Please review the following information for your trip:
Altitude: The research station is at 10,200 ft, and our day hikes will go to higher elevations. If you have ever experienced problems with high elevation of have a heart condition, please consult a doctor before planning your trip. The closest emergency facilities are in Bishop, about an hour away.
To help prevent altitude sickness:
1 — Consider acclimating for 1-2 nights at around 8,000 ft in elevation before coming the research station. Some people do fine driving from sea level to Crooked Creek in one day, others will feel crummy for the first few days after this ascent (see some acclimation options, below)
2 — Drink LOTS of water on your drive up to the research station and for your first few days at altitude. Proper hydration can significantly ease symptoms.
3 — Ibuprofen: here is an NPR summary of a study done in the White Mountains, which found ibuprofen to be useful in lowering the possibility of altitude sickness.
1 — The Tuolumne area of Yosemite is around 8,000 ft. The busy & crowded Tuolumne Meadows campground is at 8,600ft and reservations are recommended. Porcupine Flat campground at 8,100 ft is first-come first-serve.
2 — The town of Mammoth Lakes is at 7,880 ft and there are many lodging options.
3 — Grandview Campground is located on White Mtn road, 5 miles from the turn-off on HWY 168, about 15 miles before you get to Crooked Creek. Grandview is usually mostly empty and no reservations are needed, there is no water here, just camping spots and bathrooms.
4 — There are many non-developed campsites along Highway 108 in the Sonora Pass area just off the highway (between 7000 and 9000 ft), Sonora pass is often a faster way to get to the east side of the Sierras than passing through Yosemite.
Day hikes & field work: Our days will be structured so that all participants have the option of helping with field work and with taking some educational hiking tours. However, this is a “free choice” trip. Botanists who are most excited about keying plants may want to spend the whole day with the data collection crew. Those less botanically inclined might want to take the educational tour and then wander off somewhere else. If you’d like to take a day off and sit under the bristlecones reading a book, that’s fine too.
Hiking intensity: This is a HIKING trip, you should be comfortable hiking at least 3 miles at high-elevation, on sometimes uneven ground or large talus blocks, and up and down somewhat steep slopes. Many of our participants are older adults, retired, in their 60’s and 70’s and choose to use hiking poles on uneven ground, but participants of all ages should be component and experienced hikers.
Internet Access: There is slow, slow internet service at Crooked Creek, and several old desktop computers with an internet connection. The service is often down due to weather, lightning strikes, or too many people trying to check their email.
Telephones: There is a phone at Crooked Creek for staff use and emergencies only. Cell phones *sometimes* work on in high points, and at places on the road. Generally, don’t plan on having phone access while you are are in the White Mountains.
Families: Families with children are welcome and there will be several small children in attendance for both sessions.
Climate: July temperatures can be balmy during sunny days (60s, 70s), but mountain weather can change quickly and it is not unusual to find yourself in the midst of a cold hailstorm. Precipitation is limited to sporadic thunderstorms, but we recommend bringing a rain jacket. Nights at 10,000 ft can be cold, so bring a warm jacket for evening campfires. The rooms are heated.
Food/Beverages: Please remember to tell us in advance if you have food preferences or allergies. Bring your own beer / wine / or cold drinks for the week and they can be kept in the fridge. Same with any specialty food items.
Bedding: The research station provides beds, a sheet & pillow, and a towel. Please remember to bring a sleeping bag or other bedding for yourself! Many guests also choose to bring their own pillow.
Critical high-elevation gear: Don’t leave home with out sunglasses & sunscreen. Whatever clothes you are most comfortable hiking in will be fine for our daytime activities, many people choose to wear long-pants in the White Mountains because of the sagebrush.
Water bottles: Please plan on bringing enough water bottles to have 2-3 liters with you in the field.
Evening campfires: Crooked creek has a nice fire pit that we frequent in the evenings, musical instruments are most welcome.
Carpools: If you are interested in carpooling with other participants from your area, let us know and we can put you in touch with others who have expressed interest.
