Feb 13, 2014 at 6:52 am #1313253
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
So there really isn't any way to get to Lone Pine from Whitney Portal without a pre-arranged private ride or hitching, correct?
How much time do you guys realistically plan to get home from a JMT thru? If I have to get a ride to Lone Pine, then shuttle it somewhere….how long between the end of my hike and my flight home? I don't want to be stressing out to make it on time, but I also don't want to waste days that could be spent on the trail. I was really lucky and had someone meet me to pick me up last time. This time? I can't impose again…..Feb 13, 2014 at 6:55 am #2072975
correct … no public transportation if that's what you mean.Feb 13, 2014 at 7:38 am #2072987
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Getting down to Lone Pine is a pretty easy hitch. That trailhead sees lots of traffic and everyone driving out of there has to go through Lone Pine. 395 isn't that hard to get a ride on either, but not nearly as easy as getting a ride out of Whitney Portal.Feb 13, 2014 at 8:42 am #2073004
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I agree that getting from Whitney Portal is a very easy hitch. All those hikers and backpackers can relate to another hiker and want to help out. If you want it to go even faster,
– Have a sign. That could be packaging from a trash can or from the store at Whitney Portal and drawn on with a Sharpie. Those FedEx Tyvek envelopes that double as stuff sacks, rain hats and soup bowls? Turn it inside out and use the white inside as a hitching sign. You can do that at home. Make the letters BIG. Surprisingly BIG, not for Whitney Portal, but for any highway use.
– the sign should say something really close (Whitney Portal in this case). Even if you are going further. People hesitate to pick up someone for a 300-mile ride. Once they've picked you up and found you're not weird, awkward, or an ax-murderer, you say, "Anywhere in Whitney Portal is great. I'm trying to get to LA."
-stand in a place where people can see you in advance, are driving slowly, and can safely pull over to pick you up.
– make eye contact
– no sunglasses
– hang out the most interesting flag you're remotely entitled to associate with. I'd use an Alaskan flag, for instance. This is VERY handy away from a hiking area and for foreign travelers. It makes you more interesting. It explains why you're by the side of the road without a car (i.e. it distinguishes you from local poor people). It provides a starting point for a conversation. For Americans in other countries, someone might want to practice their English or complain about US foreign policy. You get a ride either way.
– From fastest to slowest at getting rides: single women, a pair of women, boy-girl couple, single guy. Multiple guys should just get a bus ticket or plan to walk.
Edited for typos.Feb 13, 2014 at 11:33 am #2073095
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Each year I hike up Mount Whitney. Routinely either on the summit or on the way down, I will meet somebody looking for a ride to Lone Pine or farther. Assuming that we reach Whitney Portal around the same time, I give them a ride.
The easiest way to make a hitchhiking sign uses your topo map. On the blank back of the map, you simply print R I D E and stand at one of the road intersections around Whitney Portal with your sign prominently displayed. At Whitney Portal, the only possible place to go is Lone Pine since there is only one road.
–B.G.–Feb 13, 2014 at 4:25 pm #2073214
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Whitney Portal downhill to Lone Pine — EASY hitch. IMO There's no reason to hire a driver for that.
I've hitched downhill from east side trailheads many times. At the trailhead, walk up to a car where people are putting backpacks into the trunk and ask if they are driving down the hill and are they willing to give you a lift. I've never had anybody say no. The drivers occasionally say that they won't be leaving for 15 minutes or an hour, in which case I ask somebody else. If you're uncomfortable approaching people, then stand at the outlet of the parking lot with your thumb out and your pack on your back. I honestly can't think of a single time at an east side trailhead where I did not get a lift from the first vehicle heading downhill. At less popular trailheads outside the main season it has taken as long as an hour for the first car to show up, but Whitney Portal will not have that problem.
