JMT – Day 5 – Via Forester and Kearsage pass to Flower Lake, mile 788+5

July 30.

With the ladies all around me starting to get ready around 5am, I gave up with my hope to sleep in and got up around 5.45am. While they were leaving to climb Forester pass, I took my time with breakfast and coffee, left around 6.30am.

Around 7.15am I was at the top, had overtaken the other group easily. On the Northern side, there were 2-3 extended snow fields to cross. I had given in to fear and brought microspikes! ๐Ÿ˜ I had hiked the Sierras two times before, once in June, once in July. But since I had brought them, I tried them out.

As I was heading down Forester, more and more JMT SoBos came by – easily 30 hikers before noon. I start to feel the trail again… I realized that when I noticed that one of the hikers that passed me actually smelled good. Usually a sure sign for a section hiker. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Took my lunch break at Middle Vidette Meadow, mile 787. Had my first Idahoan on trail, roasted garlic. Thanks Cactass for that treat!

Idahoan Mashed potatoes – typical hiker food

8.4 miles by 12pm. Not amazing, not shabby either. I feel that hiking alone is really faster. I play around alternatives… 9.4 miles to Onion Valley campground, hit Bishop tonight. Or I just camp somewhere between Kearsage pass and Onion valley and hit town tomorrow.

Passed Bullfrog lake. One of my favorite spots on trail.

Kearsage pass at 3.30pm. Tempted by the thought of a Coke zero with ice.

Pitched my tent at Flower lake at 4.30pm, 2.5 miles before Onion Valley campground. Today were about 15 miles with two passes – really enough. The plan is to hike down in the morning and get lucky with a hitch to Bishop early enough for breakfast. And I want to be hero… So I will stick to make a full zero in Bishop the day after tomorrow. So a nero and a zero. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ I am ahead of my schedule, so I feel this is well deserved.

More food fantasies: ice cold coke, milk shake, grilled salmon with broccoli, breakfast toasts and eggs sunny side up. A big green salad.

JMT – Day 4 – From Crabtree to Tentsite below Forester, mile 779

Jul 29.

Got up 5.45h, left tentsite 6.30h. I definitely have a cold, but somehow I manage to keep an acceptable hiking speed. Made it around 7am to the PCT crossing at mile 767 – now I am heading north as close to Forrester as possible.

Beautiful morning in the Sierra

There are a couple of river crossings coming today.

The first two were knee deep and I could cross right on trail.

Taking a break at 930am at mile 772, Tyndall crossing is still 3 miles out.

Made the Tyndall crossing around 1130am as recommended by many SOBOs a bit upriver from the trail crossing. Turned out to be not much of a challenge. Amazing – no mosquitos around these meadows. A good reason to plan for a lunch break. It’s only 4 miles and 2000 feet to Forester Pass. Considering that I will only do the summit tomorrow morning due to better (harder) snow, I have plenty of time…

The approach to Forester is one of my favorite stretches of the JMT. ๐Ÿ˜ It’s a mix of Sierra beauty and moon landscape to me.

Arrived around 3pm at the desired tentsites, even further up than the last time I camped below Forester pass.

Tentsite just below Forester pass

They are all quite exposed to the wind – I secured my tent with extra rocks on all stakes, I hope it will hold up. Maybe the wind will also calm down over night. Watched an older couple climb down from the pass – gave me some good ideas for tomorrow morning. When they arrived they looked very exhausted but will push on another 3 miles to a better tentsite.

I prepared my dinner at 4pm.

But I didn’t get the loneliness I was expecting. First an older couple came down the pass, maybe at 5pm. They had trouble navigating but had seen my bright tent in the rocks. I gave them directions. They were pretty exhausted but were heading on to make it to the next better tentsite at 3.8miles, probably 2h. They might make it short before nightfall. They had shown me a friend of theirs in bright clothes, still making his way down. And after this guy came a last older man. They were really looking exhausted. I invited them to pitch their tents nearby, but both carried on at 5.30pm.

Forester is always good for some excitement.

… And then at 6pm a group of 4 older ladies showed up. I had met them during the Whitney Summit, actually brought a lost sun hat up from one of them. My beautiful remote camp spot is no more quiet. Can’t even … out loud anymore! But I can’t help it… I offered them to lead the way tomorrow around 7am anyway.

JMT – Day 3 – Summiting Mt Whitney and back to Crabtree Meadows, mile 767

July 28.

Getting up at 6am.

When I prepared my daypack to climb Mt Whitney I felt so smart. I would leave all my other gear behind in my tent – additional clothes, sleeping bag, the bear can away from the tent… And then I realized I need my hiking poles that also hold up my tent! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜œ Stupid me! ๐Ÿ˜‚ So I broke down the tent, packed all gear in my back pack and hid it behind some rocks. Leaving camp at 645am – still not sure how far I will get. Most hikers had either left at night time for sunrise or at least earlier than me. I started with one Ibuprofen, had a nagging headache.

Short break in the beginning of the switch backs. 745am at 12500 feet. So I still did 1000 feet in one hour. Wonder how I will feel when the ibuprofen wears out…

845am at the Whitney Portal trail crossing at 13360feet. Looks good, feeling ok.

945am resting at 13825. Much slower altitude gain, but still feeling pretty good. 0.8 miles and about 500 feet to go.

