just short of Lake South America Trail Junction – Guitar Lake
11,050 – 11,480 (+ 1,075 / – 1,010) – 13.4 miles
Free Maps Online – Day 25 – Map 2 and 1
Another day in which we rocked out some trail. I awoke early as usual and got Jake going sooner than usual – it was too cold to mess about and let him sleep, and I was eager to see what we would see!
The views on this day were very much worth the effort. After all the time hiking in the trees, on high mountain ridges, and looking around at the Morgul Valley searching for Mount Doom, we saw stuff I would not have imagined. When you get into the Bighorn Plateau area – it is a bit surreal. It really does look like sheep or bison should be calmly feasting on the grasses in this wide open flat plain between 10,000 and 11,000 ft high. There is this one little perfect clear lake by itself in the middle of the field. When you look behind you (north), you can see Forester Pass. When you look ahead and to the left (south east), you can see Mt Whitney! It kinda looks like an anvil from this angle. Even though I know we won’t reach Whitney for another day, it feels so good to stand near that perfect little lake on the most stunning and unexpected plain and know exactly where you are on the map and be able to identify so many landmarks. I know there are folks who know the area better, or studied more, who were surrounded by landmarks on most of their journey. I could only pick out a few points by name along the way, and rarely could I do that without the map, so for me it was a nice moment.
* Not entirely a Bone to Pick – but there is a note I want to return to after the narrative to shed some light on an issue not oft discussed in or out of hiking circles – Piton Crabtree Ranger Station. And I guess we will have to Piton “Piton” as well since I don’t think many of you know about my version of the Palace of Memory – The Conversation Desk!
The wonders and beauty were unceasing and somehow we made it to Guitar Lake and found a reasonably decent place to camp. The alpenglow that night was some of the best I had seen on the journey!
We had been debating how to do our Whitney summit. There had been two major opinion groups we encountered – go to bed early, get up about midnight and hike up to Whitney for sunrise, or rest most of the day and hike up for sunset and moonrise. We had been leaning towards option 1, sunrise, but neither of us was excited about doing any portion of that summit and/or descent in the dark. In Fox Force Fashion, we decided to see how things went. I knew I would wake up early and the cold would either make me want to move or to stay put. It was anyone’s guess if Jake would wake early or not. But we liked having reached the mutual decision that further hiking in the dark was not preferred.
After enjoying a little more of the view, and the moment, we went into our bags to try to sleep.