Mileage 21 (17 to whitney + 4 on the pct)
Mile 766.5 to mile 770.5
I wake in the morning and I’m fucking pumped. I eat a bunch of dark chocolate (thanks Egg!) and I get even more pumped. It’s really cold outside- maybe 30 degrees? But I stuff my things away with the others and we set out in the beautiful morning, brooks babbling, lakes twinkling, yellow sun spreading over the granite mountains. It’s 6:30 a.m. and we’re about to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. 14,505 feet high. We camped at 10,900 feet, and I don’t even feel sick from the altitude. I feel fucking STOKED!
We are racing up the rocky trail that leads to the granite peak, past all sorts of beauty and wonder. Light! Water! Twisted pines! Snow fields! Marmots! There is water trickling out from everything, seeping over the hummocky ground, tumbling down rocks into alpine lakes. The whole group is laughing, exclaming, racing up the trail. We are fast, we are strong, we are sunburnt. We are overcome with delight! We smell, as NotaChance puts it, like cat piss onions. We sleep on the ground, we need very little. We are thru hikers! We are here, we have arrived! It feels, now, as if we’ve always been here, as if we’ll always be here. What is there, but this? Loping up the mountain, past the day hikers with their ice axes and their laundry detergent smell, us in our filthy t-shirts and rangy calves, laughing in the range of light. Freedom! Transcendence! Everything!
We run into NotaChance halfway up, headed down- she decided to summit the mountain after all! She’ll see us in Bishop after all! Joy! NotaChance says that Twinkle and his sister are on the summit- more joy! As I climb I grow dizzy, lightheaded, I’m laughing and tripping up the trail. I decide to pretend that I’m drunk, that I did this on purpose. The Boss feels the same way and we pretend, together, that we’re drunk. We got drunk to summit Mt. Whitney! Why not? We reach the top with Sherpa, Guthrie and Woody. Coughee and Mack are already on top. Traveler and Tiny are just behind us. I get a big hug from Twinkle, meet his sister Monica and her boyfriend, who are very nice. We sit in a circle on the precarious granite slaps overlooking the entire earth’s surface and eat all our snacks, talk all over each other. Everyone is beautiful, dirt-smeared, and sunburnt. I love my friends! I love them all!
By and by we make our way down the mountain. Sherpa and Twinkle break off to scramble up Muir peak. I run out of water but don’t want to stop and get any. I start to feel fried from the sun. When we reach the junction where we stashed our stuff in the bear box I drink some water, eat some snacks without tasting them, sit on my mat and space the fuck out. We’d planned to do 8 more miles to the base of Forrester pass but we are all fried as fuck. We agree to do just four more miles, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. We gave all we had to Whitney, we’ve got nothing left.
We camp next to another beautiful stream in yet another beautiful meadow. We eat our dinners in a circle, laughing at the same old jokes. As the evening cools we crawl into our sleeping bags, feeling weary but content, perfectly held in the center of our world.
So many good photos!! On instagram.