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5 Day JMT Trip Report
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5 Day JMT Trip Report
“So my trip started out like most of my trips do with a 300 miles drive to my hometown of Connersville, IN to drop off my son Ryan at his mother’s house. Having done that, I drove back to Indianapolis and stayed overnight at my friend Atilla’s house. When I got there, of course, he wasn’t there. I didn’t’ think it was his fault, I had changed the dates on him several times, and I figured he was confused. I gave him a call on my cell phone and an hour later we met up at his house. We spent the evening talking about the trip and what I thought I could expect from it. We drank a few beers, ate some crackers, and I went to sleep in his guest room surrounded by base guitars, drums, and other musical paraphernalia. (I got to sleep on the futon). I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive, as I really didn’t know what to expect, having never been out West or having never been above 7000 ft.
I woke up around 6:30 and took what would be my last shower for the next 10 days. I made sure to make it an extra long one in the forlorn hope that if I was cleaner to begin with, I would stay cleaner longer. That didn’t happen. I drove to Indianapolis airport, parked my truck in long term parking, and they shuttled me to the airport where I successfully checked in and subsequently made it through security without any big problems. So far so good. My flight left on time. It was a non-stop flight all the way to Las Vegas. A good smooth ride until the end when we were 20 minutes out of Vegas the captain informed us that there was a thunderstorm over Vegas and that we couldn’t land. Damn!! We were doing so good. We were even a half hour ahead of schedule. We went into what ended up being a 40 minute holding pattern, maneuvering around the thunderstorm we could all see outside the windows towering over the Las Vegas airport. After this interminable period, the pilot then informed us that we were 15th in line to land and that another thunderstorm was approaching. It seems that if we didn’t make this window we’d have to go to Phoenix and get more fuel. Everyone on board was thrilled. We barely made it. Everyone applauded when we landed.
I disembarked at Las Vegas airport and headed to baggage claim, which if you have never experienced in Las Vegas airport, entails quite a lot of walking and a rather lengthy shuttle ride on their monorail. The airport itself is basically a very large casino with plenty of slot machines and all the prerequisite individuals and entrapments that make Las Vegas, Las Vegas. It’s a good place to watch people. It certainly has it’s share of visual entertainment. Time to get my bags. I joined a large throng of happy vacationers as they headed down a very long series of escalators to baggage claim number 5 and we all stood in line and got at the amount of unclaimed baggage that littered the area, man I wonder just how many people did not get their baggage that day. There had to be over 300 pieces of luggage. I have never seen that many bags in one place. It certainly didn’t boost my confidence. About that time, I decided to try and call Sacco. He didn’t answer, so I waited with the others for my bags to come down the luggage carousal. After about a half hour, I begin to get worried, I have had my luggage lost before and it’s not a good experience. Finally, I saw my bags, made my way up the front, picked em up, and immediately felt much better. That’s always a big part of the battle. Backpacking without your pack kinda sucks.
