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We must have looked like slugs to the other campers at Guitar Lake this morning. Everyone had summit fever and opted for a very early start. On the other hand, with frigid temps this morning, we couldn't see any good reason to jump out of bag at dawn. We kept the water bottles in the vestibule of the tent, and they were still partially frozen this morning.
Knowing it would be cold, we ate breakfast in bag, then dressed in almost all the clothes we had with us. I wore rain pants over my hiking pants, a jogbra, t-shirt, fleece-lined jacket, windshirt, gloves and wool hat; I was barely warm enough with the wind chill.
There was ice along the stream crossings and on the trail. We moved slowly but steadily over the slippery rocks.
We weren't sure if we'd go to the summit of Whitney. We've both been many times. If we were too tired, or the weather really nasty, we weren't afraid to skip it.
When we reached the turn-off for the summit, I decided to go and Larry decided not to. For me, the weather wasn't too windy (just cold) and I hated to pass up the chance to summit and officially "end" our JMT journey. (Who knows why, but the JMT officially ends at the top of Whitney, 11 miles from the nearest trailhead.) I thought, "I may never pass this way again."
So I took off with my camera, hiking sticks, and a few hard candies for the top. Amazing how much easier it is without the pack! Altitude acclimitization helped, too; no one passed me. The top was crowded with hikers, some day hikers, some folks who had spent the night at the high camp below. I signed the trail register and looked around, trying to imprint the scene in my mind and soul. The sky was fairly clear. I traced our route back to the north. I thanked whatever powers made it possible for me to be there: God, my loving husband, those who have inspired me over the years.
Then down, down, down...I met up with Larry at the bottom of the 99 switchbacks. The day was still cold and breezy. Although we'd talked about staying at the high camp, it was a mass of humanity. We took a short break, and decided to go out. There were cheesburgers waiting for us at the Portal!
So we pushed on down the trail, arrivng at the trailhead at about 5:30. After depositing the required WAG (We All Gag) bag, we put our food order in at the store and relaxed.
Now we're in Big Pine, the first place that had a room on a Friday night. Clean and relaxed, we should sleep well tonight (it's warm here!).
It's been an amazing experience. While we'd been over the JMT before, the Sierras surprised us with weather and other unexpected events. Our aging bodies held up to the challenges. We learned a few lessons in flexibility. We met some like-minded spirits hiking the trails.
I'll carry these memories with me forever...
Sent on the go from my Peek