Destination: Near Crabtree Meadows
We are sitting here just upstream from Lower Crabtree Meadows. We did not make it as far as we wanted, but that was not because we didn't have time or energy. The stream we needed to cross is running too high now, as we arrived too late in the day. The heat of the sun causes serious snow melt during the day, and so it is important to do the stream crossings as early as possible.
Upon further inspection, we could have managed avoiding the crossing altogether, but our tent is up now, and we are fine with trudging on in the morning. Besides, we are being treated to an amazing scene, as the sun sets, casting a red glow on the snow capped mountain pictured above.
Last night, Psycho woke a couple times feeling short of breath. It would seem that we are still acclimating to our elevation. We don't move as slow though. Most of today was spent above 10,000 feet, and we still walked faster than we did a couple days ago at 9,000 feet. It is a comforting feeling to know that every day we are getting stronger. It will be tested tomorrow when we take a shot at a Mt. Whitney summit.
When we left Kennedy Meadows, we had to leave Train behind, as his packages were lost in the mail. His brother was driving gear and food up to him, but we wanted an early start. Leaving a half day before him, inevitably required him to play catch up. Today, he caught up, and what a treat it was. He was carrying fresh fruit and hordes of cookies. Naturally, we helped lighten his pack weight.
After sharing stories with Train, realizing he was camped a couple miles behind us every day, we continued our descent to Rock Creek. While we have done a few stream crossings to get to the Sierras, this was our first serious stream crossing. Train, Uncle Tom, Psycho, and Apricots fanned out along the stream, looking for a safe place to cross.
Eventually Psycho crossed a high log over serious rapids, while Train and Tom forded the river downstream. Apricots continued to search for a place she felt comfortable crossing. At one point Psycho walked across the stream where Train and Tom crossed, to help Apricots cross. He carried her pack across, and went back to try and help her cross. The current was too fast and strong, so we returned upstream to the two logs offering potential crossing.
Apricots was facing a serious fear of crossing, as Psycho went back and forth taking her trekking poles and boots. She felt safer walking across the fallen tree barefoot. After nearly two hours of trembling legs and unsuccessful attempts at inspiring courage, Train came across and suggested that the three of us make a butt-scoot-train as we slid across another tree.
Psycho led, with Apricots in the middle, and Train pulling up the rear. We sat on the log, legs draped to each side, nearly skimming the vicious rapids below, as we slowly skirted our butts across the log. Once across, Apricots and Psycho gave a strong hug to one another, and thanked Train for being a motivational speaker.
On the other side, with squishy wet boots, we made a steep climb back to nearly 11,000 feet, as we rushed to get our miles to Guitar Lake. At the very least, we believed we could make it to Crabtree Meadows. Train was far ahead of us, as he moves quickly, so we took a quick lunch at a saddle next to Mount Guyot. Shortly after we made a short snowy descent to Guyot Flats, and then made record time crossing the land.
Before we knew it, we were just shy of Lower Crabtree Meadows, which required a short snow glissade to reach the bottom. We sat on the snow with our ice axe's in hand, sliding down the hill. At the bottom of the snow slope, we picked up the trail, which would have been switch-backing down the hillside. We put our ice-axe's back on our packs and hiked the half mile up to Lower Crabtree Meadows. It was our plan to go 3.5 miles past the meadows to Guitar Lake.
Once at the meadows, we saw that we had another stream ford, this one being far less dangerous. The water flowed slowly, and it was shallow. We walked in without a pause, as our boots were already soaking wet. Once across, we realized we forgot to empty the granola bars, chapstick, and toilet paper from our pockets. The bars and chapstick survived, the toilet paper did not.
After crossing, we started our climb to Guitar lake. The trail followed a fierce stream, which we feared we would have to cross. One mile down, we ran into Train who was coming back. He told us the stream is uncrossable at this time of day. We backed down, and set up camp. Tomorrow morning, the stream will likely be flowing low enough that we can hop across it.
Time for some sleep. Tomorrow we try climbing Mount Whitney.
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