Mt. Whitney

Ready to embark on the Pacific Crest Trail’s (PCT) most remote and beautiful section? Spanning 400 miles (800 trail miles), the PCT within the Sierra Nevada includes the longest wilderness, highest mountain, and deepest Canyon in the lower 48 states. For long-distance hikers and riders the region is a pleasure and a challenge. Elevations range from 8,000 to 13,200 feet and for 200 miles the trail doesn’t cross a road.

The 35 mile (approximate) section we will be hiking starts in Horseshoe Meadow. From there we will head west, crossing rivers, ascending hundreds of vertical feet, crossing wildernesses, national forests, and national parks, going over passes, stopping at vista points, and so much more! We will eventually conclude our trip seven days later at Whitney Portal just west of Lone Pine. On this trip you will also get to say you climbed Mt. Whitney! The tallest mountain in the lower 48 states! If 35 miles sounds like a lot then try to think of it from this perspective. If you walk 2mph, then in 5 hours you will have trekked 10 miles! If you walk 1.5 mph, then it will take 6.75 hours to go 10 miles! We will have about 14 hours of day light each day to meet our goals discussed in the itinerary. With the remaining free time after our days hike, you are welcome to do whatever you’d like! Out longest day is 8.5 miles, shortest is 2.5 miles, and we will averaging 5 miles a day.

There should be plenty of wildlife to snap a photograph or two. Animals in this section include marmot, coyote, deer, various birds, black bear, and squirrels, just to name a few. Vista points are all over the trail. Looking for a meadow with wild flowers? We will pass by several. Glaciated lake shots? No problem.

Downloads

Final Brochure – 11-24-09
Dates are set and more information has been added. If you have already downloaded a draft copy, please redownload the final document. Dates have changed, more FAQ’s, paragraphs better clarified, sections expanded, and more. Plus the download is smaller.

My Gear List – 07-30-10

Some people have already asked what gear I was going to bring, what brands I had and/or am going to buy. The PDF above shows my current list, what I plan on having by the time the trip starts, and what food I will be bringing. Of course you do not have to get everything or anything I am bringing. It was intended to help get an idea of the weight and costs (retail prices listed).

Photo Album

Check out all our photos! Over 400 of them! Mt. Whitney Photo Album

The Story

(click on link above to view photos while reading story)

Day 1 – Friday

The day had finally arrived. After almost two years of planning and getting things together, we were on our way to climb the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states of the United States. The rental car was going to be a nice comfortable ride to our first destination; Horseshoe Meadow. The drive would take us through a windy road to Lake Isabella, then out into the desert, up Highway 395 to Lone Pine, and then ascend a few thousand feet to arrive at Horseshoe Meadow.

The drive took about 4 hours to get to Lone Pine. We stopped in a burger joint that is right next to Whitney Portal road. Great tasting burgers as they were going to be the last non-freeze dried food we would enjoy for over a week. Some people bought Elk burgers, but I just wanted to stay with the traditional cow variety. We were all now full of protein and carbs, which is a great combo for backpacking.

After finishing our meal we drove south on highway 395 to the interagency building to pick up our permits. The lady there was very friendly and wrote down a few more important warnings and rules we had to keep. One of those was something called a WAG bag. Basically there is a section around Mt. Whitney called “The Whitney Zone” where you are not allowed to poop anywhere other than in this bag. Oh but the best part was you had to carry your crap out of the zone. Most of us though we would hold it and not go until we arrived at the Whitney Portal.

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Permits in hand, we were finally on our way up to Horseshoe Meadow. The long switch backs and fairly straight mountain road made a quick ascent to 10,000 feet. It only took us 35 minutes from Lone Pine. Thankfully my dad was going to drive the rental car back home for us, so we didn’t have to worry about a vehicle the whole time. Here is where we took our first group photo before saying goodbye to my dad.