Time to get the rental car. The last time I was at LV airport, the rental car companies were in the airport proper. It seems that the rental car business in Vegas has become so huge as to require a totally new facility dedicated just to car rental alone. Time for another shuttle bus. I dragged my bags on to the bus, which took me to the rental car facility about 3 miles from the airport. About that time, Greenmonkey called me back and told me that he, his wife, Chrissy (aka Ponygirl), and Sacco had just arrived at the rental care place themselves and were proceeding to pick up the van. Wow. We were close. You think I should have been able to see ‘em. The new rental car facility is very large and there are many different rental companies located there and I decided just to focus on getting my car. I had already made reservations for the car at Payless and ended up waiting in another like for another 20 minutes while a teenager and his 70 yr. + mother tried to get a car that she couldn’t drive and the teenager was only 17. The good people at Payless weren’t overly thrilled at the opportunity and I felt sorry for both of em as they had to buy all types of additional insurance and other stuff that probably they didn’t really need to buy. Finally, my turn. The lady at the desk asked me my name. I got my reservation number out and gave it to her and she immediately suggested I upgrade since I was driving a considerable distance in an economy size car with two bags. I assured her I would be fine and spent the next 10 minutes explaining that I did not need additional insurance or their overpriced gasoline. She gave me another paper and told me to go down yet another escalator to the garage where I handed all my requisite paperwork to an individual (Pakistani/Indian) who couldn’t understand most of what I was saying and didn’t really understand what he was supposed to be doing there. I finally communicated to him that I was renting a car. I had to fill out more paperwork, yet again turn down insurance and gasoline, and finally was given my keys and the location of my rental car. In order for one to exit the rental car facility, you have to place a barcode that you are provided under a scanner that opens up a gate. We’ve all seen this type of stuff before. It’s not new. By the time I got to the gate there were 7 people ahead of me who could not operate the scanner. Hmm, must not have barcodes in some countries. After 10 minutes, I got out of the car and went up and showed the people from France how to do it. They were totally amazed. The gate opened, they went through, and each one of us in turn exited the rental car facility. Thank God.
I called Sacco yet again and this time actually got to speak to him. He, Ponygirl, and Greenmonkey were headed to Pro Bass shop where we had planned to meet. He tried to explain to me how they got there, but I was pretty turned around after exiting the rental car facility and ended up taking another 40 minutes to find the Pro Bass shop. Once there, I called again and was given directions to a restaurant at the back of the store where after walking around the same restaurant for about 10 minutes the waitress came up and directed me to their table. Jeeze!! I had already met Sacco and hiked with him previously, so he introduced me to his wife and Greenmonkey. We ordered some food, talked about the trip, and then went back to Pro Bass to buy fuel canisters, lures, and some bottled water.
On to Onion Valley! I left the Pro Bass shop full with high expectations of a quick trip through Death Valley and spending the night by myself at Onion Valley campground. I had Mapquest directions and they proved to be somewhat accurate. I also had my GPS and had previously programmed in the waypoints of the campground. So I felt confident that I would get there in under 3 hours. It ended up taking 5 and a half. For some reason, Mapquest took me way north of Onion Valley and then back down south to it. Oh well. At least I was there. I checked in with the campground host and went to site 16 which Sacco had already reserved for us. This was a walk-in site and was situated on the side of a 30-degree slope and covered with large granite boulders, gravel, sagebrush, and dirt. Well, what did I expect? I immediately began to feel lightheaded at the 9,200 ft elevation on which this campground is located. That feeling and the uncomfortable sensation that I could not fill my lungs up with enough air lasted for almost three hours. Holy crap, and I’m supposed to hike with a 35 lb pack on my back in this. My confidence was once again waning. I bought some firewood, built a fire, and spent the balance of the evening drinking beer by myself and wondering what the hell had I got into and if worse came to worse what would be the least painful way to get out of it!!
I woke up at a little after dawn and noticed that I felt better and that the elevation was not affecting me as it previously had. For the first time, I began to notice the beauty and immense size of my surroundings. The Sierra Nevadas offer one a view of very large mountains, most of which do not have any vegetation above 12,000 feet. The Onion Valley campground was low enough to have a pretty good variety of conifers including Cedars, Junipers and a variety of Pines. Site 16 turned out to have a very nice view of the mountains and the surrounding trees. My sense of scale was completely thrown off and I was having trouble judging distance and sizes of things at distances. Most of the trees were probably one to two ft in diameter and at least 100 ft tall, but when placed in the foreground of 12,000 ft plus mountains, they seemed very small. I decided to take my fishing gear and go up the trail to Kersarge Pass. Bill, the camp host, told me the first two lakes, Little Pothole Lake and Gilbert Lake, would be good places to try and catch a few trout. Up the trail I went and at 10,500 ft found Little Pothole Lake and spent a couple hours fishing with flies and actually caught one golden trout and two brook trout. A note here on the size of alpine trout: the majority never exceed 6 inches in length, with a 10 incher representing a real trophy. While very beautiful, these trout are not good fighters and seem rather wimpy and almost apologetic when landed. I felt sorry for em and decided to stop fishing as I didn’t want to hurt the poor little trout any more than their natural surroundings had already down. There’s just no food there for them. I continued on to Gilbert Lake, which turned out to be a very beautiful lake but did not offer the same quality of fishing as the smaller lake below. I stayed to admire this alpine lake and it’s surrounding vegetation for about an hour and then headed back down the trail to the campsite.
