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Chris Bycroft | profile | all galleries >> John Muir Trail 2010 >> Part 7: Bighorn Plateau to Mt Whitney and end of Trail tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Part 7: Bighorn Plateau to Mt Whitney and end of Trail

The last of seven stages walking the John Muir Trail (JMT). This section was completed between 4 to 5 September 2010; the last two day of 21 days on the JMT. In summary this section went from Bighorn Plateau, down to Wright Creek Crossing, then up the ridge west of Mt Young, then down to Crabtree Meadows Junction. Then after camping above Guitar Lake (Campsite 12.21 in Wenk, 2007) we walked up in the early morning to the Summit of Mt Whitney, then down to Whitney Portal.

Day 20: 4 September 2010. Bighorn Plateau and tarns above Guitar Lake. Overall a shorter day to gain some altitude and prepare for summiting Mt. Whitney the next day if our bodies and weather allows us to get there. While eating breakfast we watched the sunrise from behind Mt. Whitney and the colourful skies to the east and the west. We descended to cross Wright Creek through amazing foxtail pines. Great views were had to the Kaweah Mountains to the south. We sidled around Mt Young in lodgepole pine forest, meadows and occasional patches of foxtail pines. Late morning we made it to Crabtree Meadows. This is where we had to pick up a wagbag (for toilet waste). We caught up with Bob again here, and we walked together to Timberline Lake. This was a great setting after meandering up and down through forests and meadows since Bighorn Plateau. Bob carried on to set up a campsite, while Roy and me enjoyed Timberline Lake while we had lunch. The next stage to Guitar Lake was a very hot climb of about half an hour or so. We then continued to our campsite which was about 20 to 30 minutes above Guitar Lake amongst tarns. Here we meet Glen, also from San Francisco who was walking the trail on his own. This site had fantastic views back towards the Kaweah Mountains and the faces of Mt. Whitney. This was the earliest finish we had had since Vermilion Resort. We had a restful afternoon absorbing the scenery, filling water containers and rehydrating, and eventually eating tea. I probably should have explored more here, but I was in a lazy mood. We ate enough to make sure that we would need to finish the JMT the next day. Our re-planned schedule from Vermilion resort had us finishing a day later. We watched a fantastic sunset, which I nearly missed while trying to sort out my Thermorest which I had managed to get a hole in it. I then tried to get to sleep for the earliest start of the walk, and on a flat thermorest. Day 20 summary: 10.5 miles. Key Locations: Bighorn Plateau 11,420 feet. High Sierra Trail Junction 10,400 feet. Ridge West of Mt Young 10,960 feet. Crabtree Meadow Junction 10,700 feet. Campsite by tarns above Guitar Lake 12.21 feet.

Day 21: 5 September 2010. Campsite above Guitar Lake to summit of Mt Whitney, and then the descent to Whitney Portal. We got up before light and while we ate breakfast and packed we watched the moon rise over Mt. Whitney, and saw the colourful morning light to the west over the Kaweahs. I made use of the wagbag before we started to walk up Whitney. The plastic bags are very will constructed and you cannot really miss. We could see how much they are needed with remains of toilet waste and paper evident where people have not carried out their waste from this area. We walked up the western faces to Mt. Whitney Junction without stopping. We left some of our gear at the junction and then continued up to the summit of Mt. Whitney. On the way to the summit we past a lot of day-walkers who were trying to climb the mountain in a day from Whitney Portal, although I am sure a number were also had stayed the previous night at Trail Camp on the eastern side of the mountain. Most were struggling with altitude. I took it very carefully and slowly on the way up , but did not really notice the affects of altitude, just that it was a lot colder up there. I am sure we did it the easy way from Yosemite as we had become acclimatised with about three weeks at high altitude. On the summit it seemed that a lot of the people we had met on the Trail previously had arrived on the top at a similar time. We past Bob just before we summited, and Glen shortly after we got to the summit. We probably spent a good half an hour to an hour on the summit. I think this was the first time on the JMT that I had put a raincoat on, but just as protection from the cool wind. I was more excited about the completion of the John Muir Trail than being on the Summit itself. However the views were great looking back to places we had been over the last few days including Bighorn Plateau and Guitar Lake. We could also see Lone Pine and the surrounding Owens Valley on the other side. We got some photos of ourselves, looked at the hut, signed the register, had a quick snack, and then descended. We repacked our gear at Trail Junction and then made the short and steep ascent to Trail Crest. It was then pretty much downhill for the rest of the day. We went down the many switchbacks to Trail Camp. Just below trail camp we had lunch and I took my only photo on the decent. Not long below this point we past a couple who were going to Trail Camp to walk up Mt Whitney the following day. They told us about the Christchurch Earthquake, they said it was about 7.4 on the Richter Scale and that no one was killed. The information was a bit vague though we would have to find out what had happened later. Once past Lonely Lake it did not take long to see the road to Whitney Portal, however it was still quite a way down. We made it to Whitney Portal in about the middle of the afternoon. We went to the store and had a coke and ordered a cheeseburger each. This burger meal was much bigger than I thought it was going to be and quite different to what I had been use to eating, but was very good though. I also bought a Mt. Whitney T-shirt which I later found was the wrong one as it was for the Mountaineers Route. While eating the burger Glen turned up and offered us a ride to Whitney Portal which we were very grateful for and accepted. With the excitement of different food, and the need of drinking something other than water I forgot to get any photos at the end of the trail. Glen dropped us off at the Dow Villa in Lone Pine where Bob had reserved us a room. This was great as otherwise there was only rooms with single double beds. Once I had showered I went into town to get some sandals, and then find out what had happened in New Zealand with the earthquake. The cellphone did not work here so I could not text to find out how people I know were, but I did send some emails. We had an evening meal (pizza and a beer) here in Lone Pine and then an extended soak in hot tub. Overall I think this was one of the best tramping experiences I have done. It was a long way, and with the heavy loads I was carrying it was quite hard on the body, but overall my body held up really well. However, if I did it again I would take one or two less items of gear and maybe take a couple of extra days on the trail to do some more exploring of the surrounding peaks and valleys. Day 22 Summary 14.2 miles. Key locations: Campsite by tarns above Guitar Lake 12.21 feet. Mt Whitney 14,505 feet. Whitney Portal (the unofficial end of the John Muir Trail) 8330 feet. Then onto Lone Pine.
Roy and campsite, Mountains of the Great Western Divide behind
Roy and campsite, Mountains of the Great Western Divide behind
Campsite, better lighting than previous photo
Campsite, better lighting than previous photo
Just before sunrise at Bighorn Plateau, Mt. Russell and Mt. Whitney behind
Just before sunrise at Bighorn Plateau, Mt. Russell and Mt. Whitney behind
First morning sunlight on Moutains of the Great Western Divide from Bighorn Plateau
First morning sunlight on Moutains of the Great Western Divide from Bighorn Plateau
First sunlight on north faces of Mt. Russell and Mt Whitney from Bighorn Plateau
First sunlight on north faces of Mt. Russell and Mt Whitney from Bighorn Plateau
Morning light, Bighorn Plateau
Morning light, Bighorn Plateau
Our campsite, from front to back: my tent, Roy's tent, and Bob's tent.  Mountains of the Great Western Divide beyond.
Our campsite, from front to back: my tent, Roy's tent, and Bob's tent. Mountains of the Great Western Divide beyond.
Sunlight on the Great Western Divide
Sunlight on the Great Western Divide
Roy and pack on Bighorn Plateau.  Great Western Divide beyond.
Roy and pack on Bighorn Plateau. Great Western Divide beyond.
