Instead of the hike out from a campsite near Baxter Pass per my original backpacking plans, I had been having the absolute best time day hiking. After a rough night trying to sleep in the car in Alabama Hills I knew what I needed. I needed Doug at the Whitney Portal Store to cook me a great breakfast.
I was at portal pretty early. The drive up was lovely with clear views over the burn area into the Meysan drainage and of Mt. Whitney towering above before the winding road. The parking lots were fairly crowded but it was near empty of people: Whitney hikers were long gone and the campsites were barely showing signs of waking up.
I walked around enjoying the waterfall and cool morning air as the sun began to warm the quiet place. I had a long conversation with a man that had quit the PCT near mile 500 because it felt like a chore and was instead doing something I agreed was much more fun: driving all over the state hiking the places he wanted to visit and the sections he’d been looking forward to. He’d already taken the year off work and was spending the rest having a great time roaming. I was jealous! We talked about having nothing left to prove and just wanting to enjoy time in the mountains. He’d certainly knocked off some more technical stuff than I: the AT through hike, summit of Denali, a bunch of other crazy stories. We talked gear for a bit then I took my leave because food time!
The eggs were perfect, the bacon was yummy, and the pancake was too big as ever and I wasted the vast majority of it, much to the dismay of the blue jays that harassed me and the other group (who were about to head up to overnight before a summit, they had infectious high spirits). Now well fed after a few wonderful days hiking the eastern Sierra Nevada, it was time to head home and get a hug from my partner and sleep in a comfy bed and, for goodness sake, take a shower.