Sacco, Ponygirl, and Greenmonkey arrived at the campsite sometime around 6:30 PM and we built another fire and talked about what we expected out of our upcoming adventure. After some beer, dehydrated food and plenty of water we hit the sack early. We awoke the next morning and it seemed cold and windy with clouds offering a slight possibility of rain. We made coffee and tea and then drove into Lone Pine to have breakfast and hopefully pick up our Whitney Portal exit permits. After breakfast, we went to the Interagency Visitor Center where we successfully received our permits and four small olive green packages containing various components that were supposed to be used to collect our fecal remains and pack them back out the mountains…ok. I’m sure those will come in handy. Mine never made it past the first trashcan. We then drove to Whitney Portal to park the van and all of us loaded up in my little Ford Focus, where we drove back to Onion Valley. The desert below Onion Valley campground had recently experienced fires with a large percentage of the desert vegetation having been burnt off; even the rocks were black. It certainly looked kind of eerie. Once back at the campsite, we decided to hike up to Kursage Pass and using our Bear canisters, cache as much of our food as possible so that the next day we wouldn’t have to pack up sixty plus pound packs over the 11,760 foot pass. The trip up went well enough for Greenmonkey and I, but Sacco began to experience his first taste of altitude sickness. Ponygirl did a good job and it should be mentioned here that this is only the second time she had every hiked before. They didn’t make the pass and ended up caching their supplies about 800 ft below, while Greenmonkey and I made the pass (with Greenmonkey actually running the last 500 feet in elevation to the top of the pass). We did some rock climbing, cached my food and then enjoyed a beer atop the pass while watching the sunset over the Kersage Lake basin. It was very beautiful with the light shining off the lakes, making the entire area below look like the Promised Land. That’s where we were gonna spend the next night and hopefully meet up with Gemini and Jackstraw to resupply them. We felt good and were proud of our accomplishment as this represented an all time high for both of us as far as altitude was concerned. Greenmonkey and I could not see Sacco and Ponygirl, but we could hear them and yelled at them several times and they responded in kind. Even though we could hear them plain as day, Sacco actually had his shirt off and was waving it at us and we still couldn’t see em. Time to head back down and Greenmonkey ran the entire 2 plus miles down the pass and I made good time as well, with us both passing Sacco and Ponygirl. We built one last fire at campsite 16 and made plans to get up at 4:30am to attack the pass and hopefully make Kersage Lake by 1 or 2 that afternoon to link up with Gem and Jackstraw.
4:30am came way too soon with none of us very eager to get out of our tents and so we probably ended up getting started on the trail at close to 6:30 or 7:00. My pack weighted close to 32 lbs and Greenmonkey’s was probably at about 65, which slowed him down a little (he didn’t run much). We headed up the trail and made the pass in about 2 hours, with Sacco and Ponygirl about 45 minutes behind us. At the top we met another through hiker from Texas who was also going to camp at Kersage Lakes. We talked and waited for Sacco and Ponygirl to reach the top. They finally did and we took some pictures, rested and were all excited about our trip down to Kersage Lakes.
A note here about kilts: It seems that out West, kilts are not considered common attire for male or female hikers and Greenmonkey received a lot of strange looks. Probably the strangest and most humorous came from Sacco when Greenmonkey had knelt down to take our picture. It was plainly obvious that he had no underwear on and Sacco was quick to point it out. I had already noticed that on our rock climb but had considered it common practice and would no longer view Greenmonkey anywhere but above the waist. It took Greenmonkey quite a while to learn how to set properly when women were in his presence.
