Updated: Jul 31, 2020
14,252 Ft White Mountain is the third tallest peak in California
One of California's tallest peaks, this hike is rugged, tough but very doable. Best views of the mountain desert in the Sierra Nevada.
Planning the Hike
Adventure at it best, offroading, camping in the vehicle, and wilderness galore.
This is no easy mountain, with a roundtrip of close to 15 miles all of this being above 11,500 ft elevation, you gain around 2,700 ft to the summit, this sure makes it a long grueling day on the mountain.
The tribe members set of from Bay Area on a Saturday morning to reach the base of the trailhead by early evening, for a Sunday AM accent. It's important to ensure you have all the things that you need to camp overnight and be prepared for hike the next day, temperatures in the night can drop drastically. As we approached the Inyo Forest the landscape turned to be very rugged and we ended up on a offroad track of close to 16 miles on Bristole Cone Pine Forest Scenic Byway. A high clearance vehicle and an experienced driver at the wheel is what it takes on this road. The path is narrow, at points one vehicle at a time and there are quite a few drops. There is absolutely no provisions close to the trailhead so a stop at a gas station to fuel up, grab some extra water and stock any last minute items is a good idea.
Nervous, yet excited about the hike, we found our spot to camp overnight
Plan to reach early evening, which gives time to set up camp (first come basis) and then we took a short drive and hike to the Ancient Bristle Cone Forest Grove, some of the oldest living trees. The landscape will mesmerize you, these trees have stood the test of time, weather and wind for years.
I'm certain you would not have seen anything like this before, but remember to come back on time so you can have a early start for the summit.
The tribe woke up early to set off around 5AM that morning, some of us were not able to sleep too well because of marmots keeping us company in the night. As you set off you will come across an Barcroft Observatory and Research Station few miles in from the gate. Most of the hike is above the tree line and the mountain desert weather can quickly turn rough. Along the way we passed very few hikers, it's good to do the hike in the months of late July to August. As you continue to walk along the trail, there will be switchbacks which seem endless along the mountain. About one mile towards the summit you will start to see lot more scree and some scrambling to get to the summit on large boulders. There is a hut right on the summit with 360 degree views from there, sign your name on the guestbook safely placed in a box. We had a quick sandwich and reminded ourselves that we need to head back down. It took us good 9 hours RT to be back to the trailhead, so thankful that we managed to accomplish what we set out for. Good luck for those who want to attempt this. It is well worth the trip!
Learnings from the tribe - Altitude and desert conditions can quickly cause dehydration, it doesn't hurt to carry some extra water. When you are above tree line make sure you are able to turn around by a cut off time.