Day 44 mile 750.8 – 766.3, plus 1.1 miles to Crabtree Meadows
Elevation: ascent 2,441 ft, descent 3,223 ft
We decided to not set the alarm since we didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before (early wake up sunrise call) and just wake up when we felt rested. We woke a little past 6:00, not bad getting 10 hours of sleep 😁. Double Down and I really enjoy the mornings when we camp next to a lake. The calmness of the water and still air is something we love to take in while having our morning coffee. Today was no exception!!
We were packed up and heading back to the trail at 7:45. Our goal today is to reach Crabtree Meadow which is the staging area for PCTers to reach Mt Whitney, which we plan on doing tomorrow.
Today was filled with views and meadows. Being above 11,000 feet gets you up above tree line which creates for some impressive views of the mountains and meadows of the Sierra. Some of the trail today was very familiar since we had been backpacking here with the kids in 2014. It was fun to reminisce about that trip as we hike this morning. We could see a lot of snow on the peaks off in the distance but we had no snow on the trail today.
We found ourselves descending toward Rock Creek where we planned to have lunch. On the way down we started to hike through more meadows. Many of the meadows were now green after coming out of a dormant state with the snow melt, but we aren’t seeing many wildflowers (probably still a few weeks away).
We reached Rock Creek at about 12:15 and then had to search for a way across without just getting our feet soaked. We were able to find a log a hundred yards down stream that fit the bill. We then found a great spot for lunch over looking a meadow and a snow capped peak behind it. Today we were opting for a hot lunch of mashed potatoes and sausage. We both had been feeling a bit low on calories the last few days and thought using the extra meal we had been carrying was a good choice.
After lunch we found ourselves climbing the next 2.5 miles on an exposed slope up 1,500 feet. The grade of this trail was steep and kicked both of our butts. We still seem to be always saving the tough climb for the afternoon in the heat of the day, not sure why it always works out that way 😬. We quickly chose to putt in headphones to motivate ourselves with some music as we tried to take on this climb. It took almost 1 1/2 hours to reach the top, after several breaks to drink and catch our breath. Reaching he top then meant we had a 6 mile, mostly downhill to camp.
Still feeling the effects of the climb and not feeling particularly great after lunch we tried to distract ourselves with conversation and some trail fun. Right before getting to Crabtree Meadow we found the coolest gate. We have come across numerous pipe gates used to keep livestock out of an area but this was the first time we came to a wooden fence. You actually had to move one of the wooden bars to pass through. It was actually very cool.
When we reached the trail junction for Crabtree Meadow we had to cross Whitney Creek which was quite full from all of the snow melt. It was probably about 50 feet across and there was no way to rock hop or use logs to cross. So straight into the water we went. Using trail running shoes and double lined socks we have found we are able to wade right into rivers without taking off our shoes. Taking off shoes and trying to cross in flip flops or just in bare feet was something we are more than happy to avoid. As we reached the other side we ran into Splinter (Eric from WeeVill) who we had stared the LA Aquaduct with a few weeks back. Now we had to get the last 1.1 miles to reach camp.
We got to camp around 4:45 and were amazed at how many PCT hikers there were there. We even ran into Mantis and Pants who we first met after Cabazon (they were the ones to give me my trail name). We found a nice tent site protected by the trees and then caught up with Mantis and Pants who had just gotten back from ascending Whitney. They gave us great info for the next day making us feel really good about our plan. We then meet a crew who we will be joining us in the summiting of Mt Whitney (Beard Snacks, Thursday, Juice, Pocket Sauce, Caveman, and Skytree). We all discussed when we would be getting up and those times ranged from 2:00 am to 5:00. Double Down and I plan to wake at 3:30.
One of the unique things about Crabtree Meadows being so popular as a staging grounds for Whitney is, they have an outdoor privy. It comes complete with a screen the blocks you from others having a full view of you while you take care of business 🤣. If you walk up and you can see someone’s head you then know it’s in use and you just hangout until it’s free. Well it was nice to have because Double Down and I made good use of it as we think the sausage we had for lunch wasn’t the best. We both really try to adhere to the Leave No Trace rules of the wilderness. Since neither of us want to carry more than we need to and really don’t want to pack out more than necessary we have adopted the use of rocks and sticks in place of TP. So having a pit toilet where we could use biodegradable wipes was a blessing. Thank goodness for Imodium AD which did the trick for us 😳. I was able to get down a dinner but Double Down was limited to a bar and some flat fruit. Hope it doesn’t impact our day tomorrow!!