I woke up on the morning of day 5 happy to have not met any bears in my sleep. Day 5 started the climb toward Mt Whitney. We would hike from Junction Meadow to Guitar Lake, the last water source before climbing Mt Whitney. I thought it would be a hard day of climbing, but it really was not too bad of a day at all except for one water crossing.
The morning started off with a climb, and we slowly rose above the pine trees and were met once again met with amazing views of the Kern River Valley down below.
The trail climbed but was nothing crazy, it rose at as easy grade with some switch backs. The trail eventually came to a “stream” crossing. We have had some challenging water crossings and usually found a way to climb across on a log, or get a little wet. But this one “stream” just did not give us a break. We dropped our packs and looked up and down the river for a rock or a downed tree to cross. We even making our own bridge to cross but didn’t for obvious reasons. The water was fairly deep, rough and had a good current.
At this point of the trip we were pretty far in, and turning back was not really an option and there were some parts of the trip I was not ready to go over again. So after a bit, I decided this was our only spot to cross and I was going to get wet, we just had to do it safely.
I took out my trusty 550 cord and secured it to a strong bush behind a rock. Yes I know a bush doesn’t sound like a strong plant to anchor my self to but I took some nice tugs on the 550 cord before plunging in. I tied the other end around my waist and took my ice ax in my hand and strapped on my gloves.
I took off my shoes and socks and dipped into the freezing rushing river. I took my time feeling each step and not taking the next until I knew my foot was secure and not going to slip. I made sure there was tension on the 550 cord which helped add stability as I walked.
As I slowly made it through the waist deep water, and finally reached the other side. My feet were cold as hell, so I went directly to a rock and sat on it to warm them up. I had left all my gear on the other side of the river to cross safely. Once on the other side, I tied the 550 cord to my ace axe and anchored it securely in some stones. The 550 cord was now tight and stretched across the cold, deep stream.
The picture below is of the stream crossing with the 550 cord stretched across. I am on the side with my ice axe anchored and am looking back toward the trail where we were coming from.
Once the 550 cord was secured, grabbed onto the line and use this to stabilize myself as I crossed. I then made multiple crossing back and forth carrying our gear in safe loads. It took 3 or 4 trips, but I made it across with all our gear and our gear stayed dry. Yes the water was cold, but it actually ended up feeling good soaking my sore feet. The whole crossing slowed us down for over an hour, but we made it safely across and in one piece, ready to attempt our last big challenge Mt Whitney.
As the trail meandered we were treated by some amazing meadows, streams and mountain lakes.
A short time after our water crossing we hit the Pacific Crest Trail. Once on the Pacific Crest trail we started to enter a little bit of civilization again, we started running into other hikers for the first time in a few days.
The farther we traveled down the Pacific Crest trail, the more and more frequent we ran into other hikers. A few more miles down the Pacific Crest Trail, my Delorme chirped with a message. This was the best message I could have received while on my hike, my sister had a baby girl and I officially had a new niece!
I did not take a whole lot of pictures on day 5, I wanted to make it to Guitar Lake at a decent hour so we could get an early start on our 6th and final day when we would climb Mt Whitney.
When we got to Guitar Lake there were about 3-4 other groups of hikers making camp. Despite this “crowd” we had a nice private spot with an amazing view of Guitar Lake and Mt Whitney in the background, I really didn’t even notice the other hikers much.
When you are close to Guitar Lake, it does not look much like a guitar. Once you start climbing Mt Whitney and have a view looking back down, the lake really does look like a guitar.
At Guitar Lake we didn’t have to really worry about bears, but there were marmots everywhere! They came pretty close and did not seem to be that scared of us, but if I stood up and walked toward them, they instantly ran away. These marmots looked pretty fat, and I bet they have taken more then a few snacks from some hikers in the past. I would not stray to far from your pack and food, you might have a fat little marmot break in and steal your dinner!
Arriving at Guitar Lake early let us experience a great sunset with Mt Whitney in the background. We ate a large dinner, and got to bed early, tomorrow was the big day we would climb to the summit of Mt Whitney and make it back to civilization ending our amazing trip.