The Mt Whitney Trailhead -
is actually better known as the Whitney Portal, and outside of a few main starting points in Yosemite
and Sequoia National Parks
, it is probably the busiest trailhead in all the Sierra Nevada
. When entering the parking area, pay close attention to the signs. Some areas are for day use, and others are for overnight backpackers. Make sure you park your vehicle in the correct space (depending on your plans). Nothing would be worse than to return from your trip up the mountain and find your vehicle towed away.
Make sure to remove all food and scented items from your vehicle before you leave. Bears have no problem breaking and entering your car or truck. I even heard of one incident where a bear broke out the windshield of a car, tore out the back seat, and got into a ice chest in the trunk. The bear then exited the vehicle by busting the truck lid. Needless to say, the car was totaled.
The Rangers at the Lone Pine station warned us that even empty containers such as ice chests, igloos, and other colorful containers can trigger the bears interest and prompt a break-in. Knowing this, it is best to keep a neat interior. If you are unable to get all these types of items out of sight, then make sure to cover them up with a dark colored sheet or blanket. This applies to empty (clean) containers only. Containers with a scent cannot be hidden from a bear, and if the bear can smell something (and they have very powerful abilities to detect the faintest odors) then there is a good chance they will break into your vehicle to investigate.
You can use the Whitney Portal to sleep in your car or truck (or along side your vehicle) to begin your adjustment to altitude. But be warned, this particular parking lot hums both day and night. My friend Russ (shown in the below left hand photo), along with all the rest of us, hardly got any sleep at all do to the zoo of activity that went on all night. People preparing for both day excursions and overnight trips up the Mt Whitney Main Trail, and have no bones about making all the noise they want regardless of the hour. One guy at about 2 AM dragged a full ice chest across the parking lot making an incredible racket which woke all of us up. Nevertheless, we most often leave Los Angeles after work, and get as high as possible in order to get started on the acclimatization process.