. The research field lab was on the other side of highway 168.

--B.G.--

Chris Kopp
(ckopp) - F

Locale: SoCal
April trip in California's White Mountains on 05/02/2011 11:59:34 MDT Print View

The link is to the UC White Mountain Research Station and a trip report filed by the station director for a trip he made on April 28, 2011 to the Barcroft Station at 12,500 ft. The station is along the trail to White Mountain Peak (14,252 ft), so this may be of interest to folks who are planning a trip up there this summer and are curious about snow conditions. In an email from the director he states: "this is the most snow I’ve seen up there in 8 years. We’re still aiming for (opening dates) June 1 for CC (Crooked Creek Station), and probably July 1 for Barcroft…but these are just targets. No guarantees."
I'm going to be making a trip up to that area later this month to check out conditions as I prepare for my summer research and will file a report on BPL after the trip.

http://www.wmrs.edu/news/barcroft%20hike%204-28-11/default.html