Day 20: Layover at Guitar Lake below Mt. Whitney
August 16: The day dawns beautifully. The sky is clear.
Only the guys are climbing Mt. Whitney (14,491) today. Dina climbs it every year and will be back on Sept. 15 for her annual climb from Whitney Portal. Kris climbed it the last time she did the JMT and decides she’d rather rest than do it again. Me—after hearing about the drop-offs and considering the weather, no way. (Climbing Whitney was never one of my primary goals for this trip, and it turns out I made the right decision.)
Debbie is up early, and I help her set up the kitchen and fix breakfast. The guys want an early start. It’s 4.8 miles and 3,000’ of elevation gain to the top.
After breakfast and clean-up, I tackle my tent and belongings. I take everything out and lay it out to dry. All the boulders make great drying racks. Even my sleeping bag is damp in a couple of spots where it hangs over the side of the thermarest. I also set up my sun shower.
While waiting for things to dry and my shower water to warm, I sit in a chair facing the sun and read. Harry arrives to help with chores and stays for a couple of hours. Once my tent has dried, I give it a good cleaning and start to put things back as they become dry.
Around noon, I make some tuna salad for our lunches. Thin, wispy clouds are already starting to gather. After lunch, I wash my hair and take a shower. The water is still cold. The clouds are gathering quickly.
About 2 o’clock, the guys start to return. By 2:30, when it starts to sprinkle, everyone is back. The storm proceeds much like yesterday, culminating in lots of thunder and lightning and hail. The only differences are that we are all snug and dry in our own tents, and it starts earlier and goes faster than yesterday. I am certainly glad that I did not attempt the climb. There is no way I could have gotten up and back before the storm. Even the power walkers had to hustle it on the way down.
When the storm clears, I check to see if everything remained dry. No luck! The bottom of my thermarest is wet. Water must have washed over the footprint and soaked through the floor of the tent.
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