July 31, 2010

JMT Day 10

Looking North from Forester Pass

Date: Friday, July 23
Miles: ~19.5
Cumulative Miles: 206.5
Camp: 500' Above Guitar Lake

At 8:00am, we were standing on top of 13,200 foot Forester Pass, with Mt Whitney ahead of us, and most of the John Muir Trail behind us. Perfect weather, incredible views; I think at one point I asked Andrea if we should start singing "America the Beautiful." That's exactly how it felt.

After a surprisingly easy climb up to the top, we took an hour break on top of Forester Pass and cooked up some mashed potatoes... yummy! While this was the last major climb before Whitney, it wasn't by any means all downhill from Forester. The trail from the pass to the Whitney area was lots of rolling terrain at high elevation... it ended up being quite a tiring rest of the day. We made it to Guitar Lake around 5pm, and all of a sudden the clouds started to build and we heard a few rumbles of thunder.... uh oh. We hadn't even seen a cloud in the past 5 days! It was decision time again; camp at Guitar Lake, or climb another 500 (exposed) feet to the flat camping area at 12,000 feet. We decided to roll the dice and keep going... luckily, a storm never materialized, we were at our campsite by 530pm, and the weather for the rest of the evening was cool and perfect. We had a big dinner and got all of our gear organized for the push the Mt Whitney's summit.

Our plan for the next day was to wake up at 330am, break camp quickly, and hopefully be hiking by 400am. With an early start, we could make our way up to the ridge in time to see the sun break over the horizon. We were excited to say the least! It would be tough to get any sleep, being at 12,000 feet and with anticipation building for the next day, but we still went to sleep early in an attempt to get a little rest.

The last thing I wrote in my journal that night was: "Looking forward to tomorrow! Mt Whitney!!! Shorter day! Diet Dew! Ice Cream! This has been the greatest thing I have ever done w/ the greatest person I have ever known. I'll never, ever, ever forget any of this."

Andrea ready to roll

Time to climb up Forester Pass

Sun just starting to light up the pass

Forester Pass area

Andrea in some bigtime terrain

I loved this area

The last stretch across the snow to the pass

The highest pass on the trail

Forester Pass looking South

Looking South

Mashed potatoes at the top

Looking back the way we came

Dropping off the pass

Heading down

I love the color of the Sierras

Transition back to some green

The trail went across some high plateaus

The views on the stretch were incredible

We stopped for lunch on Bighorn Plateau

Bighorn Plateau

Then we crossed some meadows...

Getting closer!

Dirty legs!!!

We crossed some sandy forests...

...and then got up to the Whitney zone

Guitar Lake

Hiking past Guitar Lake

Organizing gear for the last day

Clear skies

Our campsite above Guitar Lake. Amazing spot!

Last night on the trail

Ready for Whitney!!!

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