28th August.
Crabtree meadows – Whitney summit – Wallace Creek
20.1 miles
Total miles: 41.2 miles


I haven’t yet seen the sun set. I’ve been asleep before dark. Which means I am waking up so many times in the night. Alarm was set for 5am and Scott, Craig and I set off at 5:15am

I crossed the creek while they got some stuff out of the bear box and I was expecting them to come up behind me pretty quickly, but it was a while before there was any sign of them. I was starting to wonder whether I had taken a wrong turn, but it is really hard to got wrong, there is just one path. It turns out that Craig, who uses his trekking poles for his tent, had left them holding his tent up so had to go back and get them. It was a good thing that happened for me otherwise I would have been even more behind. 

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We started in jackets and headlamps and I had my buff around my ears. It got pretty warm pretty quickly and there were these weird pockets of warm air. The buff came off after about 20 minutes and we didn’t need to hike with headlamps on for long. It was nice to see the moon above the mountains in a bluey purple sky. 

As per usual I alternated between feeling utterly crap, nauseous and weak, to strong, fit and capable. It came in waves. In my head I just had to make it to guitar lake and everything would be ok because that’s where I started to feel better in 2015. The large amount of horse poop along the wasn’t helping my nausea situation. 

The guys had caught up and overtaken me, and they were waiting at Guitar lake. They said there was water a bit further up which they would get so I tagged along. The water was nice and cold and I think it may have finally helped my filter situation because it no longer seems to taste like mould. While we were stopped I got really cold. Does anyone else ever get so cold their nipples really really hurt? And the pain seems to spread backwards through the boob and into the body? Well, I seem to get this whenever I get really cold and generally the only fix is to have a hot drink and warm my body from the inside. I just resigned myself to them hurting for the rest of the day and I put my jacket back on. 

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Then came the brutal bit. The brutal 5 miles of uphill on looooong switchbacks. We had our packs with us but they had a tiny load…puffy, hat, gloves, water bottles, filter, toilet paper. That was it. And oh my god it felt fantastic to have such a light bag. No way I would have managed it with my full load. And I did think to myself it was a very good decision to not continue on to guitar lake last night. 

We passed quite a few people carrying they full loads. Most of these people were JMTers who started in the north and are going out over Whitney portal to finish their hike so they take all their stuff to the junction where they stash it and then just carry a daypack the last 2 miles to the summit. 

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The higher we got the colder it became. The guys went off ahead right at the start of the uphill and I was fully expecting to see them again as they passed me on the way down. I was crawling. I managed to pass some Asian ladies who were carrying all their gear, but it wasn’t exactly a speedy overtake! I wanted to keep stopping because I just found it so hard to breathe. The air is so thin and so dry and so dusty. My lungs hurt. My heart was pounding and my mouth was so dry and water only helped while it was in your mouth. 

I spent a lot of time wondering why I was doing this again. Twice already is enough isn’t it. But the conditions looked so good and it just seemed wrong to pass it up. But I did think on multiple occasions that I could just turn around and the pain would end. I seemed to get slower and slower as we went higher up and the cold wind was giving me terrible flashbacks to 2016 and the icy wind. I really wanted to stop and put my gloves on but they were in my bag and getting them out meant stopping ad taking the bag off my back which would have cooled so quickly with the sweat and the wind. So the only option was to keep moving and fend off the cold. 

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At some points I honestly thought I was going to start going backwards. I really was crawling. But after many mini pauses to get my breath I made it to the top in 5.5 hours. Not too bad! And as a surprise Scott and Craig were up there. I arrived at 10:45am, Craig said he arrived about 10:10am and Scott arrived around 10:30am. I was amazed, I definitely though they would had been up there for hours.

We took a few pictures. There were quite a lot of people up there and everyone was helping each other out with the photos. I think I must have taken about 6 people’s photos. I stayed up there for about half an hour. It wasn’t cold particularly but it wasn’t warm enough to take the jacket off. 

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Scott and Craig took off and I stayed up there for about 10 more minutes. I was on a mission to get down as quick as possible. I wanted to try and catch up to the guys to try and prove to myself that I wasn’t so slow. I stormed it. I managed to catch them up about halfway down the switchbacks. I had many, many near misses as I took a few trips and tumbles, and I only actually fell once. It got hotter and hotter and the sun was so intense I was desperate to get down and out of the sun. The last bit to guitar lake seemed to take for ever. And I was starving by now and very thirsty. We stopped and got a bit of water and then tried to go as fast as we could to find a place to sit and eat in the shade. 

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Another thing. I haven’t had a poo since Sunday afternoon. It’s now Wednesday. I was worried for a moment this morning that I was going to have to go but nothing happened. Instead I think it’s all come out in toxic gas. 

Every time I have climbed Whitney on the way down I feel like I am returning from battle. I have done battle with the elements and they have really whooped my ass. 

We had a half an hour break in the shade and it just seemed to take forever to get down the last couple of mile back to our camp. We were all tired and our legs were wobbly. We got back to camp at 3:30pm so we had been out for 10 hours already. The guys decided to have a nap and I decided to continue on another 4 miles to Wallace creek. It was 8 miles to where Catwater had planned to camp and I knew I didn’t have another 8 miles in me today so I would camp at the creek and have 4 miles to do to catch up in the morning and I would try and get out of bed early to catch them up before they leave camp. 

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I had a wee about a mile away from camp. My first wee aside from the morning wee and oh it burned. It was quite dark and it was just a bit painful. I am definitely dehydrated. 

I spoke to a lady who was on her way to do her 5th summit of Whitney and I just thought well there’s time to do more yet! A mule train came up behind me, then they changed their mind and passed me again going the other way and they they turned around again and passed me a third time. This time hank, the pony at the back went the opposite way around a tree and broke free of his leash. The woman was hoping he would just follow but hank had other ideas and went off piste to eat some grass. So after gathering up hank they passed me for a 4th time. If they had offered me a ride I’m not sure I would have said no!

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I eventually made it to the creek and there were quite a few people there. I found a spot, probably a bit too close to the river, but it was all there was. I arrived at 6pm, got everything set up really quickly so I could get into my tent and away from the bugs. I ate dinner in my tent. Two packs of shrimp flavoured ramen noodles. I wanted them because they are really salty, although two packets was a bit too much and I struggled to get it down. The guys arrived around 7pm

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It’s now 8pm and although I’ve drunk quite a bit I still don’t need a wee since that one I had at 3pm. 

Scott and Craig are carrying on to Muir Trail Ranch rather than going out over Kearsarge Pass like we are, so tomorrow will be the last day we hike together. Scott’s girlfriend was supposed to hike with them but didn’t come so they have a load of extra resupply at MTR and I have convinced them to put my name on their box so I can raid it when we get there! 

Less miles tomorrow but some big climbs as we go over forrester pass. It was a bit of a shock to the system putting my fully loaded bag on the leave camp earlier. It’s too heavy!!

 

 

 

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