Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mountain of Memories

Yesterday I tried to load a photo of some tomatoes that produced fruit after getting no water for 3 weeks and a message appeared. Picasso full. I wondered, What the heck is a Picasso? Only to discover all the photos I've posted here on Picasso. Cool. They are all there neatly in folders. A mountain of photos, I might add. Seriously. I had no idea I've posted that many photos since this blog's inception in 2008. I found out that to continue using this blog I would now have to pay to store more photos. It's only $2.49 a month, but still, I'm pretty cheap and what could be had for free is better than spending a buck for the same thing.

So, I decided to start a new blog over on WordPress.  I'm calling it a Mountain of Memories, because I realize that's what this blog has been all about.  Memories stored, but not forgotten. I plan on posting more photos and short posts of things to treasure.  But who knows?  These blogs sometimes have a mind of their own.  Mark's vision for our future is more travel, so it could end up being a travelogue, which might be quite fun. 

Honestly, I was tempted to just quit blogging all together.  This ranch blog has been pretty dry now for a year or two, but then I heard Bertha's voice.  Bertha is this wonderful  woman in my old hometown, and every time I bump into her or chat on FB, she always says she LOVES my blog. It makes her day.  So Bertha, a big part of why I'm continuing blogging is you.  :-) 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dan and Betty Came to Call

 Part of what we love about blogging is the community of online friends we've made.  Dan and Betty, of Dan and Betty's Place,  have been especially close because over the years we also began emailing more personal letters back and forth and Mark and I have really benefited by their prayers and wisdom. 

They emailed us quite sometime ago and asked if they could stop by the ranch for a few days on their West Coast road trip and we were more than happy to have them stay.  But it was a bit strange, because while we felt we knew them somewhat in a virtual capacity, we had never actually met them in the flesh.
Their cute little Mustang convertible next to our bunkhouse where they stayed.
Enjoying the Hot Tub

Betty and Dan at the falls

While I had a sense of Dan online, because he is the main author of their blog, I wasn't quite sure what Betty was going to be like.  Let me just tell you that she is a joy.  She has a very encouraging and bubbly personality and made conversation very easy.  She is also very courageous.  

 After we went for a horse ride she told me that it was her first trail ride since she had recovered from a very serious horse riding injury and that she had been a bit nervous, but felt like she had overcome a fear on the trail ride.  Trust me when I say she was especially brave because our horses had been running around their pen that day bucking.  I was a bit nervous myself.    Betty though is a trusting soul and got on Chica in good faith that she was a safe horse and they had a very nice ride together.  We all did.  Dan was quite the horseman and gave me a little mini lesson after the ride and I have some new things to work on too. 

We also gave them the ranch tour and fed the cattle and had lovely conversations together the whole time they were here.    They are a lovely couple and we enjoyed them and seeing the ranch and our lives through their eyes.  It was a blessing and as we continue to share our lives online, we will have a much fuller sense of who they are.  They are not just two dimensional photos and black and white text, but real people who are our friends. 

Have a great American road trip, Dan and Betty, and, hopefully, someday we will come and visit you in New Mexico.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Llamas

Odis, Tony and Steve
They've decided that they could pose for a photo, but if you look closely you can see that Tony has his ears back.  He is not too sure of me.  Odis, on the other hand,  came from the back side of the hill to check me out.   A few more visits, and if I remember some hay, I will be able to get him to eat out of my hand.  Steve just pretty much ignored me all together.  Most of the time he was grazing and the rest of the time he was looking off towards the sound of someone's music playing.  I would have to agree with Steve that hearing music up here is very odd as our nearest neighbors are not very near.  Occasionally it happens with a party, but Tuesday night is an odd night for a party.  Even in Humboldt. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Steve, Odis and Tony Llama

They are elusive beasts and don't seem to want to pose for a photo, but if you squint your eyes and read my title, you can probably figure out what made that footprint from yesterday's post.