Now that my dad had left, we found a camping spot for the night. It was a $6 fee, which we were not made aware when we got our permit. I only had 20’s on me, so I walked around looking for someone to give me change. A forest service employee that was checking cars for food, as the area is known for high bear activity, was able to give me $16. Though it wasn’t full change, it was closer than other offers from hikers/campers, so I gladly took the cash and paid our camp fee.

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The rest of the time we either napped or relaxed to acclimate. We started out at 380 feet that morning and arriving up to 10,000 feet was sure taking its toll. Walking about 400 feet would tire a person. It was a gorgeous place to check out Round Valley and Horseshoe Meadow just up a way from the campsite.

Day 2 – Saturday

We woke up at sunrise. The tent Diana and I were in had ice between the rain cover and tent. When we crawled out, Joey’s bag had ice on it too and some moisture. We wondered if the rest of the trip would start days off with ice (thankfully that was the only night). Joey hung his sleeping bag and pad out in a tree for the sun to help dry. Breakfast was oatmeal for everyone that morning.

Diana was the first person ready to go. She put the backpack on, but since the rest of us needed a couple more minutes she found a fallen tree in the sun to warm up with. A few minutes later all the guys were ready. Our first steps towards our final destination were underway. We grabbed a group photo by the wilderness signs.

We had to hike 4.5 miles our first day. It wasn’t that bad at all really. We crossed a creek a couple of times, zig zagged our way up the mountain towards Cottonwood Pass. There was a lot of traffic going up and down the trail. People on horseback came up from behind and said they were going to Tuolumne Meadows! They must not be in any hurry. As we pressed on I snapped a few more shots of the scenery.

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Lunch was at Cottonwood Pass. The wind never stopped here, so we put on our wind breakers and jackets. The view was incredible and this was only the beginning! Lunch was aPromax bar or a meal replacement bar of sorts for other members of the trip. It didn’t take too long to eat.

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I have always wanted to walk on the Pacific Crest Trail and at Cottonwood Pass I was able to. Our final destination was Chicken Springs Lake. Only 0.5 miles to go and our hiking for the day would come to a close. The fox tail pines along the way were stunning. Amazing how they can grow with so much rock and harsh winter conditions.

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We arrived at the Lake around 1 PM and setup camp. Brian and Joey eventually went swimming. The cold water must have spurred more energy into them as they climb almost to the top of the mountain above the lake. They said they found a perfectly preserved fossil in one of the rocks. It was a leaf of some sort. Unfortunately it was too big to bring back so it still resides near the top of the mountain. The leaf was not from our currently elevation either.

While the guys were exploring the mountain, Diana and I relaxed a bit. We enjoyed the view and collected water for my Pocket Shower. Unfortunately it didn’t work as well as we had hoped. The wind did not allow the sun to warm the bag up so the water was still cold. Since we wanted to use some Camp suds to wash with, we needed to be over 200 feet from the shoreline. I think it was actually worse to use the shower instead of jumping in the lake because of the wind that followed.

Dinner was freeze-dried meals from Mountain House. Very tasty dishes and a great way to warm up. Joey and Brian played cards while Diana and I went inside the tent to get out of the wind that evening. It was an intense game of cards (both Diana and I would find out why later on the trip). We had no idea what they were playing, but wanted to learn tomorrow. It was sounding like a fun game!

Day 3 – Sunday

I was the first to wake up and set foot outside. It was a cold morning, but no ice or frost on our gear. Eventually everyone started moving, cooked breakfast, and packed up our gear. We had a 6 mile hike today, but it was going to be a nice easy hike. We were going to drop in elevation slightly. Our goal was to arrive at Soldier Lake. We hit the trail around 830 that morning.

Within 10 minutes of climbing up and out of Chicken Spring Lake, we were treated with a spectacular view of the eastern Sierra Nevada. To our south we saw Olancha Peak. As we scanned westward, we identified several known landmarks like Monache Peak, Coyote Peaks, and Big Whitney Meadow. I really felt small and in awe of the vast range of mountains.

