June 16 (Day 46)

Chicken Spring Lake to Crabtree Meadows Ranger Station CG (750.8 to 766.9 + .6 miles to CG)

Daily miles: 16.1

At 4:30 in the morning a gust of wind came and smashed my tent like it was some little playtoy.  I crawl outside and try to get everything in order again and somehow manage to succeed and sleep until 8.  Nice and late for a frigid morning at 11,000 feet.  I’m slow this morning because my hand is cramped up from being frozen for so long last night.

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A beauty of a day with long ridge walking and open views of the mountain on all sides.  I keep trying to pick out Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48, since I’ll be climbing it tomorrow. So far it evades me.

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That is, until I drop down into Rock Creek to gather water and ford its thigh-high depths before climbing up and out and into the next drainage.  Then, I see the unmistakable spires of that tallest mountain and it’s compamion peaks.  It’s a site for sure, and makes me feel like I’m in the bona-fide High Sierra.

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Mt. Whitney in the background

Crabtree Meadows is there too, with a swollen river.  I take off my shoes and socks to walk across it, and the water chills my feet.  It’s a fine feeling.  Marmots waddle about in the evening light, doing whatever it is marmot do (looking for food to steal).

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There’s a side trail to the ranger station that traces the path of a stream lined with big old pines.  The light is low and the smell is invigorating.  I find a tent site among the trees on the edge of a meadow and make dinner in time to enjoy a windless evening with alpenglow off the westward facing mountains.  A great contrast to the stress and fatigue of the previous night.

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