Eric and Jo found them on Craigslist for free and couldn't resist.  They hope to use them for packing and have begun halter training them, but they are still pretty skittish.  Originally they lived in Montana and were rescued there from poor living conditions to sunny California.  The cows have adjusted to their strange looks, but the horses still don't know what to think of them. When the trio walks by the horses gather together with all their heads raised up with their hooves ready to fly. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Very Unusual

 The sunsets have been very unusual of late, due to the drift smoke from fires in Northern California.  Unhealthy air advisories are in effect on the days with  the worst smoke. 
I've also found some very unusual footprints on the ranch roads.  I think a new creature has arrived.  Any guesses?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What's NOT for Dinner

Our poor garden.  First the water timer goes out while we are away hiking and now it gets marauded by some equines.  The look on Mama Donkey's face is priceless.  Charlie Horse has made raids in the past, but this was her first time.  I should have thrown rocks at them, but I'm apparently pretty soft on crime as I just quietly escorted them out.  Of course, I was the one who left the gate open. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Preparing For the John Muir Trail

Hiking the John Muir Trail was the easy part.  Preparing for it took a lot of time and money.  Having never backpacked more than 5 days before, we were both a little surprised by the scope of the logistics.  We scoured the internet and hiking friends' brains.  It paid off.  We experienced very little trouble and we were well fed and comfortable most days.  Tammie was down one day due to what we think was mild dehydration.  She knew better, but got so busy enjoying the hike that she didn't keep track of her fluid consumption.

There are a multitude of choices when preparing for the hike, and our choices, are not by any means the best.  But we thought we would add our two cents to the internet mix for the fun of it.  Hope it helps someone.

Resupply Points:  We sent a small resupply to Red's Meadow and ended up taking shuttle to Mammoth after all.  Next time we might just plan on riding shuttle to Mammoth, cause it was fun.     We sent 2 six gallon buckets of resupply to Muir Ranch.  Ended up trading some food with other choices that were given to us from trail friends and other food  available in the hikers  leftover buckets.   When we were there, Muir Trail Ranch had 25 five gallon buckets full of food and supplies that were leftover from others. 

Conditioning:  Starting in fall of 2011 we began walking at least 5 days a week.  We began at about 2 flat miles and slowly grew from there up to the last month where we hiked 8 to 10 miles a day carrying a loaded pack up hills. We were glad we did as we had little to no pain on the trail.  If we didn't have easy access to hiking in the mountains a stair master and a treadmill could suffice. 

What we brought:

tip Get a postage scale at any office supply and weigh everything.  Make your choices with all the knowledge you can get.  

Kelty External Back packs:    We tried finding a new, lighter internal frame pack for the trip.   But they just weren't as comfortable and cool as our 30 year old external packs that weighed in at 4 lbs  8 oz.  We purchased new hip belts and shoulder belts (with load lifters) from Kelty for around 35 bucks for both packs. While we looked a little old fashioned, we loved the functionality of our packs and were never uncomfortable and had no problem hiking logs or hopping rocks.   We saw many hikers with ultralight packs and while some loved them, others were obviously very uncomfortable.  It appeared that if you go ultra light with a pack then you need to carry a very light load.  Packing them 35 to 45 lbs is not what they were intended for.

tip: use a pack that you are comfortable with; try them out beforehand.

Western Mountaineering Down Bags:  We replaced our 30 year old Camp 7 bags with these Cadilacs and loved them.  They both weighed in at right over 2 lbs.  Tammie had a Versalight with extra down in toe box, Mark had a Alpinlite with extra down in body.

Sleeping Pads:  Ex Ped 1 lb air mats.  Loved them and many hikers had them and loved them too.  Heard no complaints.  Super comfy when not over inflated.  Next time we would also bring small piece of foam to sit on or put at our tent door. 

Tent: We took a Big Agnes Flycreek 2 that weighed right under 3 pounds.  We loved it until the weather turned ugly.  Rain bounced in under the rainfly and due to the tent's narrowness it wicked through everywhere we touched.  When we returned the Big Agnes to REI and told them the problems we had they said that a tent rated for 3 seasons is not the same as 10 years ago.  They said we need a tent rated for 3 to 4 season.

tip: If you go with an ultralight model then you probably need to size up and in our case get one for 3 people so you won't ever touch the sides.  Many single hikers loved Flycreek 2.

Trekking Poles:  Tammie started with a pair purchased at Costco and they cracked on the trail. In Mammoth she replaced them with a Leki set and loved them.  Mark used an old REI set. 

tip:  You usually get what you pay for.

Bear Canisters:  Bear canisters are required on most of the JMT.  We rented a Bearicade Expedition. Fantastic piece of equipment.  If you let Wild Ideas know that you are doing a through hike they give you a set price, it was $55 this year, for however long you needed it.    We also shipped a second Bear Vault, that we own, in our resupply to Muir Ranch.  Not  crazy about the Bear Vault.  It is very difficult to open. 

Boots:   Tammie tried using New Balance trail runners during conditioning, but her feet got sore.  She ended up with  Keen Targue and added  berry Super Feet insoles for more arch support. These boots  were very common on the trail.  (She had some difficulty finding a pair that didn't have defects in sizing and ended up taking scale to store and weighing each boot separately.)  Initially Mark was using Targue's too for conditioning and loved them until the midsole broke down.  Since he was planning on carrying more weight on the hike he opted for Asolo FSN 95 GTX hikers. He added orange Super Feet insoles.

tip: A podiatrist told us to buy boots 1/2 to 1 size bigger  because your feet will swell walking all day.  We did and were very happy.   

Socks:  Tried coolmax socks and Smartwools and the Smartwools in medium thickness won out for the hike.  Tammie also wore liners and liked that the liners kept her socks cleaner and were easy to wash and dry.  We each started the hike with 3 pairs of socks and eventually met a lady who needed socks, so we pared down to 2 pairs, and that was sufficient.

tip:  We swapped out our socks every 2 to 4 hours to keep feet dry.  We would hang one pair on pack to dry (if it wasn't raining) and wear the other. Protect your feet.

Hiking Clothes:   We each opted for the lightest convertible pants we could find and long sleeve, quick drying, lightweight shirts.  We rarely zipped off our pants.  Pants saved on sunscreen and kept us cleaner.  Loved our shirts.  Mark wore a  quick drying Mountain Hardware with netting on the sides.  Tammie wore and lightweight Ex Officio.  Again, we liked the long sleeve because it protected us from the sun.  Next time we would add some type of lightweight fingerless gloves and then we wouldn't need sunscreen for hands either.  Tammie wore a  ball cap and Mark a  cap with a flap to protect neck and ears from the sun.

tip:  Lots of choices in hiking clothes and it really is just personal preference, just make sure you don't wear cotton as it doesn't insulate at all when wet.  

Base Layer:  We both brought 2  Ex Officio underwear; Mark's were boxer briefs  and Tammie's were bikini cut.  Tammie also brought an Ex Officio travel bra and a bikini swim top.  The Ex Officio underwear are pricey, but we loved them.  We could wash and wear again in a couple hours.  We also brought microweight Smartwool tops and polypro bottoms.  Next time we want wool for the bottoms as well.  The wool didn't get stinky and wicked our sweat away better.  Love Smartwool.

Rain Gear:   Mark brought Dry Ducks  lightweight raingear, and had no problem.  The pants wore through on the bottom from sitting on granite, but a little duck tape fixed that.  Tammie brought Sierra Designs Hurricane jacket  and found that it was fine in light rain, but during long days of rain, she got wet.  She brought her lightest Cabela rain pants  and found that they weren't too waterproof either.  In most years, on the JMT, they both would have been sufficient, but the end of our trip was unusually wet and cold.  She will opt for better rain gear next time. 

Other:   Tammie brought a silk tank top and a mid-weight fleece  and was thankful she had it when it got cold.  Mark brought a down vest   and tank top and never wore them.  He sent tank top home from Muir Ranch.  We both brought lightweight beanies and lightweight gloves and used them.  We both had  head torches and used them to read from the Kindle at night.  Mark wore a  watch with compass and altimeter.   We had fun tracking our elevation.  Each carried a small multi tool knife; Mark's was a light Leatherman and Tammie's was a  tiny Swiss army knife. One tiny deck of cards for rousing games of gin rummy. Also brought 2 pack covers for rain protection, we were very glad we had them.  Almost forgot,  each of us brought a pair of slogger clogs for camp wear and creek crossings.

tip:  Know yourself.  Do you get cold or are you most often warm?

Toiletries:   1 roll of toilet paper, REI small quick dry towel,  bandana, 3 oz. of sunscreen,  2.5 oz of Deet (didn't need it this year), 2 chap sticks with sunscreen, comb, ponytail holder, Diva Cup, travel sized toothpaste, 2 toothbrushes, 3 oz of Bronner's soap and a sea sponge for sponge baths.  (In our Muir Ranch resupply we sent replacements of consumables.  Needed TP and toothpaste,  everything else we still had plenty.)

Mess Kit:  We started hike with Steri- pen traveler and dropped and broke it.  We replaced it with the lightweight Steri-pen Adventurer.  Worked great, but  it went through the batteries. Only did 20 or 30 litres on a set.  Next time, we might opt for the new type water filter bags from Sawyer. We brought a Sumo Jetboil Stove and enjoyed the extra size for cooking meals, but could have got by on smaller jetboil pot.   Large fuel canister lasted  about 9 or 10 days and we boiled water 3 times a day. Brought back up small fuel canister, small foldable spatula,  2 plastic sporks, 2 Foster's beer cans converted to drinking and eating and sometimes cooking vessels.  (took top off with can-opener and ziptied hotlips on so we didn't burn our lips, attached a plasic ring so we could hang on packs)

First Aid/Emergency:  In a qt ziploc we put 4 esbit fuel tabs,  dozen chlorine style water treatment tabs,  1 space blanket, storm matches from REI,  Ace bandage, half dozen regular sized waterproof bandages, half a sports tape roll,  some duct tape, about 4 large bandages, 6 Spenco second skin bandages, some Aleve, Exedrin, baby aspirin, Vicodin, Senna, Benedryl, Imodium, a couple of anti vomit pills too.  Tammie also brought her vitamins and personal meds and tools for her lung condition.  (In our resupply we sent a few more first aid supplies.  We did not need them.  We added some Super Glue that a trail friend gave us though and it was the best for attaching a bandage to Mark's blister.)

Fishing Supplies: We brought a 5 piece fly rod and a small collapsible spinning pole each with appropriate lightweight  reels.  Honestly could have caught fish with just a hand-line.  We brought a couple dozen flies and a half dozen or so spinners and a couple bubblers for fly fishing with the spinning reel.  We fished almost every day up until Muir Ranch. At Muir Ranch we sent home some of our heavier fishing stuff and only brought flies, pole and line.  We didn't end up fishing on second half, as we just focused more on hiking.  Not sure what we would do next time. 

Water Containers:  Mark brought a 2 liter Camelback and Tammie a 2 liter Platypus.  Most often only carried 1/2 to 1 litre.  Lots of water sources on JMT.  Enjoyed having water hose to drink from easily all day, but sometimes it was difficult to know how much water was left.  Might attach water bottles to shoulder pads next time, then we would have easy access and be able to see when we were running low.  We also brought a super lightweight half litre water bottle, just the kind you buy bottled water in.   We used this for drinking in our tent at night. 

