John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day Eleven

Tarn above Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal: 16.5 Miles

Sept. 22nd, 2011.

I woke up to the sound of groups of hikers passing by at 3:45 am. They were heading up the switchbacks by headlamp. I wasn't comfortable hiking on an unfamiliar trail at high elevation by headlamp, so I relaxed and dozed off.

Within an hour or so I could see their headlamps on the side of the mountain, way way up toward the top. A friend had told about seeing this same thing many years ago, and now here I was.

By 6:30 am I had gathered my gear and while wearing every piece of clothing I had I started up the trail toward Mt. Whitney. For the first 20 minutes it was seriously cold, but soon I removed almost everything and hiked there rest of the way in shorts with silk long johns, a wind breaker and lightweight hat/gloves.

The views of Mt. Hitchcock and Hitchcock Lakes in the sunrise was beautiful. While hiking up toward Trail Crest I passed a few bivy camp sites (possible camp spots for next time). The trail was basically dug out of the granite most of the way. There was a storm passing from the east and although it was sunny there was snow blowing over from the other side of the ridge.

Sunrise on Mt. Hitchcock.