Tuesday, February 17, 2015

High Sierra Trail Part 6 - Wallace Creek Junction to Guitar Lake

Day 6: (almost) Wallace Creek Junction to Guitar Lake - 7.7 miles and 1,055 ft elevation gain

We awoke the next morning, eager to get a head start. We're so close to Mount Whitney, we can smell it! One more day. It was a gorgeous morning. The sun was out and it was a blue bird sky.

We hopped back on the trail, no hikers have passed by our little clearing trail side just yet. It wasn't long till the trail opened up to a wide creek. We weren't too far off from yesterday's targeted destination! The trail continues on the other side of Wallace Creek.

We waded our way through. And once at the other side, we looked around; sitting and drying our feet, campers were scattered all around. We greeted some morning cheers to some campers we recognized from the camp at Kern. We didn't get to inspect around the area but quickly spotted one bear box/food locker to the right of us. Not sure if there was more than one, though. The area seemed a little crowded, different colored tents glistened in the morning sun. It was a cheerful sight! But we were glad to have had our previous night's camp all to ourselves. No one but ourselves to hear all our complains of aches and witness us lick our wounds! Haha.

Passing a few more tents down the trail and crossing a small stream, the trail started going uphill and continued on to some switchbacks. The High Sierra Trail we've been trekking on has now merged with the John Muir and for a short period, the Pacific Crest Trail, as well. We're now getting a preview of the last portion of our future JMT adventure!

We hiked on towards and thru a very beautiful Crabtree Meadow (though I'm still partial to Sky Parlor Meadow.. shhh!). The PCT portion we've long since left, but we're still trekking along with the JMT. The trail continued on through before starting a short ascend to an exposed portion and we walked up to the trail sign pointing to the Crabtree Ranger Station. There was a plastic container right next to the sign containing Wag Bag Kits.

   Wag Bags are now required from here on forward till we exit the Whitney Zone, which is by the Lone Pine Lake junction via our exit trail to Whitney Portal. Digging cat holes to dispose of human waste is no longer allowed on these parts.They are to be packed out.

The Wag Bag kit includes:
  • (1) bag that has chemicals that freezes and traps odors of human waste
  • (1) larger bag to seal in the previous bag
  • (1) small roll of tissue paper and..
  • (2) moist towelettes

I love how thoughtful these kits were.. moist towelettes! Ha!

If you weren't provided a kit before you took off to this area, this is the chance to pick one up before you go. It's multi-use, just need one!

Had a quick lunch break here watching and greeting a hodge-podge of hikers pass by. We didn't get to spot the ranger station but did see a couple of tents pitched up just a walk on a spur trail below, on a shaded clearing. Looks to be a good spot to camp! Written guides note a bear box/food locker here but we didn't see one. Must be closer to the ranger station.

Continuing on, the trail was a bit exposed to the mid-day sun letting us play the "chase-the-tree-shades" again. Taking mili-second breaks against trees giving a bit of shade.

The scenery along the trail eventually opened up to a very serene lake, named Timberline Lake (no camping nor grazing!).

Then the trees started becoming more and more sparse. Making the trail more and more exposed to the sun and we were seeing less and less greenery. But the views started on another level of grandeur scenery of strewn boulders, spires, granite rocks against blue skies. We're getting closer to our stop for the day, Guitar Lake.

It didn't take long for the trail to take us to our "resort" for the day. We arrived with time for a late lunch spread, chill time and Joe's brave plunge into the cold waters of Guitar Lake.

Backpackers pitching up tents were strewn across the open area made it a busy place. Even though the day is far from over, hikers have stopped here catching enough rest to get an early start for tomorrow's trek up to Whitney and back down the other direction and out to Whitney Portal.

Finding a flat spot against something to block the wind was a task, everyone was looking to block the wind sweeping in the big bowl we were in. A small patch of dark clouds taunted us with a storm but only let out a small afternoon rain, all the while the sun still shining! We have a saying in my home country that goes along with this weather "anomaly" of raining while the sun shines: "May kinakasal na Kapre" (translation: A wedding with a Kapre is taking place.) And today reinforces its myth. For a "Kapre" supposedly lives under/by big trees and there are zero trees surrounding us that moment, not even a small one! Suffice it to say, it was safe to enjoy the weather outside, Kapre-less.

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