It was a cold morning again, but less frost accumulation meant we didn’t need to dry out our gear before departing today. That was a good thing too, because the sun was significantly less prominent than yesterday morning. We packed up and were out of camp a little after 7:30am.
The goal for today was to at least get to Crabtree Meadow where the Mt. Whitney spur trail meets the PCT. We had a secondary goal of getting to Guitar Lake, which is a little further down the Whitney trail and a great launch point for an assault on the peak. The day started with a short climb and then a good descent down to Rock Creek. Before reaching the creek we entered into Sequoia National Forest and Pie got some good shots of spots the old PCT used to cross, including Siberian Outpost and Siberian Pass.
After getting to Rock Creek we filled up on water and ate our lunches and basked in the sun that had finally showed up between some clouds for the first time all day. It didn’t take long for the sun to retreat back behind the clouds so we pushed on, knowing we had a nearly 2000 foot climb to reach Crabtree Meadow from the creek. On our way up the climb we passed Guyot Mountain, barely visible in the shock clouds. We took a short break at the end of the climb behind a nice big rock that shielded us from the wind.
After our break we began another descent of about 500 feet down into Crabtree Meadow. Here is where the clouds began to release on us. First, light snow flurries. This initial assault from the clouds was not bad save the occasional gust of wind turning directions and bringing the flakes right into our faces. Soon, however, this light snow gave way to huge flakes that had every intention of sticking to the ground and staying for a while. By the time we arrived at the Whitney spur trail there was a thin layer of snow building on the ground. The spur trail leads from the PCT, through Crabtree Meadow along a creek for 1.1 miles and then connects with the Whitney Trail (the Whitney Trail also connects with the PCT but by taking the spur trail you cut out some unnecessary mileage). When we had arrived at the end of the spur trail, where a bear box sits, there was roughly an inch of snow that had accumulated on the ground. We decided that we were quickly losing our trail (which was becoming increasingly covered by the snow) and we also knew that Guitar Lake has no trees to use as cover from the snow so we hunkered down and set up camp under a tree in basically the only dry (semi-dry) spot we could find. We set up camp at around 5pm and as I write this at 6:30pm the snow continues and hasn’t broken at all in that time. All we can do is hope it gives way at some point and we are able to go up Whitney in the morning.