Day Fifty Five: Mt. Whitney

The Prodigal calls it ‘Type 3 fun’. He explained:

  • Type 1 is fun to do and fun to remember, eg. playing with a puppy
  • Type 2 is fun to do and not fun to remember, eg. a big night out at a bar…
  • Type 3 is not fun to do, but fun to remember, eg. summiting Mt. Whitney (or so he promises)
  • Type 4 is not fun to do, and not fun to remember, eg. eating custard (I hate food that wobbles)

It currently feels like Type 4, but, you know… Maybe it will turn into Type 3 with time.

We woke up at 12:30AM and met at the junction at 1AM as agreed. The goal was to be on the summit by sunrise, which, after our 9PM arrival last night left me with three hours of sleep. And goodness, I’m not complaining – at least I can fall asleep at will! I doubt the others got nearly as much sleep as I did.

Sarah and Potluck were my two companions. I think Nemo is having tummy issues, and Jefé and Songbird had a crazy long day yesterday going in to Lone Pine for a resupply then hiking to reach us afterwards.

You already know the term zero: where we don’t hike any trail miles, and nearo: we hike under 10mi for the day. A hero is when you get in your hiking as well as doing the town stuff; generally, resupply, a meal, and maybe even laundry and a shower on top of that. Jefé and Songbird had heroed. Go you two!

A few others were scattered in front and behind of us.

The moon was still near full; headlamps weren’t needed, even though dawn was hours away.

I took my time. We all walked together, until maybe a mile from the top, where we started hiking more to our own pace. For Potluck, that meant going ahead at double the speed. For Sarah, she kept a steady march going and climbed on. For me, that meant taking a nap.

I know I was only maybe a half mile from the summit, but the cold was seeping into my bones. The sunrise had greeted me in a gap that dipped in the jagged cliff face, so I was able to watch it usher in a new day.

After that, I figured curling up in a crack under a boulder might do me some good: I could get a few more minutes of sleep, warm up in my quilt, and let the sun slowly thaw out the world.

I walked on/along the first snow I’ve come across on the PCT, and when I got to the top, I curled up between Big Bro and Potluck, and we napped together against the hut wall, sheltered from the wind.

By the time I emerged, took more happy snaps, and savoured my precious hot chocolate, we had spent a good tree hours on top.

The climb back down was scary, now that I could see just how far I’d fall, but I made it. And the path that wound by a river back down to base camp was one of the prettiest I’ve walked along yet.

Would I do it again?

Probably… But only because I’d rather tackle the challenge than bow out. Also, it sounds cool to say I’ve climbed Mt. Whitney.

Did I enjoy it?

Ummm… Not really. I don’t care about ticking off ‘the highest mountain in the contiguous US’, and I haven’t been that cold EVER IN MY LIFE. It wasn’t the best experience I’ve had out here – also not the worst – but it still is Type 4 at the moment.

At least I got some good photos 😉

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