/ˈzēˌrō/
(noun)
  1. No quantity or number; naught; the figure 0.
  2. A day in which no miles are hiked.

Whitney Day!

written Jun 7, 2017 @ 03:43 AM after hiking 3.34 miles

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.

Watching the sky brighten in the ascent, reminding us to hurry

We made it! Peanut gazes into the distance.

The sun is almost up!

There it is! 5:27am

Hooraaaah

We were treated to stunning, blissful lakes on the way back down.

After the mountain, it was time to hike! We had ambitions of going another 6 miles to a campsite, but those were quickly squashed -- not only was the snow far too soft, but we had a surprise ahead of us: our first ford.

I don't have any pictures of it because my phone was safely sealed in bags, but we had to ford through thigh-high icy water -- brr!

Afterward, we just gave up and built a fire to try to dry out our things (mainly shoes and socks).

A side note: you might notice that this post says that I hiked 3.39 miles, even though I said I climbed Whitney, which was a 17-mile round trip. This is because I only count PCT miles -- miles which put me closer to Canada. Whitney didn't do that, so those miles don't count.

Let's get this fire going