June 13, Day 40
22.4 miles [772.7]
I actually slept as evidenced by waking, it took a few minutes to regain lucidity. Alarms aren’t meant to go off that early. While I threw a ration of snacks into my nearly empty backpack, a big, hot, ball of nerves filled my stomach. At 2:33 a.m. we set off into the void with headlamps which only provided a small swathe of understanding. Water crossings ran black with cold, a rare slip ended with wet, icy toes. I took a rest at the base of Guitar Lake and noticed a dozen or so faint pinpricks of determination slowly making progress up the switchbacks, a blanket of stars defining where the mountain wasn’t. With each gaining step I couldn’t help but remember my Scout troop’s six-day expedition where I celebrated my birthday, to the day, at the summit—I was 15 years old. We pressed on and it became clear we were going to miss sunrise by half an hour. Between Keeler Needle and Crooks Peak we stopped to enjoy the show from 14,000 feet. Shortly after, I got to the summit shelter and, much to my surprise, smashed a working “That Was Easy” button. Also found was “Trash Bath”, “Combo”, and “Gilligan” (previously Brett from the desert) celebrating their victory. It was almost like a reunion. Snapped photos and ate my victory gummies, then made our way down. Met “Brownstreak”, a talkative Hawaiian I struggled to keep pace with. We chatted about ski-bum life the entire way back. Took a fat nap before packing up camp and managed another six miles to Bighorn Plateau. Adam and I struggled to agree on a campsite and ended up getting testy with each other. It’s clear he is still unhappy with our current situation. I asked him what was on his mind and we ended up having the same conversation over again, not finding a resolute outcome. Though it’s clear; I’m ruining his time. He needs to be his own person—and so do I—but the thought of doing this alone scares me. I cannot quit, I’d hate myself more than I could possibly imagine. Despite having just been physically at the highest, tonight, I am emotionally at my lowest.