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Sierras 1986
Sequoia's Eastern Boundary

Draggin' my butt to Guitar

Tuesday, September 2   I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. The cold/bronchial infection which I had feared might appear had shown up like a black sheep relative on the front door of my vacation. My energy was pretty minimal, and while I knew that we were not due for a particularly demanding day, I was concerned that if I did not feel better soon, a climb to the Whitney summit was not in the cards for me. I was so frustrated for having designed this trip so we could make a summit attempt on the highest point in the lower 48 states without the hassle of applying for really scarce permits for the eastern side approach, and see my own chances diminished by a bad cold. Oh well, I would take it easy today and hope for the best. We took our time getting out of camp. First, it was a lovely morning and while the night had been quite cool, it was delightful in the sunshine. Secondly, I was not moving any too sprightly. Finally, Sunny wanted to do some laundry, since she had been too tired to do it last night. I always like to get mine done along with my regular "bath" in the evening, but she typically does hers in the morning, so that she can spread it out across the rear of her backpack and dry it in the sunshine. To say that her back looks in a bit of disarray, with bras and panties and tops flopping in the breeze as she hikes down the trail is an understatement, but they do get dry that way.

From our camp, the first obstacle was to get around the cliffs that bound the northeast corner of the lake. This requires ascending some gentle granite slopes for about a hundred feet (elevation gain) and dropping back down to meet the lakeshore on its most northerly reach. Not long after we got down to the lake level, we picked up a use path, and it was pretty smooth sailing. Sunny decided that she had not gotten in very much fishing, so decided to make a few casts. I was happy just to sit and watch her. It was a great excuse to rest. It is about 3 miles to Crabtree Meadows from our campsite, and we decided it would make a great place for lunch. Also, since we had been moving at a deliberate pace (let's not use the word "slow"), it was time for lunch. It was a nice open area, and you could see the first glimpse of Mt. Whitney from its west side. The impression that one gets is totally different from the eastern view. The latter makes the mountain seem high, pointy, and very rugged. From the west, it looks like a huge mound of rock, neither difficult or particularly interesting. However, it has some pretty neat rock pinnacles all over its western face.

After lunch, we turned up the trail that runs along Whitney Creek, and were treated to more views of the backside of Mt. Whitney. It was inspiring, but unless I felt dramatically better in the next few hours, it would be all I could do to make it to camp. It is about a thousand feet of climbing from the trail junction to Guitar Lake. It felt like three thousand. George was doing just fine, and Sunny, well, Sunny would have been to camp hours ago if she had not been waiting on me. I felt badly that I was holding the other two up, but I appreciated their not leaving me in the dust. Had camping not been illegal at Timberline Lake, I think I would have pushed to stop there. But alas, it was only another 400 feet of climbing, and we would be at Guitar Lake. A place to rest and drop my pack, and try to shake whatever monkey was on my back. We did get to camp at the west end of Guitar Lake shortly, despite my pathetic pace. About the only help I was to Sunny in getting our tent up was to hold the poles. She did virtually all the camp chores. After cleaning up and having dinner, I felt pretty glum: I knew there was no way in the world I could even attempt to climb the backside of Mt. Whitney. I told George and Sunny to get up and go, and have a safe and wonderful climb. I was going to bed.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1986, 2001