Mount Whitney (June 5)

I heard someone stirring around midnight, packing their bags and starting off to catch the sunrise at the summit, but I did not want to get up yet.  I slept really well that night, warm with my sleeping bag liner and tent fly in place.

I woke around 0500 and got started hiking around 0600.  The trail led up to Mt Whitney, up along the creek to a few pretty lakes, including Guitar Lake.  It was a noticeable and pleasant difference to hike without a full pack- I only had my clothing, a few snacks, water and a few other things.  The rest was left in my tent, as I’d be coming by again after descending Mt Whitney.

It was really an incredible hike, the kind where I just kept stopping to look around on my way up, because it was stunning to have more and more revealed as I climbed higher.  More and more mountain peaks stretching oh so far to the horizons.  Alpine lakes below, beautiful deep blue, snowy patches, granite spires and crags, some mountainsides covered with pines and a deep blue, others stark brown or grey or orange.

Many hikers who had caught the sunrise at the summit started descending as I was still working my way up the mountain.  Each time I saw a friend and asked them, “How was it?” they inevitably appeared awed, and said, “Incredible” or “Beautiful”.  No one had bad words to say about the view up there.

It took me several hours to get up to the summit.  I took frequent breaks, but other than a mild headache, had no symptoms of altitude sickness.

The summit truly was incredible.  It is one of those places where you can walk around studying different pieces of the landscape for a long time, and not see everything.  Mountains upon mountains, and desert floor with more mountains, to the east.

A good friend was still sitting up there, when I reached the summit.  It was good to sit with him and eat a snack, look around, chat.  He pointed toward what he thought was Forester Pass, a climb we have coming up ahead.

In coming days, I really enjoyed having those views in my mind, and imagining where I was in all that landscape, as we hiked forward from Mt Whitney.  So small, amid all those mountains and that beauty.

I’m thankful to have seen that piece of the world from up there.

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