27th August
Tentsite to Crabtree meadows.
12.3 miles
Total miles: 21.1 miles

I slept really badly. I went to sleep really early which probably didn’t help, then I woke after being in a deep sleep and thinking it was about 5am only to look at the clock and see 23:40pm

I feel like I tossed and turned all night. The altitude didn’t help and I was having weird dreams. I think I also had a bit of anxiety about the possibility of climbing Whitney tomorrow. But the good news is my headache had gone and my body feels ok aside from some sore patches on my back where the hip belt sits. Just a little bruising. I had survived the first day. 


A guy camped with us last night and he was asking us questions this morning. Catwater is so funny, she always opens with we’ve done the PCT twice in both directions, so people know exactly who they are dealing with. I never say anything unless they ask. I think it was his first backpacking trip and he was complaining about the rocks. He asked if there were big rocks on the way up Whitney and I just thought – it’s a massive mountain made of granite. Of course there are rocks!! 


We only had 11.1 miles to go to where Jim and Tom wanted to camp, Catwater and I set off early because we wanted to beat some of the heat. So we walked just under 4 miles to get to the water, then we waited there for around an hour for them to catch up. 

There is a little bit of tension. Jim wasn’t happy that we left early, despite the fact we had discussed and agreed on a leaving time the night before. So Catwater had her mind made up for her about Whitney. She wanted to do it but now doesn’t feel she can. So if I choose to do it, it will be another solo trip.

I think Jim is a really nice guy, and I have witnessed his selfless acts of kindness in the past, but oh man he makes it very hard to get to know him! I’ve tried to engage him in conversation but he just doesn’t seem interested in talking to me. I get it though, he is probably feeling a bit anxious about the trip and keeping up and being capable, and anxieties manifest themselves in all sorts of different ways. I think with Jim it has made him a little bit more withdrawn. I’m not going to give up, I am going to give him his space and let him come to me when he is ready.

We ran into a few people, someone finishing up there PCT after skipping the Sierra (PB&J), an a couple of guys doing the JMT (Craig/Scatman and Scott). One has triple crowned the hiking and bikepacking routes! 


Catwater and I know each other’s hiking styles so well and we know what to plan for and what to look out for. It’s been so nice just to slot back into our old ways. She is much stronger than me at the moment, she has been hiking all summer so it’s to be expected. She leaves me behind in the dirt when we go uphill but I still manage to catch her on the way down! 

We saw a mule train and later some people with just day packs. Turns out the miles were for them and they are hiking and they get their stuff all set up for them and cooked for at the end of the day. Sounds like proper luxury!


We hiked on a bit more and stopped for lunch by a creek. I made the decision there that I was going to do Whitney. It had been on my mind all night and all morning. It would mean a big day tomorrow to catch up but what else do I have to do out here but hike? I planned to go to guitar lake – the permit we have allows camping there, unlike the pct permit – and I would leave all my stuff set up and just carry some snacks and water. 

We had to do a big uphill and because it was so hot it almost killed me. I’ve never been great at going uphill anyway but I forgot how little shade there was on this trail compared to the AT. It’s also so dry and dusty which I also forgot and that makes your mouth so dry and your lungs hurt from breathing in all the dust. I was honestly starting to question my ability to be able to climb Whitney. 


We had a little chat about Growler over lunch. She is the person I miss the most. One of the hardest things to do is to grieve someone who is still alive. Friends come and go in your life, and I have pretty much got over all of them, but not this one. We shared so much together, so many laughs and so many experiences. I have been able to start reminiscing about the good times we had without getting upset, although I still get a lump in my throat. Catwater and I told funny stories of PCT 15 and I just try to think only of all those fond memories.

I would just love to know if she’s ok, and if she’s happy. 

I really hope that she is happy. 

(If you don’t know what I am talking about the short story is that Growler walked away from me in New Zealand and never looked back. Never offered an explanation or an apology or anything. I still, 2 years later, have no idea why.)

We hiked slowly behind Jim and Tom. They were hiking pretty much from tree to tree and stopping in the shade. I wasn’t complaining. I appreciated the slow pace. It was good for my heart rate and good for my lungs. 

We eventually went ahead a bit faster. I just wanted the climbs to be done, and I just wanted to get out of the sun and out of the heat. Never did I think I would be wishing I was in the green tunnel of the AT, but I did wish there were a few more trees. My sweat rag is totally redundant here because any sweat coming out of my face is just evaporating instantly and leaving a nice salty layer. 


We hiked and waited and hiked and waited and we flip flopped with Scott and Craig all day. They hiked with us for a bit and Catwater was out in front and I was struggling to keep up. Eventually I made and excuse that I had something in my shoe so I was able to stop and let them all go ahead and take some of the pressure off! 

We eventually made it to the JMT/ PCT junction around 3:30pm which meant it had taken us over 8 hours to do 11 miles. But we did take some quite long breaks which I won’t be doing tomorrow. We crossed the creek, the stones weren’t quite exposed enough so I took my shoes off and waded across. The cool water felt so nice on my feet. 


This junction is where you turn off and join the trail that goes to the top of Mt Whitney, which is the start (or end, depending on your direction of travel) of the JMT. So I hiked on with Scott and Craig and the others continued north. I originally decided to camp at guitar lake, which meant I would have another 3.4 miles to go and I would be carrying all my stuff. Alternatively I could camp at Crabtree Meadows and have to hike an extra 2.2 miles tomorrow but it would be with an empty pack. That’s what the guys were going to do so I decided to stop and camp with them. 

They are really nice and they shared their filtered water with me which I was so grateful for because all my water so far has tasted really earthy, and I thought it was the water, which I was sad about because I was looking forward to that nice fresh mountain water, but turns out it’s probably my filter and it’s probably a bit mouldy inside, another hangover from the AT. So basically I’ve been drinking mould, which is great! And of course if I don’t like the taste of the water I won’t drink it so I definitely haven’t drunk enough today. I only peed once and now, at 7:30pm, I still don’t need to go. 


We all retired to our tents pretty early because the bugs got bad. There were hardly any about to start with but as the sun goes down they all come out. 

The idea is that I carry on tomorrow to where the others will be camped which will be a 24 mile day. I might not make that! I will just have to see how it goes. 

A ranger came over and spoke to us. He said there are about 30 tents here tonight, and we came at the right time because the mosquitoes were just in big swarm clouds a week ago. I wouldn’t have been happy with that! 

I’ve got a feeling I’m not going to sleep well tonight because I am apprehensive about tomorrow. 





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