Continuing down the trail always brought about another photo moment. Several times we would just look to our left to observe the landscape. The trail very easy at this point and I’d say we were moving at a 2 MPH pace without problems. An hour or so into the trail we stopped for a snack and had some fun too.

Siberian Outpost was a neat site. The way we were traveling the area wasn’t completely visible till we climb up a small finger of a ridge line. I had to take a photo since this was the same photo point I used in the itinerary. We took a break there for about 5 minutes before reaching our next point. Our next point or “over half way” point was near the Forest and Park boundary. It was time for a group photo before proceeding.

We left the PCT near noon and made our way north towards Soldier Lake. Our destination wasn’t far away now. Crossing through rock filled dry meadows, jumping from rock to rock in a creek, and passing a couple of lush meadows brought us to our final destination. It was going to be nice to be done for the day and relax once again in the afternoon.

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At first we were concerned when we saw the sign at Soldier Lake. The signed informed us the trail was close and no camping was allowed at the Lake. However, that was the west and northern areas that were closed. A not well-marked trail going east took us to a nice camping spot. It was well over 100 feet away from the lakes edge. It was on a small peninsula giving the lake a J to U shape.

Brian went to explore the two remaining upper lakes while the rest of us got in the lake to rinse off the daily grime. The water was cold, but warmer than Chicken Spring Lake. It was a relaxing time and the sun was really warm. The surrounding mountains did keep some of the wind down too. However, within a few hours that changed.

I had noticed some small clouds forming in the later morning hours. By now the area where we traveled from had become dark with clouds. We had a storm moving in our way. The wind was picking up, the sun was going away, and the clouds continued to build. Thankfully our location was the splitting point and the majority of the clouds went to the sides of us. Brian ran down the mountain to join us back at camp. That is when the weather surprised us all.

We could hear thunder occasionally, but no rain. Instead we were getting snowed on. The snow wasn’t sticking, but it was definitely snowing. It was exciting for a couple of us. However, Joey didn’t bring a tent. He was camping out in the open and on a sleeping pad. While cooking food, we tried to use rocks to make a shelter for him. The temperatures outside was dropping fast. Joey didn’t have a jacket either. Luckily Brian had brought layers so he gave him his outer shell to wear to keep in body heat.

A rock like wall was constructed for Joey after some time. We decided to play a game of cards in the tent. Brian sat out of the tent on one of the bear canisters while we played. Said it would be too crowded so he bundled up while the wind and remaining snow flakes passed. With the snow gone and the wind calming down, everything was going to be okay for Joey.

Day 4 – Monday

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The lake was like glass in the early morning hours. Everyone, as they awoke, went out to snap a few photos of the lake. Frost was on the eastern portion of the Lake. The marshy meadow area was half white and half green. Eating breakfast, packing up, and filtering water, we hit the trail down to Rock Creek.

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The trail was all downhill, so we did 4 miles in just a couple of hours. It was nice being adjacent to Rock Creek for the first mile. Nobody wanted to stop though as the mosquitoes were out in full force! It was a steep climb downhill, so we couldn’t move too quick. Then the land started to flatten out into a meadow.

The meadow was big a rich in a variety of green colors. Some wildflowers were out and Brian was looking for the Elephant Flower. We found some, but they were really small compared to what he was used to seeing. As we continued on the north side of the meadow, we came upon a large pond or small lake. A female duck was swimming along with her offspring. We stopped to snag a photo or two of the view behind us.

We continued on down the trail and passed the 10,000 foot mark. Being in the National Park, we could now have a camp fire! It would be the only campfire allowed on the trip and we were going to take full advantage of that when we arrived in camp.

We did meet some other backpackers. A group of elderly people were crossing the first “bridge” on the trail. The bridge was basically 5 small trees tied together. It did bend downward as they crossed. Once across we said hi and chatted for a minute or two. They were all fascinated with Diana’s hiking gloves and stopped again to chat with her. They all vowed to get some of them as soon as they left the wilderness. Another gentlemen ran into us about 30 minutes later. He had been out in the wilderness alone for 18 days. He went from Whitney Portal down to the Kern River on the JMT, traveled to the Kern Station, up to Coyote Pass and Lake, back down and up Volcano Creek. That is a lot of hiking to do and his bag was huge! Great conversation though as most of us were familiar with the area he mentioned.

