Today, Oliver and I spilt from the main group. The previous evening, the main group decided to take two days to get to the base of Mount Whitney, while Oliver and I were going to do the 24 miles in one day. We woke at 5:10 and were on the trail at 5:50, ready for another day in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Oliver and I hiked together, and we quickly found ourselves hiking on snow. We put our micro spikes on just to get a better feel for them since we had not used them yet. Throughout the day, we came across large snowy sections where the trail was invisible, and you had to rely on the map to find your way back to the trail. Around 9 am, you could feel a difference in the snow as it became noticeably slushier, which meant it took much more effort to hike through.
At 5 miles from the junction where the trail to Mount Whitney diverged from the Pacific Crest Trail, we had our first major stream crossing. We had to hike about .2 mile upstream where we found a log to walk across. On the other side, we ran into Lucky Hat and Mustang. Lucky Hat was planning on going to the same place we were, and Mustang was going to stay on the PCT and not hike Mount Whitney.
When we were about half a mile from the ranger station where we planned to camp, there was a stream we had to ford. It was not that big, but it took a bit to find a good place to cross. I hiked across with my shoes on and had no problem. The water was freezing and it felt like taking an ice bath. There was another group who crossed just before us and had taken off their shoes; that was risky, since you run the chance of cutting your foot on a rock in the water. Thankfully none of them did.
When we got to the ranger station, which was a nice little log cabin on the edge of a clearing, we found a place to set up our tent, ate dinner, and went to bed. The goal being to wake up at 12 am and start our hike to the top of Mount Whitney, to catch the sunrise.