Day 18 – Guitar Lake

Wallace Creek to Guitar Lake
Probably only 7 miles

We had a slow start out of Wallace Creek this morning. With only 7 miles to do before Guitar Lake there wasn’t much of a rush. The trail was rather nice amongst the trees. It rolled over a knoll down the other side, back up another knoll and down again. We stopped on some boulders for our last breakfast on the trail. We technically wont eat breakfast tomorrow when we got to summit Mt. Whitney. A large herd of noisy boy scouts passed us. We can feel our selves getting closer and closer to civilization and it is WEIRD. I made a double dose of Starbucks via coffee and soaked up the views as much as I could.

In the trees near Sandy Meadow.
Early morning in the trees. Last full day on the trail.
Sandy Meadow.
Last full day on the trail! Sandy Meadow.

Soon we passed the Crabtree ranger station. There was a big rubbermaid tupperware filled with “wag bags”. Basically doggy bags for humans.  Since Mt. Whitney is a highly frequented spot rangers have a problem with human excrement on the mountain. It is so high up and cold the stuff doesn’t biodegrade so you are not allowed to do number two once you pass the ranger station. There was much discussion in camp about how we wanted to handle this situation.  Again, I had a double dose of coffee at breakfast.  I plan to not do number two till I make it off the mountain as I do not want to carry my own poop in a little baggie.

11.7 to Mt. Whitney!
Wag Bag distribution center.

From Crabtree at 10,600′ the trail climbs to Guitar Lake at 11,500′. While short, my legs were feeling really out of energy and the climb was kinda hard. We paused a lot.


Sandy Meadow.
Mt. Whitney through the trees.
Looking west back at Crabtree meadow.
Crabtree meadow and Mt. Whitney.
Mt. Whitney
Mt. Hitchcock to the south.
Looking West from where we came.
Mt. Muir. The trail leads to the right first and switch backs up Mt. Muir before making a hard cut back to the left.
Mt. Whitney. The highest point is actually out of view to the east. 
Mt. Muir and Guitar Lake.
Mt. Muir and Guitar Lake.
Guitar lake
Home for the night. Guitar Lake.
Lots of miles on these babies

We made it to Guitar Lake around noon, set up camp, filtered lots of water, made lunch. Now I’m just sitting in camp staring at Mt. Whitney pondering how hard it will be to climb tomorrow morning.  The group has decided to start up for Mt. Whitney at 2 am tomorrow morning, meaning we are going to wake up at 1 am. I’ve never woken up at 1 am for anything! Not even fishing. Fishing starts at 3 am. This all feels really surreal as we are so very close to completing the JMT and now we are just burning hours of daylight. Guitar Lake probably has 30+ people camped around it and more keep filing in. I went behind a boulder to pee and sure enough there was mounds of toilet paper blowing around in the wind. Rather frustrating to see people disregard the rules of their wilderness permit.  Kevin and I have gone to great lengths to pack out all are trash, picking up loads along the way. Just wish others did the same.

The trip is totally coming to an end and I’m bummed.  Dave managed to secure a private shuttle for the 8 of us with help of George on the outside world. Thanks George! He left the trail a couple days back to get back to his wife and kids and Dave and he were still communicate through his satellite texting device. The shuttle is going to be at Whitney Portal at 3 pm which means we need to hit the summit by like 7 am and start the long hike down. I’m relieved to have an actually exit plan as we truly didn’t have one before.

I feel I have been going slower the last couple days. Just feel out of energy honestly. I’m sure I am. Clif bars only go so far and I’ve ran out of gatorade days ago.  If we leave at 2 am that gives us 5 hours to go up the 4.7 miles and 3,000’+ of up. We are camped at 11,200 and summit is 14,505. Totally doable, I’m just getting nervous sitting and staring at the mountain.

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Jessica Cross

Marketing Nerd. Lover of Star Trek. Eater of Blueberry Clif bars.

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