July 31, 2010

JMT Day 11

Summit panoramic from 14,505 feet - Mt Whitney!

Date: Saturday, July 24
Miles: ~15.5
Cumulative Miles: 222
Camp: Las Vegas, NV :-)

We woke up at 3:30am with energy and adrenaline – excited about climbing Mount Whitney and the last day on John Muir Trail! We broke camp within 30 minutes and started hiking at 4am... just as we hoped.

It was COLD, so we moved fast and climbed the 1600 ft to the trail junction in under an hour (as if we were wearing daypacks!). We dropped our packs and we both felt wobbly and weird without 25-35 pounds on our backs! Andrea flew to the summit while I struggled a bit to even keep up with her and not fall off the trail. The light of day started to break through the spires of the ridge as we were walking the 1.9 miles to the summit. As the summit house and sunrise came into view, my eyes blurred with tears for the final 200 yards. What we had just done really started to hit me. I'm not sure, even looking back in retrospect, how to convey what I was feeling at that point, but I sincerely hope that everyone has moments like that in their lives.

The sun coming over the horizon was one of the most unforgettable moments in our lives. The 360 views from the summit were incredible. We spent 30 minutes on the top taking pictures and soaking in the accomplishment of finishing (and freezing!). The summit house was used for a quick warmup before hiking back down to the trail junction. We picked up our packs with numb fingers and hiked the final 150 feet up to the trail crest, were super excited to see the sun on the other side, but not quite as excited about beating up our legs with the 6000 feet down to Whitney Portal.

It took us 5 hours to descend 11 miles of lots of switchbacks, but the views of all the mountains in that area on the way down were well worth it. As we got withing a half mile of the trailhead, I turned on my cell phone and was able to call my Dad and tell him that we were alice and doing well. He was definitely relieved and excited to hear from me! A few minutes later, we were standing at the Whitney Portal store... we had completed the JMT!!!

Of course, 222 miles of hiking would not be the last challenge... we got to Andrea's car to find that the trunk somehow managed to open in the days we were on the trail. Luckily, nothing was touched, but the battery was dead! We had to push the car out of the parking spot and have a nice Japanese man (with extensive knowledge of Toyotas thankfully) help us jump start the car. From there it was smooth sailing to Las Vegas to stay with my super awesome Aunt Kristie. A shower and shave never felt so good! We ate mac and cheese and ice cream until we felt sick... it was great! ;-) After a good night's sleep, we drive the 6 hours from Vegas to SLC on an insanely hot day, with the highlight being my first trip to Dairy Queen in 8 years. As much as we were relieved to have finsihed the trail the day before, I was already feeling like I wanted to get back on the trail by the drive home.

So... that's the day-by-day story of the JMT... but not the last of the posts. We have a video and some more retrospective thoughts that we'll be sharing in the next few days.

4am, lets roll!

Excited and cold!

Andrea getting a look at daybreak

Light starting to fill the sky

Here it comes

John Muir called this the "Range of Light"

Sun rising

We made it!

My favorite picture of the trip... this was a special moment

We took the long way, 211 miles, to the highest peak in the lower 48 states

Looking down off the east face of Mt Whitney

Summit marker

Inside the summit house, warming up

Trail Crest... now we were heading 6000 feet down

The views on the hike down, as the sun lit up the east facing slopes, were top notch

Whitney massif

This was another really happy day for us

Mt Whitney

Posing with Whitney

I liked the color contrast here

First time we could see the road since Yosemite!

Veins popping out of my legs

Leaving John Muir's wilderness

Looking back up towards the Whitney zone


No bears got our car :-)

But we still had to jump start the car

Reunited with the dew!

Off to Vegas!

Looking back up at Mt Whitney as we were driving away

SLC, here we come

First trip to DQ since the "incident" in North Carolina in 2002


1 comment:

  1. those cones look good to me...can't imagine how good they must have looked to you guys!