So far, the Sierra Nevada has been living up to expectations. I’m definitely out of desert country now and, for the past few days, have been cruising along at altitudes ranging from 9,000-11,300 feet. The altitude doesn’t seem to be bothering me, but it sure is chilly at night with temps regularly in the low 30s. I cowboy camped last night and boy was it a treat. The night-time sky in the Sierra Nevada contains more stars than I’ve ever seen! (Even more than back home in Maine.) Fortunately, the days are warm, sometimes even hot as the trail is exposed to the sun frequently.
The landscape continues to unfold dramatically. I’m now at the foot of a group of 14,000-foot peaks. They are giant piles of rock without trees or anything else growing on their tips. There are splotches of snow lodged between folds in the rock. The peaks loom over the forest below, through which the trail is currently passing. Even forest is unique. The trees are widely spaced and the ground is sandy in contrast to the densely packed forests of the East and Northwest. My favorite tree so far is the lodgepole pine, which is tapered like a toothpick and whose trunk takes a spiraling form. The fallen, uprooted lodgepoles show fascinating gnarled and twisted roots which I’ve photographed some.
I’ve been thinking about my approach to Whitney and have decided to get within 6-7 miles of the summit today, then get up at 2 AM tomorrow morning and try to summit at sunrise. I just need to drag myself out of my sleeping bag and get moving!