After zeroing in Bishop on June 13, we took the bus on June 14 from Bishop to Independence. Waited there quite a while at the road leading back to Onion valley campground, but then a fellow hiker (Notorious FIG) drove up in a rental and took us up to the trail.
Since we only made it to the trail at 4pm, we just had the plan to make it over Kearsage pass and camp soon after.
During the ascend, I met another hiker, an arborist called ape man. He had quite some details to share on the trees we passed. And ape man has a YouTube channel where he actually shared a video taken the same day.
@ape man, it was nice to meet you.
Making it over the pass around 6.30pm, we picked our tents soon after. For tomorrow, Glen pass and also the milestone 800 is planned.
Starting at Bullfrog lake in the morning with a cup of coffee and a beautiful view.
We had to hike over Kearsage pass – actually extra 7.5 miles off the PCT to get resupply in Independence or Bishop.
Made it quickly to the top of the 11.760 feet pass. In the other side, the trail led down gently along several beautiful lakes to the Onion valley campground.
At the campground, Cactass, Tinkle, Husk, Queso and myself tried to find a hitch down to Independence or Bishop. Around 12pm, it was not easy… Only few dayhikers were around. To kill the time, I started foraging for food in the numerous bear boxes… If you leave food in there unattended, you are supposed to mark it with name and pickup date. After that date, it will be removed by rangers. In our case… After the date, we just eat it… 😜 Had some perfectly fine potato chips, some biscuits…
At the end Husk was the hero of the day. He found a guy with pickup who took us down into Independence.
Getting from Independence to Bishop was another hitch… Here Tinkle was successful and stopped Dan,a nice guy from Australia passing through. He had been hiking the PCT in 2016!
In Bishop, our first stop was of course a restaurant before checking into a motel… 😁
It was a long section in the Californian wilderness. The last 1-2 days before coming to town, I had started rationing my food. It is an interesting experience if your stomach hurts from hunger… And to feel the difference between appetite and hunger…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..😍
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.
Dinner with tea, chatting with the others. In bed by 7pm. Can see the lake from my tent.
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.
We agreed on Rock Creek at mile 760 as final destination for today and Guitar lake just below Mt Whitney for tomorrow.
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, …
Last miles become more and more difficult despite easy trail even or downhill.. Everyone seems to have trouble to perform.
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.