On Wednesday, we moved to Lone Pine. We needed to get up early to start the climb so we stayed the night in Lone Pine at the Best Western. We had a leisurely morning before saying good bye to Mammoth. Our stay at the Village at Mammoth was enjoyable although a little hot (no air conditioning) and noisy during the weekend.
It is only a two hour or so drive to Lone Pine. We didn't want to do any hiking since we needed a rest day. We decided to drive up to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest. We turned off a Big Pine and started up the windy road to Westgard Pass. My brother used to live in Big Pine and drove Westgard weekly to his job in the underground nuclear testing site in Nevada. He told me about how on one trip he hit a cow and totaled his car. I could see how it could happen. There wasn't a lot of traffic on the road.
We turned off and travelled several miles climbing higher and higher through the pinyon pines. Off to the west were views of the eastern slopes of the Sierra. It wasn't until we reached 10,000 that we started to see those hardy survivors, the Bristlecone Pines. We spent some time in the vistor center before going on a short hike at the Schulman Grove. It was amazing to see the trees that were centuries old that are able to survive at 11,000ft.
We checked in about 3pm and rested a bit before heading out for Pizza at the Pizza Factory. We stopped and picked up some donuts for breakfast and headed back to the motel. We needed to get to bed early. I worked on a schedule. It is common for thunderstorms to gather as the day progresses. It is recommended that you summit early so you are off the mountain in the afternoon when the chance of lightening is greater. I used our guide book, reviewed the mileage and elevation. I had a good idea of our pace. If we kept a steady pace, we could probably make the summit by noon or 1pm at the latest. That would be excellent.
We finished our packing for the climb, checked and rechecked that we had everything, prepared the coffee and set the alarm. We made it to bed by 9pm and fell fast asleep.