header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Partly sunny
Partly sunny
69°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
November 23
1931 - Fall Roundup held at Hoot Gibson's Saugus Rodeo [story]
rodeo


Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jul 2, 2017

The summit of Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States, reaching an elevation of 14,508 feet. (This is a bit higher than it was believed to have been; a recent survey just put it at that height.) And just across the mountains, 84.6 miles away in Death Valley, you will find Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the contiguous U.S.

Mt. Whitney attracts climbers from all over the world. For those of us in Los Angeles County, the trail head is a mere three hours away at most. To get there, head north on SR-14 to Mojave, where the highway takes a 90-degree right turn and eventually becomes Highway 395. Follow the 395 all the way to the cute little town of Lone Pine, and you’ll find the mountain looming off to the left with some magnificently jagged peaks. It makes a great photo or two, even if you have no intention of climbing it.

To get to the trail head, you’ll need to follow Whitney Portal Road. It’s only about 13 miles, but you’ll be doing some significant climbing. The elevation up there is 8,361 feet. That’s as far as you can go by vehicle. Now, you’ll need to make the decision to walk the rest of it or be satisfied with the lovely scenery at the portal.

The gorgeous canyon is part of the Inyo National Forest. There are three campgrounds nearby where you can stay and just enjoy the scenery of the Inyo. There is also a fabulous store where you can get any little thing you might have forgotten – and some pretty good grub, too.

Even if you’re not an avid climber like me, half of the fun is in meeting people from all over the world who are about to climb or who are just returning from the summit. You can enjoy some pretty awesome conversations from these great adventurers. More than 20,000 people climb this mountain every year, so you’re bound to run into some real characters.

If you’ve never hiked before, I suggest you start hiking some easier trails and build up your strength before you attempt Whitney. You start at 8,300 feet. Some people get acute mountain sickness at that altitude. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.

It’s best to be prepared. Train. Know what you’re up against. Be ready for it. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, high winds, thunder and lightning can all add to your woe on the mountain. You might consider hiring a guide if you’ve never climbed a mountain before, just to be safe. There are plenty of outfitters waiting just for you.

A guide can tell you what to take and what not to take. If you start off with an 85-pound pack, you’re probably not going to get very far. On the other hand, you need to have everything with you in case of any type of emergency – plus food, plus water, plus, plus, plus, plus. Experience and a guide are your best friends. You’re going to have a gain of 6,208 feet, spread out over the 11 miles to the top. That’s pretty steep. And don’t forget, you’re doing some mighty tough, steep descending on the way down. Those knees are going to take a real beating.

So, maybe climbing Whitney is not for you. How about a visit to the lowest spot in the U.S.A.? Unlike Mt. Whitney, which can scare away the typical tourist, you will see plenty of domestic and foreign tourists at Badwater.

I suggest you do not go there in the summer. You’re in Death Valley, the lowest place in North America, and it can get hot – really hot. In fact, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was right there. It was 134 degrees in 1913, and that record has yet to be broken.

When you’re there, take a look up on the hill behind the parking lot. There is a small sign way up there, telling you that you are 282 feet below sea level. Imagine that. Now, that’s worth a picture.

Badwater is about 200 square miles of hard salt pan. There’s a trail where hundreds of thousands of feet have crushed the salt crystals down. I suggest you stay on that trail so others can enjoy the beautiful salt crystals that form and grow several inches above the muddy base. If you sit or lie down on the flat portion of the trail, you can get some magnificent photos of the salt crystals.

There used to be a lake there called Lake Manly. There’s usually a little water here and there, and there’s always a little bit of water under the salt crystals. But sometimes, during exceptionally wet weather, Badwater will, for a brief time, again resemble a lake. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to snap that photo.

Death Valley is a place of geologic wonders, and in the spring, the flowers can be amazing. So, don’t just stop at Badwater. See everything. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. jim says:

    I suggest that anyone who has not climbed a 10,000 ft peak first may want to start elsewhere than Mt. Whitney. Just like anyone who has never been at Badwater in Death Valley should not go there without planning, assistance and maybe even some training,

    Unless of course, they are going by an elegant coach trip that provides plenty of staff and trained medical support. Death Valley Temps are going to be from 115 to 120F this next week, and most folks (including the Europeans) won’t be prepared for that. Although the foreign folks are expecting those extremes. That is a major part of the thrill for them.

    As for ascents of Mt. Whitney, the trail is very clear, and can be made by most healthy people. Unless of course they are subject to altitude sickness, in which case they will be somewhere in between Whitney Portal and the peak when it strikes. Few people die from this illness, but many of them need assistance returning to lower altitudes. A severe case may require medical attention and much more assistance returning to the base.