We did stop for a snack or two along the way. One of the spots was at a fence closure. I had never seen a gate like this before. It was very nicely constructed and both Brian and I wondered if it was to keep livestock grazers out of the upper portion of the wilderness? We proceeded on after a minute or two.

Rock Creek campground was empty. Nobody was around, which allowed us to take claim to a campsite. I thought we picked out a great spot. We had the afternoon sun all day, it was near the main trail, and we had easy access to water. Brian and Joey went to check out the rangers’ cabin while Diana and I stayed in camp. Eventually the Ranger did come down to check on us and see who else was in the campsite.

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I hung up my shower earlier that afternoon and it was pretty warm compared to the creek water. I took a shower as well as Joey. Brian just jumped in the creek. He then proceeded for the next hour or so in his underwear to dry out. We had some good laughs with that because as he would close his eyes and be soaking in the sun, other hikers would come through. I shouted out a greeting to them and as they looked up to say hi back they saw Brian. Their heads pointed down on the trail, a quick hello, and a speedy walk out of there. We had a good laugh about it later when we told Brian.

We had a fire going all night, well, at least while we were awake. Collecting firewood was pretty easy. We just didn’t have anything to break the bigger pieces down to size. Brian and Joey decided to splinter them against the trees. Sure enough, it worked great and we had plenty of firewood. Joey got hit a few times when he tried it. We all had a good laugh when it did.

Day 5 – Tuesday

I woke up and started the fire. It was going to be our last wood based fire. If we needed to, we could use a stove to get some heat going. It isn’t the same though as a camp fire. There is just something about a nice fire in the morning. Our usual routine began once everyone woke up. Our goal today was arriving at Crabtree Meadow.

Our hardest part of the day was first thing that morning. We crossed Rock Creek and ascended up to Guyot Pass. The pass is around 11,000 feet in elevation and we were started at approximately 9700. Most of the elevation gain starts in the first half mile to last half mile. A good way to start the morning though when it was cool outside!

Once at Guyot Pass, we took a snack break. There was other hikers at the top, but nobody stayed for long including us. The wind was blowing constantly. With the food down and packs back on, we trekked down and northward to our final destination for the day.

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This stretch of the trail was definitely the dryest we had seen in a long time. Fox tail pines grew everywhere in the large sand and gravel size washes. After a mile or two, the terrain went into more boulder-like material. Shade was very limited, so thankfully sunscreen and long sleeves helped.

We eventually came around a ridge line that started to descend quickly into Crabtree Meadow. Our first view of Mt. Whitney since we started our trip occurred. It was inspiring to realize how close we were to our ultimate goal. Lunch was the usual Promax Bar at this point too.

Descending into Crabtree took some time. The trail zig zagged back and forth down the side of the ridge. Old triangle markers were left in the trees to help guide hikers in the snow. They were made of old license plates. I made sure to grab a photo since they are historical trail markers.

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Crabtree was beautiful and, unfortunately, crowded. I wanted to take some photos without people in the meadow. I was unable to accomplish this, but took some anyway. The peaks surrounding the upper lakes of Crabtree were breath-taking.

We planned on camping at the lower parts of the meadow. However, we decided to press on for one more mile to where the ranger station was located. Initially we got turned around in the middle of Crabtree. After about 20 minutes of walking around the meadow, we just proceeded on the main trail. It must have been a dispersed campsite trail or shortcut of some sort.

Arriving at the campground and ranger station was an exciting time. Some people were already camping there, but it was mostly great to take off the packs and relax the rest of the afternoon. We set up our camp and played some more cards. Four corners and crazy uno was the games of choice. The games went on until sunset…okay okay, they went on until we went to bed. In fact we were so involved into our games we had a visit from the ranger the next morning. Brian also played with his camera for some amazing night photography!

