Day 68, July 10, Chicken Spring Lake to Crabtree Rangers Station 17.2 miles (27.7 km)
Yesterday evening was the first time in a long time that I used my sleepingbag as an actual sleepingbag instead of using it as a blanket. Sleeping at over 11000ft (3300m) of elevation brings along some chilly temperatures as soon as the sun is out of sight. Good thing I have a warm and cosy sleepingbag which made the night’s rest very comfortable.
I walked away from the lake around 6.30 this morning. I took a liter of water from the creek that comes down from the lake and started off with a short climb to where I had my last view of the lake. It was a very gentle morning walk in the forest. Now and then I crossed some small creeks and often I walked on the edge of some meadows that gave me more open views over the surrounding mountains.
Three hours down the walk I found myself facing Rock Creek. I knew there was an easier crossing over a log about a quarter of a mile upstream but I observed it and was ready to cross it at the trail crossing. In the middle of the creek the current was at it’s strongest but I had no problems crossing it in a short amount of time. You have to focus while doing this, one small slip might make you loose your balance very easily. And then shit happens. That was exactly what happened to the third person I saw crossing. He started slipping and in only one second he was down in the water. Luckily he could somehow hold himself on to a rock. From the other side someone went in the water to get his backpack so the man could stand up again. You can debate whether or not he should have let go of his backpack, meaning it would end up somewhere downstream. It is double, I think if he was alone he probably had to let go of it since there was no way he could get back on his feet with that pack on his back.
It could have been worse, much worse. I found his sunglasses close to my side and picked them up and in the end he only lost one trekking pole.
Seeing all this happening in front of me made me wonder if I had to wait for Lydia so I could somehow guide her across. I had some pasta while drying my socks and shoes but more than an hour and a half later there was still no sign of her on the other side of the creek.
I had a steep climb in front if me and decided to tackle it. My food break did wonders. The first and third part of the climb were pretty steep, in the middle I walked over a nice plateau. The climb was over pretty quick since I was in good shape and started my descent to Crabtree Meadows. All the way to Crabtree Meadows I was in the company of rain and thunder. Nothing really bad but it sure was not a blue sky day this afternoon.
When I walked into Crabtree Meadows there were lots of marmots going in and out their little homes in the rocks. Here I had to cross one more creek, Whitney Creek. This creek had about the same depth as Rock Creek but the current was much less intense.
This is the last spot where pct-hikers are allowed to camp on their way to Mt Whitney. I was feeling good today and was actually planning on going another three miles to Guitar Lake but I figured the ranger was probably in his station so I settled on camping here.
There are tons of tents and hikers here, some of them are walking the PCT, others are walking the JMT, the John Muir Trail, and a few are probably on a three to four day hike from Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney Portal.
Someone said to another hiker: ‘welcome to base-camp’ and actually it somehow defines this spot. We are all looking forward to our ascent of Mt Whitney tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather is good to us.