Day 21 (7/24) – Summit Day! Guitar Lake to Outpost camp (on Mt Whitney trail)

Miles hiked today: JMT 5 + 7.1 towards Whitney Portal.

Total miles hiked: 241.4

Site elevation: 10,387’

We woke up at 5 am and got going at 6:25 am to finish our JMT hike. Why the trail ends on top of a mountain is anyone’s guess. One still needs to come down.

Guitar Lake

Once we got to the switchbacks that lead to Trail Crest it was evident that last night’s storm left hail, ice and snow on the trail. In spite of that we climbed several miles of switchbacks and arrived at the Mt Whitney spurtrail by 9:30 am.

We dropped off our bear canisters to lighten the load.

Now it was “only” 1.9 miles to the top. The trail was ridiculous. It was icy in spots, narrow, past steep drop offs, and one really had to pay attention. See the pics.

We made it to the summit of Mt Whitney at 11:20 am. We signed the register and started taking pictures. A group made several signs that people were able to use when taking their summit pictures. We also made some phone calls. Since the weather was great we spent a bit more than an hour at the summit.

It was awesome being on top of the world (at least the US) and having completed the JMT. Thinking back when we got started and how difficult that first week was, it feels great to have completed the journey.

Now of course we are not done hiking. It is still 10.7 miles to the trailhead at Whitney Portal. That includes going back the arduous 1.9 mile spur trail we just completed to get to the top. At least the snow had mostly melted and we made good time. Once we got back to the trail junction we found an old “king of the mountain” marmot atop our bear cans and he would not leave. Jeff put his trekking pole an inch from the marmot’s face and he just stared back.

There was one more pass to conquer: Trail Crest at 13,650’ the highest pass on the JMT. Then it was down – 100 switchbacks!!!! Insane. It took almost 2 hours just to get down to the next level.

Along the way down we saw some great waterfalls. We stopped 5.2 miles down from Trail Crest at Outpost Camp. Only 3.7 miles to get to Whitney Portal in the morning.

The weather cooperated today. Only a few sprinkles and we were able to spend our last night on the trial eating dinner outside and have a relaxing evening. Freeze dried lasagna with added siracha sauce on a tortilla, plus scrambled eggs and bacon (also with siracha) on a tortilla … with peanut M&Ms dessert.

Feeling accomplished and very proud this evening!

⁃ Jeff and Ellen

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