Public transportation options: Public transportation to Owens Valley is somewhat sparse. There are two options, both somewhat time-consuming:
1- Alaska Airlines operates a daily summer flight from LAX to the Mammoth Airport (MMH). The airport is located on HWY 395, about 35 miles north of Bishop. The flights are surprisingly reasonable (as priced in May, a flight in late July direct from LAX would be $154 round trip). Mammoth Taxi Shuttle can meet the plane, and can possibly take you to Big Pine. From Big Pine, we *might* be able to arrange for another car to pick you up on their way up to Crooked Creek.
2 – If you can fly into Reno, there is a bus service from the Reno airport to either Bishop or Big Pine 4 days a week, on M,T,Th, & F. This is about a 5-hr bus trip. From Bishop or Big Pine, we *might* be able to find you a ride up to Crooked Creek.
Driving Directions: The linked PDF document has directions and a map for printing. Please see this document for the Crooked Creek phone number. The final, 10 mile drive into Crooked Creek is on a graded dirt road. Passenger cars are fine on this road (although cars with super low clearance – like a Prius – would be a bad choice). The rocks on this road are SHARP, and flat tires are very common. We recommend making sure you have a full-sized spare tire & repair kit, and taking care to drive slowly. Fill up your gas tank in Bishop or Big Pine! We will need to take multiple cars out on our daily trips — you will need more gas than just enough to get back to Big Pine.
You may a see a road on the map which appears to be a shorter route, directly from Bishop. This is “Silver Canyon Road” and is for very confident 4WD drivers with a low gear only. A spectacular road, with deep ruts, stream crossings, and a very steep section. Not for Subaru’s.
Please call Crooked Creek, email us, or call the main WMRC office in Bishop if you are running really late. If you don’t show up within half a day of when you are expected, we will likely send a car down the dirt section of the road to make sure you are not stranded with a flat tire.
Getting an Emergency Message to Crooked Creek: The PDF document with directions (above) has the phone numbers of both Crooked Creek and the main WMRC office in Bishop. Try calling Crooked Creek, email Adelia, and call the Bishop office if an important message needs to be relayed to a guest at Crooked Creek.
Some interesting reading & resources:
Natural History of the White-Inyo Range, Eastern California (California Natural History Guides) (amazon link) — Written by the former director of White Mountain Research Station, the only volume of its kind and a great read. Full text with photographs can also be found here.
The Bristlecone Book: A Natural History of the World’s Oldest Trees (amazon link) — By Ronald Lanner, a short volume with some of the updated science on Pinus longaeva.
Alpine Plant Life: Functional Plant Ecology of High Mountain Ecosystems (amazon link) — A fantastic, technical summary of the science of alpine plant ecology.
A Garden Of Bristlecones: Tales Of Change In The Great Basin (Environmental Arts and Humanities) (amazon link) — A wonderful book, telling the story of the relationship between bristlecones and the people that admire, study, or interact with them.
The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California (amazon link) — Some of the White Mountains plant life can be found in this volume.
Latest draft of Flora of the White Mountains, by Dean Taylor and Jim Morefield – This is a link to Scribd, where Dean Taylor has posted this guide. You can read it online or pay to have it printed, we will have a printed copy at the research station.
The research station published a “Crooked Creek Guidebook” in the 1990s, you can find copies of the plant & vertebrate checklists on the WMRC species list page. The plant list relates to what is found in the immediate vicinity of the research station, not necessarily what we will be seeing in the alpine zone.
Finally, check out the resources list on the CNPS Bristlecone Chapter’s website
We are now (as of May 15, 2013), at waiting-list capacity, thus we are requesting advance deposits from those of you with confirmed reservations.
By June 1, please send us 50% of your total fee (or full payment if you’d rather not deal with paying the balance later). Email Adelia if you have questions about your total. The deposit is fully refundable until June 20, at which point we may not be able to refund your 50% unless we can fill your space from the wait list.
Checks should be made out to “GLORIA California” and mailed to: Adelia Barber, 23111 Summit RD, Los Gatos CA 95033