Crabtree Meadows elevation 10321 ft to Crabtree Ranger elevation 10708 ft to drop off gear
Crabtree Ranger to/from Whitney Summit elevation 14505 ft
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States. It is typically summited last on the JMT as most permit holders travel south. But getting a southbound permit has become increasingly difficult and when we failed to secure a southbound permit we applied and quickly were approved for a northbound permit. The primary difficulty with this direction, and my greatest concern, is one has little time for acclimatization. How would I adapt to that elevation. My body has had 3 days to be at 9000-11000 feet of elevation, is that enough. Today, we will know.
One of my favorite things about hiking and hiking solo is meeting new people. Luke and I travel at a completely different
tempo. So while we are traveling together on this trip, many times it feels like I’m hiking the miles solo…and I am perfectly okay with that.
I found myself traveling at a similar pace from Guitar Lake to the Whitney summit with a delightful couple, Cheryl and Liam, also hiking NOBO on the JMT.The trail up is unrelenting and takes all sorts of mental strength along with physically moving onward and upward. Sometimes when the mind starts convincing you that you can’t do this, the big guns have come out in the form old school Celine Deon ballads and Broadway hits…yep I’m that girl, but it did help get me up that mountain. The altitude didn’t start becoming a problem for me until about a mile from the top, when I was having to take standing rest breaks every 20-50 paces for catch up breathing. But I made it and once at the top I was good.
Cheryl, Liam and I celebrated our summiting together and snapped a few pictures as a reminder. Also about a mile from the top, the longest mile ever in history, I connected with a new nurse, his dad and several scouts. I totally nerded out with the nurse about what the altitude was doing our bodies. He even brought a oxygen saturation monitor. He checked maybe 15-20 people and surprisingly mine was the second highest averaging 88-89%. The highest was from a whipper snapper of a teenager which was 95%, he was meant for altitude adventures.
After taking oodles of pictures, calling home and sending out several texts, because there was cell reception, I headed down the way I came up. It was a total highway of people still coming up with an intensely hot overhead sun…I never really was able get into a good hiking rhythm until past trail crest. Shortly after, I paused to talk with a military couple who were on their first backpacking trip ever. They are doing 40 miles total and will be summiting Whitney tomorrow, how awesome is that!!!
Luke and I had made a possible plan to hike beyond the Crabtree Ranger area, but when I arrived I was done. 17 1/2 miles on day three is very respectable and I am good with that. Thankfully he agrees. I know he could do and wants to do more but I don’t want to overdo it too early. I soaked my feet in the nearby creek and rinsed my hair with creek water and somehow that made me feel like a new woman. Oh I this campsite has an outdoor toilet with a view…haha!
Tonight called for an early dinner and bedtime with no set plan for tomorrow.