Food:  Food prep is vital and took a lot of time before hand.  Some hikers made the JMT their summer weight loss camp, but due to cold and wet weather this year, we heard a story of a woman who experienced 2nd degree hypothermia on Muir Pass.   Bring sufficient food as it provides energy and warmth.  A good rule of thumb is about 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs per person of high density, low volume food per day.  Aim for an average of about 125 calories per ounce of food and between 3000 and 4000 calories a day per person. 

 Examples:  We brought a couple cups of olive oil for every 10 days and added some to everything we cooked.   Pro Bars and Justin's peanut butter packs were  super dense foods that we were given at Muir Ranch from a trail friend.  In the future we won't hike without them.  For breakfast we had some fruit and nut packed oatmeal or some type of protein bar. We also repackaged Chicken Cup of Soups and added extra dehydrated vegis to them for our lunch as well as adding a little hot chilli or taco sauce packet to spice things up.  For dinners we used mostly Mountain House dehydrated foods and added extra instant rice or instant mashed potatoes to the repackaged dinners in gallon ziplocs (otherwise the calories were insufficient for 2 people).   Farmhouse's angel haired Parmesan pasta was good (with added dry milk, cremora and Parmesan packet).  We also enjoyed dehydrated refried and black beans with added taco sauce packets.   Small bagels were brought for first 2 legs of our journey and tortillas for the last section.    Trail mix, corn nuts, jerky, snickers, jolly ranchers, and a variety of protein bars filled in during the day.  We tried to snack on  about 100 calories every hour we hiked.  It kept our sugar levels from falling. We just carried some snacks in our shirt pockets and hiked while we snacked.  We were really happy this way.

How much Weight we Carried:
We were obviously not ultralight hikers, but for us it worked.   Leaving Tuolumne, Tammie's pack was at 23 lbs with a liter of water, (since Mark was able to carry all the food).  She weighed her pack as she left Muir Ranch and it weighed in at 31 lbs with the Bear Vault full of food attached. (Some of their items had been sent home).   Mark's base weight was 24 lbs with liter of water.  When he left Tuolumne his pack weighed 41 lbs. and  when he left  Muir Ranch it  weighed in at 47.  (We don't have weights from leaving Red's Meadow).
Thankfully the food weight  fell by  3 to 4 lbs every day. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

John Muir Trail: Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley

Tuolumne to Upper Cathedral lake
About 5 miles

Last night in Lone Pine we realized that the hike just didn't feel done and that since we had food left we might as well hike the section that we missed in the beginning.  We have hiked that section in the past, but thought it would be fun to do it again via Cloud's Rest which we hadn't been on.  Rode the Eastern Transit 6:15 AM bus to Bishop.  Then one from Bishop to Mammoth and then on Yarts to Tuolumne. The buses all connected seamlessly.   British John was on the Yarts bus and I found out why Mark visited all afternoon the previous day.  It's the accent.... that and he has hiked all over the world.  Interesting man.

We grabbed a permit from the same ranger station we had been at 3 weeks before and after stopping off at the grill for some lunch, we hit the trail.  It felt good to be back in Yosemite.  Love this place.  Upper Cathedral lakes as lovely as always and we didn't have any rain.  Clouds and a little thunder was all.

Leaving the ranger station
These little wandering asters were along the whole JMT
Lovely Dome that I can't remember name of

Cathedral Peak

Upper Cathedral Lake  (check out the face)

Upper Cathedral Lake to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley (via Cloud's Rest)
About 21 miles

Met about 6 couples/groups that were starting their JMT hike.  It was fun to encourage them and share our bit of trail lore.  Incredible views from Cloud's Rest.  Thankful that AJ  had told us it was one of his favorite views on the whole trail.  Loved hiking down into the valley that feels like home.  We got married here 32 years ago and have camped and backpacked and hiked these trails our entire lives.   Finally felt like a fitting ending to our wonderful hike.  The day was probably over 15 miles of downhill, we were really thankful for strong knees and trekking poles.  The trekking poles have been incredibly helpful. After having a man snap our photo at our finish we hopped on the shuttle to go get some pizza and beer. 

Walking the ridge to the top

Looking east
Top of Cloud's Rest

Half Dome

Nevada Falls


Monday, August 27, 2012

John Muir Trail: Twin Lakes area to Mount Whitney

Pond above Twin Lakes to 2nd Creek above Wood's Crossing
Approximately 6 miles

Bad Day.  Couldn't make our planned camping destination.  I woke up very tired and never improved.  Hiking down along rocky, but  beautiful Wood's creek (with marble swimming holes) was doable, but after we crossed the suspension bridge and headed up it was another story.  I began staggering and then my stomach started cramping.  Tears soon followed and I wondered how I got so weak.  We stopped at 2nd small stream that crossed the trail, and Mark threw up the tent.   I slept most of the afternoon, while Mark tended a small fire under a steady drizzle of rain.  I woke up to small offerings outside our tent from concerned trail friends that had passed by, probably won't see them again.

The Pond we camped at.

Wood's Creek Waterfall

Pack String

Suspension bridge over Wood's Creek
Creek to Upper Rae Lake
Approximately 4 miles

Beautiful, bright sunny morning hike to Upper Rae Lake. Got there around 11 am and visited with Ben and Jessica that we had met in Mammoth.  They were running short on fuel for their jet boil, so we gave them our spare.  His sister was meeting them at nearby Kearsage pass with a resupply, so they are going to leave us some electrolytes and coffee at a bear box in Vidette Meadow.  Yay.  We lost our electrolytes somewhere after Mather and we drank more coffee than I had rationed for.  Gotta have my coffee.  About noon the thunder began and then rain.  Made the decision to stay on this side of pass.  We popped our tent up and spent a long, long, long afternoon sleeping, playing gin rummy and reading on the kindle.  Rain, sleet and thunder stopped at 6:30 and we had tea and dinner.  Rae Lakes are spectacular.  Painted mountains all around, deep blue crystal clear water and many fish jumping.    We hope I am completely back to speed tomorrow.  Oh,  yea, cut my thumb today and got to use steri strips.  Some people just shouldn't handle knives

All of the following photos are Rae Lakes:
Looking south at lunch 

Looking north at lunch

Weird light during storm


About 10 miles
Rae Lake to Center Basin Creek

Wonderful day.  Up and over Glen Pass in an hour and a half including time spent scanning for big horn sheep.  Didn't see any, but it sure did help our breathing.  Had our tent up by 2:30, right before the afternoon thunderstorm.  Much smaller storm today.  The canyon we hiked today is lovely.  Nice change.  Creek's gurgled, bird's sang, flower's smiled and the pine tree's waved.  Mid-day we stopped in Vidette Meadow area and got the coffee and electrolytes that Ben and Jessica left us and dried all of our gear that was still a bit damp from yesterday.  Had a dip in the creek.  Nervous about Forester Pass tomorrow.

Glen Pass

Smiling Flower

Only saw these flowers this one time

View up the canyon towards Forester Pass

About 18 miles
Center Basin Creek to Crab Tree Ranger Station

Exhilarating day.  Forester may be tall at over 13,000 feet, but the trail from the north is so evenly graded that it was a walk in the park.  Sang praise songs to our maker as we hiked.  Glorious.  We got our photo snapped on top by a Latino young man from LA who is part of some Society of Outdoorsmen.  He had a crazy twirling mustache.  The switchbacks on the other side were steep and we flew down them like we had wings.  The open plain below is dotted with tarns and all at 12,000 feet.  Weird to be so high and yet everything was basically flat.  The Outdoorsmen passed us as it started to lightly rain and we put on our rain jackets and pack covers and then it hailed like crazy!  We should have put on our rain pants too as we were soaked and freezing in what seemed like seconds.  Took off walking fast as possible to stay warm and I kept shoving trail mix in my mouth to heat up from the inside.  Eventually, found some tree and rock cover and pulled off wet bottoms and put on rain pants.  Rained and misted all day and we kept hiking to stay warm.  Big horn plateau is striking, we would have loved to have had time to enjoy it, but as it was, we raced across due to lightening.  Met Lonnie and her dad by Wallace Creek.  Lonnie has hiked over 180 miles in her flip flops as she got blisters from her shoes.  She is one tough 16 year old.  We thought of   making Guitar Lakes today and meet up with trail friends, but I pooped out at Crabtree.  We are almost done.  Top of Whitney is only about 7 miles away and 4000 feet up.  Tomorrow we will dry our gear, rest and make short move to Guitar Lake.  