We headed down the trail to Kersage Pass until we came to the first intersection. We were a little concerned as to the exact spot where we would link up with Gem and Jackstraw, so Greenmonkey set up a nice spot where he could see down both trails so that he could direct them to where we were camped when they finally showed up. Kersage Lakes are very beautiful but as it turned out our trip coincided with a scheduled trip of the Sierra Club that had 29 members less than an hour behind us. We spent the next hour looking for a good campsite and discussing exactly where we were supposed to meet Gem and Jackstraw. We found a good one, set up and I fished in Kersage Lakes while Sacco and Ponygirl washed up and fooled around camp. I had just about given up hope that Gemini and Jackstraw were going to make Kersage Lakes before dark when I finally heard Gemini’s voice coming down the trail with Sacco (he had gone up to check on Greenmonkey and make sure everything was okay). It was good to see her and Jackstraw. They both looked good considering the amount of time they had spent on the trail. I noticed that they both were very tan; it turned out to be ground in dirt!! The Sierra Nevada’s have a lot of sand and gravel and fine dust that manages to work it’s way into ones pores and doesn’t like to come out without an excessive amount of scrubbing. We all went back to camp, drank some more beer and whiskey, and listened to Gemini’s and Jackstraw’s adventure stories. They had come 14 miles that day and remarked more than once on how tired they were, so right after dark we all went to sleep. It should be noted that once you’re above 10,000 ft in the Sierra Nevada’s you are not allowed to make campfires. This is the first time I ever had to do without a campfire on a hiking trip and suffered severe separation anxiety. I believe the others felt the same way as the temperature began to drop and the wind picked up. The wind in the Sierra Nevada’s is always a constant and is at least 5 to 10 mph at the best times with our group experiencing gusts of at least 20/30 mph on certain occasions. Kersage Lakes is also noted for its high amount of bear activity and our campsite had several fresh piles of scat located within 20 to 30 feet of the sleeping area. Great…no fires and bear poop all over the place. I knew I wasn’t gonna sleep well that night. Turned out I did, but had dreams of bears carrying off my bear canister.
I woke at first light. That seemed to be the pattern for the entire trip. Made my tea and ate my oatmeal. The others had spent a longer time talking that night and so had decided to sleep in. That was fine. I quickly packed up and the last thing I did was put my feet into my cold boots (and they were cold too as the temperature had dropped down to 36 degrees during the night). I informed the group that I was hitting the trail as I felt the need for a little solitude and really needed to get my feet warmed up. So away I went. The trail was mostly downhill from this point and I made good time passing several additional lakes – one having the dubious name “Bullfrog”. It seemed everywhere I looked there was beauty and grandeur on a scale that was hard for me to conceive and still looked, as others commented, fake. I know it wasn’t, but it just didn’t look real. It seems that the beauty of these lakes and the valley made it impossible to camp here as that would destroy the natural beauty of the area so all you could do was fish for those small alpine trout or maybe take a break. I continued on down hill and started to break into the larger trees on my way to Vidette Meadows. Coming down into the meadows I was greeted by another very spectacular view and was again awed by incredible beauty and sheer scale of the Sierra Nevadas. This part of the hike turned out to be my most favorite section as I spent several miles in the shade and seclusion these large conifers. I came upon Bubba’s Creek and had previously been informed that there were 12 in brown trout here and tried my luck but only ended up with a handful of small brookies – hey, at least they were fish. As I walked through Vidette meadow are I noticed that campfires were allowed here and would recommend to anyone doing this hike that they try and camp there at least once. The trail began to go up hill. I stayed on it for about two miles, found a nice smooth rock in the shade and set down to wait for the others to catch up. After about an hour, Greenmonkey showed up and we waited for the others in the shade. A word about the shade here: it seems in the Sierra Nevadas shade can be a scarce commodity and it also quite cold when combined with the ever-present wind. One finds themselves constantly shifting from the shade to the sun in order to maintain some degree of comfortable temperature. After a while, I looked down he trail and about a hundred feet from me, there sat Ponygirl and Gemini. Seems they had been there for about a half hour and were wondering where we were. They came back up with us and sat in the shade and we talked and ate. Greenmonkey discovered that he had lost something very important to him and headed back down the trail very rapidly in order to find it. I knew the Sierra Club people were not far behind us and figured they would probably pick it up if they saw it. Turned out he had to go two plus miles and finally some friendly hikers managed to find what he was looking for and presented him with it. Turned out these same hikers had started out with Jackstraw and Gemini and knew them pretty well. After a while, Sacco and Jackstraw joined us at the rock and I decided that it was time for me to head down the trail once again.
