adventure, backpacking, bear country, Canon, High Sierra, High Sierra Trail, HST, JMT, John Muir Trail, lake, landscape, landscape photography, mountain range, mountains, Mt. Hitchcock, Mt. Muir, Mt. Whitney, nature, no clouds, outdoors, Pacific Crest Trail, PCT, reflection, rocks, Sequoia National Park, sky, Timberline Lake, trail, Trail Crest, trees, Whitney Zone, wilderness


Once we reached near Crabtree Campground, Mt. Whitney slowly started coming into view. By the time when we were close to Timberline Lake, small but quite exquisite, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States stood tall in front of us. It felt more like a wall that no one ever dared climb over. Of course, it was first conquered 144 years ago by three fishermen. From the lake, where camping wasn’t allowed, we were able to see Mt. Muir and Trail Crest as well. We took a break here accompanied by an old couple from Alaska, walking the John Muir Trail (JMT). This section between Wallace Creek Campground and Mt. Whitney is shared by the thru hikers not only of the JMT and High Sierra Trail (HST) but also by of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) frequently because the latter usually make a quick ascent to the peak as a day hike (technically by law) once they reach Crabtree. After taking a few snaps, we were ready to walk more to reach our next campground for the night – Guitar Lake.

Sequoia National Park, CA

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
  • 20mm / 14.0 sec at ƒ/22 / ISO 100
  • Taken 8/17/2016

© 2017 H Peter Ji


  1. Gorgeous view! I’m reading “The Last Englishman” by Keith Foskket about his hike on the PCT and I just read the passage where he comes across Mt Whitney. Thanks for illustrating my reading! And giving me yet another idea for one of those incredible hikes in the US!

    • Cool. I am glad that my photos help you visualize a bit. Watch for the next few more photos because I am nearing the end of this High Sierra Trail backpacking trip series, which ends at the top of Mt. Whitney (well, technically the trip ends at the Whitney Portal although the trail ends at the summit). The John Muir Trail also ends at the summit. And those thru hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail do the Mt. Whitney hike as a day hike from Crabtree Campground (you’d know where that campground is by now if you came across it in the book). I don’t know if the book mentions Timberline Lake, but the view of Mt. Whitney in the photo was taken there. After Timberline, it’s the famous Guitar Lake, where most of JMT’ers spend the last night before ascending the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. My upcoming photos will illustrate the section that I hiked from Guitar Lake to the summit as well as to the Whitney Portal, where JMT’ers exit (also they start if they decide to hike the trail northbound – just like most PCT’ers start from the US/Mexico border but some start from the US/Canada border). As far as hiking Mt. Whitney or other high peaks goes, you must train. The elevation gain isn’t a joke, which is over 6,100 feet (1,860m) for 11 miles (17.5 km), and it is a day hike. This day hike begins at Whitney Portal. And it starts at 3 am. Some starts at 1 am because they are slow going up. It takes more than 12 hours to complete the round trip (if you’re not too slow). If you are not acclimatized, you will suffer altitude sickness. Many have hard time breathing above 13K feet (because there are no mountains that high where they live!!!). So, hike regularly and hike in high elevation before attempting to hike the mountain. Hike the mountains where you can gain more than 3-4,000 feet at once. Many hikers from the east coast or midwest of the US have hard time summiting it because of that reason. They do not have mountains as high. On a side note, the longest and most well known trail in the US is the Appalachian Trail (AT), which stretches from the state of Main all the way to the state of Georgia. It’s the longest, of course, but thru hikers don’t deal with high elevations as we do, or PCT’ers (or JMT’ers). And unlike the PCT (or JMT), they don’t worry about the cold weather (because it takes usually 5-6 months to complete the AT) if they start from Main because it’s not cold once they are near the southern states. Back to Mt. Whitney… Those who live in Colorado, which has more 14’ers (above 14K feet high mountains) than California does (all of 14’ers in California are in the Sierra Nevada), train easily. We here in Southern California have three major mountains whose summit elevations are above 10K, and two of them are actually over 11K, so we train there to get ready to summit Mt. Whitney in summer. So, if you’re really interested in hiking it or any high peaks here in California any time in the future, keep that in mind. 🙂 Oh, by the way, I am going to probably do the PCT next year. This year, I am planning to do the Sierra High Route (SHR, for 2 to 2 1/2 weeks) and the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT, for 4 months). Cheers. 🙂

      • Thanks for all the insight!!!! Obviously, I’ll have to train to get back in shape at high altitude. Last time I climbed 14ers, and they were my first so I took it easy, was in 2013 in Colorado; I’d love to take time there to train for 1 month or so before summiting Mt Whitney and others. I’ll have to think about it… so many plans, so many dreams, so many places to go to…

        I’m anxious to see the rest of your pictures and hear your review of the PCT next year! I read about thru-hikes, they motivate and inspire me but I’m not sure I’ll go along one…
        I came back last October from 37 days walking El Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain – nothing in high altitude – and loved every single step. Thinking about doing another trail to Santiago leaving from the middle of France and following the Northern Route of Spain, it’ll equals 1.600 kms approx. Might keep that one in store for my 40th birthday in 2020! 😉

        Cheers to you and happy hiking!

        • Awesome!!! I spoke with a couple of friends of friends who have done the El Camino, and they were all excited talking about it. I’d love to do it. Oh, I don’t have to drink red wine every night… LOL I bet though it was just so awesome when you did it. Just like when I did the High Sierra Trail (HST) past summer, which ended at the top of Mt. Whitney, I really thought nothing could be matched. LOL Of course, now I am more looking forward to the upcoming trips. 🙂 When I get to go travel in Europe, honestly I could care less about the Eiffel Tower or anything like that (tourist attractions? I am sure it’ll be awesome, but…) All I care about is the mountains… LOL LOL LOL Anyway, maybe we should hike together some parts of any trail when I visit. Whenever that might be… LOL Who knows… LOL Until then, keep me posted on your hiking/backpacking journeys. And as far as my PCT trip goes, I’ll definitely talk about it. But you will also love the Sierra High Route, which runs parallel to the JMT but higher – hike hardly under 11,000 feet the whole time, and the Pacific Northwest Trail, which starts from the Glacier National Park and ends at the Pacific Ocean in the west coast. 🙂

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