Mile 774 to 767
Today is an awkward day. I am only 16 miles from the top of Whitney, but I don’t really want to summit at the end of the day. Besides, I will have to come back down and the most logical camp is Guitar Lake which would make a 21 mile day. Loosely paraphrasing Churchill – today that is something up with which I will not put. I decide to shoot for a sunrise summit, which means staging at Guitar Lake and starting my climb under headlamp at around 2:00am. It’s a fine plan, but leaves me with only an 11 mile day today.
I decide to take it easy. Moving fast you sometimes miss things. Today I will really look around, check out the animals, and what the heck, look for a bear. I stop to watch a baby marmot. He lets me get too close, so his mom whistles so loud the little guy almost jumps out of his fur. When I stop moving, the deer come much closer. One seems almost irritated at my still presence, but instead of running she looks at me and defecates. This may be a typical deer reaction or just a more general female reaction to my thru-hiker smell.
I am not sure what the natural selection advantage is for the log to look like a bear, but there clearly must be one. Looking for a bear I see hundreds of these log-bears. The resemblance in shape and color is uncanny. I suppose it is also possible that bears have evolved to look like these logs.
Even at my slow pace I eventually reach Guitar Lake. There are others here staging for a sunrise summit. It may be an early stream of commuter headlamps up the five mile hump. The only debate seems to be what time to start to see a spectacular sunrise, but not be at 14,505 feet too early and freeze to death in the dark. The JMTers are ending their trip, so will be carrying their full packs. I have to return to the PCT, so I can leave back at my Guitar Lake camp the things I do not need, such as tent, bear can, most of my food, etc. The only tricky part is that my tent uses my trekking poles, so if I take them up Whitney I will be leaving a staked pile rather than an apparent tent.