Mount Whitney Hike Part 2

Did you enjoy Mt. Whitney Part 1? I last left off where we finally got to trail camp, where we could finally take the gear off our backs, and relax.

qIn the time it took to set-up camp and filter water to refill our canisters, it was time for dinner. Freeze-dried dinners to be exact. This was my first freeze-dried anything. You can get these packs at Sports Chalet, and the veggie lasagna was actually really good. All you need is some boiled water, and tada! Dinner!

The sun was setting as we finished our dinner around 7:30p. The moon came out, and so did the cameras. What a beautiful night. But just after dinner, it’s bedtime. With the alarm set for 2am, we were in our tents with our heads on our pillows by 8:30p. From my tent I could see the very far off headlamps of people at the top of trail crest. That would be us in a few short hours.

After an anxious night of sleep, it was time to hit the trail. By the time we got going it was 3:15a. These photos are courtesy of Dane on the trip. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t be bothered figuring out night photos. The right photo is from trail crest, after completing the infamous 99 switchbacks. You can tell by the rising sun, it’s getting later in the morning. As we hiked, it was fascinating to watch the stars move across the sky. It was the first time I really understood how you could use stars to guide you.

These photos were taken around 5:30am as the sun come up. This is why we climbed this. Where else can you see this? This is the reward for all of our hard work climbing. Priceless.

As we got higher the sun got higher. Light filled the valley behind us and suddenly we could really feel the impact of how high we were. It was a hard 5 miles up.

At 7:30am, I reached the summit. There is a small one-room shack at the top, which provided a temporary shelter from the freezing wind. I can’t stress how cold the last 50 steps to the top of the mountain were, compared to the entire hike. It was gorgeous but unpleasant. I signed in the guestbook, which is a nice pat-on-the-back.

After 20 minutes of photos, we were so uncomfortable and we knew the trek back would be long, so we moved back down this trail we had worked so hard getting up.

Coming down the mountain was frightening for me (I hate heights), but I did it! Slow and steady. Only 1 slight panic attack, which was better than what I had been anticipating. We climbed down the 99 switchbacks and landed at camp, where we packed up our tents and loaded our gear onto our backs. We had to keep moving on, since we had just gone down 5 miles and had the 6 from the day before to complete. We made it to the car at 6:10p, meeting tons of characters along the way. Hikers are so friendly. We had a celebratory pizza dinner in town, and then it was a 3+ hour drive back to LA. I arrived at my house at 11pm (after being up since 2am and hiking 22 miles in the last 24 hours) and collapsed into my bed. Success!

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