Mount Langley

If you’ve ever thought about a high elevation climb, stop for a moment and consider what it is you envision. Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the lower forty-eight and an admitted celebratory notch in a hiker’s belt if that appeals but on a recent weekend backpacking trek, this hiker discovered Mount Langley and the appeal was in the total cost of $75 (included gas, food, and camping) and the delivery of the most incredibly righteous views. If Whitney at 14,508 is the rock star, Langley at 14,026 is that indy singer you happen upon in a picturesque town that is off grid and under the radar.

No joke, Langley’s landscape left me breathless – at times literally. The views delivered huge doses of awe, beginning to end.

Pano 2
Pano from Langley

From a start-night spent in the Alabama Hills, with some free camping in order to meet up with the group to collect permits, to the initial steps on the trail, I could feel that this was going to be epic. The views below were exactly as I saw them from my free campsite, not a soul around.

Alabama Hills morning light
Morning Light Alabama Hills

This trip was an experiment that proved wildly successful when I sought out a group backpacking trek online and after perusing a few meetups, got a good vibe from one started by a new dad and peak-bagger by the name of Bert.

Bert
Bert, coordinator of the group

If I had cherry-picked a crew to hike with, I could not have gotten luckier. Our final tally of five men, a sassy gal named Cece (my tent-mate), and myself proved a good fit and I was immediately both comfortable with and laughing at the constant humor bandied about. The gang was silly and lighthearted but throughout the multi-day trek, I came to realize that I’d partnered with a strong group when one by one they humbly revealed much experience and knowledge in the backcountry along with some impressive credentials such as Search And Rescue and EMT. This was a stellar mix of fun individuals made up of some casual hikers, a few (Okkie) fast hikers, a wealth of technological knowledge, and brevity regarding their accomplishments and when I surged ahead (briefly) I felt capable yet when I lagged behind (consistently) I also felt perfectly at home.

 

Group trailhead
Entire group at the trailhead, about an hour after we met and geared up. Photo cred Steve

The lagging behind when you are bagging Langley has you realize that “bagging” doesn’t really apply as there is so much stunning beauty that rushing this hike and considering it mainly in the context of an accomplishment would be lacking.

Lake
On the hike to Long Lake

The choice to camp at Long Lake turned out to be a good one and its close proximity to the trailhead for summit day made for a smooth start.

Long Lake
Long Lake

We were up at sunrise on summit day and after coffee and oatmeal, hit the trail.

Sunrise Long Lake
Sunrise Long Lake summit day

The trek up Langley was, in my opinion, as challenging as Mount Whitney in favorable weather conditions. Thankfully we had temperate climate and nice breezes but there was no denying the stingy oxygen factor the higher we went. I found myself fatigued and winded but was grateful to avoid any headache and/or nausea. The views were outrageous and kept me distracted from most discomfort and the cairns, placed by park staff, kept me on track when my buddies were at a distance.

cairns
Helpful cairns are placed along the route.

Finally after approximately five hours of hiking, we hit the summit and the views made the entire arduous ascent worth it!

Group Top
Photo cred Steve

Would I do it again? You bet!

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Photo cred Steve

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