Made it to the summit at 1015am. ๐Ÿ˜

I was sitting there for a while, quietly enjoying the moment – it took actually a while to realize. I had been touched when I summited Mt Whitney the second time in 2018. This time, I started crying when I was starting to go down and away from the crowd at the summit. It might not be such a big thing to climb this mountain with relatively easy approach. But still – these 14505feet / 4400m mean a lot to me, especially coming back the third time.

Back at Guitar lake at 1.45pm. Redid my pack, started walking 2pm.

Pitched my tent at 4pm at a site close to Crabtree Meadows. Its less than a mile back to PCT from here.

Whitney summiting from Guitar lake 9miles plus 3.5 back from Guitar lake. 12.5 miles today.

Napping in the tent, a bit separated from the rest. Around 6pm it started to get colder. Even though I am not that hungry, I pushed myself to get out and cook. Fell asleep happy and exhausted at 7pm.

JMT – Day 2 – From Rock Creek to Guitar Lake

July 27.
Woke first time around 1am. With all my sleeping gear on (long sleeved underwear, the liner and the sleeping bag closed up, it was bit too warm. Despite the many hikers tenting here, it was rather quiet from human noise since Rock Creek was noisy.
Tried to fall asleep a couple of times, finally got up at 5.45am, left camp 6.45am.

BeeMe had left just before, Nick still was asleep. I was eager to hike on, our ways would part today anyway.

First … on trail. With a beautiful view.

I ran into Casper, a PCT and CDT thruhiker. He was struggling like me this morning. We chatted a bit… It was kind of reassuring to hear that other thruhikers are also out of shape.
Break after that climb at mile 763 at 8.30am.

After a while Casper caught up, we continued chatting. 1130am made it to Crabtree Meadows. 8 miles in 4.5 hours. Very slow, but not a total disaster. Will take an hour lunch break here, then continue. It became a 2 hour break, but it was good to rest.

I cooked a warm meal before leaving 130pm for that 3.5 miles for today to Guitar lake.

Made it faster than I thought at 3pm to Guitar lake. So many familiar sights. Even before seeing the guitar shaped lake, I could make out the rock and mountain formations from all the photos I took on my previous visits.
Will take a break, pitch my tent and enjoy the long afternoon rest.

Pitched my tent, recorded a time lapse. Now at 3.45pm, I really just wanna close my eyes and rest.

At this very moment, I do not see myself summiting Mt Whitney tomorrow morning.
It might only be 3000 feet/1000m left to the summit at 14480 feet, but i really feel tired and exhausted. Surely lack of sleep, altitude and maybe a bit of a cold I might have caught during the flight.

But I will take a decision tomorrow morning. Ate dinner around 6pm. Clouds covered the sun, the temperature immediately dropped. I decided to take Ibuprofen against my headache for a good sleep.
Chatted with a nice family of three before going into my tent. The daughter just turned 13 on trail some days ago. They were planning to get up at 1am to summit for sunrise to end their JMT SoBo hike.

Finally in the tent at 730pm.

JMT – Day 1 – From Horseshoe Meadows Campground to Rock Creek, mile 760

July 26.

Had an early breakfast to say goodbye to civilization for a few days.

Nick and I met at the opposite corner of the hostel where the road leads up to Horseshoe Meadow campground. Just after a few minutes standing there, another hiker BeeMe from Belgium joined us. It took us about 30min until we were lucky. Spencer, a hiker/climber and actor out of LA gave us all a ride all the way up to the campground! What a nice guy!

Even with different itineraries, we started hiking together around 9.20am. Nick was bound for the High Sierra Trail and BeeMe was not planning to summit Mt Whitney.

There were 4 miles to hike up to Cottonwood pass and PCT mile 750, 10 more on the PCT to the planned tentsite with bear boxes.

Just a few miles in, I was chatting with Nick about coincidences when we walked up another hiker. I recognized an external frame backpack plus a kilt… That must be John Ladd! And he surely was! John is a celebrity on the JMT, maintains the main Facebook group and provides extensive statistics on the JMT hikers, gear etc. I had met him in 2016 when we both stayed in the Mt Williamson motel owned by Strider, another JMT celebrity. John remembered me as well – what a nice start into my JMT adventure with a familiar face!

Meeting John Ladd

We went over Cottonwood pass at 11132 feet and continued North. It was good to see the familiar PCT trail signs again! ๐Ÿ˜

I got really exhausted in the afternoon. Not sure if this is still the jet lag or whether I was getting a cold. It was a lot of altitude gain during one day. I had a headache and decided to take an Ibuprofen later at night to ensure a good sleep.

Took an extra break around 2pm, trying to nap but had no luck, Nick and BeeMe stuck around. It was nice of them but I felt a bit pressured too. Lunch break was too short. Was hiking with Nick and BeeMe – need to hike my own hike in terms of speed, breaks etc to get adjusted to the trail quickly.

We arrived at Rockcreek camp at 5.30pm. I had also camped here during my PCT 2018 hike, all felt familiar. Unfortunately it was as busy with easily 12-15 hikers.

14 miles on the first day. I feel dead. So glad tomorrow I have only planned 10.5 miles to Guitar lake.

Joint dinner with Nick and BeeMe. In the tent by 6.45pm.