Thursday, September 01, 2022

2022 Mt. Whitney Day 5: Junction Meadow to Crabtree Meadow

 Distance: 9.09 Miles/14.63 Km

Time: 8 hours

Elevation Gain: 3060 ft/932.7 m

There were only a few residual clouds as we got ready to leave this morning after a breakfast of sausages and English muffins - fortunately the rain had mostly been early in the night and not returned, so there was only minimal moisture on tent flys and ground covers to be managed

Our path today was essentially one long uphill,  out of the Kern Valley and over a high meadow that would eventually lead us to our base camp for the attempt on Mt. Whitney the following day.

The morning hike was (thankfully) a rather gradual one, with a well laid out path and not too many rocks or giant steps.  Rain threatened throughout the morning, but hung back as we slowly wended our way through the rocks and pines.

Our lunch stop at a stream and meadow brought foil bagged tuna to which cranberries, sunflower seeds, and Italian dressing could be added with the hard crackers known as Wasa.  This was a fabulous meal - self contained in the bag, full of calories, and  - hey - crunchy carbs.  I may try to replicate this in my "normal" life.

Following lunch, we continued up and around, still heading uphill.  At some point we began to drift apart due to speed and for the first time on the hike, I found myself truly alone.

I also found myself rained on again.  Heavily, off and on, for about two hours.

The scenery at this point really started changing.  Gone were the underbrush and pines; what was remaining were the sequoias and rocks.  It was a stark landscape, made all the starker by the grey skies and grey rains that entered and left at their own whim.

At one point - the rain coming down harder - I simply stopped and waited under a tree for a bit to watch at the meadow below.  We were certainly not in any kind of hurry, and being an introvert, the time alone and with the rain - one of few sounds to be heard - was welcome.

The Sequoias were amazing. I had never seen them before in this abundance or size - at best if we have them at The Ranch, they are small spindly things, not the giants that loomed - living and dying - over me.

Our arrival at camp that afternoon was a bit complicated as the place we were going to camp was already occupied, so we ended up crossing the stream and finding a second spot farther on.  It was doubly complicated by, just as we were completing the tent set up, a downpour swept through that lasted 20 minutes  (and revealed some poor positioning of tents, as well as my continued lack of planning for rain) - but within thirty minutes of that, the sun was out and we had things hung on trees to dry.

Dinner tonight was jambalaya, a standard camp meal (easy to transport and prepare) and a mint chocolate square for dessert.  Everyone turned in early, both because of the rain and well as what would be an early start on Mt. Whitney the following day.


  1. Nylon123:07 AM

    The first five photos are a bit narrow, emphasizes the verticalness of the heights/trees while the last four shots are bit wider......hmmmm.... meadows.

    1. Interesting observation Nylon12. Some of it may be unconscious, but some of it is related to the fact that picture taking - especially on a hike with a group - is often pulling the phone out and shooting as quickly as possible. To that extent, vertical is easier than horizontal.

  2. Anonymous3:44 AM

    Those tuna envelopes are pretty nifty items to carry when hiking. Some of them have a respectable amount of protein (Star Kist Tuna Creations) has some flavors with 16g and 18g of it, Sweet & Spicy and Hickory Smoked for example. I crush some Triscuit type of crackers and stir the crumbs to make a substantial snack.

    1. I did not know there were flavored varieties available, but now I do! Thank you!

  3. Great photos.

    I stared at the elevation change number with my eyes wide for a few seconds.
    The closest we have ever come to that was hiking from the trail head to Vernal Falls in Yosemite and that was less than 2,000 feet of change.
    It was a slog.

    My brain instantly began singing, "Jambalaya, crawfish pie, file gumbo....." and I'd not even thought about that song for years and years.
    Now I'm listening to Hank Williams and thinking happy thoughts about my father because I associate that song with him.

    1. John, it is odd how "unreal" the elevation change is from day today. All you know is that you are going up and down. Every evening, the ritual was I was would ask The Outdoorsman "What are the numbers?" He would tell me, others would check their devices, and we would compare notes.

      Funny how words lead to memories like that.

  4. I really should try some of that bagged tuna. I've heard great things about it. Frankly, the canned tuna quality seems so poor these days that bagged tuna has to be better.

    1. Ed, I had not thought about it specifically, but you are right - I wonder if it because canned tuna is packed in water and the bagged tuna is not?

  5. Curious reading the above comments, I realized I didn't know how high Mt Whitney is, so I looked it up. I had no idea! Curious now (and maybe I'll find out in future posts) how you all were affected by the changes in altitude.

    1. The height was something I had hazily in my mind as "a really tall mountain". I did not realize until looking into it that it was the highest in the lower 48 states.


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