Roy at Bighorn Plateau
Roy at Bighorn Plateau
Me at  Bighorn Plateau
Me at Bighorn Plateau
The Kaweahs, behind Bighorn Plateau
The Kaweahs, behind Bighorn Plateau
John Muir Trail passing through foxtail pine forest
John Muir Trail passing through foxtail pine forest
Foxtail pine bark
Foxtail pine bark
Foxtail pine forest, south of Bighorn Plateau
Foxtail pine forest, south of Bighorn Plateau
Foxtail pine needles and trees
Foxtail pine needles and trees
Foxtail pines silhouette, Mt Whitney behind
Foxtail pines silhouette, Mt Whitney behind
Timberline Lake
Timberline Lake
Timberline Lake outlet, view toward Kaweah Mountains
Timberline Lake outlet, view toward Kaweah Mountains
Stream crossing at Guitar Lake
Stream crossing at Guitar Lake
Guitar Lake, Kaweah Mountains on skyline
Guitar Lake, Kaweah Mountains on skyline
Guitar Lake, Kaweah Mountains on skyline
Guitar Lake, Kaweah Mountains on skyline
Campsite amongst tarns above Guitar Lake
Campsite amongst tarns above Guitar Lake
Western faces of Mt Whitney
Western faces of Mt Whitney
Mt Whitney faces
Mt Whitney faces
Frosted buckwheat seeds
Frosted buckwheat seeds
Mt Whitney faces
Mt Whitney faces
Campsite, Bob and Greg, Kaweahs on skyline
Campsite, Bob and Greg, Kaweahs on skyline
Sunset over Kaweahs
Sunset over Kaweahs
Sunset over Kaweahs
Sunset over Kaweahs
Sunset light on Mt Whitney faces
Sunset light on Mt Whitney faces
Sunset from campsite above Guitar Lake
Sunset from campsite above Guitar Lake
Sunset on Mt. Whitney faces
Sunset on Mt. Whitney faces
Sunset over Kaweahs
Sunset over Kaweahs
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset on Mt. Whitney Faces
Sunset on Mt. Whitney Faces
Sunset on Mt Whitney Faces
Sunset on Mt Whitney Faces
Day 21:  Moonrise before sunrise
Day 21: Moonrise before sunrise
Before sunrise
Before sunrise
Before sunrise, prepartion to walk up to Mt. Whitney summit
Before sunrise, prepartion to walk up to Mt. Whitney summit
Before sunrise
Before sunrise
Before sunrise
Before sunrise
Before sunrise
Before sunrise
Roy and me on the summit of Mt. Whitney (14,495 feet, 4,421m - the highest  in the contiguous USA)
Roy and me on the summit of Mt. Whitney (14,495 feet, 4,421m - the highest in the contiguous USA)
Hut on Summit of Mt. Whitney
Hut on Summit of Mt. Whitney
A group on the Summit, some are daywalkers, a few are people we had meet on and off on the JMT
A group on the Summit, some are daywalkers, a few are people we had meet on and off on the JMT
Lone Pine form Mt. Whitney
Lone Pine form Mt. Whitney
Roy on Mt. Whitney Summit
Roy on Mt. Whitney Summit
Me on Mt. Whitney Summit
Me on Mt. Whitney Summit
The official end of the John Muir Trails, but several thousand feet to desend to Whitney Portal
The official end of the John Muir Trails, but several thousand feet to desend to Whitney Portal
Roy and Summit hut
Roy and Summit hut
Roy
Roy
Me and Whitney Summit Hut
Me and Whitney Summit Hut
Me
Me
A group heading down, we were about to follow.
A group heading down, we were about to follow.
Kaweah Mountains from Mt. Whitney
Kaweah Mountains from Mt. Whitney
Guitah Lake from Mt. Whitney
Guitah Lake from Mt. Whitney
The Mountains of the Great Western Divide and Bighorn Plateau from Mt Whitney
The Mountains of the Great Western Divide and Bighorn Plateau from Mt Whitney
Bighorn Plateau from Mt. Whitney, our campsite two nights ago.
Bighorn Plateau from Mt. Whitney, our campsite two nights ago.
Panorama from Mt Whitney, the Pinnacles, Mt Hitchcock, and Hitchcokc Lakes
Panorama from Mt Whitney, the Pinnacles, Mt Hitchcock, and Hitchcokc Lakes
On the way down, The Pinnacles.
On the way down, The Pinnacles.
The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles
Alpine gold
Alpine gold
Alpine gold
Alpine gold
View on way down from Mt. Whitney.  Guitar Lake and one of the Hitchcock Lakes.  Kaweah Mountains beyond.
View on way down from Mt. Whitney. Guitar Lake and one of the Hitchcock Lakes. Kaweah Mountains beyond.
Guitar Lake, and tarns near we camped the previous night
Guitar Lake, and tarns near we camped the previous night
Guitar Lake and Kaweah Mountains
Guitar Lake and Kaweah Mountains
View between the Pinnacles.  A long way down to Lone Pine.
View between the Pinnacles. A long way down to Lone Pine.
On the way down from Mt Whitney, just past the very long group of Switchbacks
On the way down from Mt Whitney, just past the very long group of Switchbacks
Mt Whitney from E Post St, Lone Pine
Mt Whitney from E Post St, Lone Pine
Mt Whitney from Lone Pine
Mt Whitney from Lone Pine
Dow Villa, Lone Pine
Dow Villa, Lone Pine