Got up around 7a and re-packed my gear, so I could triage all of the unnecessary stuff in Ryan's car. Stoked to see him this morning, and bummed that neither Nate nor Sarah came. Not the end of the world though, since I'm staying with all of them tonight. Ryan and I have been friends for three years and have never adventured together, so it was nice for it to just be the two of us. (I consider him and Sarah family.) We left at 845a and slack-packed hard on the summit bid. He was absolutely kicking my butt on the way up; I was sucking air and my legs were burning the whole way. The trail was steep, then it turned into an outright class III climb after we got above treeline. Despite its modest elevation (5,267'), the low treeline and steep rock slabs were reminiscent of a moderate 14er climb. It was sweet!
The views were incredible all the way up. Ryan and I topped out around 1130a and had lunch at the summit. Stuck around for about an hour, and even had the place nearly to ourselves for a few precious moments. The sky was partly cloudy allowing for exceptional views all around. Ryan said by far the best he's seen in four summit climbs. Pretty lucky for my first time up. Even with the challenging weather, the entire week has been stunningly beautiful.
The climb down was super-fun. We basically raced back to the car (six hours round trip) and cruised out to the first convenience store we could find. It was a little grease spot out on the highway. We picked up a couple pumpkin beers and a few slices of pizza. Total bliss. I've only just finished this brutal trek, and I'm already excitedly anticipating the next. Guess that's the thing with long-distance backpacking. It's an addiction- a painful, beautiful, wonderful addiction. My first trip up here was a far more painful experience. I hadn't yet caught the bug, and it still didn't stop me from an epic thru-hike on the PCT, no-doubt made better by my challenging experience in the HMW. All things for a reason.
Miles Hiked: 10.5