Day 6 – Wednesday

I was the first out of the tent and enjoying the cool morning air. The Ranger was patrolling around the camping area. He asked me if there was a party or something going on down here. Apparently he could hear the noise at the cabin. I chuckled, told him it was just an intense card game, and that we stopped around 9 AM. He smiled and was replied back with a surprised, “a card game?” I smiled to confirm and he found that entertaining.

Being shaded well by the trees, the remainder of the group slept in a bit. The rule was if the sun didn’t hit their face, they were not waking up to start the day. We only had 2 to 3 miles of walking that day anyway. It was a perfect day to take it easy.

The sun did eventually hit their faces and so we started eating our breakfast. After our usual routine we started on our way up to Guitar Lake. There wasn’t a lot of shade on this stretch of the trail. Climbing higher in elevation, the fox tail pines were becoming scare. Even the grasses and shrubs were decreasing in density as we proceed up the trail.

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Our first break was at Timberline Lake. The lake was really pretty. As we sat there we chatted with a couple other hikers. Apparently one of guys was doing the entire John Muir Trail (JMT). I wish I could remember, but I think he was on day 8 or something like that. He started on the west side and was ending at the Whitney Portal. I just remember being surprised by the amount of miles he must have been covering each day. His bag didn’t look light either.

Timberline Lake is an important landmark. Not for anything historical, but it is a good boundary marker to let hikers know they are entering the Whitney Zone. What is so special about the Whitney Zone? You need permits to hike into it and, what none of us wanted to do, you have to go to the bathroom in a bag. It is called a WAG bag and we never did figure out what WAG stood for on our trip.

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The break was over and now it was time to get to our final destination. Less than a mile to go and we would be at our final destination for the day. The hike up wasn’t difficult and breathing wasn’t hard either. We were used to this elevation by now so 11,000 or 12,000 feet wasn’t going to really impact us.

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We climbed out of Timberline Lake to the top of a small hill that went across the valley. Below this relatively flat hill was Guitar Lake. The only vegetation was grass. There were no trees. Somewhat surprising was the amount of backpackers at the lake. Both sides of the lake, northwest and northeast, had camps setup. The wind was constantly blowing and the sun was warm. We found a spot that somewhat hid us from the wind and setup camp on the northwest side of the lake.

The rest of the afternoon was relaxing, cleaning clothes, and enjoying the views. The two highlights that afternoon was fresh snow cones and swimming. Brian had an idea about how to use up his powdered drink mixes. Seeing snow across the lake, he took some pots and disappeared around the corner and to the other side of the lake. When he return, he found a good patch of snow that was safe to use. We all enjoyed our snow cones! What a great way to break up the normal backpacking snacks and foods.

About the middle of the afternoon Joey and Brian decided to go swimming in the lake. I was bundled up due to the lower temps and wind. I didn’t dare go in the lake, but they stripped down to their underwear and jumped in. I think other watched them from their camps. Brian had to do a dance around the shoreline to warm back up.

Sunset displayed beautiful colors along the mountain peaks. The base of Mt. Whitney is to the northeast of Guitar Lake. You couldn’t see the top at all, but we all stared back at the mountain thinking of what it would be like on top tomorrow. Apparently some didn’t want to wait and all of us were able to track them going up the trail to Mt. Whitney. I guess they decided to camp out at the top?

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We went to bed early that night as we were going to hit the trail at 5AM. I had read online about leaving then to beat the crowds up the mountain. We would all find out if this person was right or not soon enough. Playing a few rounds of cards, we crashed early and tried to get to sleep in order to prepare for Mt. Whitney.

Day 7 – Thursday

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At 4:30 AM our alarms went off. All of us had a game plan ready and we moved into action. This was the day we had all been waiting for. We were going to climb up to Mt. Whitney today. While speedily doing our usual routine, minus filtering water, we started making our way up the trail at 5AM.

