Whenever possible, I like to climb a mountain for my birthday. This year it was one of my favorite hikes, Mt. Langley. You cannot see it from highway 395, it is just about 500 feet less in height than Mt. Whitney.
The trails are good, but at the summit of New Army Pass one has to contend with a long and high snow cornice. I was able to climb up it, but had to find another way down, not having a rope or crampons and pick. From here the trail is practically non-exsistant, but if you know where your heading, it is no problem.
Wildflowers grew in the sparcest rocky ground, way above tree line! It felt so good on the summit, I could have stayed there! The beauty of nature all around me and being able to be there was the best present I could ask for. Mt. Whitney rose in the west.If you are not wanting to climb a mountain, try to just hike to the lakes. It is not crowded there, the terrain is magnificent and from the trailhead to the lakes it is a comfortable 3-hour hike. Just don't carry too much. Minimize! Take your nordic walking sticks, your knees will thank you. Permits are needed for overnight trips.