Jackstraw and I both headed off in the company of scattered packs of Sierra Clubbers, one of which even had a small parasol umbrella. Almost the entire group was sporting external frame packs. Another note here: I have never seen so many external frame packs in my life on a trail. Being from the Midwest and doing my longer hikes out East, I almost considered this particular type of pack extinct. It seems that this pack is in vogue in the West and still enjoys a large market there. Go figure. I guess that’s because there aren’t that many trees to worry about. Jackstraw and I went another two and a half miles to Golden Creek and decided we would wait for the others as this looked like a really good spot to camp. Turned out, that’s where we spent the night with the majority of the Sierra Clubbers a half mile behind us.
We made camp at Golden Creek and took advantage of a small pool and waterfall to wash up and have some fun. Gemini had plans just to wade in the creek but slipped on the rocks and fell to complete immersion. That triggered a free for all as Jackstraw, Greenmonkey, and myself all proceeded to jump in the water after her. I really didn’t get in the water above my knees, as it was too damn cold for me. Jackstraw and Greenmonkey got some really good pictures of Gemini with her head under the waterfall. I bet they won’t post them (Gem probably wouldn’t let em). Unfortunately this area was off limits to fires as well so we didn’t’ have a fire. That’s right, we didn’t have a fire. That’s my story and I’m sticking too it. We wouldn’t break the law. Not with the Sierra Nazis less than a half mile distance. Oh well. We talked, drank some whiskey, ate our dinner and went to sleep. Tomorrow we had to take on Forester Pass. At 13,760 ft this pass represented quite the obstacle and none of us had ever been that high before. We made plans to get up early and did so.
This time we were up before daylight (aw crap). Again we did the whole morning thing, packed up and I hit the trail in the lead, not exactly relishing the 3,000 ft climb that was ahead of me. Not to mention five plus miles AFTER that 3,000 ft climb. The trail continued upward and never really leveled out. Oh I’m sure there were some places it did, but they were so small as to not require mentioning and only made one feel worse as you ended up continuing the climb within a quarter mile of these so called “benches”. Up, up, and up I went. I broke out of the trees very quickly and entered a large field of boulders, gravel, and dirt with the towering Sierra Nevadas on all sides. I continued up, and up, and up and eventually was passed by Greenmonkey. (That was something that happened all the time, as he’s one of the faster and more energetic hikers I have ever had the pleasure of hiking with). You have to see him hike to understand it!!! After about three miles, Jackstraw and Gemini caught up with me and we all began to feel the effects of the decreased oxygen and the intensity of the climb, taking breaks frequently and commenting on what a “bastard” this particular part of the trail was turning out to be. I decided I needed to pace myself and slowed down with Gemini and Jackstraw passing me and maintaining about a quarter mile lead for the rest of the ascent. After what seemed like an eternity, I actually made the summit. Thank god. It was rough, but not as bad as some of the other climbs I have made in the Appalachians, as the trail is graded much less steeply as some of those. Greenmonkey was already there, Jackstraw and Gemini hooted and hollered and we all had a good look around, did a little rock climbing and ate some stuff. We waited for Sacco and Ponygirl to come into view. Several other hikers came through. Some we had previously met, others we had not. Finally, we could see Sacco and Ponygirl down the trail and I decided I had rested enough and headed down the South side of Forrester Pass. It turns out that right after I left, one male hiker upon reaching the pass took off all his clothes and stood naked beside the sign while his friends took pictures of him. He did this fully in the presence of Gemini, who remarked many times during the trip that she had experienced more male nudity on this trail than any before.
