Day 21: Guitar Lake to Rock Creek (9.5 mi.)

August 17: Another beautiful morning.  I’m packed up by 8 o’clock, and after fixing my lunch, I’m on my way a little before 8:30.  For 2.7 miles I retrace my steps back towards the Crabtree Ranger Station.  At the first trail intersection, I take the trail labeled “Rock Creek 6.8 mi.”  The trail follows Whitney Creek down into Crabtree Meadow. 

In my first glimpse down into the meadow, just before 10 o’clock, I see a horse, but when I get down to the meadow it isn’t in sight.  The meadow is quite large, and I can see why Vic ended up in the wrong place in the meadow, especially given how hard it was raining when he got here.  (Vic was given a warning by the ranger for having the stock in the wrong part of the meadow.)

 

Near the end of the meadow, the trail reaches the PCT and I turn south.  The trail starts to climb and eventually reaches Guyot Flat, a vast open area where I take my morning break.  The trail surface is sandy, and the foxtail pines are widely spaced.  The glare from the light reflecting off the white sand is intense.  After skirting the flat, the trail climbs a saddle (Guyot Pass) northeast of Mt. Guyot on switchbacks.  There are lots of people here eating their lunch, but it hasn’t been very long since I ate my Power Bar, so I continue on. 

 

 

 

 

The descent starts on switchbacks, but soon the grade eases as it reaches Guyot Creek.  After crossing the creek the trail returns to switchbacks on the final descent down to the more thickly forested Rock Creek drainage. As I descend, I hear loud banging sounds and wonder about what’s going on down below.  I discover James breaking up large pieces of wood into fire-size pieces by whacking them against a tree.  It’s a little after 1 o’clock and I’ve reached my destination for the day.  Andrew and Mark are also here.  Andrew is out exploring the meadow, and Mark is reading a book.

Since I haven’t eaten my lunch yet, I sit down by the creek (9,600) and eat my lunch while soaking my feet.  I forgot to bring a book, so it’s going to be along afternoon.  Dina and Steve arrive shortly after I do; they’d stopped to eat on the pass.

When Debbie arrives a few hours later, she’s concerned that we’re too close to the stream.  After getting the warning at Crabtree Meadow, she wants to make sure we’re in a legitimate spot.  There is a bear box just across the trail (for the first time during the whole trip); there is a large fire pit that has been used recently; and there are mule droppings all around.  What other evidence could she want? 

Tonight is our last night on the trail, and Debbie has planned a grand finale dinner—roast turkey.  Given all of James’s efforts, we have plenty of firewood for generating the coals she needs to bake in her two Dutch ovens.

Vic and Harry arrive with the food and gear around 5:30.  Thank goodness.  I had visions of starting to cook turkeys at 8 p.m.  We all take photos of each other as we wait for the gear to be unloaded.  Then, while we’re pitching our tents, Debbie puts the turkey breasts on to cook and starts the rest of the meal.  With dinner on its way and our tents up, we all gather round the fire to drink and ruminate about our long walk together.

Debbie & Mark Debbie & Andrew James in his flip-flops
Dina & Steve Kris & Tony Me

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