May 27, 2016
Rock Creek (mile 760.5) to Guitar Lake
Miles: 10 (5.8 PCT miles + 4.2 miles to Guitar Lake)
We woke up a little after 6. We were in no hurry knowing that we only had to walk 10 miles today. The sun kissed our tent as we stuffed our sleeping bags and rolled up our sleeping pads.
Both of us slept well. Andy was toasty in Big Red (the new nickname of the zero degree bag) and Laurie with her silk liner inside her bag. Initially both of our toes were cold but they eventually warmed up as we slept.
We shared a luxurious Talenti filled with hot water to warm our fingers and were walking by 7:45 am. (We eat our dinners in pint size Talenti screw top ice cream containers.)
We crossed Rock Creek on 2 logs 200 ft upstream from the trail. Eventually we will have to ford a river but not yet.
The trail switchbacked up 1400 ft and then dropped into Guyot Flat. It was beautiful!! Snow covered parts of the trail but it was easy to follow the dirty footprints. We dropped down into Guyot Flat and took in the view – a sandy meadow at the base of pine trees and Mt Guyot.
We spotted the trail across the sandy meadow and walked towards it. It felt like we sank half an inch with every step over the snow.
The weather was beautiful this morning and we are hoping for the same tomorrow. We plan to summit Mt. Whitney and want a clear weather window.
We hiked uphill for 15 minutes only to drop back down moments later. This ridge was north facing and very snowy. Instead of walking the traverse we sat down and glissaded 50 feet to the rocks below. Andy went first and was surprised by how much speed he picked up immediately.
We took an early lunch to dry out our socks and pants.We watched two other hikers approach the traverse and hoped they would slide down too but they didn’t.
Shortly after lunch we crossed Whitney Creek and took the side trail to Mt. Whitney via Crabtree Meadow. Snow adds another dimension to the beauty of the Sierras, and the views heading up toward Timberline and Guitar Lakes didn’t disappoint. In any direction we looked we had stunning views.
Andy stubbed his toes and tripped over rocks more today than on the whole hike thus far, probably because he was looking around rather than looking at the trail.
Past Timberline Lake there were a few tricky snow patches to navigate – mostly because the snow was mushy and the steps were steep – but with teamwork we got past them safely.
On one occasion Andy poked Laurie in her butt with his hiking pole to help her up a steep step and in return Laurie took Andy’s hand and pulled him up. Except that when she turned around to continue she hit Andy with her backpack and almost knocked him over, back over the ledge we had come up.
We enjoyed a good laugh and kept going. Timberline Lake was still mostly frozen and so was Guitar Lake.
There were a few people already set up when we got to Guitar Lake around 3pm, with more parties going the opposite direction after summitting Mt. Whitney earlier in the day.
We can see the snowy switchbacks high above us and feel confident about our chances of summitting tomorrow. We just hope for good weather.
Ruben and Sue are also here tonight, along with Josh and Tom. We’re not sure of everyone’s plans for tomorrow as we are camped far from one another and we are too cozy in our tent to walk to them and find out. We trust we will see them on the summit.
By 6pm and we had eaten dinner and sorted out food for tomorrow. Laurie took a nap as the sun warmed the tent.
At 7 pm it was snowing. The clouds moved in very fast but the snow was wet and didn’t stick.
We hope to be asleep by 8pm to wake up around 3am, and be on the trail by 3:30am. We don’t think we’ll make it by sunrise but we want to give ourselves plenty of time to go up, relax and come down safely. We also hope to hike the 4.2 miles to rejoin the PCT and maybe even get to Wallace Creek. We’ll see.
For now, we have to get mentally prepared for the challenge that awaits us on Mt. Whitney.
Tonight we are grateful for heart pounding challenges and snow free tentsites.