Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 15 : Whitney Portal

Sunday July 13, 2014
14 Miles Today
243 Total Miles

I never really went to sleep last night. Right after the sun set the wind picked up. Then it picked up some more, and it just kept picking up. Soon a gale was blowing my little tent this way and that. The women that were camped next to the site I setup on said the winds were strong the night before. I lazed around the entire afternoon. Like the grasshopper in Aesop's Fable. I wasted the day when I could have put boulders on each of my tent stakes. Since I didn't do that, the wind pulled them up one at a time. I would go out of my tent and find a huge rock and put it on the stake that came loose. Then I'd get back in the tent and another one would pull loose. Why didn't I put boulders on every stake the first time I got up? Oh, things are so much clearer in the light of day. I didn't think of that then.

The last straw came when the wind blew dust into my tent, gritty black dust all over everything, including me. I looked at my clock, one-thirty AM. It's time. I began packing my backpack inside my tent. I got everything packed, dusty grit and all except the tent. I was afraid that the tent would blow away when I got out of the tent and removed  my stuff. There I was by the light of the full moon. Pulling out the poles and laying on my gritty tent. I reached out and removed one stake at a time then I just rolled the tent into a big ball and stuffed it in its sack.

I went over and woke up Felix and Kevin. I doubt they were sleeping, they were cowboy camping and hiding inside their sleeping bags from the dusty wind and the full moon. I asked them if they wanted to summit with me. The three of us were on the trail to the summit of Mt. Whitney by two AM.

The higher we climbed the colder it got. I am sure that by the time we reached the summit I was hypothermic. I was so cold it seemed I couldn't get warm. It was hard to talk, I kept slurring my words. We entered the summit hut. It was already full of Russians. I squeezed in and put on my down coat and hood. And stood there waiting to warm up. It was five AM.

The sun was already turning the sky pink and orange to the east. I went out and took a few pictures and got even colder. Back in the hut for me. I ate a Clif bar and drank some water. I tried waving my arms and stamping my feet. What I really wanted to do was have a hot drink or better yet sit in a hot tub. No luck on either option. 

The wind died down and Felix came in and told me so. I went back out and took some more pictures. It was the most astounding sunrise that I had ever witnessed. The whole summit experience, cold and everything was the perfect capstone on a most incredible trip. 

The hike down the Whitney Portal from the summit is long and steep. I was really surprised to see how many people would make that ardous climb from Whitney Portal to the trail camp. It was really crowded. After all of the beautiful places I have seen on this hike I would rate Trail Camp at a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is Eeew and 10 is spectacular. 

1 comment:

  1. Reading each post one by one, in order I'm actually giddy as I reach the final post for the Whitney Summit! And it did not disappoint :-) SO beautiful! Thanks for posting everything it was so much fun to follow you through the wilderness from the comfort of my couch :-)