Down I went, amid loose rubble and large broken pieces of granite. The South side of Forrester pass could easily be considered treacherous had there been any snow or ice present. I felt I had to be extra careful, and each step needed to be carefully placed. A fall from any point on the beginning of this ascent would be fatal. (And just so you know, there are no handrails!!!) I finally made the bottom (Thank you Jesus!!!) and found myself in the largest gravel pit I have ever encountered in my life. I could see trees in the far distance and guessed that they were at least four miles. Turned out I was right. No shade here – just sun and gravel. Fortunately there are several alpine lakes and streams that made water available. I stopped once to have lunch and continued as fast as I could towards the far distant trees. These trees turned out to be Tyndall Creek and that’s where we were planning to spend the night. I finally made the trees after about two and a half hours and set down and took a break under the first shade I could find. I waited about an hour and Greenmonkey came down the trail followed closely by Gemini and Jackstraw. We had a good break waiting for Sacco and Ponygirl. It turned out they made the pass fine, however Sacco experienced more altitude sickness and was actually being pushed up the trail by Ponygirl at one point (what a gal!!). Ponygirl arrived behind Sacco at our break site and one could tell by the look on her face she wanted nothing more than to make camp. She said something to Sacco and headed on down the trail. Okay. We all packed up and headed towards Tyndall Creek.This turned out to be less than ¾ mile from the break spot. We set up camp, ate dinner, and were entertained by the Sierra Clubbers as they came in groups of five and six. Some of them looked pretty beat. I played some harmonica, drank the last of my whiskey (damnit) and we went to bed early with plans of getting up late and making the trek to Guitar Lake.
I woke up early, performed my morning routine and decided that I didn’t want to hang around camp. I hit the trail ahead of the main throng and immediately began climbing again (Oh Joy). There were several signs that had been hand written by the rangers informing us of increased bear activity at Wiliams Creek. Okay. I’m not going to stay there for very long anyway so I wasn’t concerned. I felt good and actually saw a badger (I think it was a badger). I continued down the trail using my GPS to help boost my confidence, as I didn’t have a map. Everybody else did…I was using theirs. I stopped once for a small break, watered up and finally made William’s Creek. There I was greeted by yet another sign warning me of increased bear activity and not to leave my food alone for even a second as it would be devourer by the ravenous black bears that are so incredibility numerous in the Sierra Nevada’s. I never saw a single damn bear!! I hardly saw any bear sign. The Smokey Mountains and the Allegany’s have more bear sign in a quarter mile than on fifty miles of the JMT. I headed up from William’s Creek, topping out amidst the large Cedars, hade lunch, and began to go back down hill. I enjoyed this section of the trail a lot and consider it again a very picturesque section.
