Mt. Whitney attempt to Wallace Creek (mi 771)
I didn’t die today!
Fortunately, I tend to be cautious within my recklessness. I did discover a whole new kind of exhaustion and perseverance.
I’ve been pooped for a couple days. Somehow I made it to the ranger station 1.2 mi off trail from Crabtree Meadows, the staging area for a Whitney summit from the west. (the day-hiker way is Whitney Portal from the east. More snowy and sketchy at present. Anyway, these 3 guys Easy Strider, Scout’s Honor, and Jacob who I hiked with yesterday were off before 6 am, which I did not expect, Easy having mentioned their 8:15 start from Chicken Lake. Note to self: ask what time folks are leavin so you can join em. Also note to self: do not attempt a solo summit of the tallest mountain in the country outside Alaska, especially in a record snow year.
I did not summit, but I’m cool with that. I did practice my snow and ice skills though. Me and my ice axe are gettin buddy-buddy. It’s excellent that my confidence in ice skills is improving, though I did think to myself three times, “I don’t want to die on Whitney.” but really nothing bad happened, I worked through sketchy situations, used my judgement, and did enjoy some serious National Geographic scenery, I mean this was unreal!
My pics suck, and I didn’t take many, it’s hard to convey being surrounded by tall 14ers (14,000+ foot mtns) on snow, blazing sun as snow warms, alpine lakes… And MARMOTS! Cute buggers that can often get gregarious in wanting to lick your salt! Really. No, I’ve not experienced it yet.
So After all this snow wall traversing, rock scrambling, and glissading (sliding down snow hills on your butt real fast) I lay down to doze in camp an hour, then the boys come back. I join these guys and head out. It’s super easy hiking for a few miles. This is the John Muir Trail, he was a cool dude, google him.
I find Fish’s warm hat on the trail, poor guy, and wonder if the trail stays mostly snowless if I might catch him at Tyndall where he and Miscreant were planning to camp. Ha ha! Boy did things change soon! Major snow fields, difficult navigation, then we hit this cliff, what the heck? This was so not evident in our maps and elevation charts. All 4 of us tired and getting grumpy trying to find our way to Wallace Creek camp. We split up. It took me a long time to find tracks, the trail and unexpected switchbacks being well buried under snow. My gps wasn’t helping too much, but some. After this super long day, now I gotta snow slog down this insanely steep hill, or cliff!? Aaah the joy of survival. Then I make it past the first creek without getting wet! I found a spot with an island in the middle. Then Wallace Creek! And I can see a sign on the other side and holy cow I made it before sunset! A very wet creek crossing though. I worried about the guys and figured they must not have made it down that crazy snow cliff. Exhausted and aching, Tylenol PM and I sleep till 7 am. Aah.