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! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ Stupid me! πŸ˜‚ 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. 😁

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! 😍

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.

John Muir Trail – 1 Day before

July 25.

Thanks to the jet lag, I woke up rather early and enjoyed a quiet morning in the motel parking lot.

For those in Germany suffering from the current heatwave – it’s just the same here, around 40 degrees Celsius.

I am looking forward to getting into the Sierra and to 10000 feet / 3000m where the air is not only cooler but a bit cleaner than around Los Angeles.

Spent the day shopping for snacks at a 711 and waiting for my Eastern Sierra Transit bus at 2pm. The motel kept the pool locked – a bit disappointing.

But the day got much better. At the bus stop I ran into Nick, a hiker from Missouri. He is about the hit the High Sierra Trail. We will be entering the wilderness via the same trail head tomorrow – what a nice coincidence. We spent the long bus ride to Lone Pine chatting about hiking. He gave me the idea to call the visitor center to ask for my permit to be stored for late pickup tonight. That worked out nice – thanks Nick!

Coincidence got bigger – he had actually recently visited a friend in Switzerland and seen the same town that I will be moving into after this hike. World is really small. 😜

The Sierras seen from the Lone Pine hostel

Did some last gear preparations (fuel, dry bag and water filter replacement) and started the self hydration process that is so critical to be conducted carefully before every hike (got wasted on beer with Nick). 😝

That made the gear shakedown we did with two JMT hikers we met in the hostel even more fun.

The weather might get interesting – there is a chance of thunderstorms tomorrow at lunchtime when I will be on trail already.

Tomorrow… Can’t wait! 😍

John Muir Trail – Getting there

July 24.

I caught my flight from Frankfurt via Amsterdam to Los Angeles in the morning. I am not too keen on flying anymore – but getting to California without taking a plane really takes a lot of time and commitment. 😜

Anyway – the 11h KLM flight to LAX was surprisingly nice. The seat only started killing me after a couple of hours, the catering was really tasty, movie selection was good too.

The immigration officer made my day. When I stated my purpose of visit (vacation/leisure), he inquired further and I shared that I will be hiking in the Sierras. He wondered whether I would be hiking the John Muir Trail! 😁 So I shared some insights, he was really interested… And we closed our conversation with his remark that he wouldn’t call the purpose of the visit leisure if it means hiking for 3-4 weeks. 🀣

Waiting for the bus ride from LAX to Union Station was nerve wrecking… Traffic chaos, cars honking everywhere… But I made it to Union Station and later to the Metrolink to Lancaster.
I would have fallen asleep in the train if if wasn’t freezing cold from the AC…

The train crossed the Pacific Crest Trail near Acton, mile 444.

At the Acton KOA campground during my 2018 PCT hike, I got my trail name that I would only slowly accept…

Me and my (borrowed) Daisy Dukes, Acton KOA 2018

In Lancaster, I had a 30min walk along the main street passing used car dealerships, gun shops, massage parlors…

I remember very well my last night before hitting the John Muir Trail in 2016. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep…

This time I will be hiking the JMT for the third time. I am much more relaxed since I know what is coming. But my expectations are high – even higher.

It seems I love the Sierras more with every visit.
It’s the solitude and self-determination that I long for.

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.- John Muir