Thursday, October 17, 2013

day 27: 18th day on the JMT, descending Mt. Whitney and on to Lone Pine, CA

Viewing the sunrise on top of Mt. Whitney

 We woke up at 4:50 a.m. to see the sunrise.  We all bundled up (me, John, Vegas and 2 PCT hikers) in all the clothes we had and our sleeping bags and sat and watched the sun rise over the gorgeous Sierra mountains.  So absolutely beautiful and breathtaking!  A moment I'm sure I'll never forget.

John standing on Mt. Whitney at sunrise

Geological marker on top of Whitney

If you climb Mt. Whitney you have to get a picture at the top together

I'm wearing every piece of clothing I had with me in this picture

Looking over 2 vertical miles down towards Lone Pine in Owens Valley

The hut on top of Mt. Whitney

After the sunrise, we hung out in the stone hut that's on top of Mt. Whitney in order to shield ourselves from the wind for awhile.  We packed up our stuff, ate breakfast and got ready for the 10.5 mile descent.  John bandaged up my toes for the last time, we signed the log at the hut (for people who had summited Whitney) and off we were!  Not even two minutes into our descent did we start running into dayhikers summiting Whitney.  We saw a ton of them!  It was worse than Half Dome.  And everyone was asking us how much farther.  But it was hard to not be in a fantastic mood because we had already summited Whitney!  And we were on our (long) way down!  I was so happy, so happy for all I had accomplished and so happy to almost be done.  We had to descend 10.5 miles and over 6000 feet elevation.  Since I was so happy I also got a little naive and forgot how long it takes to hike 10.5 miles, even if you are descending.  We probably started around 7:00 a.m. and didn't reach Whitney Portal until 2:00 p.m.  That was the longest 10.5 miles of my life.  I thought they would never end.  And the last 3-4 miles my head started feeling really weird, maybe elevation change, maybe because I hadn't eaten a lot (I wasn't hungry mostly due to high elevation), I'm not sure.  But nothing was coming between me and a bacon cheeseburger from Whitney Portal.  And so I focused and hiked as fast as I could down never-ending switchbacks.

 Inside the hut on Whitney

John before we began the descent

Me before the descent

Down we go...

The spires on the way back down

Me coming down

Long way to go

One of the many switchbacks

Scenery on the way down

When we finally got to the portal I thought I was going to cry tears of sheer joy!  Oh happy day!  We were officially done!  No more filtering water!  We were going to have showers, cheeseburgers, clean clothes, a bed!!  Happy, happy, happy! And so we walked right to the portal store where we saw Vegas waiting outside. We talked about the descent, the food he'd already eaten and his plans for the rest of the day.  Then we both went in and ordered bacon cheeseburgers and fries.  And oh my goodness, they were delicious!  We hung out for awhile, bought a few souvenirs and ate some ice cream sandwiches. Then we walked towards the parking lot and attempted hitching a ride into Lone Pine.  Hitching is pretty common amongst hikers--just to get into town for supplies and whatnot.  We wanted to hitch into Lone Pine and stay the night because our ride (Kyle and his wife, Colleen) were still hiking until the next day.  A nice guy, his girlfriend and their 3 small dogs picked us up after about 10 minutes. They took us right into Lone Pine and dropped us off in front of a cluster of motels and shops.  Perfect!  We checked into the Dow Motel, called our families and showered.  Ahh, showering!  The water that ran off of me was brown.  I used so much soap and shampoo. And to shave, how nice!  Showering truly felt like a luxury as I hadn't done it in 9 days.

Heading into Whitney Portal, we liked to think of this tunnel as our finish line

Delicious bacon cheeseburgers and fries

Us after 18 days on the trail and not showering for the last 9

John's mugshot

My greasy hair

After we both showered we gathered all of our dirty clothes and walked across the street to the conveniently located laundromat.  Hobbled is more like it since I couldn't really walk.  We cleaned all of our clothes and went to look in a few shops.  After awhile John got a call from Kyle saying they were ending their hiking trip early and coming into Lone Pine. They met us at the store and we all walked to the pizza place where John and I ate all of our pizza and half of Kyle and Colleen's (after they assured us they were done).  I also gulped down two large cups of Coke Zero.  Oh my goodness!  So delicious!  We were so hungry, it was hilarious.

Looking up at Mt. Whitney from the town of Lone Pine, CA.  It was pretty cool to know that we came all the way down from that in one day.

After that we decided to drive the 3 hours back to Pasadena because it would be difficult for Kyle and Colleen to find a room where their dog was also allowed.  We arrived at their place in Pasadena after 1:00 a.m. and we promptly collapsed on their sofa bed and slept really well into the morning.


PamCakes said...

Love the pics after not showering! And those sunrises - wow!

Heather said...

I have to agree with hilarious to see the mugshots. Yay you did it!!