Top of the Contiguous USA

We woke up @ 3 am to hike to the top of the contiguous United States

looking back @ campsite area
breakfast @ 12,000 ft
after breakfast, the trail went straight up to the nano-sphere.  its called "99 switchbacks."  to the right of the switchbacks is "the chute" which was full of snow, and we could have avoided the switchbacks by donning crampons and heading up it.  

at the top of the switchbacks after climbing 1,000 feet, the trail crossed the snow field a few times.  the wind was gusting up to 50 mph at this time, but luckily the sun was shining keeping the snow soft.  Thanks to Nathaniel and his generous loaning of mountaineering equipment, we had no problem with this section.  

Once past the snowfields, just have to walk on the ridge with a 1,000 foot drop the the right, and a 1,500 foot drop to the left.  while the wind is blowing @ 20 mph and gusting to 50 mph.  no biggie.

view from the top to the east
Just when you think you've accomplished something significant, you meet someone who makes you think otherwise.  We asked a guy to take the obligatory top of the contiguous USA pose, only to find out he started hiking @ the Mexico border, and was on his way to Canada.  dang.  let alone the two guys we saw running down the mountain the day before.  they ran to the top, also. double dang.

By this time we were exhausted, sleep deprived, thirsty, wind and sun burnt and gulping as much oxygen as we could at 14,505 feet.  And now we have to walk back down?  Just want to sleep... altitude is a strong sedative.

We scurried down, packed up camp, and scurried further down.  Made it to the bottom as the propertier of the store @ Whitney Portal was turning the window sign to "closed."  He still sold us beer.  Celebratory!

next day blisters over the Kern River
We drove back via Bakersfield.  Kern River Valley below, quite the contrast of what water does for the region.

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