Friday, August 7, 2015

JMT Day 17: Wright Creek to Trail Camp

The last day... sort of. We were so eager to be done with the trail at this point. My friend and I had both done Whitney before, and now we were within spitting distance of the end and it was just a little bit too much to tackle all in one day. We got as far as Trail Camp and then considered trying to make it further, even just to Outpost Camp, to be closer to the end of the trail, but it was not happening. Trail Camp was windy and cold, with unpleasant neighbors who were up there just to "bag" Whitney (they kept us up all night by being loud, and then woke up and made more noise at 6am).

First, we hiked to Crabtree Meadows, about 4.7 miles. From there it was another 2.7 miles to Guitar Lake.

Just past Crabtree Meadows


Before Guitar Lake, you reach Timberline Lake.


Pretty bird... no idea what it is

I didn't take a lot of pictures at all on this day. It wasn't very pretty, really, compared to the other scenery we'd seen. I just wanted to get my miles done and get off the mountain. From Guitar Lake, it's another 2.9 miles to the junction with the Mt. Whitney Trail. When I reached the junction, I saw the fattest marmot I'd ever seen. Later, someone told me they call him Santa Claus. Apparently he lives off of food stolen out of the packs of JMTers who have gone to summit Whitney.

Santa Claus, the Fattest Marmot Ever
Santa Claus the Marmot

I aim to have fun in hiking, rather than just bagging peaks. And I did not really like the last few miles of the Mt. Whitney trail because it is so rocky and difficult to walk on. I also did not need to have a 17 mile day instead of a 13 mile day. My previous day was 13.3 mi, and today would be 13.2 mi. That's more than a half marathon a day going over the two highest passes on the JMT. No, I did not need to add 4 miles of that to re-summit Whitney. So I went to Trail Crest from the junction, and then down the famous 99 switchbacks to Trail Camp. And past a lot of sick Whitney day hikers as I went. Really, I don't get why so many unprepared people do that to themselves.

In a way it was nice to be on familiar ground, because I knew - for example - that I could get good water from a spring on the switchbacks instead of the less nice water from Trail Camp. And I knew exactly how far it was from Trail Camp to Outpost Camp (2.7 mi) to Lone Pine Lake (another mile) to the end of the trail (2.8 miles). But it was also a bit of a drag. I had already hiked Mt. Whitney. I have no desire to re-hike it.

But that was the only option at that point, so we hiked to Trail Camp and spent the night there, dreaming of all the food we would eat the next day.

Day 17 miles hiked: 13.1
Day 17 elevation gain: 3540 ft
Total Distance Hiked to date: 134.6 mi
Total JMT distance hiked SOBO to date: 88.9 mi

All of my JMT photos can be seen here.

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