Day 66: Sunrise Summit

Mile 767.0 – 774.9 (22 mile day total)

It felt like I had only closed my eyes for ten minutes by the time my alarm went off. I thought to myself, How could this be? My phone must be broken.. It was 12:45am and my first waking thought of the day was Nope . . no thanks, which is never a good sign for what’s to come. If not for Rooster and Lt. Dan already being up and at ’em I would have surely fallen back asleep and missed out on my chance to see a sunrise from on top of Whitney. We started the early morning off by instantly getting lost from the trail, but soon thereafter  we ran into another group of hikers with the same ambition of hiking Whitney in the pitch black. Today was June 21st, the official ‘Hike Naked Day,’ and a member of this newly encountered group took that to heart and braved the conditions completely in the nude.

The trail crosses over a large field of snow nearby Guitar Lake, before going up on a seemingly endless array of switch backs. We all felt the urgency to push on and not take any breaks because we knew that if we were to miss the sunrise it would only be by a few minutes, every second was precious. We could see the glow from the sun as we neared the peak, and to our great surprise the sun was still yet to rise as we got to the summit around 5:20am. That morning the sun rose above the Earth at 5:39am, truly an image I will never forget.

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Early morning glow/UFO sighting
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Getting close!!
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Just before the sunrise

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We hung out on top for an hour or so, and after a few dozen pictures were snapped we signed the logbook and decided it was best that we got a move on. We ended up camping that night on a small clearing above the roaring Tyndall Creek, at one of the smaller legs of its delta just upstream. Where the trail actually crossed Tyndall would be suicide, so we decided it would be best to hike alongside the creek to hopefully find a better place to cross in the morning. The day as a whole was incredibly long, having hiked up and down Mt. Whitney followed by a not-so-easy hike arriving a few miles short of Forester Pass. I was hungry, cold, and wet but even under these conditions I fell fast asleep.

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