Today was one the most anticipated summits of a thru hiker's journey: climbing to the highest point in the lower 48 at 14,504 ft is Mt. Whitney. The Texans and I woke around 2am and headed out just before three. There are so many stars out here in the sierras. I sometimes really wish I could take night pics but can't. There were two creek crossings we had to do in the dark. It was super slippery since some logs and rocks were frozen over. We got to one of the alpine lakes and you could see the snow glowing faintly on the mountains behind it. It reminded me of Washington. Meg's ankle was starting to hurt real bad for awhile in the beginning. :( I felt so helpless.
We made it to guitar lake when the sky was starting to get light. It was amazing. The Texans were just in awe with all the snowy mountains around us. They've never seen such a thing before. I totally know how they feel bc the enchantments were the first time for me and I fell in love with backpacking after that. There were a couple snowfields to cross after the lake but nothing crazy bc you can just walk right on top of the snow since it was still frozen overnight. My feet were frozen pretty much the entire time. I just don't know how to make it better. We had to keep moving in order to stay warm. I took it super easy on climbing and made sure to take sips of water often. Meg started to feel a little altitude sickness. I had trouble breathing on the uphills.
When we reached the switchbacks, the snow was frozen still so it was easy to walk on. There were some patches of ice that were super slippery. The ascent was gradual with some steep sections, which is good to help you acclimate with the altitude. The views were incredible. So many jagged cliffs everywhere and it just kept getting better the higher we climbed. There were a few times I thought the Texans were going to turn around bc Meg wasn't feeling well but they pushed their way up. I would've been so sad if they didn't make it to the summit. When we reached the junction to the Whitney portal, there was still 1.9 miles left to the summit. So crazy. One way was 7.5 miles and it took us six hours!! There were never ending switchbacks. We put on our spikes when we got to the junction bc I thought it just looked more icy the rest of the climb up. It was my first time wearing my new spikes and they were pretty good. It was squeezing my right foot a little too much so I had to readjust a little bit.
The rest of the way up was just long and slow for me. I also took a million photos. I didn't feel like I felt scared or unsafe on the climb. There's a trail that cuts the whole way so the hike is very normal. We just had snow/ice covering the whole thing. My feet and socks we're pretty soaked the whole time too. I finally reached the summit and there is a shelter up there. It was pretty windy and chilly but not too bad since the sun was out. I heard you can get service on the summit and it was true. I turned my phone on and got some LTE and then it shut off since it was so cold up there. We hung in the shelter with some hikers before heading down. I wanted to get down ASAP since my feet felt frozen and I really hate slush.
The whole way coming down just seemed like forever. We had to take it slow since the snow has become slush already. We also passed many day hikers coming up. Some were even in jeans! Amazing. I also passed a few people who were walking all tired and delusional. So scary! And people were also coming up so late in the day. I don't know how they do it in slush. We made it all the way back to camp after what it seemed like an eternity. I was so exhausted and my feet/sciatica were hurting so bad. We were maybe thinking of going out a few miles to camp but we just couldn't do it. We hung around in the afternoon and went to bed early. I have a small headache right now. I hope it's not altitude.