Today started with an alarm going off at 12:15 am, but I was already awake. Today was a big day: it's Whitney Day!
Just 8.5 miles off the PCT is Mt Whitney -- the highest point in 49 states (Alaska has higher ones). Naturally, I'm gonna climb it.
We wanted to watch the sunrise from the summit of Whitney because why not? People in camp, some of whom did it yesterday, and some of whom were doing it today, told us it wouldn't happen. People had tried, leaving super early, and they'd all missed it. Oh well, we're headstrong and gonna go for it.
So that's why we were hiking at 1:00am -- it's about a 4-hour ascent, and the sun should hit the peak around 5:30am. Perfect.
Off we went, hiking by headlamp and the almost-full moon. After getting lost numerous times because the trail is covered by a field of snow, we started the climb. Toward the top of the climb, we could see other groups starting to make their way across the valley, headlamps lighting the way. They were too late, though -- they'll miss the sunrise! Not like us.
To cut to the chase, at 5:04am, I was standing on the marker of the summit, indicating that I stood 14,505 feet above mean sea level. At that moment, I was higher than every other person on US soil, except for a possible handful of people climbing mountains in Alaska. Neat.
For almost three hours, Peanut, Monk, and I had the mountain to ourselves, where we watched the sunrise and illuminate the Sierras. It was spectacular.