This is going to be a short day.
The goal is to arrive early at Guitar Lake, mainly because it is the last reasonable camping opportunity before the climb to Mount Whitney. So virtually everybody will be camping there and the latecomers will get the less-then-ideal campsites.
I start at 7:45 and the first thing I see in the morning is a boy in a bathrobe. Am I really awake already?
He seems to be a member of a scout group and I’m wondering if he has lost a bet, and has to carry that voluminous thing on the trail. Or maybe he’s just about to win one? 😉
On the trail today is an easy and rather uneventful day, it is mostly smaller ups and downs.
I soon catch up with 16-days-guy. Finally I have a longer chat with him, his name is Mark and he is from Texas.
Another milestone on the trail is reaching the Crabtree ranger station. Every hiker has to pick up his personal toilet a.k.a. wag bag there.
There is no s#*tting in the wild from here on. This means: hold it in or pack it out!
I wonder about one line on the wag bag:
Good for multiple uses!
No! I don’t really want to find out, better get that picture out of my head again… 😉
Just before Crabtree the Pacific Crest Trail separates from the JMT and continues south, while all the JMTers head east.
Timerline Lake is very nice, it would be a very nice place to swim there. But Guitar Lake is already close so I delay taking a bath.
At Guitar Lake we find a very nice campsite close to the water and I camp together with virtually everybody I hiked with in the last days. Rob and his boys, Frederick, Mark and Lars all pitch their tents close by.
I arrive at 11:30 so there is plenty of time to explore. The lake is directly below Mount Whitney, it looks so close and really tempting for a quick afternoon dash to the summit.
It is rather hot here and the sun is burning down, besides some bigger boulders there is no place to find some shade.
We start discussing to aim for reaching the summit at sunrise. Peter’s GPS says that the sun will rise at 6 am tomorrow, which would require to start hiking at 3 am.
Guitar Lake is 18°C (65°F) which even I consider cold and it takes me a while to get in, but then it is very nice and refreshing. Later Lars and Frederick go swimming as well.
The lake is at 11460 ft (3494 m) so this is my highest camp on the JMT – and also my highest swim…
During the afternoon a lot of hikers arrive, this is the biggest accumulation of tents I’ve seen on the trail. Fortunately they are distributed over a wide area, so it doesn’t really get crowded.
In the evening I give away even more food, just keep some bars and chocolate for tomorrow. Lars – who seems to live on summer sausage and mashed potatoes – gladly takes most of it and he also relieves me of the weight of my gas canisters.
When I go to bed I set my alarm to 2:30 am – really looking forward to tomorrow!
Distance hiked on JMT: 6.9 mi / 11.1 km
Elevation gained: 2100 feet / 650 meters
Time spent hiking (including breaks): 3:45 h
Map of Day 18: