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Album: photos:day17

Crabtree - Whitney Shelter
29 June 2003
Day 17
Miles: 8.5 / 215.1

And with the ascent of Mt. Whitney's rocky summit, my JMT experience comes to it's end.

The day started easily enough. I woke up late, took my time, and did not start hiking until after 09:00. No rush today, but once I started I made great time to Timberline Lake where I took a picture of Whitney reflected in the water.

Beyond the lake progress became steadily slower. Below Guitar Lake (named for it's shape) I chatted with a High Sierra Trail thruhiker and 2 PCTers that took a side trip over Whitney after a resupply. They were of the opinion that it was too late already to try and summit, but since I was planning on spending the night on the summit I felt I had plenty of time. The HST hiker's feet were in need of rest so he opted to stay at Guitar Lake. Saying goodbye I continued onward.

The ascent to the ridge at around 13,480 feet took me a long time. I made it after 15:00. The mountainside is very steep and has lots and lots of switchbacks. Nice views too. Plenty warm and sunny as well. I think my ears are burned.

At, really just below, Trail Crest I started seeing day hikers descending from the summit. In fact I saw people descending just about until I was at the summit. I hope they had lights because they won't be making it back to Whitney Portal until after dark. Maybe they were camped out below.

After a long traverse along the ridge, I began making progress up Whitney proper. I talked to quite a few folks along the way. I was low on energy though and it took another couple hours before I dropped my pack at the summit hut. Not many people chose to stay the night here so backpackers leave their packs down below around Trail Crest.

I was not alone. There were two climbers, real climbers, that climbed the sheer east face to get here. They were a friendly couple, and we helped each other out with some photos. They even offered me a ride back to Toulomne Meadows tomorrow if we see each other at the trailhead. What luck! I will be looking for that Red 4Runner. I felt a bit sorry for his girlfriend. After all that hard work climbing up she couldn't enjoy the summit due to severe AMS. In fact she had not even left the summit before hurling. Hope she feels better after the descent to their high camp.

Not long after they left 2 student Forest Service volunteers arrived. At first I thought they were spending the night here too because of the late hour, but no. They have a long, cold, dark walk back. Both were really friendly, and it turns out that one backpacked about 1,000 miles of the AT so we talked a lot about that. He also swears that he recognizes my trailname as well as my face. We think he may have been to my website. Small world. They also left me a number to reach them if I can't get a hitch out of here. Sweet!

Everything always works out on the trail.

So here I am in my sleeping bag inside the summit house with the JMT finished. Eleven miles remain between me and the trailhead at Whitney Portal. It has been a good trip. I am eager to see what stories develop tomorrow on my last hiking day.

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Photo album generated by album from Marginal Hacks by David LjungTue Feb 10 23:21:55 2009

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