Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Whitney Quest - Day 3, Part 1: Mt Whitney

August 26, 2009

12:30am. The alarm went off way too early. Ugh. Between the restless few hours of "sleep", allergies, and the moderately high altitude hike yesterday in Cottonwood, I could have stayed in bed for a few more hours. BUT...this was The Day. The time had finally come, after all these years, to do Mt Whitney. Sleeping in really wasn't much of an option.

I clawed my way out of bed and into the shower. Once I was back out, most of the rest of the team was up and moving. Jeff was energized and packing high-power energy shot drinks (above right). Flyingmoose (left) slept on as long as possible before he, too, got up. We packed all of our stuff (we weren't staying here another night, as we were Furnace Creek-bound after doing Whitney), loaded up the SUV, and away into the darkness we went.

One thing about where we were going. This place was an "active bear area". I.e., there likely would be bears wandering around in the woods next to, around, or near us. We planned to not leave any food items in the car, but carry everything with us (that which we were not going to carry we left in the common kitchen refrigerator of the hostel until our return).

A short while later we arrived at the parking lot at the end of Whitney Portal Road. While there were a fair number of vehicles all around, we managed to luck out and get a spot within 50' of the trailhead and bathrooms. One last privy visit we shouldered our packs and started up the trail. Blurry photo left (camera had issues focusing) of Jeff, Marty, Harold, and Dwight.

Before I continue, this is a breakdown (in miles and altitude) of the hike we were about to undertake:

The Trail to the Mt. Whitney Summit

0.0 miles: Trailhead (8,360 feet)
0.85 miles: Enter John Muir Wilderness (permit required beyond)
2.7 miles: Cross Lone Pine Creek. Shortly after crossing, trail forks to Lone Pine Lake on left, right continues towards summit. (9,980 feet)
3.8 miles: Outpost Camp with Thor Peak dominating the view. (10,360 feet)
4.3 miles: Mirror Lake (10,640 feet)
4.9 miles: 50 yards past Whitebark Stump, a dwarf whitebark pine is the last tree on trail
5.3 miles: Trailside Meadow (11,395 feet)
6.3 miles: Trail Camp, a good place to rest before the grueling 96 switchbacks to Trail Crest. (12,039 feet)
8.5 miles: Cross Trail Crest and enter Sequoia National Park. (13,777 feet)
9.0 miles: John Muir Trail joins from the west. Altitude sickness common. (13,480 feet )
9.3 miles: Cutoff to Mount Muir.
10.5 miles: Keeler Needle, just a short climb to the summit from here. (14,003 feet)
11.0 miles: Mt. Whitney summit. No water. Camping permitted. (14,495 feet)
(courtesy of Desert USA)

The altitude numbers in parenthesis indicate the altitude you are at at that particular point. So, we are starting our adventure at 8,360' above sea level. Better than 6,100' of gain awaited our legs and feet...

Very shortly into the trail (like, tens of feet), we came to a display area that included a scale that people could weigh their packs. We were loaded with daypacks, not intending on spending the night. Jeff's and my packs weighed in as the heaviest at 22 lbs each (mine was that heavy because I was carrying 2 liters of water, a liter of Gatorade, and my heavy-duty first aid kit). Everyone else was in the 12-18 lbs range.

The time was 2:30am. From there we set out into the chilly night. By the time dawn was to break, several of us would wish we had gloves, the air temperature was just cold enough.

For the next few miles, punctuated by periodic stops for snacks and water, darkness stayed with our every step. Up and up, onward and onward we trudged, following the trail markers and wondering what the terrain around us looked like. Over our left shoulder Venus shone brilliantly in the sky.

Finally somewhere around 11,000' or so the eastern sky began to lighten. Dawn was coming. We pressed onward.

A darkness turned to greyness, we could see we were now well out of the forest and in rocky terrain. The eastern sky went from a faint glow to an erupting yellow as the sun grew closer to the horizon. The stars overhead faded quickly, but Venus hung on for a long while. Photo right is looking East, Venus is the bright dot upper right, and the headlamps of Jeff, Snurt and RidgeSeeker are lower right.

Finally it was light enough for us to douse our headlamps and continue hiking by the growing light of day (photo left). Venus succumbed to the lightening sky and disappeared from view. The next thing we knew we were coming upon tents in the rocks - we were at the outer fringes of Trail Camp!

As the sun broke the crest of the horizon to illuminate the palisades that bounded Mt Whitney to the south (golden photo right), we stopped to resupply our water reserves, for once we got up into the 96 (or 97, or 99, or 103) Switchbacks (which were maybe quarter of a mile from Trail Camp) water sources would vanish. What we had would have to carry us for 7-8 miles round trip before we got back down and to a water source again.

After a nice, long break (in which we learned that the air temperature was below freezing - no wonder most of us were chilled, not having clothing for temps that chilly!), we got back to our feet and marched onward through a thinly populated tent-city, as the residents of said city roused themselves. At this point I was still doing okay pace-wise.

A short time later we hit The Switchbacks. Be it 96, 97, 99, or 100+. I'd seen different numbers quoted in different sites and books. The photo right is a view towards The Switchbacks, which are invisible, but climb the left-leaning ramp to the left center of the photo. Trail Crest is behind the notch where the upper right portion of the ramp meets the palisades, making those rock columns 1000'+ tall.

Now, I don't know how many there really are. I had my GPS on thinking I'd count them on the map later, but satellite signal bounce played havoc with that and my GPS-generated path map did not resemble reality. I was also thinking to manually count switchbacks as we went up, but after I hit the 20th one I started losing track. Partly because I was also gazing out at the views and vistas that surrounded us.

