Day 52 – From Tentsite mile 772 via Kearsage Pass to Tentsite at Bullfrog lake, mile 788+

June 11.

With Forrester pass (13100 feet/4000 meter, highest point of PCT) still 7 miles out, we got a relative early start at 6.15am. The approach to Forrester pass was very beautiful. I remembered many spots and felt very happy and grateful to be here again.

The landscape in this part of the Sierra… Just awesome.

We took a break at the same spot where I had pitched my tent during my 2016 JMT hike, just before the final climb. In 2016 I was here in Juli.

Now, a month earlier, the pass had much more snow. Approaching the last climb was difficult…crossing a frozen lake, finding trail the trail under the snow.

After passing an icy snow chute and a few more demanding sections, we made to the top of the pass at 13118 feet around 12pm.

With the snow melting, we started the descend on the Northern side through big snow fields. Lots of postholing, climbing rocks to avoid the soft snow.

Once at tree level, found nice spot for lunch break, still 6 miles to crossing with Kearsage pass.

We found a beautiful spot near Bullfrog lake to spend the night before pushing over Kearsage pass tomorrow to go to town and resupply.

My favorite day on trail.

Song of today: Lenny Kravitz – Believe

Lyrics:
If you want it you got it
You just got to believe
Believe in yourself
‘Cause it’s all just a game

Day 51 – From Guitar lake to the peak of Mount Whitney and on to tentsite at mile 771

June 10.

Sunrise or not? That was a popular question also with other hikers camping at Guitar lake. We opted not to attempt to summit at darkness aiming for a sunrise at the peak. Instead, we started hiking 7.15am. It turned out to be a good decision for us. With daylight, the ascend was swift and we made it to the peak at 10.30am.

The hike was not too difficult from the JMT/PCT side, just in a handful of situations a bit climbing was required. I did not miss microspikes or an ice axe.

On the other Eastern side, the trail leading to Mt Whitney from Whitney portal, seemed to be more difficult. Unfortunately at the time of our summit, an accident involving a few hikers happened there – we could see some of the rescue efforts including the helicopter.

14500 feet – about 4420 meters
On top of the world
Cactass, Tinkle and myself

As beautiful as the view was (and finally cellphone reception!) we started down around 12.15pm, arrived at Guitar lake again at 2.30pm.

We picked up the gear we left at guitar lake and tried to push as close as we could on that day to towards Forrester pass. We pitched our tents exhausted at mile 771, still 8 miles out from the pass.

What a great day. Being a second time on the top of Mt Whitney – that meant a lot to me. Happy.

Day 50 – From Rock Creek to Guitar Lake, mile 767+4

June 9.

Slept well, but it seems I don’t have much reserves in my sleeping system for colder nights. This night was at 9500 feet – let’s see how it will be at 11500 feet next night at Guitar lake. I will probably add my last remaining layers of clothing – hopefully no need for the puffy though.

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Breakfast with hot coffee held with cold shaking hands. 15min later on trail, you appreciate the sun rays warming you. Funny how different that was two weeks ago during the heat wave at the end of the desert section. 30min later on trail, I am sweating. First water crossing. Easy with my boots stepping from rock to rock even with water overflowing. Everything up to the ankle is no issue.

First short break at 2.5 miles and 1500 feet up.

Next water crossing short before Rock Creek. I am showing off my boots one again… 😂 The others went through either with their trail runners or with Crocs.

Arrived at Crabtree Meadows at 12pm for lunch with Tinkle, Cactass, Queso, Husk and Flamingo. Enjoying lunch… A Crystal Light drink, one tortilla with tuna and sunflower seeds, one with Nutella kindly donated by Tinkle.
So far my feet were holding up pretty good. But the blister patch doesn’t hold well… Need to decide what to do for tomorrow’s summit of Whitney.

Lying in the grass of the meadow. Enjoying the rest, the warmth of the sun… And music..😍

Song of today: Alphaville – Forever young

We just have four miles left to go to Guitar lake, so we should arrive after 4pm. It’s gonna be great to rest so much before the big day tomorrow.

At Guitar lake, I pitched my tent just next to where I had my tent on my hike two years ago. Amazing view… And it feels great to be back. My feet felt good today… I am excited and enthusiastic about climbing up Mt Whitney tomorrow morning. As the last time, I will leave my tent behind and only take what’s needed in my pack on the climb – warm clothes, water, snacks, electronics…

Spent several hours lying in the grass here at Guitar lake… Just enjoying the view and watching the clouds.