    It’s not a lark folks, unless you are young, healthy, and relatively immune to altitude sickness.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020
As restrictions remain in place for gatherings and events in Los Angeles County, one of Santa Clarita’s most important traditions will take place on an online format in 2020.
Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020
The holiday shopping rush is upon us! As with everything this year, checking loved ones off your shopping list will look a little different in 2020. There will be no braving the crowds and tussling for the first crack at the doorbuster deals on Black Friday.
Friday, Oct 2, 2020
In his monthly message for October 2020, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin spotlights results of the city's 2020 public opinion survey about the quality of life in our community.
Thursday, Oct 1, 2020
As with everything in 2020, this year’s State of the City event will be different than years past. We are looking on the bright side, embracing the necessary changes for safety’s sake and rejoicing in the fact that this year’s event is truly inclusive of the entire Santa Clarita community.
Saturday, Sep 19, 2020
Assembly Bill 1457, authored by Assembly Members Cervantes and Reyes, and supported by Santa Clarita’s Senator Scott Wilk, Assemblyman Tom Lackey and Assemblywoman Christy Smith, represents an important step forward in jumpstarting California’s economic recovery.
Wednesday, Sep 2, 2020
In his monthly message for September 2020, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin spotlights how the Santa Clarita Public Library branches are helping students and families get back to school.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold special and regular meetings at City Hall on Tuesday, November 24, and hear public comments from citizens virtually via Zoom.
November 24: Santa Clarita City Council Special, Regular Meetings
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger will oppose the county Department of Public Health’s decision to prohibit outdoor dining and further restrictions including another "Safer at Home" order, she said in a statement Monday morning.
Barger Opposes Additional COVID-19 Restrictions on Businesses
Los Angeles County Public Health Department officials on Sunday reported the county’s five-day average COVID-19 case rate had reached more than 4,000, prompting another tightening of pandemic safeguards and restrictions, including restricting dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars.
L.A. County to Prohibit Dining as COVID-19 Numbers Keep Climbing
Researchers who correctly forecasted the growth of COVID-19 infections over the summer issued a warning Monday that cases could nearly double by Inauguration Day, January 20, when presumptive President-elect Joe Biden is to be sworn into office.
Forecast: COVID-19 Cases Could Double by Inauguration Day
Los Angeles County supervisors are expected to conduct a public hearing Tuesday for the proposed development of nearly 140 homes next to Castaic High School.
Nov. 24: Public Hearing on Housing Project Near Castaic High School
To encourage safe travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, the California Highway Patrol will enact a Maximum Enforcement Period beginning at 6:01 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25, and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 29.
CHP Sets Thanksgiving Holiday Maximum Enforcement Period
1931 - Fall Roundup held at Hoot Gibson's Saugus Rodeo [story]
rodeo
1843 - Rancho Castec (Lebec-Tejon area) granted to French immigrant Jose Covarrubias [story]
map
1967 - Local voters approve formation of community college and elect COC's first five-member board - Dr. William G. Bonelli Jr., Bruce Fortine, Sheila Dyer, Peter Huntsinger, Edward Muhl [story]
COC board
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday reported 35 new deaths and 4,272 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 countywide.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 357,451 Cases in L.A. County, 8,634 Cases in SCV
The families of Gracie Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell, the two students who died during the Saugus High School shooting filed wrongful death lawsuits Monday against the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Muelhberger, Blackwell Families File Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against Hart District
The College of the Canyons Theatre Department’s recorded production of “Woyzeck” is available to stream online for free now through Saturday, Dec. 12.
COC Theatre’s Production of ‘Woyzeck’ Now Streaming
City of Santa Clarita and Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation officials said Friday that 149 small businesses within the SCV have been approved to receive one-time COVID relief grants of up to $5,000 per business as reimbursement for COVID-related expenses.
Santa Clarita, SCVEDC Award COVID Relief Grants to Small Businesses
Valencia, California-based Princess Cruises is extending its pause in global sailing operations in response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order” pertaining to the resumption of U.S. cruise operations.
Princess Cruises Extends Sailing Operations Pause into 2021
The American Public Works Association’s Southern California Chapter has recognized the Inclusive Play Area at Santa Clarita's Canyon Country Park as one of its 2020 'Projects of the Year.'
Santa Clarita Inclusive Play Area Named a ‘Project of the Year’
The Newhall School District has decided to allow preschool reopenings, giving their preschool program director the green light to reopen three preschool sites.
Newhall School District OK’s Preschool Reopenings
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday asked Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving and only celebrate with people they live with.
Health Officials Urge Americans to Stay Home for Thanksgiving
Santa Clarita education officials from the Newhall School District said Thursday they’re taking “an abundance of caution” after multiple COVID-19 diagnoses were linked to the district office, on the corner of Orchard Village Road and Wiley Canyon Road.
COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Santa Clarita Education, Business Settings
Westfield Valencia Town Center officials’ plan to expand the mall with a 101,000-square-foot Costco and other amenities is expected to be significantly smaller as officials have proposed removing the gym and cinema features.
Proposed Costco Project at Town Center to Cut out Gym, Cinema
The COVID-19 pandemic has reached a new grim milestone with more than 11,000 new daily deaths recorded globally for the first time this week over several days in a row, making it the deadliest week yet.
Pandemic Records Deadliest Week Yet as Cases Surge
Registering its third-highest monthly haul since 1990, California added 145,000 jobs in October and its jobless rate below 10% for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
California Jobless Rate Dips Below 10% for First Time Since Pandemic
With glistening lights and a flip of the switch Thursday evening, Santa Clarita City Council members sought to spread holiday cheer with a virtual version of Light Up Main Street
Santa Clarita Welcomes Holidays with Virtual Light Up Main Street Event
1831 - Local entrepreneurs Sanford and Cyrus Lyon (as in Lyons Avenue) born in Machias, Maine [story]
Sanford Lyon
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 29 new deaths and 5,031 new cases of COVID-19, including 8,634 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: Highest Number of Cases Countywide Since Pandemic Began
%d bloggers like this: