Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summiting Whitney

Since moving to LA a year and a half ago, I have (ironically) been able to explore solitude in ways I never imagined or intended to. Although solitude was definitely not my original intention for moving here, my curiosity has allowed me to embrace and even enjoy the idea of being alone. I knew hiking the JMT would give me further opportunities to experience and explore what solitude has to offer.

At some point, I'll have to write about it, but it was nice to know I havn't lost all sense of humanity. I found connecting with people was much more of a hiking motivator than hiking to places. After spending a "zero" day at Muir Trail Ranch, I watched all of my hiking companions hike ahead while I rested for the day. I assumed I'd catch them in a couple of days.

As the week wore on, I was disappointed that there were still no signs of any of the familiar faces that filled the first half of the trail. Subconsciously, I started hiking faster and was putting in longer days in the hopes of catching at least one of my old acquaintances. At the same time, I had to remind myself to take advantage of the lessons to be learned from hiking and camping alone, and the opportunities to meet new people.

Two days from finishing the trail, I heard Erin call my name from the top of Pinchot Pass. It was great to see her and catch up on how the last week of the trail was for her. On the other side of Pinchot Pass, I ran into Gabe, Mike, and Keith who I thought were long gone. I was shocked and very happy to see them, and we shared a lunch together before pushing on. On the very last day of my hike, I ran into Sam, Pat, Robert, and Richard at the Whitney trail junction, 2 miles from the finish line. It was one of the highlights of the trail for me. I felt blessed to be able to summit with these guys since we had crossed paths many times in the first couple of weeks on the trail.

We enjoyed a beautiful, and peaceful hour on top of the highest mountain in the lower 48 and the terminus of the John Muir Trail. In addition, a wonderful feeling of accomplishment in that our goal of hiking the entire length of the trail was achieved.

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