Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 44, Happy Whitney Eve

Mile 746.5-766.4

Woke up and hit the trail, back to our usual time. No funny moody business today. We have decided that their is a new hiker holiday. Today is June 1st and for us it is Whitney Eve because tomorrow we get to summit Mt Whitney. So everyone is super cheerful and excited about life right now.
Everywhere you look are trees and meadows and more great views so finding a sweet breakfast spot is never hard.

Headed out past Cottonwood Pass and then stopped at Chicken Spring Lake. Our first official alpine lake (heck it's our first lake of any kind since day 2).

We are truly in the mountains now. I know that technically we have been in the sierra section since mile 700ish but today it feels like High Sierra country. The trees and boulders and everything just finally feels right, and the views just keep getting better.

Officially crossed into Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, our first national park. Lots of sandy trail making me work for those miles, but the view sure does help. Headed down and through the valley we had been looking at and then even further down to Rock Creek where we took a bit of an early siesta.

Decided to head out a little early so we could get to our campsite and get ready for our Whitney hike. Whitney is not on the PCT, it's actually a 17 mile off trail adventure when you leave the PCT at Crabtree Meadows. Plus there is a bear box near the Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station (big metal box to put food in so bears can't get it). Typically thruhikers stash all their extra gear and slack pack from there. Meaning just carry the bare essentials, a few layers, food and water. Boom you go from a 35 pound brick to a 7 pound feather. Long story short we headed out so we could set up for an easy morning (at least gear wise).
Lots of climbing and while it was sunny behind me I seemed to be hiking into a thunderstorm.
Pretty clouds to one side...

Darkness and thunder overhead...

Have you ever hiked alone in the woods while a thunderstorm builds? It's a little trippy. It all seemed quieter than usual and sort of balmy, makes you feel very alone. But at least the climb was shaded and I got the fun sounds of thunder to accompany whatever song I was mumbling to myself. Started raining and when I got to the top the rest of the group was there. Pulled out a little more rain gear and headed out grinning. Fresh rain smell and crazy views, plus I got to use my umbrella again. Good job chrome dome; sun, snow, and rain. You are a winner.

And then it was over and Crabtree Meadow was just a hop skip and a jump away. Following a great creek and then around a corner to find a ton of people. The most thruhikers we have seen on the trail in a long time. I love our little community out here. Sorted our stuff, chatted with folks and finally to sleep.

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