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John Muir Trail -- August 21, 2016
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John Muir TrailDawn with campsite secured for the day (view SE)

Day 5. Backpack Day 4.
Guitar Lake to Mt. Whitney and Crabtree Meadow

Up early in the first of the morning twilight, I left most of my gear in camp and hiked fairly hard and summited Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft elevation; highest peak in the lower 48 states) from the west side in four hours. I'd done it before from the east side, so this was a new route for me. It felt good to make the summit with surprisingly little effort, although the cold temperatures without direct sun certainly helped reduce overheating issues.

While making the summit was great, the more important issue for me was that it marked the start of my hike north on the JMT. It felt good to be starting out on the actual quest.

John Muir TrailExiting Guitar Lake Basin, proper (view SE)

I spent 40 minutes in the summit cold, the started hiking down. After three hours, I picked up my gear at Guitar Lake and continued down to Crabtree Meadow.

They afternoon had been stormy with lightning in the high country, but the sky cleared in the evening so I figured the storms were done for the day (it rarely rains at night in the Sierras during summer). Unfortunately, I awoke in the darkness under a heavy downpour and got pretty wet before covering everything.

John Muir Trail
Guitar Lake with first rays of morning sun on peaks (view W)
John Muir Trail
Guitar Lake with morning sun on peaks (view W)
John Muir Trail
Trail climbs somewhat steeply through upper Guitar Basin (view SE)
John Muir Trail
Looking back at sun on the higher peaks (view NW)
John Muir Trail
Climbing towards the base of the switchbacks (view SE)
John Muir Trail
Base of the switchbacks (view S)
John Muir Trail
First switchback (view N)
John Muir Trail
Second switchback (view S)
John Muir Trail
Third switchback (view N)
John Muir Trail
Fourth switchback (view S)
John Muir Trail
Fifth switchback (view N)
John Muir Trail
Stone wall holding up the trail (view N)
John Muir Trail
Sixth switchback (view S)
John Muir Trail
Rocky sideridge (view S)
John Muir Trail
Seventh switchback (view N)
John Muir Trail
Steep hillside (view N)
John Muir Trail
Eighth switchback (view S)
John Muir Trail
Trail winds among huge boulders (view S)
John Muir Trail
Ninth switchback (view N)
John Muir Trail
Tenth switchback (view S)
John Muir Trail
Approaching the crest and the trail junction (view S)
John Muir Trail
Arriving at the crest and the trail junction (view S)
John Muir Trail
Trail Crest trail junction (view N)
John Muir Trail
Trail junction signs (view S)
John Muir Trail
Trail buddies from Lower Crabtree Meadow (view N)
John Muir Trail
Mt. Whitney Trail (view N)
John Muir Trail
Short switchback on Mt. Whitney Trail (view S)
John Muir Trail
Rock trail and rock towers (view N)
John Muir Trail John Muir Trail
John Muir Trail John Muir Trail
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Dropping towards First Col (view N)
John Muir Trail
First Col (view W towards Owens Valley)
John Muir Trail
First Col (view E towards Guitar Basin)
John Muir Trail
Second Col (view W towards Owens Valley)
John Muir Trail
Second Col (view W towards Guitar Basin)
John Muir Trail
Rocky trail (view N)
John Muir Trail
Rocky trail (view N)
John Muir Trail
Third Col (view E towards Owens Valley)
John Muir Trail
Vast field of rocks (view N)
John Muir Trail
Approaching Fourth Col (view E)
John Muir Trail
Fourth Col (view E towards Owens Valley)
John Muir Trail
Traversing vast field of rocks (view N)
John Muir Trail
Fifth Col (view E towards Owens Valley)
John Muir Trail
Rocky trail (view N)
John Muir Trail
First view up the broad summit ridge (view NE)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view NW)
John Muir Trail
Broad summit ridge (view SE)
John Muir Trail
First view of summit cabin (view NE)
John Muir Trail
Summit (view NE)
John Muir Trail
USGS benchmark
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view NE)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view N)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view W)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view S)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view S)
John Muir Trail
Selfie on the summit (view W)
John Muir Trail
Selfie on the summit (view NE)
John Muir Trail
Summit plaque
John Muir Trail
Departing the summit (view SW towards cabin)
John Muir Trail
Descending off the broad summit ridge (view SW)
John Muir Trail
Starting the long summit-ridge traverse (view SE)
John Muir Trail
Approaching the Fifth Col (view SE)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view S)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view S)
John Muir Trail
Approaching the Fourth Col (view S)
John Muir Trail
Grand scenery (view W towards Guitar Lake)
John Muir Trail
Traversing the long summit-ridge (view S)
John Muir Trail
At the First Col, beginning to climb out of the saddle (view S)
John Muir Trail
Traversing the long summit-ridge (view S)
John Muir Trail
Trail off the summit-ridge become visible (view S)
John Muir Trail
Switchbacking down the long summit-ridge (view S)
John Muir Trail
Trail Crest junction becomes visible in the distance (view S)
John Muir Trail
Approaching Trail Crest junction (view S)
John Muir Trail
Flower along the trail
John Muir Trail
Eighth switchback heading down (view S)
John Muir Trail
One of several Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches along the trail
John Muir Trail
Approaching the seventh switchback heading down (view S)
John Muir Trail
Approaching the fifth switchback heading down (view S)
John Muir Trail
Passing the third switchback (view NW)
John Muir Trail
Interesting high-elevation plants growing in the rocks
John Muir Trail
Descending rocky hillsides below the switchbacks (view NW)
John Muir Trail
Descending rocky hillsides below the switchbacks (view W)
John Muir Trail
Descending through alpine meadows in Upper Guitar Basin (view W)
John Muir Trail
Guitar Lake in the distance (view W)
John Muir Trail
Looking back up at alpine meadows on rocky hillside (view E)
John Muir Trail
Descending through alpine meadows below Guitar Lake (view W)
John Muir Trail
Approaching Timberline Lake (view SW)
John Muir Trail
Descending towards meadow along Whitney Creek (view W)
John Muir Trail
JMT-Crabtree Meadow trail junction (view SW)
John Muir Trail
Damp Crabtree Meadow campsite (view NW)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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