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As we left camp, others were starting to wake up. Maybe half a dozen or so were starting their day. We broke up into two groups. Brian and Joey made their way ahead of Diana and I. It was cold that morning but after walking for 30 minutes the jackets came off. That was going to change about an hour or so later.

Whitney Zone from Hamilton-Guitar

Climbing up from the west side produces beautiful widescreen shots of the Sierra Nevada. Sunrise created some mirror like reflections in the lakes below us. I was trying to snap photos as we made our way up the trail. It was going to be a 5 mile hike to the summit. The first three miles would take us to the trail junction and 2 more would take us to the very top.

Whitney Zone from Trail Crest

About half way up the trail, it started getting really cold. I put my jacket back on, snacked on a protein bar, and Diana was soon to follow. The wind was picking up at around 13,000 feet. Our perspiration was not helping. We didn’t perspire much at all, but when we did we knew where. We took breaks too trying to reduce the likelihood of perspiring anymore then necessary. We did find some small flowers growing on the rocks. Other than those flowers it was all rock. The trail was in really good condition too for its location. I was impressed.

We reached the junction at 8AM. Brian and Joey were there waiting for us. I think Diana and I took a 5 minute break, dropped our bags there, and proceeded up the last 2 miles. You are literally walking on the sharp edge of a ridge at this point. Nothing was really nerve-racking for most of the trail though. There was a couple of spots that if you fell on either side, it would be your last hike.

We made it to the top around 1030 AM. The lightning shack was on top as well as a dozen other hikers. Brian and Joey greeted Diana and I as we made it to the benchmark, which indicates the highest point or a known elevation. We checked out the inside of the shack, watched Brian climb down the edge of Mt. Whitney for a few feet, and took photos. We had made it!!! It was amazing on top of the mountain. You could slightly see the curvature of the earth from the top. Visibility was great too. Sadly you could see all the pollution in the valley and desert, but it was still very pretty. We stayed on top for about 30 minutes.

The first two miles back down to our bags was easy, yet slow. A lot of people coming up to the peak would just barrel through you. I don’t know the proper hiking procedures, but I always thought people descending had the right of way, much like driving in the mountains on a one way road and coming across another vehicle. We didn’t mind pulling off to the side though. It just got old after a while. One advantage though is we had plenty of breaks and was able to greet people. About 25% of the hikers would actually acknowledge you as they passed. It was definitely feeling very touristy now and not like your traditional backpacking were fellow hikers would at least say hello in return.

One thing about our trip back to our bags that stood out was some of the individuals hiking up to the top of Mt. Whitney. They literally looked like a zombie, minus the decaying bloody side of things. Their faces seemed elongated, their skin pale, breathing heavily, and grunting or moaning as they walked. We would soon realize, hours later, that these were the one day hikers. They were going to summit Mt. Whitney and return to the Whitney Portal, a 22 mile round trip, in a day. It would make sense to us then as to why they looked so bad; they were not acclimated.

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Upon turning the final corner to where our backpacks were waiting, there was a group of people waiting and backpacks everywhere. We had to step over people to get to our bags. Apparently a guide was there was a group and getting ready to take them to the top. We were all surprised to see a guide taking people up there. After some discussion, we concluded the guide was making some easy money lol. Anyway, we grabbed lunch and proceeded down to east side of Mt. Whitney.

The section from Trail Crest to Trail Camp was the longest and tedious section of the day. The zig zagging and switch backs never seemed to end. Joey and Brian made there was down faster than Diana and I. After 92 switchbacks, we made it down to trail camp. This is where we were supposed to end our day. However, that was soon going to change.

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Trail Camp had a group of people staying there. Naturally this is where people would camp before making the last trek up to Mt. Whitney. The place smelt like a bathroom. The strong urine smell was bad. With nothing but rock everywhere, you can understand why it would smell that way. We talked to some people and heard Whitney Portal had a nice campground, burgers, snacks, and a lot more. The problem was nobody knew how far it was. Some said it was just 5 or 6 miles. The map I had said it was round 6 miles. Being only 12PM we concluded we could hike downhill and be fine. Brian and Joey led the way ahead of Diana and I.

