Now I know they lied because I could easily see all the places where they had slipped and all those holes where their legs had fallen in hip deep. I have also followed their tracks, which clearly and without any doubt proved they had as much idea of which way to go as I did, which is none whatsoever.
I just got an email from one of those liars :) who said he was sending me positive vibes while I was struggling with the most bitchy pass of them all. This was the guy, who the night before told me, "Nothing to it. You'll be just fine". Never trust a man, I say.
|Disclaimer: I did not cross here. I went half a mile down to a nice|
ford by a meadow where water was still deep but much slower.
|Can't see much here? Well, neither could I. Notice the drop on the left...|
...or maybe better don't look.
I will get back to you on whether this was smart or not. So here I was vegging out at Guitar Lake on the west side of the mountain trying to decide when to do the climb. Some people wanted to go in the evening and spend the night near the ridge and head out before the dawn to see the sunrise. Some wanted to start in the morning and make it to the top before it got too hot and before possible afternoon storms. I, trying to be original, had to have this 'fantastic' idea of hiking by moonlight. Now true, the moon had been especially bright so why not, right? Well, had I looked at the map carefully I would have noticed that the way trail went would put it in the shadow of the mountain and I would not have much moonlight, but who checks the maps when the trail is so well visible even in the moonlight, right? Half a mile into a 5 mile hike, I was in total darkness. Out went my headlamp and for the rest of the ascent I had a tunnel vision of only what my lamp allowed me to see. For that reason I really, really detest headlamps, flashlights and so on but there was no way I could manage without it. By the time I got to the ridge the moon had set so I could not count on its light even there. Thank you, moon. I had done Mt Whitney twice, I repeat, twice before. How come I did not remember how challenging the ridge part could be? It is not steep but there are stretches of rubble, wobbling rocks with 2,000ft drop on the side of a narrow trail. Me doing that at night meant going very, very, very slow. I truly expected to see "you must be crazy" sign once I got to the top. Oh, and one more thing, but I actually think this was not that stupid, I dragged my heavy backpack with me, which made balancing more challenging. Most people, when they get to the ridge, leave their packs there hoping marmots will not chew through them. I decided not to do that because, see my memory and sanity are not gone altogether, I remembered how cold it could get on the top even when it is very hot below. I wanted to have my sleeping bag and all my clothes with me.