As I headed down again, I looked Southwest across the valley and saw something that gave me a pretty good shock. A Forrest fire!!! That’s right, a real honest to god Forrest fire. I could see it plain as day, I could smell the smoke, the wind was blowing directly from it to me and I was a little concerned. Realizing that my judgment of distance was completely blown out here I had no idea how far away the fire was and only knew that it had a really good chance of coming in my direction. I got out my compass and using that and the GPS determined that I was going to soon turn 90 degrees from the fire and the prevailing wind and felt that it wasn’t an immediate concern. I have no idea how far ahead I was of the group and so I felt that their judgment would be good and that if they were in any danger they would certainly take appropriate action. I did make exceptional time trying to reach my 90-degree turn and have to admit that I was more than a little concerned on several occasions but was finally rewarded with the left hand turn and happily preceded to run for the next mile. Once I felt I was out of danger, I set down at an intersection of the JMT and Junction Meadow Trail(?). I waited for a few minutes and met a father-daughter team who were coming from Junction Meadow and the direction of the fire. They informed me that the fire was under control and at least 15 miles away. I continued on to Crab Tree Meadow, stopped there, and had a break waiting for the others. Evidently, they had seen the fire and had determined the same thing that I did.
They were taking a break when down the trail came two female through hikers. These girls had evidentially began the trip five days after Gem and Jackstraw and were now catching up with them. That was quite impressive. Now I wasn’t there to see this part of it, but here is what I was told occurred. First off, both the girls were very attractive, young, and physically fit. Sporting exceptionally short hiking shorts, they both were tall and long legged. One was blonde and probably about 5’11’’. The other was a shorter Brunette with strong European facial features. I know this because I met them later on. Both of them came running down the trail as fast as they could go and upon seeing the group resting in the shade collapsed in near exhaustion near them, with the blonde in near hysterics. She was screaming something about the forest fire and was wondering why the group wasn’t running for their lives. The shorter brunette was so exhausted as to not be able to talk. Now I hope the others put this in their trip report, as I wasn’t there, but I understand the blonde said something like, “Aren’t you guys worried about the fire?” upon which Gemini replied (add German accent here), “Fire? What fire? Oh…that fire? I haven’t’ checked it for an hour. Has it moved?” The blonde immediately decided that the group was insane or on various types of mind altering drugs, grabbed her shorter friend, and muttered something about the Crabtree ranger station. The pair headed off with the tall blonde commenting that this bunch of hikers didn’t care if they got burn up or not. I wish I had been there to hear that. We got a lot of laughs out of it later on.
I finally made Timberline Lake and set down to wait for the rest, did some fishing, and just admired the beauty of the alpine setting. The rest caught up with me about an hour later and we headed on to Guitar Lake to make camp. Guitar Lake turned out to be another gravel pit with no good places to pitch our tents, no opportunities for fire, no joy, and plenty of rocks and rocks and rocks. It sucked. We ended up clearing some Spartan sites about 300 ft above the lake, building walls out of the granite to protect ourselves from the ever present wind. Needless to say, we went to bed early with plans (again) of getting up around 4:30 and making out accent on Mount Whitney.
Greenmonkey got up at 2am and headed out to make his accent in the dark. What a guy. The others got up at the appointed time and I stayed until about 6:30. Let em go. I wasn’t getting up at 4:30 again. I actually told the group I had decided not to make Mount Whitney and was going to go on to Whitney Portal. I lied. I thought it’d be funny. Turned out it was. Just as I headed out for the accent, the tall blonde and her shorter brunette friend passed me. Evidently they had stayed at Crabtree Meadows and had just made Guitar Lake. They passed me in long pants and jackets, stocking caps and gloves. I was getting water…yeah that’s right…water. After the water, I continued the accent and came upon a small plateau were the two girls were standing there in their underwear. I guess they were hot. They were changing into those short-shorts. I had no time to do anything but head straight through. So being the gentleman I am, I merely looked down but couldn’t help but notice the large smile on the