I want to start this trip out by thanking everyone that contributes to this blog. You have all helped immensely in my planning and prepping for this trip, and I attribute our successful attempt to all the advice I've found on here.
We started on Tuesday, the 23rd around 5:30am. We were slightly concerned with the smoke as Lone Pine smelt like a campfire and had a high AQI in the 100's, after speaking to a lot of people in the town they let us know they heard reports of the smoke clearing once you're above 9,000 ft. Can confirm that the smoke got better during the hike and was hardly noticeable until we were at TC for the night (more on that later). It did obstruct views down in the valley, but the hike is still the most gorgeous hike I've ever been on. The first few miles we're actually incredibly enjoyable! The incline is gentle and our training has really paid off. Once we got to the granite for the last two miles before trail camp, I changed my tune, and this is where is became harder for me and I'm sure my 30lb pack wasn't helping.
We reached TC around 10:30am, our time was impacted by veering off to visit Lone Pine lake. We set up, watched the marmonts, this one particular busy pika building its nest, and fought chipmunks all day until our early bedtime at 7pm. This is where the wind picked up and the smoke rolled in. I wish I could remember the wind speed, I've tried to look into past weather reports and can only see current conditions, but this wind was turning our tents into accordions until we loaded them up with rocks we were also woken up by the smell of the smoke permeating our tents and put our buffs on as a small filter.
We got an early start at 2:30am the next day, ended up at the bottom of the switchbacks by 3:30am. The first half we were guided by the near full moon and didn't even need our headlamps. It was slightly windy, but the weather was enjoyable with our layers. I'm very glad we all packed gloves.
When we reached the top of the switchbacks the wind was in full force, every step we took we were being pushed over, and even with all of our layers the wind just bit right through and froze us. I would've probably turned around if it wasn't for my amazing team with me, taking our time, encouraging each other, and providing all the snacks at the right moment.
We finally reached the summit somehow (it feels like a dream, I still can't believe we did it) and were rewarded by having it all to ourselves for about an hour! It was magical, surreal, and made all the better by my partner proposing to me at the top, which... Plot twist, was my plan the entire time, so I proposed in response. [img]https://www.instagram.com/p/CTFGBZPnGOG/
We started our descent and made it back to TC about 8 hours later at 11am, packed our gear and continued going down. We made it off the mountain by 6pm and celebrated with veggie burgers and beer. It was the most wonderful hike of my life.