Up Forester

Forester Pass

Big Horn Plateau

Cold and wet, but still smiling

Lonnie's feet

Meet and Greet Mules

Sunset at Crabtree

Crabtree to little pond above Guitar Lake
Approximately 2.7 miles

Leisurly morning drying all our gear.  Discovered this toilet near our tent.  Weird sight.  Visited with Ranger and he suggested we plan on summitting Whitney early to avoid thunderstorm activity.  Hiked to small, pretty lake about Guitar in freezing rain.  Had the place to ourselves until 4 guys arrived.  They had come in from the south to climb Whitney.   I was a little bummed with neighbors until they brought out all their food and drink!  Wow.  Wonderful stuff they shared and discovered they were super sweet too.  Later John, an older gentleman from the UK, arrived and Mark chatted with him all afternoon until sunset while I stayed in tent eating to warm myself up, as I am having some problems keeping feet and hands from freezing, even with 2 pairs of gloves and 2 pairs of socks. Tomorrow is the big day.  Blessed with a gorgeous sunset tonight.

Do bears poop in the woods? 

Clothes tree

Guitar Lake

Our tent and a gorgeous sunset
Approximately 16 miles
Pond above Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal

Felt like God woke me at around 1:30, urging me to wake Mark up and leave.   Hiking by the light of our head torches was a new experience.  It almost felt easier because only a few steps ahead were lit.  ( object lesson: Maybe it is good we don't know the future either).  About an hour or so into the  hike   we saw a long Congo line of lights chasing us up the switch-backed trail.  Kind of surreal.  At one point we thought we had lost the trail and we stopped.    Luckily, a couple from the Whitney Portal side soon arrived and led the way, as they had been on it before.  About 20 minutes before sunrise we arrived at the summit.  There were only 6 of us for the first glow and then the kid with the crazy mustache showed up.  It was good to see him and he took our photo again.  Watching the sun rise  felt the beginning of creation from the top of the world. 

 We were all bundled up and still in awe when this young couple arrived wearing only  Lycra running gear. They announced that they were going for the JMT record and would be in Yosemite Valley in 72 hours;  crazy, and impressive. 

 It was a long, long hike down through a maze of  people attempting Whitney from the Portal side.  It didn't look like the altitude was agreeing with them.  We were glad we were so acclimatized. Did meet Steve and Kathy from Muir Ranch.  Apparently they had been slightly behind us the whole way and the day we were stuck in the tent at Rae Lake they were just across the lake from us enjoying hot cocoa under a big tarp that the Sierra Club put up.  If only we'd know.  

 About 1:00 a light shower fell, but it only made the canyon lovelier.  By 2:00 we were having burgers at the Portal and by 3:30 we got a ride by the couple who had guided us in the dark.  Arriving in Lone Pine 13 miles later we were shocked by the 100 plus degree heat and quickly got a room at the hostel.  Hard to believe that we had been so cold earlier that day. 

Pre-dawn glow
Nearing the hut on top

The marker

Sunrise on top of highest point in contiguous U.S.!

View to the northwest ( I think)

View to the southwest (I think)

Along the way

The trail looked narrower by day

Approaching Trails Crest and our backpacks that we left there

Along the way

Lovely water fall near Whitney Portal