Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 16: Mt. Whitney

Thursday, August 15, 2012

Guitar Lake (mile 217.2) to Whitney Portal (mile 232).

Today's miles: 14.8
Trip miles: 232

Last night, around 8 pm, it began to sprinkle. I thought, ”here we go again.” But, the skies cleared shortly after.

Around 11pm, the wind picked up and I thought, ”here we go again.” The wind howled all night long, but no precipitation accompanied the cooler temperatures.

At 4 am, I woke up, got dressed, broke camp, topped off my water, ate two bars for breakfast, and was on the trail by 4:54 am. It was a chilli, slightly windy, starry morning - perfect for hiking.

ready to summit!!
The hiking was rather uneventful with my headlamp on, but that all changed after 5:45 am.

the show is about to begin

I could not have had a better day to summit Mt. Whitney. Blue skies dominated as the storm clouds took the day off.

Hitchcock Lakes and Mt. Hitchcock 
surreal trail up to Mt. Whitney trail junction
very well maintained trail
Guitar Lake

At 6:38 am, I made it to the Mt. Whitney junction, where I dropped off my pack, took my daypack - essentially my clothing drysack stuffed with food, water and clothes, and made my way towards Mt. Whitney.

The trail to Whitney is super scenic, other-worldly, slippery and at times very sketchy - requiring some boulder hopping. This trail definitely makes you earn your summit. In fact, the entire trail makes you earn it!

Just before 8 am I summited Mt. Whitney. It was VERY cold with the wind chill making it even colder. My fingers were frozen solid in a matter of minutes. I took a few celebratory pictures at the summit, or shall I say, asked my new friends Laurie and Richard to take my photo, and was outta there.

the Needles...almost there!
no caption required
BEAUTIFUL day to summit a grand mountain! 
weather station atop Mt. Whitney with register just left of center
no door = too cold to hang out in the hut
During the descent which literally had the wind pushing me off the mountain, I ran into Dwight and Chris. Great guys. Congrats to them on their successful hike of the John Muir Trail.

left to right: Chris, me, Dwight
I hurried to catch up to Laurie after chattin with the boys for a few freezing minutes because I enjoyed talking away the miles with her. Laurie made the 11 mile, knee shattering descent to Whitney Portal pleasureable :)

Guitar Lake
Mt. Whitney junction
Looking towards Lone Pine with Consultation Lake right of center
rugged but beautiful mountains
the infamous 99 switchbacks
We even stopped off at Lone Pine Lake where she took a dip and I soaked my feet.

Beautiful Lone Pine Lake 
Lone Pine Lake - one of my favorite lakes in the Sierras
Laurie and I making our way to Whitney Portal after leaving Lone Pine Lake
At Whitney Portal, we ran into Chris and Dwight again who were enjoying a generous serving of cheese fries and washing it down with cold beers.

I too splurged and ordered fries (no cheese) and enjoyed a beer. It's a shame that just as my fries were ready, Richard and Laurie had to leave. I didn't get their contact info or a picture. Bummer.

I needed to hitch into Lone Pine to crash there for the night, and Dave, friends with Chris offered me a ride. Thanks Dave!

I checked into the Dow Villa Hotel and immediately took a shower. It felt so good to have hot water touch my skin for the first time in 16 days. That was without a doubt the longest shower I have ever taken.

There hasn't been much time for reflection as I spent most of the evening chatting with patrons of the hotel, and figuring out my ride situation back to Los Angeles tomorrow. Not to worry though, because that will happen in due time.

For now, I'm tired and need to sleep. It's hiker midnight and even though I'm in a hotel room and not in the woods, I'm still on mountain time.
”Your footsteps may not always be loud, but your footprints leave a silent message of where your soul has traveled.” ~Samantha Strosberg

posted from Bloggeroid


  1. Awesome trail journal - thanks for posting! Only eleven months and two weeks before my thru hike next year!

  2. Great trip! I will be there next year as well.

    1. That's great! Hope yall have amazing trips!!

  3. I am currently planning a JMT hike for next July and I am loving your blog!! I am planning on 16 days too. I'm from the East coast and have hiked all the high peaks multiple times so I am prepared for tough conditions and just have to really acclimate before. Did you have any regrets in doing 16 days? Did the pace work well for you or did you have a lot of free time/did you feel rushed? Thanks for all the information you've posted! I am excited to read through your blog!

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comments, Allison. July is a great month to hike the trail! Hope planning is coming along well.

      Sixteen days was a great pace for me - no regrets. I like soaking my feet in water (or taking a dip), chattin it up with other hikers, and stopping every now & again to enjoy the views while I hike & was able to do all of that. I didn't feel rushed at all.

      Happy Hiking

  4. Congrats on completing the trail. Great photos. I'm hoping to secure permits for this August.

    1. Thanks Gabi :) Good luck with the permits & happy hiking!