tiffany's pct journal

California Section H: Highway 120 (Tuolumne Meadows) to Crabtree Meadows (Mount Whitney) - Part V.

Days: 98 - 100.
Dates: October 9 - 11.
Trail mileage: 1864.0 - 1886.1.
Distance: 7.5 + 22.1 + 16 miles.

I ran into Blade and her boyfriend on my way back up Kearsarge. He was joining her for a short section, and it made me wish I could have dragged my partner back on the trail around here.

Headed back over Kearsarge, back to the trail

It was a slow hiking day because I knew there weren't too many miles to do. It was about 30 miles to Crabtree Meadows if I included the 7-ish miles back over Kearsarge Pass, and I sure wasn't doing that in one day, so that meant 2 easy days. I loved being able to slow down, and it convinced me to try and come back to the Sierra after my PCT hike was over to really appreciate it.

view from the trail
Still had beautiful weather

I had my final pass in the High Sierra the next day. It was time to climb Forester Pass, at which point I would be the highest I had ever been. It's also the highest point on the PCT, since Mount Whitney isn't actually on the PCT.

on the Forester Pass climb
One hell of a climb

It was a tough climb, especially because being above 13000 feet really affected my breathing. I barely remember the climb, to be honest; I must have blocked the pain out of my memory. I do recall the last quarter mile being very painful and vertical.

top of Forester Pass
All smiles at the highest point on the PCT

I made it to Crabtree Meadow pretty early in the day, where there were at least a dozen SOBO hikers also camped there to summit Whitney the next day.

We're not allowed to camp on the Mount Whitney trail with just our PCT permits, unfortunately, so this was as close as we could legally camp with what we had. It meant a 16-mile day hike the next day to get up to the Whitney summit.

I camped with Blade and her boyfriend, who planned to do a sunrise hike to the Whitney summit. I wasn't quite as committed to doing the same, so I just woke up a little earlier than usual.

early start
Getting a somewhat early start to the day

The climb to Whitney was tough because even though I reached the highest point I'd ever been the day before on Forester Pass, I was again going to end up at the highest point I'd ever been on Whitney that day. I ran into Blade and her boyfriend on their way down, and they were able to make it for the sunrise, which sounded pretty epic.

tents on the side
Leaving behind many tents on the Whitney day hike

It got crowded near the top past the junction with Whitney Portal on the eastern side of Whiteney, because there were many people who had hiked over from the other side as a standalone hike.

Guitar Lake
Guitar Lake, which really does look like a guitar from higher up

There's a sign at this junction that tells you you've got 1.9 miles left before hitting the Whitney summit. I'm pretty sure that sign is a complete lie, because that is the longest 2-mile stretch of trail ever. It doesn't look that steep when I look back at the photos, but I guarantee you it felt that way.

Mount Whitney summit sign
This sign was lies

It was fun to be the tallest thing in the contiguous United States for just a moment at the top of Whitney. I sat there for a while to enjoy it. The way down was pretty easy. My goal was to get back to camp before it got dark, and I was able to make it back a few hours before sunset, even.

Mount Whitney Summit
Only 5'1", but the tallest thing in the lower 48 for just a minute

I had grand plans to keep hiking after I got back to camp, but I decided against it. A 16-mile day hike to Whitney seemed productive enough for the day. Judging by the number of tents around that night, I don't think I was the only one who decided to stay another night.

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