Cottonwood Pass to Whitney Trail – 16 miles (25 km) – 766 miles total.
We woke up early, like ridiculously early to try and beat the snow turning to slush and making the trail slow. We hiked out at 3am, which wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. The plan worked the snow wasn’t slushy, but it was still slow going. That is the new reality for us over the next month as we go through the Sierra. Even without snow the gains and losses of altitude each day are mammoth, which makes for slow going.
We thought that we would easily crank out the 16 miles by lunch time and get to bed early ready to get up early again to summit Whitney the next day, but it was 4pm before we rolled into camp. Admittedly we have a long lunch break at 10am in the morning but it was still slow going.
Just before our lunch break there was a river to cross, also our new norm for the Sierra, which can be sketchy with snow melt making them high. This one had a log over it, but it looked like the others were yelling at me to go up stream, so I did. However, this made me go through a marsh and then cross on two logs which definitely were easier than the other one but the other one didn’t look ridiculously bad. When I got to the other side, I asked what was wrong with the closer log, they said nothing. They were just shouting at me to cross not to cross up stream! Oh well. The crossing was easier, but grr for going through a marsh.
In the afternoon. I found a slope to practice using my ice axe to self arrest in case I slipped on the coming days. It was actually fun, when there is no danger involved to slide down a snowy slope. I practice first falling legs first, the. Head first on my stomach and head first on my back and having to get the ice axe in and flip around. I’m sure in the heat of falling it’s not as easy as it was on a gently, slushy slope, but I felt slightly more confident. At least the weight I am carrying isn’t just for show and I might actually be able to use it if need be.
At camp, we had dinner and then got ourselves off robed by 6.30pm to rise again at Midnight to attempt Whitney. Hopefully we make it up.
Today I am thankful for fun ice axe practice.