DAY 25: Sunrise on MOUNT WHITNEY!!!

Monday 16th September 2013: Guitar Lake – Mount Whitney – Trail Crest – Whitney Portal

The last day on trail… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! My heart is crying and big tears drip down from my cheeks before I am ready to get out of my sleeping bag. I don’t want this to end. This is perfect. This is what life should be ALL the time!!!
I force myself to get up shortly after Joe’s alarm plays “The final countdown”… It’s a bittersweet wake-up call at midnight. We have breakfast and coffee in the dark, though isn’t all that dark as the moon is almost full and lightens Mount Whitney and the mountains and rocks around it. OMG! In a few hours I’ll be up there!!!

By 1 am we are all set to go. So we go. With our headlamps on, it’s cold but we’re doing great. We’re about to conquer that great mountain and finish the JMT. By tonight I’ll be a JMT-thru-hiker!!! After 30 minutes we reach the switchbacks. As always I climb slow but steady. O those switchbacks up to the trail crest junction went smooth and I really enjoyed hiking in the dark with the moon to light my way! At about 3am we reached the junction where I left my bearcan, tent and stove and got ready to hit the final 1,9 miles up to the top of Whitney. The moon started to set and suddenly it was waaay darker. Wow!!! All those stars in the sky! Unbelievably BEAUTIFUL and intense! Luckely the others had brought bright headlamps cuz my petzl e-light wasn’t particularly bright enough to light the trail. Hm not designed for nighthiking that tiny lamp!
Somehow that second part of the climb felt way more demanding than the switchmbakcs… concentration big time!!! And o DAMN… it got windy and soooooooooooo freakin’ cold!!!
At about 5pm I finally reached the top. Thank god that hut was there!!! If not we would all have frozen our asses off!!! Joe wasn’t feeling all that well so he got into the downhugger and stayed in the hut.
As soon as we saw some light we got out. Jee it still took more than one hour for the sun to rise and it was SOOO FUCKIN’ COLD!!! But then there she came… WOW!!! An amazing red ball showed up on the horizon, slowly rising and gradually changing color from red to orange and warm yellow. The freezing and the getting up early and all those feet of elevation were worth it!!!
This is all way toooo emotional! AW MY HEART! I don’t want this to end. After taking loads of pics and loggin into the Whitneybook we went back down, now seeing the trail we had climbed in the dark. Not bad! Not bad at all! We met the first people coming up from the other side. What a strange feeling!
Back at the junction we got our stuff that we’d left there and got to TRAIL CREST where I finaly could feel the warmth of the sun getting to my cold and frozen bones. More and more dayhikers crossed our way and congratulated us on our JMT-Thruhike! HELL YEAH!!! I DID IT!!!!
The hike down, the switchbakcs, along trail camp…. seemed unendless! We knew this would be a hard day… and a hard day it was! I was hurting! Not only my body but also my heart!
I so much wanted to finally get some decent food at the portal, yet getting there also ment it would be the end of my wilderness adventure :c( Jeeee the trail after trail camp sucked like hell… Hard for the knees, feet… I stumbled down, dipped my foot in the creek (damn rigth… never slipped into a stream the whole trail and now on the last couple of miles… jeee!!!),… All of a sudden we saw the parking lot of the portal. I MADE IT!!! The boys got there before me and were waiting at the end of the trail. We hugged, congratulated eachother, took some pics and off we went: BURGERS; FRIES; SODA!!! HELL YEAH!!! We ate like as if we’d never eaten before! O that was so GOOD GOOD GOOD! Armand had his car parked at the portal and he drove us all into Lone Pine where we found a bed at a motel. Damn that felt so strange and wrong… sitting in a car, driving, no dirt under my feet ;c( My heart and soul were crying! Bye wilderness, bye JMT!!!



9 thoughts on “DAY 25: Sunrise on MOUNT WHITNEY!!!

  1. Sunrise on Whitney is really special, right? It sort of soothes that “Awwwww, it's all over!”-feeling.

    Thanks Cat, for sharing your story and all the amazing photos! They brought back a lot of memories and made me smile a lot of times…

    I'm already looking forward to reading your PCT journal 😉



  2. Hi Gert! Yeah it was bittersweet and amazing!!! O well I might just do it again when I hike the PCT ;c) 2015 it'll be!!! Finally I'm ready updating my trail journal. It took me quite a while always being accompanied by that same bittersweet feeling. The memories, the beauty of nature, the trail magic… yet not being able to be out there right now…. I miss the Sierra, I miss it a lot! Though I actually have nothing to complain about…Next year I'll climb the Teide on Teneriffa, hike the GR20 on Corsica and if I'm very lucky, I'll hit the northern part of the Te Araroa Trail in NZ next winter…. So there is so much to look forward to!!!! Wishing you some amazing hikes too!!! Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog ;c) Happy trails to you!!!


  3. Hey Helen!

    Thanks for sharing your adventures on the JMT. It was a pleasure reading your experiences and watching your photos.

    At the moment I'm planing the JMT for June/July this year and I have a question: how did you leave Lone Pine?
    From Lone Pine I have to get back to San Francisco and it's a quite long journey with public transport by bus/train. Do you have any recommendations?

    Enjoy Tenerife, cheers



  4. Hi Thomas, I was lucky meeting some crazy amazing friends along the JMT. One of them had his car parked at Whitney Portal and I drove home with them to Santa Barbara. The next day I took the Greyhound to SF. I did have a plan figured out to get back to SF from Lone Pine…. Let me dig it up (I have it somewhere in my journal) and get back to you ;c)


  5. Hi Thomas,
    this was my plan “back to civilization” that I had written in the back of my journal:
    *Lone Pine: 6:15am: ESTA/CREST Bus (at Mc Donalds, 601 S. Main Street, L.P) to Mammoth (changing Bus in Bishop): Arriving in Mammoth at 8:30 am
    * Mammoth: (not sure how late exactly but connecting perfectly with the ESTA/CREST Bus you came from outta LP): YARTS Bus to Yosemite Valley. Arriving in Yosemite at 1:30 pm
    * Yosemite Valley: 3 pm: Bus (guess it's YARTS too): Bus to Merced
    * Merced: Amtrak train back to San Francisco. Arriving in SF at 10:30pm
    It's a hell of a day but I guess it's doable…
    Anyway, I wouldn't worry at all getting back to SF. Probably you'll meet some people at Whitney Portal who happen to drive to Tuolomne or Yosemite Valley and you can just ride along and go on from there…. The trail provides, even if it means getting back to civilization ;c) Take care!!! Cat


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s