Day 19: 11.2 miles, 207.4 cumulative, Guitar Lake to Outpost Camp (10,370′)
This was the day. We would summit Mt. Whitney and complete the John Muir Trail. The culmination of months of planning and weeks of hiking. In the end we would climb 3000′ and descend 4000′ in one long and glorious day. I was elated to have made it this far, nervous about the climb to come, ready to have real food and a shower, and sad to be at the end of an incredible journey. Wow! Lots of emotions there…
Day 17: 10.5 miles, 184.5 cumulative, Center Basin to Tyndall Frog Ponds (11,030′)
I woke early and crawled out of my tent. I was surprised to see many of the backpackers already moving around – everyone was so quiet. We all knew what was ahead I guess. And that would be Forester Pass. At 13,110′ Forester was our highest pass, and 1000′ feet higher than we had even been so far. I knew the climb would be super hard…2700′ feet up with less than optimal oxygen. But out there on the trail, no matter how hard the climb or how much I wanted to quit in the moment (and there were plenty of those moments), quitting literally wasn’t an option. My only choice was to keep hiking. And so…
Day 15: 13.7 miles, 162.1 cumulative, Lake Marjorie to Dollar Lake (10,220′)
Today’s pass – Pinchot Pass (12,050′). It wasn’t a terribly hard pass (although all climbs over 11,000′ still made me miss oxygen greatly). Nathan and I had camped at 11,000 feet so we had just 1000′ to climb in 2 miles. The snow wasn’t tricky or scary this time. 🙂 After our usual break on top of the world, we began our 3500′ descent to Woods Creek.
Day 13: 12.3 miles, 138.1 cumulative, Little Pete Meadow to Upper Palisade Lake (10,840′)
Our first five miles day 13 were relatively flat, climbing a gradual 1000′. First we followed the Middle Fork Kings River, then turned east and followed Palisade Creek. A word on “creeks” in the Sierras. I have always thought of creeks as peaceful little streams. All the creeks we came across were raging rivers of white water roaring down granite mountainsides. (Of course it could just be a 200% snow year thing) We didn’t understand why they were called creeks, but the frequency with which we hiked along the sounds and sights of white water was one of my favorite parts of hiking in the Sierras.
Day 11: 8.9 miles, 114.8 cumulative, Evolution Creek to Sapphire Lake (10,966′)
Nathan and I woke, ready for another wet crossing. Evolution Creek is considered another dangerous ford, but there is an alternate “meadow” crossing that is safe. So we waded through. It was two wide tributaries of the creek, nearly crotch high and cold…but safe.