(all images are clickable for a larger version)
Today is the day!
Many hikers try to summit Mt Whitney before sunrise and do so starting at 2 am or earlier. When I left at 4:30 am, after a cold breakfast, I could already see their headlamps along the trail.
I started with two other hikers, and we helped each other to find the trail in the dark when its course was a bit doubtful. The trail sometimes became a little creek. But the higher we went, the less water, and soon the new day began to dawn.
After 3 hours I reached the JMT / Whitney Portal Trail junction close to Trail Crest (13.700 ft) where those who will exit the Sierra today via Whitney Portal leave their heavy packs during the summit hike. I carried only a light pack with me all the way since Guitar Lake where I had left my tent and most of my stuff.
In a long row we continued the path to Mt Whitney. Only 800 ft of elevation gain remained, but the thin air made each step uphill a strenuous one. After another 2 miles and a final snow field to cross we finally reached the summit (14.494 ft) before 10 am.
Everyone made photos, signed the summit register and enjoyed have reached the highest point in the 48 states.
After a short hour I started my way down, with nice panoramic views again.
Back at the trail junction I had a short break and watched a marmot which inspected the backpacks without any shyness. You should not leave any food in your pack if you do not want to see it chewed!
Quite tired I arrived at the lakes, and stayed another night at my tentsite before leaving the next morning. Now my JMT has really started, on the summit of Mt Whitney.