But We Got Up Again
Beginning Elevation = 11,300 Peak Elevation = 11,400 Ending Elevation = 10,350
Weather: Sunny, high 65°F, mostly sunny
Sometimes when things get tough, I think to myself, what would Rocky Balboa do? So after the slugfest yesterday, I remembered some wise advice the Italian Stallion once gave his son (it’s quite possible I’ve already used this quote, I can’t remember after writing 65 of these posts 🙂):
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows…You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward.”
Much to our liking, the slanted tenting wasn’t as bad as expected. Sure, we both found ourselves sliding down periodically, but we shoved some clothes underneath our sleeping pads to make a bump that might help prevent that from happening too often. It was a bit windy, but wasn’t as cold as anticipated being as high up as we were.
After a super pack-free solo trip down the mountain to fill up some water, we were both ready to hike at 6:42am. Cheer and PopTop met us and we began. It’s amazing how much sleep can rejuvenate the soul!
Dad was rocking the pony tail this morning and felt a bit chilly til we got going. We spent a while in the shade of the mountain going through another flat snowy area with a bowl shaped cut up above. I really like the flat snowy areas hidden amongst the giants!
Always stellar views looking out.
The hiker-made trail led us straight across this frozen, but melting, pond. We chose to go around.
There were lots of melt streams as we descended further down the mountain. The general trend of the first 7 miles of the day was down. We were ok with this!
At our breakfast break we had two guys come chat before continuing on, Goldfish and Elusive. Goldfish is none other than Neil from Boston, the second hiker that dad and I met at the San Diego airport when we got picked on up to go to Scout and Frodo’s! It was very cool to see him again. We ended up seeing them throughout the day every so often. He’s the one with the green Osprey pack.
We got some more glissading practice in!
I loved going along all these melt water streams!
Down in the valley, things were very melty…
Around 1:30pm, we met a dead end at Rock Creek. We talked with Goldfish and Elusive about possible crossings, then watched as they did the butt scoot method across this log. We followed their lead.
Down stream a bit was this awesome waterfall..
Having crossed the river about 0.5 miles up from where the trail actually is supposed to, we made our way cross-country along the other side. Once back at the PCT, we stopped for a late lunch at this amazing spot. I was getting hangry, so it was good timing!
By the way, in case you were wondering…Yes, all these creeks seem to have trout them. Like lots of trout. They’re easily spotted just hanging out in the slower pools and from our best identification skills, we believe they’re Golden Trout, small, about 5 to 8 inches only. It was a difficult thing for Dave H and I to pass by these glorious streams and not fish them. I’m still hoping to give it a try at some point.
After lunch, we began our climb up…we’d reached the end of our downhill section. The first mile walk the worst, we went up close to a thousand feet in about a mile.
We forded Guyot Creek and had a relatively flat half mile before going up another steep section. I was super excited once at the top of it!
Then, it was a quick walk/slide down to this valley, which I think had my favorite views yet! Simply amazing. I thought it looked nice in black/white…
It was late in the day at this point. We’d been talking about our plan throughout the day, but here is where it really hit that things weren’t lining up quite as we’d originally planned. We still hadn’t met up with the others in our group and it wasn’t looking like we were going to make it to the tent site/rendezvous point – Crabtree Ranger Station at the base of Mount Whitney.
We assumed the others were behind us, but it was possible they past at some point since there were so many opportunities to take different footprint trails. We ended up going on with the intent of making it to the PCT/ranger station side trail junction. Cheer also used her Garmin GPS to message Calzone and see where she was at.
We were feeling the effects of the long day once again and the snow had long since been in poor hiking conditions. After about 9:30am it gets soft due to the sun and heat, and more apt to cause us to post hole (having our legs break through the top layer down to the knee or thigh). At the end of the day this was really a problem as we were going over snow covered boulders. Boulders and logs usually have soft spots adjacent to them due to their warmer temperatures, which sometimes cause hidden cavities. We each had our moments of frustration where we’d go up to our thigh in the snow. I even had a double leg take down at one point. Very thankful for no injuries!
Absolutely amazing views along the way though!
Here’s the team near the end of the day, having just traversed down the mountain behind. A little tired looking…
In the end, we trudged onward to one of my most favorite tent sites of the trail thus far. Definitely top 65. Just blown away! The first one is looking out over Whitney Creek (doesn’t look much like a creek right?) with Mount Whitney way in the back, and the reflection shown in the slow moving water.
Cheer ended up getting messages back and forth with Calzone and found out that she, Snickers, and Kool-Aid were camped about four miles back. We all ended up giving up on our attempt to summit Mount Whitney the next day. We had hoped to get about a mile further and there was a river crossing just ahead of our site. We didn’t get into camp until 8:00pm either, and in order to get up and down Whitney safely, we’d wanted to start sometime around midnight for nice crusty snow. So, wouldn’t have been much time to rest before the ascent.
As much as I wanted to summit Whitney, I had a sense of relief after the decision was made. It allows us to have a light day tomorrow, which we all needed. Plus, more time at this amazing camp site!