It looks like the weather is starting to change for the fall. So I figured I would go for a long hike in the Sierra since it might be my last big hike for the season. I was initially considering a hike up to McGee Pass and Red Slate Mountain. But I figured why not do Whitney for a second time? I looked at the permit situation. And sure enough, there were available permits for the 25th. Not knowing whether I would be able to get a campsite, I headed to the Portal. And I lucked out as far as being able to find a place to camp two nights in a row.
For a few reasons, I got a REALLY late start on the hike. No, not 5:00AM. I started at 10:00AM! This is late even for someone as Ďanti-alpine startí as myself! But everything worked out fine for the most part. The only issues I had as a result of the late start were heat on the trail near the bottom and some cloudiness at the summit. But the clouds were not of the rainy variety.
Needless to say, the trail was pretty much clear all the way. There was still some snow near the summit. But nothing like on my July 30 climb. There was, however, some ice on the cables section. This could easily be avoided, though. And unlike July 30, the water crossings were all pretty easy. No worries about soaked feet at the North Fork of Bishop Creek (or any of the other water crossings).
One thing that was VERY different about this hike compared to my July 30 ascent was the people on the trail. During that hike, the trail was a ghost town. I maybe encountered five or six other parties on the hike on that ascent. This hike was more like other hikes of Whitney I have done in terms of crowding. It doesnít make sense, but maybe it had to do with fears of having to hike on snow back in July. Maybe it was people trying to get in one last hike while the weather was good.
Also interesting was the fact that there were a two other parties who got late(r) starts who summited around the time I did. These folks started at around 6:00AM (which is considered SUPER late by most standards) and were camping at Trail Camp. They were originally going to stay the night and summit the next day. But when they got to Trail Camp, they felt like summiting that day instead. I have to say that, although I got to the top much faster than they did, I have to admire them for being able to summit in one day after carrying a house-sized pack up to Trail Camp. In any case, it just goes to show that you WONíT turn into a pumpkin if you are not off the summit by 1:00PM.