275/365: Up Forester Pass Way.

Saturday, August 7th, 20th Day on Trail. Much better today. Forester Pass, despite yesterday's absolute beat-down, went out like a bitch this morning. As usual, got up at 5:00, but had black beans and rice on tortillas for breakfast, which really helped. Made short work of the one-mile, 1000 ft climb as the sun rose. Pass was in a strange spot, not an obvious one, and probably not possible without some major trail engineering and building, done long, long ago to make it like it is. Once again, dropped into a whole other valley, like a new place every time. This one rolled down nicely, once we got off the crazy steep headwall of the pass switchbacks.

Navigating some leftover glacier on the way up the pass.

Happy to be at the top.

Headed out in the cold shadow of the south-side of the pass.

Ease of miles, and a good breakfast, and we had already decided to go all the way to Guitar Lake, previously a two-day plan, 17+ miles. The lack of passes and overall rolliness of the terrain made the miles relatively easy. Came upon Cookie as he was packing up camp a mile or so beyond the pass, a fun reunion. He still liked the idea of a sunrise summit for Whitney, and I figured if the group was into it, we would go for it too at this point. He also spoke of hotels and a 'proper' beer, which has got me even more jazzed about finishing earlier. I'm hungry and feeling quite beat, the feet are aching, and my hands look like I'm mining coal all day. Broken toe is doing fine, as it has the whole time, and red right ankle hasn't made a peep in a long while now, a week or more. Most aches are just the normal hiking pains, but it makes me wonder how in the hell I did this for so long back in 2001! Must have just thought I was invincible, and wanted to prove it. I also got quite a bit more TOWN TIME in on the AT, and that's definitely what we're pining for, real food and beer, and a shower. Of note, I still sleep quite well in the tent.

 The barren, rolling Bighorn Plateau.

After meeting Cookie, we pulled ahead and eventually stopped at a creek for lunch, after crossing the strange and barren landscape of Bighorn Plateau. Tres Penitos and Cookie Monster joined us at lunch, then we hiked out the final 7.5 miles to Guitar Lake. Picked up Wag Bags on the way in. Will be amusing to hike with my own poop for a day.

Clouds roll in over our dinner at Guitar Lake.

At Guitar Lake, Sunrise and Laughing Cloud were eating and we joined them. They hadn't planned on the 1 am start for a summit sunrise, so the group debated the rise time. We all wanted to summit together, but opinions differed on the sunrise part. The clouds were rolling in hard all around us, looking ominous, and that decided the rise time for us, 5 am, with rain being the sleep-in contingent. The rain question still remains as I write this in bed, as does the journey beyond Whitney, whether or not to press pass Trail Camp and on down to Whitney Portal or even to town, a hitch beyond the end of trail. Glad to be back with the crew for one last hurrah!

Only Cookie could find a hammock spot in a landscape without trees.

What's a group of Marmots called? This is unconfirmed, but my sources say it's called a SPRAWL. Now, according to one of my most reputable sources (he's on the lower left in black), a group of hikers is called a WAFT.