Staging for Whitney – Day 63: Chicken Spring Lake to Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station Camp

PCT miles: 750.8 to 767.0 + 1 mile to camp 
Miles: 17.2
I get up early and set out. I tend to get on trail by 6am and the group tends to be more like 7 or 730, but they don’t really take breaks other than lunch and I like to break somewhat frequently, so I figure we’ll catch each other, and if not, we planned to meet up for creek crossings to tackle them. 
I haven’t been hiking for long when I see Karma, Nirvana and Soulshine still at camp. They’re all sitting around in their tents eating breakfast so I join them and chat a little. Nirvana is goofing around with his ice axe and making us laugh and a little nervous.

It’s interesting the different dynamics out here. I feel more myself with Karma and Nirvana but I’ve also known them longer. They seem willing to laugh and my jokes and acknowledge my comments in a way my new group isn’t necessarily. But.. maybe that will come with time? I don’t know. The people part of the trail – where do I fit in, how do I be myself, who is my family – continues to be a point of uncertainty. 

It’s nice to talk to them and a few other hikers join and I’m there for about 45 minutes, but I have more miles to do and I don’t want to slow my group – who passes by while I’m there – down, so I keep hiking. 

The trail is patches of snow and I have to learn to walk on them. I take them slow and it’s mostly fine, and then I take solid ground for granted and slam my knee into a rock. Oops. I take a break to soothe my ego a little and then move on.
Later, Sole Sister and I are hiking together and come to a glissade and take it. A glissade is just sliding down snow on your butt, like sledding. The first glissade of the trail. It makes me feel like a little kid. 
We cross a river where they’re waiting for me and show me where to go. Everyone seems to be standing around and it’s straight up a mountain to camp so I get started. I’m about halfway there when I realize they were standing around because they were waiting for more of the group — oops. I get to camp and set up and when they arrive I apologize. Next time I’ll clarify. 
Tomorrow is Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous US. 14,505 feet. We’ll be leaving most of our food, tents, etc behind and slack packing to the top. I am nervous when everyone else seems excited. I’m not sure exactly what kind of terrain we’ll face. I hope I am able to reach the top. 

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