Cactass and Queso trying a new perspective

Dinner with tea, chatting with the others. In bed by 7pm. Can see the lake from my tent.

Day 49 – From Diaz River to Rock Creek, mile 760

June 8. We started walking around 7am after a quick breakfast. After climbing a bit less than two miles up to the next meadow, we met Cactass again who was waiting for us drinking coffee.

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We agreed on Rock Creek at mile 760 as final destination for today and Guitar lake just below Mt Whitney for tomorrow.

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Chicken Spring Lake

We set off for the first 9 miles to take a break at Chicken Spring lake where we arrived around 1130am. Applied new blister care to my feet. Now it is actually only the left foot that gives me pain and trouble walking.

Nice long lunch break… Washing my feet in cold water, napping, eating, …

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Last miles become more and more difficult despite easy trail even or downhill.. Everyone seems to have trouble to perform.

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Coming by Rock Creek – at this spot, I spent my first night on trail during my 2016 John Muir Trail Through Hike

Setting up for another cold night.

Song of the day: Eddie Vedder – Long Nights

About 18 miles in total.

Day 48 – From tentsite to Diaz river tentsite, mile 742

June 7.

Stayed in tent until 7am, then Tinkle and Cactass came to check on me. 😂

Quick breakfast, on trail around 8am. Cactass and Tinkle had already started. After finishing the climb to 11000 feet that I started yesterday, most of the trail in the morning was even or even downhill. 9 miles in at around 1130am, got new water at Death Canyon Creek. Just before the water, I caught up with Husk and Queso – also Cactass and Tinkle had just settled down.

My feet still felt good – actually during the hike in the morning, I already felt home in the boots. But I am careful… I don’t think adjusting to new boots will happen after just one day.

At lunch, we discussed the next days. Crabtree meadow will be the starting point for the Mt Whitney summit. To reach Crabtree meadow tomorrow night, we would need to do 22 miles today and about 24-25 tomorrow. An ambitious plan, considering that the day after on June 9 will be the summit with over 4000 feet climb.

We left the lunch break with the target to go to Dutch Meadow mile 743 instead of Diaz river at mile 742.

The trail offered amazing views also in the afternoon.

My feet started hurting though… Pushing the second day in a row to 20+ miles in new boots didn’t feel right. I kept playing scenarios in my head for the next days. But given the pain of my feet adjusting to new boots and the fact that I had planned with 15 miles for the Sierra, I gave up on aiming for Crabtree meadows tomorrow. With the summit planned for June 10 then, the next two days will be easier.

So when I came to Diaz river, I decided to stay, so did Tinkle and later also Husk and Queso. Cactass had already left for Dutch Meadow, but we asked some hikers to tell her about the change in plans.

Day 47 – From Kennedy Meadows to Tentsite, mile 722

June 6.

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Into the Sierra!

Left the campground at the Kennedy Meadows General Store at 6.15am, walked to the trail head. It was not easy to get up early. The last night had been long and fun with lots of beers.

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Took a break at South Fork Kern river at mile 716 where we met a lot of other hikers. Also Husk and Queso joined the group. The bridge leading over the river is noticable. Close to hundred swallow’s nests hang under the bridge. It is the only construction by humans surely within several miles. Still the birds chose exactly this spot for their nests. And they were busy feeding their offsprings… There were birds constantly flying in and out.

Tough day, heavy pack with bear canister and 7 days food. And a climb from 6000 feet to 9700, overall climb of 4875 feet or 1600m.

Pitched my tent at a nice tentsite with spectacular view at mile 722 at 9700 feet altitude.

Delicious Mountain House dinner sweet and sour pork. So hungry.

Day 45 – From Manter Creek to Kennedy Meadows, mile 702

June 4. Slept pretty well. It had cooled down during the night, that helped with the sleep.

Started walking at 6am… Motivated to make it to Kennedy Meadows by 10am and with that in time for breakfast. The trail followed a river… The sweet sound of running water accompanied us on the last steps towards Kennedy Meadows. With that also the anticipation of having creeks, rivers and lakes around you for the next section, the High Sierra.

Being able to wash yourself every day… Do some laundry, wash the dishes… 😁

700 miles marker
Oh yes. 700 miles done. And so excited to move on to the Sierra.

After the 700 miles marker, it was just a couple of miles to Kennedy Meadows and the General Store there.

Will be camping here at the Kennedy Meadows General Store for a night or two.

Light boots for the desert (left), leather boots for the Sierra and beyond (right).

Time to prepare the gear for the Sierra, fill the bear canister… And give my feet some rest.