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We were making great time. I was teaching Diana how to trek downhill quickly and avoid certain rocks. After about 20 minutes of me leading Diana took went in front of me and proceeded down the mountain. She was moving quick, going from surface to surface. We passed several people going downhill. About an hour or so later, we looked at the map near Mirror Lake. It was 3 PM and according to the map we had only trekked 2 miles. It didn’t seem right and we were a discouraged by such little progress.

We came to the conclusion the map was only accurate on the straighter portions of the trail. The scale wasn’t small enough to show the fine details and lengths of the switchbacks. This would explain why in 3 hours we had only moved 2 miles. We could do nothing else but press on down to Whitney Portal.

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Around 5 PM, we were down pass Lone Pine Lake. Completely exhausted, we decided to sit and rest for 20 minutes. We ate some food and just sat there on the side of the trail looking off in the distance. We had asked other hikers how far we had to go at various points on the trial. Everyone had a different answer and we were no longer trusting the map for mileage. As we were resting three hikers came by, said hello, and asked how we were doing. I asked if they could do us a favor and find Brian and Joey for us. We said we were fine, just exhausted, and moving slowly. We needed Brian or Joey to help with some of the gear so we could get down in time to eat. They said they would do there best and carried on.

We put the bags on our back and started down another long series of switch backs. The 20 minutes made a world of difference, but we still had to move slowly to not over exert ourselves. I would say around 630 PM or so, Brian showed up to help out. He took Diana’s bag to give her shoulders and break. We were down at the Portal around 730 PM. I saw a sign showing the mileage as we arrived at the Portal. Trail Crest to Whitney Portal was 11 miles! We had completed 16 miles that day!! No wonder we were so exhausted. We were not used to pushing so many miles, especially 11 of those miles being downhill.

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Brian and Joey had ordered burgers for us. They were the best tasting burgers ever at this point. Tired of freeze-dried meals, this was heaven. I saw the three hikers who told Brian to come help us and expressed my gratitude. I offered to buy them a drink, but they declined saying they were just glad to help. While we were continuing to eat a bear walked nearby. He was checking out the ponds where some fisherman were hanging out. Lol the bear cleared made enough people move and the pond was empty of humans. He never did come over to the building where we were eating our meals.

With our bellies full, we secured a place to camp. We loaded our gear in the bear containers and went to bed. I think that was the best night of sleep we all had in a long time.

Day 8 – Friday

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I was the first one to wake up and soon Diana followed. Brian and Joey were out cold still. We decided to skip making a breakfast and head up to the store where we had bought our burgers. They were open and serving breakfast. For $6 I had a massive plate of eggs, sausage, hasbrowns, and toast. Diana had the same. We couldn’t finish it all, so we brought it back for the guys. We did have to wake them up, which they didn’t like too much, but the food smoothed things over. Brian chowed down on “breakfast in sleeping bag.” We all returned back to the store when Brian and Joey were ready for breakfast.

To our surprise another hiker approached us asking if we wanted some of his food. It was a stack of pancakes. We said sure and took them. He helped clarify to us, before leaving, that this was one pancake broken into several pieces. All of our eyes widen and we looked at Joey. He had placed an order for a pancake just moments prior. When his order came up, it was the biggest pancake we all had ever seen. Naturally we had to take a photo of it to show just how big it was!

Joey’s dad arrived at 11 AM. Making excellent time driving over the pass, he helped us load up the truck. We shared stories of our adventure as we packed up. A final stop was made by the store for souvenirs and a group photo. Picture sharing and stories were talked about for a good portion of the way home.

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It was hard to believe our trip was over. The adventure was complete. We were all going home. After a year or two of planning, we had made it. Over 400 photos later, we could share our stories with friends and family.

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