Hiking Stats as of 11/17/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Aug 17, 2013 - Nonsummit - White Mountain


Partners: (None)

Distance: 6.98 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,666 feet

Trip Time: 3:02

Maps and Stats:
Two weeks following the last outing to Mt. Price and Mt. Agassiz, I set out looking for the next Sierra adventure. Today's destination was a trip up Highway 108, with a goal of White Mountain and one of its surrounding peaks to make for a challenging and worthwhile day. In doing my pre-hike research, I learned that there were two trailheads offering access to White Mountain. One was right at the top of Sonora Pass, but required a longer hike to get to the mountain, and the other was accessed by continuing beyond the Pass and driving through the US Military's Mountain Warfare Training Center and accessing the trail beyond the complex.

As has become my norm, I made sure to give Sierra and Marcus a nice 6 mile walk (3 miles each) before leaving the house around 8:15 AM. The trip up to the Sonora Pass area of Highway 108 was expected to take a bit under 3 hours, and I expected to be on the trail no later than 11:15. Unfortunately, finding and getting to the trailhead would prove to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. I really wanted to take the shorter approach to White Mountain, meaning I would have to spend a bit more time driving but would start closer to my destination. The drive up to Sonora Pass was uneventful, and as I crested over the pass I began looking for the Mountain Warfare Training Center. It turned out to be a ways past the crest, maybe 15 minutes, which surprised me. But eventually I could see the massive complex coming up on my left. Driving by I could see a cache of tanks and as I turned into the complex I was greeted at a checkpoint by a soldier. I quickly asked if there was a public trailhead nearby and he told me to drive straight through the complex and I would find it.

I was pretty nervous about taking pictures as I drove through - lots of uniformed soldiers carrying large automatic weapons has that affect on me. As I exited the paved roads I came accross a wide fire road that was obviously being used at that very moment for training. I drove very slowly, trying not to kick up dust as I looked in my rear view mirror at the line of soldiers walking the trail in full gear. I kept my speed low as the condition of the road deteriorated and steepened. I got really nervous when a warning light came on in my car as I could barely get enough traction on my tires to propel me up one of the hills. At that point, I decided to turn around and go to the other trailhead. So down I went, passing by the line of soldiers once again who probably were not too happy with this visitor kicking dust up in their faces a second time.

By the time I got back to Sonora Pass and the PCT, it was about 12:30 and I was exhausted - the first time that a drive to a hike had left me drained. None the less, I figured I had enough time to get to White Mountain so I set off on the trail. From the get go my energy levels were subpar, but I pressed on, gaining elevation on the PCT as it wrapped around the eastern flank of Sonora Peak. Eventually the trail crested on the shoulder of Sonora Peak, and I had my first views of White Mountain. The summit of White Mountain required a bit more than I had anticipated. There is no connecting ridgeline, so I would have to descend, then take on a long, arduous climb up the slope. I continued on, but wasn't feeling like I would be up to getting all the way to the top and back again. I rested for a bit but ultimately turned around shortly thereafter, partially due to my fatigue but also due to the threatening clouds that were gathering overhead.

It probably isn't a good thing when the most memorable part of a trip is the drive in, but today that was the case. 5 years from now I think I will remember the drive through the Mountain Warfare Training Center better than my brief foray on the PCT. White Mountain will be taken down another day, just not this one.

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