August 30, 2014
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Day 27 – Outpost Camp (10,370ft) to Whitney Portal (8,330ft),
Slept in a nice soft bed in Mammoth Lakes.
At 4:00AM a warmish breeze picks up. By day break a thin layer of clouds blankets the sky bringing about an amazing sunrise. The clouds build during breakfast and we end our 27 day journey in the same overcast conditions in which we began.
We get an early start, albeit not as early as yesterday, as we have scheduled a pickup at the trailhead store for 10AM.
Although we still have another 2000ft down, the trail is much less punishing than the section between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp – not as steep nor rocky.
The trail descends a narrow canyon of molded granite slabs under the cover of majestic pines, passing the occasional cascade.
To my surprise wildflowers are still going strong late into August.
With the easy grade and good trail conditions it take us two hours to complete the 3.8 miles to the trailhead and we finish the last of the switchbacks just after 9AM.
With an hour to kill we head to the trailhead store for a second breakfast. Even though we started the morning with the usual hot cereal, I’m starving, but not starving enough to even come close to finishing the gigantic pancake they put on my plate, or rather two plates. After weeks of paying close attention to the impact we have on the environment and how much food we are consuming, this gross excess feels offensive.
Putting the pancake matter to the side, we end the trip chatting with some new friends we’ve seen nearly every day since leaving Independence.
It seems sad to say goodbye to the trail but exhilarating to finish our objective. It’s been an amazing mental and physical challenge and worth every step.