Today made up for yesterday’s emotionally taxing day after accepting the weather reports. Easily one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever taken.
The 4.5 mile trail (one way) in all honesty was not very difficult, but the altitude made it exhausting. I had to break every 10 minutes or so. A quick stop to catch my breath and some water made it no problem. The last quarter mile however, when I could see the pass high above me, while I was many switchbacks below was the hardest part for me. I had to stop, eat some Energy Bites and give myself a pep talk to make the final push.We did it. It was hard but so much fun. And it was so rewarding and beautiful! We met a PCTer named “Snake” at the pass. He is hiking the trail to raise awareness for diabetes. His son is Type 1. You can find his blog here (www.hikingforacure.com). Snake is the kind of guy who makes you smile immediately upon talking to him. He has kind eyes, a great attitude and a solid appreciation for all things. I am so happy we got to chat with him! I wish we had taken a photo together.
On the way down, I flew. (Hey, I am a very fast hiker if I’m not going up. Lol.) I was way ahead of Turkey, so I stopped to wait for him and let him know I was going to refill my water at one of the lakes. It was here we talked to the JMT hiker coming back on trail from his resupply and found out about the fire. (You can catch up on that situation here.)
From that moment on all I could think about was getting official information about the fire. Now that he mentioned it, we could see smoke billowing in toward us. It was getting hazy.
I did not even think about the descent. Before I knew it we were at the parking lot trying to make a decision. Should we drive down to get service? Should we just wait and see what happens in the morning? We are supposed to be on the Whitney Trail in like 15 hours. My persistent inner voice kept telling me I needed to know.
Coming down the mountain we saw a lot of smoke.
My phone picked up service about 2 miles down so I went to the first place I thought of; the Mt. Whitney Facebook group. There it was. Portal Road closed and beginning evacuation. In the short time JMT guy picked up his resupply to now, they began evacuating. This is not good. This is bad.
Turkey and I made the decision to leave Onion Valley campground. At least if we did that, and stayed in town we could keep track of the reports and see what we were going to do. Plus, what if the fire ended up coming closer to us?