Friday, August 16
Start: campsite near Deer Meadow (8875′)
End: campsite near unnamed pond, 1.0 mile before Sawmill Pass Trail (~10,800′)
Elevation gain: 6329′
After a lovely night sleep, I slept in and woke up at 5:40am. I was packed up and on trail by 6:30am. I climbed past Lower Palisade Lake (10,610′) and then upward to Mather Pass (12,100′). There was some unavoidable snow towards the summit and I had to climb around on some unstable rocks but I made it to the top without too much trouble.
I saw two young women who were hiking together at the pass and I started down maybe 15 minutes after them. I ended up catching up to them and chatting, and we figured out that while we had different campsites picked out, we were all set to be staying at Guitar Lake and summiting Whitney on the same days (Mon/Tues). We ended up hiking together for the remainder of the day, and I went 4 miles past my intended campsite (including going over another pass) to keep hiking with Emily and Cassidy. We had a quick lunch at South Fork of Kings River (10,050′) and then climbed up past Lake Marjorie (11,170′) to Pinchot Pass (12,130′). We then descended for a few miles until we saw a lovely pond and decided to stay the night here. We arrived at 5pm and had a lovely evening chatting; as it so happens, we’re all in the medical field and Emily works on two R01 grants.
I can’t believe I only have 3 more nights on trail after this; it’s amazing how quickly I’ve gone from wanting to leave to knowing I’m going to finish, spending time with trail friends the night before I summit Whitney. With today’s extra miles, I’ll better be able to split up Glen and Forester Passes; from here on out, my longest day will be 16 miles.