What an incredible week! I probably say that all the time but this time I really mean it. The High Sierras have been nothing short of magical. The scenery has been amazing, unless you’ve been here you’ll have to take my word for it because the pictures don’t do it justice.
After about 50 miles past Kennedy Meadows our friend Speed was finishing up a section of the trail and heading home. Boone and I hiked down a side trail with him and hitched into to Lone Pine for the night. Right before we got picked up we got caught in some kind of sleet/snow storm so we threw up one of our tents for cover. I wish somebody was videotaping it because we probably set a record, it was as if we had been training for that moment for months. As impressive a sight as I’m sure it was, it didn’t matter because right when we got that thing set up, a couple came by and picked us up.
Speed is a salty thru-hiking veteran and I hiked with him off and on for about 600 miles. He was our hiking mentor and not only would he keep up with kids half his age, he made all the logistics of the hike easy for us. He carries the lightest pack but always has everything he needs. One of his ultra light hiking tricks was to drop something when he knew I was right behind him, I would pick it up and return it to him whenever I caught up and for about 3 or 4 miles he would save himself an ounce and probably have a nice chuckle. Well done, Speed.
After the greatest breakfast of all time at Alabama Hills Cafe, Boone and I got a ride back up to the trail and pretty much just killed it all day to catch up to our friends. Boone is tough to miss on the trail. He pushes a furious pace while making purple women’s running shorts fashionable and wears a big yellow beard like he’s flying some kind of hiker trash flag. When we caught up to our friends they were at the base of Mt. Whitney and were planning to leave at 1am to get to the top for sunrise. Women thrive on the PCT and Prickly Pear, S+M, Tami and Schemes are no exception. This is arguably the greatest collection of badass female hikers on the trail this year. At least that I’ve come across. I could have joined them for the super early start but decided to go later, not because I was scared of the cold or anything, because I wasn’t.
At 14,505 feet Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 and is only a 17 mile round trip up a side trail off the PCT. There was no way I was passing it up. I got moving just shy of 6 am, put Chariots of Fire on repeat, turned up the volume and made Whitney my baby that day. I spent about an hour at the summit with a handful of other formidable PCTers: Boone, Nomad, Cat Lady, and Sweetums as well as a few hikers who came up from the valley. I took my time getting down and went for an invigorating swim in the icy cold Guitar Lake before pouring on 8-10 more trail miles that afternoon.
The following day we blasted up and over Forrester Pass(at 13,200 feet this is the highest point on the trail) and then took a side trail over Kearsarge Pass to get to town. I had a great day off in Bishop then picked up my resupply package(thanks Ma) and stayed a night in Independence. It was so much fun, we ran into Malibu, BK and Queen Bee so 8 of us shared a bunkhouse. I imagine it was similar to being on the Real World.
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