brunette’s face. She was sure proud of her underwear!!!! The tall blonde looked annoyed and unhappy. I continued up and up and up and up…that’s all the trail is here. Passed several older hikers. We all took turns resting with the girls sweeping me and me sweeping the girls. A large amount of boy scouts were also on the trail and were making the accent sans packs so they screamed by us (wussies!!). I finally made trail crest right ahead of the girls and we set there and talked with the tall blonde commenting on how terribly bad she was chaffing. She should have worn longer shorts!!! These were short. I’ve never seen anybody with shorts like that. There were various parts of their anatomy hanging out!! They decided against Mount Whitney (or the blonde did) and that’s the last I saw of them. I continued the accent and eventually came upon Sacco and Ponygirl. Sacco was feeling very sick but still was game enough to attempt the summit. I actually forgot to treat my water prior to the accent and headed up Whitney with a whole quart of water I couldn’t drink. That was stupid and I was thirsty. The climb turned out to be not very strenuous, but had some sections that could easily be considered hazardous with possible falls on both sides of the trail that would easily prove fatal. Near the top I met Gemini, Jackstraw and Greenmonkey. Jackstraw and Gemini gave me some drinkable water and I went to the top to wait for Sacco and Ponygirl. The arrived shortly and we took some pictures amid the thirty of forty other individuals that had made the climb.We headed back down immediately, as Sacco was about to puke. The rest of the trail is supposed to be all downhill as Mount Whitney is the highest point in the lower 48, at 14,460ish feet. More switchbacks than I have ever encountered in my life awaited us and we all ground pounded down the trail, spurred on by the thought of real food at Whitney Portal. Turns out it is almost eleven miles from Mount Whitney to Whitney Portal, so the hike didn’t quite go as fast as I thought it would. We took a couple breaks on the way down with Greenmonkey well in the lead, Jackstraw, Gemini, Sacco, Ponygirl, and I in the tail. We made good time and were wonderfully happy to finally see and feel some real dirt (thank God we’re off that damn rock). We all made Whitney Portal at different times with the last of the group coming in close to 6:30. We went to town, ate some pizza, rented a hotel room, and spent the balance of the evening drinking beer and scotch while talking about our adventures on the trail. My trip back was easy, but tiring with me doing a red eye to Indy!
“Randall you rawk! Awesome report! LOL...
and yeah what he said...we didn't have a fire.”
“This doesn't let the rest of you slackers off from doing a TR. ;-)
GREAT TR Randall!”
“Nice trip report Randall. This trail is on my life list. So many trails...”
“Just a couple pictures from me right now:
there are a couple links on the other thread.”
“Gem - Nice pics...more please! I actually recognized some of them!!
Nice trip report. I expect to see pics of those two girls posted somewhere...especially the tall blonde”
“Hey Gem! Just what is Randell talking about with you and your head in a waterfall? Why would you not want those pictures posted?
“hahahaha StoveStomper. BECAUSE I don't wanna!!!
btw: no TR from me. My memory ain't that good...it'll take me days/weeks/month/years to complete it. My pictures will be my TR.”
“holy crap, donchoo guys have jobs and lives to get back too?
we haven't even unpacked anything yet!
that's quite the epic TR randall!
one quick correction tho - chrissy's hiked quite a few times before and backpacked a few, it was just her second serious backpacking trip.”
“also, FYI, we went horseback riding all day sunday, so now my ass is really sore to go along with my feet that are finally healing.”
“Yowza, that's one large TR!!!”
“Thanks Randall - no pics of the girls in underwear? you can eamil them to me if you don't want to post them publicly.
Gem - your pics are phenomenal!
last edited: 8/13/07 1:56:58 PM”
“there maybe no pics of girls in underwear, but trust me there were naked men all over the place.
last edited: 8/13/07 2:02:27 PM”
“and you didn't feel the need to balance things out a little? ;)”
“haha Roam you're funny. Sacco and chrissy caught me twice peeing...hope there no pictures around.
and thanks...I learned a lot thanks to my camera club.”
I did'nt bring a camera as everyone else had one, go figure!!
See ya later.
“See how that worked out for ya!”
Please see the 5 Day JMT thread for a large selection of high quality pics.
See ya later.
“so now i know what i missed :(”
“Great Pics Gem, words cannot desribe how envious I am of you guys. The JMT is sooooo beautiful!”
“Heres a link to my pics. I'll try and have a trip report together in a few days.
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