Just wanted to leave a quick summit report for Friday, 9/6/19. It was an awesome day on the trail, made even better by my (mostly) unfounded concerns due to the storm on Thursday, 9/5.
Got on the trail around 1:30 AM, saw a couple other groups in the parking lot at the same time. This was my first time to Whitney Portal, as well as on the trail. I had come up to the Portal Thursday evening, but the rain and weather obscured most of the views. I still didn't see them in the morning, which was a good thing for me. I would have spent so much time taking in the views, I might never have made it to the top! As it was, I stopped a few times just to view the night sky since I rarely get a chance to see the Milky Way here in So Cal.
Trail up to Outpost Camp was in very good condition and easy to follow. The rain from the previous day made the stretch through the rocks up to Trailside Meadows and Trail Camp a little slippery, and I'm pretty certain that I got off trail a couple times in the dark. But I did keep seeing headlamps ahead of me, so I kept moving, and eventually the trails came together.
The lower part of the switchbacks were still wet, and the water was flowing pretty good in some spots. The upper part of the switchbacks with water were pretty icy. There were a couple stretches where the ice went for 50-75 feet. Slow progress, but progress. Sun came up near the top of the switchbacks, but it was also breezy at the junction.
The section from Trail Crest to the summit had to be the longest 2 miles...:) The rocks were still icy, so there were several slippery rocks. The additional snow at the summit was actually much easier to keep traction, so that was much appreciated.
The summit was pretty much covered with a cloud as I approached, though everything up to the summit was clear. One hiker coming down said that he had waited at the summit for an hour, and it never cleared. When I got up there, I had the summit all to myself for a few minutes before the next group came up. I have to admit that that was one of my favorite times during the day because it was absolutely quiet. I had maybe 10 minutes to myself, which meant that I was the tallest standing person in the lower 48 for that long...:) Clouds also sporadically cleared, so there were some great views. Would love to be able to take it all in on a clear day sometime!
Trip down was both faster and slower. Now that the sun was out, I could now see all the scenery that I missed on the way up. Next time, I'll have to take more time or hike during the daylight hours.
As I have found on all the longer hikes, everyone was extremely friendly on the trail. I met a Whitney celebrating a birthday on Mt. Whitney, and that was definitely a highlight! During the day, people also seem more friendly, probably because you can see where you're going and don't have to focus so much on making sure your next step is safe. In the dark, I think most greetings were simple hellos and a turn of the head to avoid blinding someone with your headlamp.
I would love to do this again, and I can see why so many people here have done this multiple times.