Miles 750.8 – 767.0 (+2 miles up towards Mt. Whitney)
Knowing that it was going to be a tough day, we decided to all wake up early at 5:30am in order to get a head start. Lt. Dan seemed to be in more of a rush than usual, taking off before anybody else had even gotten their packs situated. The three of us set out after him and almost immediately the trail turned to snow, nothing incredibly arduous but this would prove to be our first real test on the white slippery stuff. We finally caught back up with Lt. Dan about a mile just short of Rock Creek, and all reports had warned that this was the first tough river crossing the Sierra would offer. When we arrived to the river, at mile 760.5, we saw that where the trail crossed the river was not a good spot, that it would be incredibly dangerous to cross there . .
. . so we decided to walk a bit upstream and see if it mellowed out anywhere. After only a quarter-mile up we found where the river had a delta, and we crossed the couple of smaller streams that fed back into the one down below. Once we made it to the other side and bushwhacked back down to the PCT, we thought it would be a good point to break and eat lunch as well as dry our shoes before getting back at it.
Five miles after the crossing we came up to our first glissade of the Sierra. For those of you who don’t know what a glissade is, it’s when you slide down on the snow on your feet or on your butt as a mode of getting down. It’s good fun, but the first time you do it you aren’t sure of really how fast you might get going so typically one will err to the side of caution and go way slower than what is required to have a good time. This is exactly what I did, and after I made a vow that I would never let another glissade go by again without going for it fully and embracing the numb-butt. Immediately after this glissade we came up to another river crossing at Whitney Creek, a slow-moving but very deep section of river where we had to cross. The water came up to my chin at one point and trust me when I say that it wasn’t warm! Once we all got across we kept moving to heat back up, and just a short distance ahead was the junction for Mt. Whitney. This was a side trail, a trail that we would take all the way up in the morning to summit Mt. Whitney.
We set up camp two miles north from that junction, and six miles below the top of Whitney. Towards the end of the day Rooster, Lt. Dan, and myself decided that it would be really cool if we attempted to do a sunrise summit of Mt. Whitney. We had heard of others attempting – some completing so we figured why not us . . and set the alarms on our phones for 12:30am! Painfully early, but we knew that if we got to the top before the sun rose above the horizon to the east it would all be worth it. Pistons decided the night before that he wouldn’t be coming with and that he was going to take the morning to rest up before heading to Forester Pass.