Day 21, September 2, 2014

 

JMT 006

We enter a particularly arid landscape. Photo: BW

Snug in my tent, at the first tarn above Guitar Lake.

I had a rough day, with back pain in the old same place from the big car accident 20 years ago–middle left side, upper right side. I couldn’t get comfortable with my pack, which, though I KNOW must be lighter, felt heavier. My back burned with pain all day long. I was constantly fiddling with the straps, lengthening them, shortening them, trying to find some way to relieve the burn. I am so relieved to be at camp.

The trail led across an old rock slide area.

The trail led across an old rock slide area. Photo: BW

I couldn't help myself. I had to hug this tree. It still had one small strip of bark on the far side that kept it alive. The bare wood was so smooth.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to hug this tree. It still had one small strip of bark on the far side that kept it alive. The bare wood was so smooth. Photo: BW

The earth in the Kern River drainage is very dry. I don’t know how these big trees survive. It must be the snow that keeps them going. The ground is sandy and with very little of anything that could be called “topsoil” anywhere. The trees, wind-blasted foxtail and lodgepole pines mostly, are breathtakingly beautiful. We walked through a large area of dead trees, dead so many years ago that it was difficult to understand what might have killed them. Probably fire, but the soot had long since been washed away by rain and snow and bleached out by the sun.

Dry, dry land, and yet there is a lake!

Dry, dry land, and yet there is a lake! Photo: BW

We hiked through long sections of near-desert landscape. Tough bunch grasses and sturdy clumps of low-growing wildflowers, but not much else.

We hiked through long sections of near-desert landscape. Tough bunch grasses and sturdy clumps of low-growing wildflowers, but not much else. Photo: BW

Our first good view of Mt Whitney, still many miles away.

Our first good view of Mt Whitney, still many miles away. Photo: BW

We met up with Kenny again today. She spent the night on top of Forester Pass, just laid down at the side of the trail. It’s steep up there! Good thing she’s not a sleepwalker. She’ll summit Whitney tomorrow, same as us. She hadn’t seen her hiking partner since Dollar Lake. Said she’d take the bus down to Lone Pine, and then find a bus to Las Vegas to catch a flight home. Very self-sufficient, that one.

The meadow near where we rested and visited with Kenny.

The meadow near where we rested and visited with Kenny. Photo: BW

I am so looking forward to seeing Tom. Betty did a great job of organizing the food and schedule, given my time constraints. I would much rather have gone more slowly, but oh, well. Next backpacking trip will be a wander with no goals. I hate to leave the high country, but now that the end of the trip is near, I am smelling the barn. I just want to NOT set up/tear down/pack/unpack for awhile. And I want to shower. Soon and often. And do laundry. And play music!

Treeline Lake called me to swim. I was the only one in the water.

Treeline Lake called me to swim. I was the only one in the water. That’s Mt Whitney cut off in the background. Photo: BW

Got to Treeline Lake and took a short swim in the cold water. It felt excellent! Betty waded in to her knees almost…

The view from our campsite, looking at Guitar Lake.

The view from our campsite, looking at Guitar Lake. Photo: BW

Lovely gilding sunset over Guitar Lake– which doesn’t really resemble a guitar except that it has a narrowish neck extending off of it with a bulbous, misshapen headstock. It ain’t a Martin, that’s for sure!

Sunset on Guitar Lake was spectacular. We had to keep taking photos.

Sunset on Guitar Lake was spectacular. We had to keep taking photos. Photo: BW

A few minutes later...

A few minutes later… Photo: BW

We watched the sun receding from the heights above our campsite.

We watched the sun receding from the heights above our campsite. Photo: BW

From here on out, we have to poop in a bag and carry our waste out with us.

My tent site above Guitar Lake

My tent site above Guitar Lake Photo: BW

My tent is perched on a teeny rock ledge with a rock parapet that someone built. Windy, but cozy inside. I don’t know what time it is (my phone battery died, and we didn’t have enough solar power to charge it). The wind has died and all is quiet. A perfect half-moon is shining through my open tent flap. My sleeping pad is so comfortable, even lying on solid granite. I’m thinking of the incredible bounty of currants along the trail. Betty and I feasted regularly on the wild sweetness of them. Sometimes they aren’t so good, and other times perfect deep red round pearls of nectar in a sere landscape. Must try to sleep. Whitney in the morning.

A bounty of currants. We never saw anyone else eating them...

A bounty of currants. We never saw anyone else eating them… I felt like I was robbing the bears of their just desserts by eating so many.

2 thoughts on “Day 21, September 2, 2014

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and reliving my JMT trip way back in ’71. I almost went in withdrawal during your extended break! Now it’s time for you to start planning next years trips, might I suggest Mt Banner via Thousand Island Lake?

    Like

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