Mt. Langley Backpack, Day 2 – Cottonwood Lake #3 to Summit & Out, August 29 2015

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After sleeping really well (big props to Jacks ‘R’ Better), we were on the trail by 3 AM. We moved quickly until we closed in on Cottonwood Lake #4 (labeled 5 on the map below). There were a few different use trails in the area and we got headed in the wrong direction more than once. Using my GPS and the paper maps I printed out, we were back on track after a few minutes. Our pace slowed significantly once we hit the base of Old Army Pass (OAP). Over the next 3/4 mile, we gained nearly 800 feet of elevation. At that point we decided it was time for breakfast, so we hiked until we found a rock outcropping that would serve as a wind break.

Once we were done eating, we followed a well defined trail that had some large cairns alongside it. The terrain was flatter than we expected, which was nice at the time, but we knew that meant that the trail would get steeper as we neared the summit. Over the last 1.5 miles, we had approximately 1400 feet to gain, which would not come easily at this elevation. We followed the trail with the large cairns until it made sense to angle towards the peak. About 4.5 hours after leaving camp, we arrived at the summit. It was extremely windy and cold now, with the wind gusts strong enough to push me off balance.

After a short stay at the summit we headed back to camp. We took a slightly different route down to Old Army Pass. I wanted to get a look at some of the other routes up to this area, so we took one of the many use trails to the east of the trail marked with cairns. On our descent we finally started seeing some other hikers, most of which were making the trek up OAP. We made it back to camp around 10:15, packed up and hiked back to the trailhead. The hike out was uneventful, but seemingly took forever! JP and I discussed the difficulty of this hike vs. the Mt. Whitney Main Trail. We both seemed to think that this route up Langley is just as difficult due to the steepness of the last couple of miles to the summit.

Geek Stats

Distance: 16.6 miles || Duration: 10 hr 45 min (including 45 min to pack up camp) || Elevation Gain/Loss: +3,120, -4,425 || Max Elevation: 14,026′ || Difficulty: Strenuous

  • Notes:
    • Duration Breakdown:
      • 4 hr 15 min to summit from camp
      • 15 min break at summit
      • 2 hr 30 min back to camp
      • 45 min to pack up camp
      • 3 hr hike back to TH
    • Tougher hike that the raw stats show – lots of climbing over the last 1.5 miles to the summit
    • #52HikeChallenge, Hike 30 of 52

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