Hitching north on 395 between Lone Pine and Lee Vining – I've waited as long as 20 minutes for a ride. Wear your pack and stand at the north end of town. It may take a few rides depending on how far you want to go. I've never hitched on 395 north of Lee Vining so have no insights. If it were me, I'd take the ESTA bus from Lone Pine to Reno and fly home from there. I would choose Reno instead of any of the So Cal airports just because the east side of the Sierra is more pleasant and enjoyable than reentry via the southern california scene. But you could take ESTA to Lancaster and then transit to an airport from there – I'm not familiar with the details of that option.
How much time to allocate? I'd get a flight from Reno that leaves after 2:00pm on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. Then, plan to finish at Whitney Portal any time the prior day or evening. Easy hitch down the hill to Lone Pine. Get a motel room, dinner, sleep, and catch the ESTA northbound bus at 6:30 AM the following morning, arriving in Reno at 12:15 pm. Or, to be safest, call ESTA and ask them if the bus to Reno is often late, and ask their advice about earliest reasonable flight time.Feb 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm #2073221
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Amy said " Easy hitch down the hill to Lone Pine. Get a motel room, dinner, sleep, and catch the ESTA northbound bus at 6:30 AM the following morning, arriving in Reno at 12:15 pm."
Exactly what a friend of mine did to get back to east TX.Feb 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm #2073259
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
When I arrived in late afternoon, there was no one around the trailhead parking lot. I walked down below the entrance to the campground area and caught a ride leaving from that area. Check bus schedules carefully. A few years back the buses did not run daily out of Lone Pine. I enjoyed the bus, then train ride to LAX,Feb 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm #2073261
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Good advice from Frank – the campground is just shy of a mile down the road from the trailhead, so if there's nobody at the trailhead you'd pick up more traffic at the campground.
As of now, the Lone Pine to Reno bus runs 4 times a week, leaving at 6:30 AM. But if you're committing to airplane tickets it wouldn't hurt to call ESTA to find out if they plan to change that schedule.Feb 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm #2073296
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Thanks guys! I was wondering abut Reno…..sounds great!Feb 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm #2073625
When are you going? Took me an hour or more to get a ride from WP to Lone Pine in October a few years ago (but I did get one in the end). I think I stood opposite the overflow parking lot in a pullout so as to have "traffic" from both parking lots. I'd imagine if you are going in July or Aug, it wouldn't take more than 15 minutes.
If you're looking to hitch back to Reno, that can probably be done in a day, but I didn't have great luck hitching north from Lone Pine to Yosemite in September, or to Independence in October. I got both places, but it took longer than I expected. Yosemite took 7 hours and 4 lifts, and Independence took over an hour and a half (and it is only 15 miles or so up the road.)Mar 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm #2086471
At Whitney Portal, I just went to the store/restaurant and got a ride right away. Just talk to people there, smile, be polite and talk story a bit. Most people are really kind and happy to help BP'ers.Mar 26, 2014 at 5:28 pm #2086474
The one thing that can make this a hard hitch instead of easy is getting down late in the afternoon. Getting down fairly early means you are there before most people finish their hike so you have more folks who will be driving down the hill. If you are chatty on the trail with other folks you see descending you may have a ride before you reach the parking lot.Mar 26, 2014 at 5:46 pm #2086479
Some plan to be on top Whitney for sunup, and at WP before noon. Many people begin the hike to Whitney from Guitar lake as early as 1am-3am to do this.
Weather is a wild card. If dont get down till late in the evening, might have to spend night at campground, then hitch down next day. Ive read of someone that actually spent the night at the campground, then started walking early in the cool dark a.m. and arrived in LP in time to catch the ESTA bus. That would be quicker than waiting for a hitch in the AM. Doesnt work so well if you mailed stuff to a hotel, hostel, or PO though
Im plannning to be in WP early afternoon, LP late afternoon on a sunday (PO closed), so I will mail my stuff to hotel there. Next morning, Im on the ESTA to Reno. If Im late, I can still take the ESTA to Reno on Tuesday. Just have to change tickets, $75 since Im using frequent flyer, no airfare price increase,etc.
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