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Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley

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Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley

The Eastern Sierra is home to fifteen 14,000 ft peaks and endless trails in the backcountry. We decided that it was time to climb our first 14er together. Giselle has never climbed one and Stephen has climbed Mt Whitney when I was younger. We thought Mount Langley was a good start because of the easy ascent, and the fact that it has the same name as Mt. Langley making it even more fun! Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley is a perfect trip for day hikers and backpackers of all experience levels.

In this blog we will be sharing packing essentials, best time to visit, trail beta, and recommendations for camping. We have spent a lot of time backpacking in the Sierras and this is one of the most beautiful trails we have been on. It is a great day hike for overachievers and very relaxed backpacking trip for those who are lucky enough to score a permit.

Planning a Eastern Sierra Backpacking Trip

We have gained a lot of knowledge from our past week long backpacking trip on the Sierra High Route. We had to pack for a full week of peak bagging and hiking through the most isolated areas of the Eastern Sierra. We used to bring so many unnecessary things on the trail and it would only slow us down. There are 3 things that we always try to make sure we know before we set foot on the trail. First is FOOD, second is TRAIL DATA, and lastly is GEAR. If this is your first trip to the Eastern Sierra check out our Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking!

Permit for Mount Langley

The permit for Mount Langley can be reserved up to 6 months in advance here. Cottonwood Lakes is the best trailhead to leave out of but is also one of the most busy, so make sure to reserve in advance! Another option when Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley is to just do it as a day hike. When we went to leave the trailhead, there were a lot of people waking up bright and early to try and attempt the 22 mile roundtrip as a day hike.

Packing for Backpacking Trip

Packing is very important when you are backpacking because it can really cause a good or bad hiking experience. We always try to pack as light as we can when hitting the trails. For our full backpacking gear checklist click here. Some key pieces of gear that you will want to remember when Backpacking Mount Langley is water purification, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, bear canister, and food.

Water Purification is very important, especially during the summer, because there are so many people camped near the lakes. When there is no-one near you it is safe to drink snow melt and running water, but because of the popularity of this trail we always recommend bringing water purification tablets.

Sleeping is one of the hardest things to do at a high elevation so we always recommend spending extra time making sure you are comfy. Our Sleeping gear consists of our Big Agnes Tent, REI Sleeping Bag, Thermarest, and Inflatable Pillow. Check all necessary gear before heading out to make sure you have a patching kit and tent pole splints so you are ready for any situation.

Food and Food Storage are two very important things to spend time on when packing for an Eastern Sierra Backpacking Trip. We give our favorite list of meals in our Ultimate Couples Backpacking Gear Guide. This trip is a short overnighter so you will not need a lot of food, just enough for 2 full days of backpacking. There are bears in the area so make sure to bring a bear canister or rent one from your local REI.

Trail Data

  • 22 Mile Roundtrip Trail
  • 4,000 Ft Elevation Gain
  • Approx. Hike Time 11 hours
  • Location: Lone Pine, CA
  • Trailhead: Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead
  • Best Time to Visit: June-Septmeber

Mount Langley is a 14,026 ft Eastern Sierra Classic Peak. We parked and camped overnight at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead. There is a $6 fee for walk in campsite or FREE to sleep in your car at the trailhead

Cottonwood Lakes is about 6 1/2 miles from the trailhead on very easy trail. We then hiked up Army Pass which is 12,400 ft and continued up the back side of Mount Langley. The trail is 4 miles from Lake 5 to the top of Mount Langley. It is the most difficult part of the trip because of the sandy terrain and huge incline in elevation.

We recommend to make your Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley trip an overnight or 3 day trip to be able to enjoy the beauty of the area. 22 miles in one day can be a long day especially considering the elevation.

Be prepared for the Elevation on Mount Langley

The Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead begins at 10,000 ft. This is great if you have time to acclimatize and get used to the elevation, it can also be very difficult if you do it all in one day if you get elevation sickness.

Bring Advil or your favorite pain relief medicine to prevent any bad headaches. We both suffered from the elevation and got nausea because we did not give ourselves a lot of time to get acclimatized.

We recommend to bring LOTS of water, get a lot of sleep, and do not go too fast because the exhaustion will only make the elevation sickness that much worse. If you do get elevation sickness, try to stop and rehydrate and take lots of breaks. The more time your body has to sit and breath normally while not hiking the better!

Best Camping Spot while Backpacking Mount Langley

Cottonwood Lakes Backpacking

Lake 5 has the best spots for camping in our opinion because it has the best view of Mount Langley and is close to Army pass. We decided to stay to the right side of the lake because there were far less people. We try to get out to the backcountry and experience the mountains in the most raw form we can. Neither of us enjoy staying super close to a bunch of other backpackers so we try to find somewhere near the lake but away from most other campers.

When looking for a place to camp check 3 things! Are you 125 ft away from water? Are you 50 ft away from the main trail? Are you on any shrubs or plants? It is so important to make sure that we preserve the backcountry for the generations to come. Always camp away from water, away from the trail, and on land that will not kill or hurt any plants.

OUR EXPERIENCE Backpacking Mount Langley

Getting to Lake 5

We decided one of our goals for 2020 was to climb a 14,000ft peak together. Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley was our best options because it is not too far from home, an easy trail, and it has the same name as Giselle’s last name! We slept at the walk in backpackers campground and paid the $6. Make sure to bring cash if you plan on staying at the walk in campground!

The next morning we woke up at 5am and hit the trail early. We made it to the first lake by 10am after 5 miles of hiking and were awestruck by the beauty that surrounded us. Mount Langley towered over all the lakes and was looking more and more epic as we got closer. The meadows around every corner were our favorite part. We made it to Lake 5 after 6.5 miles of hiking by 11am. It was time to set up camp and start the attempt to summit Mount Langley!

Old Army Pass

We started the 1.5 mile uphill switch backs up Old Army Pass. We heard different things about taking Old Army vs New Army but we decided to do this one because there was no snow. If you plan on climbing Mount Langley when there is snow we would suggest New Army Pass because it does not have as steep of an incline. It is a 800 ft incline to the top of the Pass and the views just get better and better.

Summiting Mount Langley

Once you reach the top of Army Pass you veer to the right towards Mount Langley. There are cairns that have been stacked up by the Park Rangers and make the trail very easy to follow. The hard part is huffing your way up the never ending sand and choss. We switched back from one cairn to the next and finally made it to the top of Mount Langley. The hiking from Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead to Lake 5 took us about 4 hours of hiking. The trail and peak bagging took us 4 hours as well. 3 hours up and 1 hour to descend back to Lake 5

Eastern Sierra Backpacking Mount Langley was the perfect introduction to our 14,000ft experience. The weather was beautiful, there were no mosquitos, and we both were successful at completing it together. We highly recommend giving this peak a try whether you get a permit and backpack or if you day hike. Just remember on ever trip that you go on, NEVER STOP ADVENTURING!

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Stephen & Giselle backpacking the Sierra High Route