Day 41 – Jockeying For Position

June 18
Guyot Creek to Wright Creek
Mile 761.7 – Mile 771.7

Beautiful meadow

My ambition today of having a short day to get set up for Forester Pass proved wildly optimistic. The first part of the day up from Guyot Creek was steep but the trail was clear. After gaining the ridge however I found myself one again on a forested, north facing slope full of snow. Definitely a 1mph zone and with the steep slope I donned my micro-spikes for needed traction. Those worked well to keep my footing as I picked my way slowly down to the trail junction for Crabtree Meadow and Mt Whitney.

Walking in sun cupped snow, not fun

 

I spy a whistle pig aka marmot

Given how long those first 5 miles took, I did not rethink my decision to skip Whitney. The immediate challenge was another log crossing of Whitney Creek that was both higher and wider than the previous day. I’m not sure which is better but I made it across without incident.

Looking back on descent to Whitney Creek

 

Approaching Whitney Creek

Passing a second trail junction for Mt Whitney put me on the John Muir Trail (JMT) that shares space with the PCT for the next 175 miles or so. With the trail buried under many feet of snow, there was more route finding and an even steeper descent to Wallace Creek. I played my last card and pulled out my whippet, a self-arrest trekking pole. It’s a pole made for back country skiing with a powder basket on the bottom and ice axe head on top. It came in handy.

Snow bound descent

I also executed my first full post-hole on the way down as the snow became softer in the sun. My whole right leg disappeared and I was forced to dig out. My shoe remained buried deep until I was able to excavate it. It was easy to see how serious injury could occur and the lesson about giving exposed rocks or trees a wide berth was quickly learned.

More mountain beauty

Upon reaching Wallace Creek I was met with a torrent of snow melt, the creek braiding its irrepressible way through any low ground it could find. I walked up and down stream trying to find a workable ford. I was close to calling it a day when I found a place I was willing to try. Did I mention this water had recently been snow? Other than frozen toes, my successful ford was just deep enough to remind me that it’s Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day Pops!

Log over Whitney Creek

After Wallace Creek I began to wonder what I would find further ahead. There were two more major crossings before the best staging spot for Forester Pass. Tyndall Creek was described as ‘sometimes difficult’ but first up was Wright Creek. The rising roar as I approached did not bode well. Wright Creek was raging and most of the shore on my side was overhanging snow. From the trail notes, earlier hikers were able to cross on snow bridges but those are now gone. What remained was an impassable torrent.

Sun cupped meadow

I hiked a mile or so upstream to see if there was any better opportunity but alas not. Everything I saw was at least chest deep and flowing fast. There’s a chance it will be better in the morning but we’ll see. I pitched camp atop a rocky hill overlooking the creek. Tomorrow I will continue upstream in hopes of finding a safe crossing. I have plenty of food, am not in any danger, and plan to keep it that way.

 

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