We drove from Reno to Independence and checked into the two cabins we had reserved at the Mt Williamson Motel. I highly recommend this place. Each cabin had two beds, a refrigerator, microwave, flat screen tv, and wi-fi. They also provide a good breakfast (English muffins, scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, hot chocolate) and a free shuttle to the OV trail head. You can leave your vehicle here for a small charge.
Day 1 - 8:40am to 2:10pm We chose to drive to the trail head. Up to Kearsarge Pass we went about 2,600' elevation gain. My pack weighed 38 pounds (my comfort level is under 30). We camped at the middle Kearsarge Lake hiking close to 7 miles that day.
View of Kearsarge Lake from our campsite
Day 2 - 8:40am to 4:00pm It took us 2 hours 40 minutes to break camp. We hiked on the trail next to Bullfrog Lake and this small lake just before we reached the John Muir Trail.
Nice view while going south on JMT near Bubbs Creek
We hiked about 9 miles that day and camped at a great spot about three miles north of Forester Pass.
Day 3 - 8:00 to 5:40pm This was a long hard day for us (we are all 60 or older). We started the day with the three mile climb up to Forester Pass with about 1,900' elevation gain.
Looking down on switchbacks up to Forester Pass
South side of Forester Pass going down
Looking back up (north) to Forester Pass
We covered about 11 1/2 miles camping at Wright Creek.
Day 4 - 8:00am to 2:30pm Our easiest day about 8 1/2 miles. We hiked past Wallace Creek and the junction where the PCT leaves/joins the JMT. Picked up our wagbags at Crabtree Meadow and headed up past Timberline Lake to Guitar Lake.
Guitar Lake (no banjos allowed)
We went past and above Guitar Lake about 20 minutes to campsites near two small tarns.
This gave us a little head start the next day. I took a dip in the tarn. We watched a couple of deer circle our camp for about an hour that evening. It was cold that night. In the morning there was ice on the trail and the condensation under my tent fly had frozen.
Day 5 - 7:40am to 6:40pm This was our hardest day about 12 1/2 miles. We hiked 2 1/2 miles to the Mt Whitney Trail junction - about 1,500' elevation gain. We dropped our packs risking marmot mischief (experienced none). It was a relief to go the 2 miles to Mt Whitney summit carrying only a water bottle and snack.
You can see the hut way up there on the summit
Top of the world!
We stayed on top about 45 minutes the only effect of altitude a reduced appetite. Down we went picking up our packs heading to Outpost camp for our last night. I was reminded of the big difference between the Main Trail and the Mountaineers Route - the endless switchbacks.
Outpost Camp - Four happy campers
Day 6 - 7:20 to 9:35 It took us only 90 minutes to break camp. We hiked the 4 miles to Whitney Portal where our very helpful friend Pat was waiting for us. My pack weighed 30 pounds. We all showered, had lunch in Lone Pine, and headed home to Reno stopping at Onion Valley to pick up our vehicle.
I was taking 125mg of Diamox twice a day starting a day and a half before this trip. While sleeping (camping) over 8,500' I suffer from Cheyne-Stokes Respirations. It's very uncomfortable and the Diamox prevents this for me. My fellow hikers did not take any Diamox and only had some diminished appetite.
Special thanks to Steve C - you helped me plan my trip and were invaluable in helping me secure the permits. And Harvey L - you shared info, pics, and your experience on this section of the JMT. The campsites you recommended worked perfectly.