Days 43 and 44: Mount Whitney

Day 43:

Today has been long and tiring. We started the day with a creek crossing. The creek was raging, so we crossed farther upstream, where it was branched off into several smaller crossings. After some climbing we ran into more significant snow. We tried out our microspikes, and took some time to practice self arresting with our ice axes. In the afternoon we hit the junction with the John Muir Trail, and headed out on the side trip to Mount Whitney. While nice at first, eventually we were traversing a massive snowfield of slushy afternoon snow. The going was slow and tiring. The sites we planned to camp at were buried in snow, but some descending hikers told us of some nicer camp sites farther up the trail. It was long and tiring and scary once or twice, but we made it to camp at 13,400 feet in time to enjoy dinner and watch the sun set. We are 1.9 miles from the summit of Mount Whitney. We’ll finish the hike tomorrow. We went about 12.5 miles all day today, and we are exhausted!


Day 44:

We officially made it to the highest point in the lower 48! At the summit by 7:30, we enjoyed our accomplishment and the spectacular views of the morning hours before heading back down into the dreaded snowfield. We made quicker work of it today and were back on the PCT by around 1:30. We relaxed for a bit and continued on, hoping to get to the base of Forester Pass to cross it in the morning. However the trail quickly disappeared under snow, making navigation slow and frustrating. We also had 3 creek crossings, each rushing faster than the last. By the time we got to the third one it was afternoon and crossing did not seem possible. We walked a good deal upstream and then downstream, then returned to the trail to find a few other hikers looking for a place to cross. Eventually we found one, and we all made the crossing safely. The ordeal took well over an hour, and the trail ahead remains covered in snow, so we decided to camp short of our goal. This means we probably will not be able to cross Forester Pass tomorrow, but at least it allows us plenty of time to get to camp tomorrow and set up to tackle the pass at sunrise. 14 miles today, and we are sore and tired.