The other thing that distracted my attention early on in The Switchbacks was a helicopter that had flown into the area and circled around Trail Camp for a while before landing, taking off, flying away, coming back minutes later, circling around again, and landing elsewhere. I learned from two women who I was leap-frogging up the Switchbacks for a while that the afternoon before a young lady had fallen and twisted or broke her ankle while coming down from the Trail Crest. She made it to Trail Camp, but was unable to continue hiking out (another 6+ miles of rugged terrain). Several other groups of people who were camping at Trail Camp combined efforts to set her up for the night while the rest of her party went down for help. The helicopter was sent up late this morning to retrieve her. It was interesting to watch it fly around, but it did kinda break up the 'wilderness experience' a bit. But then again, before I learned what really had happened I thought something worse had occurred, necessitating the helicopter visit, so didn't worry about the whole 'wilderness experience' thing. In the last two photos left you can make out tents to the lower right, just right of the lake, in the rocks. To give you an idea of scale.

The photo left is looking up the direction of The Switchbacks from still well down on them. The Switchbacks thread their way steeply through the rock walls above. The photo right is of Jeff at the only set of railing (if that's what you want to call it) on The Switchbacks. And even some of those cables had been severed in places from large rockfall.

The photo left is a view of the Alabama Hills far, far below us and miles away (see previous log entry for when we were there). The photo right is a wider angle view of the same direction, but you can see the small lake by Trail Camp where we last filled up with water (said lake has no name that I am aware), and the somewhat larger Consultation Lake to the right. These both drain down along the Whitney Portal Trail.

Photo left is of the rock walls that rose formidably up from the scree field, towering 100-1000' or more tall. There are technical routes that go up these pillars and needles, but we didn't have any gear to be technical climbing. This was a foot-slogger trip. The two hikers in the foreground are the two ladies who were leap-frogging us as we climbed The Switchbacks.

The rest of the team surged onward while my pace slowed. As advertised, the Switchbacks were grueling. They basically climbed up for 1700' in just over a mile. And going from 12,000' to well over 13,000', the air gets thin pretty darn fast. Somewhere up there I passed the "8 Miles" marker rock (I would totally miss it on the hike back out). 'Only' 3 miles to go...

As I went up, some people passed me, going faster. I passed a couple people, going slower. And during the entire ascent maybe half a dozen people trickled down who had not completed the climb up to Whitney, but got to the Trail Crest (13,777') and turned around. Shortly after these individuals I started running into people coming down who had been to the summit for sunrise. Said it was absolutely spectacular up there. Hmmm. Next time...

Off to the far right I could see Mt Whitney. What I didn't realize I could also see, indicated by the yellow arrow in the photo lower right, is the Summit Hut of Mt Whitney. I saw it later on the way down when I looked back up.

Somewhere on the way up the Switchbacks I ended up passing Jeff and Snurt. But FlyingMoose and RidgeSeeker were well ahead of us. We all had radios, so I wasn't too worried about us getting out of touch (but we would later learn that Snurt's radio was not functioning properly).

Sidebar: in the beginning of the trip when we were all first meeting and introducing each other, telling each other outrrrrrageous tales of flight and fancy, I had relayed a story that a friend of a friend of mine and her husband, whenever either of them spot an attractive member of the opposite sex that they think their spouse would appreciate, call out "Squirrel!". They got this from the talking dog in the movie "Up!" (I've not seen the movie, but I saw the clip in the trailers; the dog is talking to one of the main characters, saying, "Hi there. My name is Dug. My master made me this collar so that I may talk - Squirrel! {pause} Hi there."). They don't point or anything, just say "squirrel", and let their spouse locate the noticed individual. Apparently she usually finds them for him, but every now and again he finds one for her. Anyway...

The Switchbacks finally ended with a long, straight-ish gentle rise in the trail that brought me over to the Trail Crest (sign photo left). I collapsed for a much needed rest, snack and drink. I've come 8.5 miles so far. Only 2.5 miles left to go...

Suddenly my radio crackled.

"Red Five, this is Red Squirrel Leader, over. Red Five, this is Red Squirrel Leader, over."

It took me a moment to 1) recognize that it was Jeff's voice, and 2) to understand he was probably talking to me. Puzzled, I responded.

"...Red Five here."

"Red Five, you have four squirrels inbound your location. I repeat, four squirrels inbound your location. Over."

"Uh, roger."

30 seconds later four athletic 20-something girls came sauntering up the trail from behind me, chatting away, not even winded. They stopped at Trail Crest and asked if I would take some photos for them. While doing so, I asked where they were from to not be so out of breath and how long it took them to hike up.

"From Tahoe! We live at altitude. We left the car just a few hours ago. This is her first time doing any mountains."

The indicated member of their group wasn't out of breath either. It was now 9:20am (we had just left Trail Camp at 6:50am - {gasp!}{wheeze!}). Oh, to be acclimatized to altitude!

Giggling, the girls trotted onward shortly after Jeff and Snurt got to the Trail Crest sign and thumped down to rest.

"Well?" Jeff asked.

Sitting against a rock with my head back, eyes closed, I replied, "Yeah. I'm too damned tired to appreciate anything right now."

A couple of F-18s roared high overhead. They would periodically accompany us most of the day. Photo left and right show one of the F-18s I managed to snap a photo of just before it flew behind a rock wall. I never saw his wingman.

Finally I decided to get up and start moving again. I figured I'd be slower than Jeff and Snurt at this point, that they'd catch up to me. Still 2.5 miles left to go. Don't think about it, don't think about it...

The first real views around the corner were of this massive curtain-rippled wall rising high over two alpine lakes known as the Hitchcock Lakes. The 13,000'+ mountain towering over the lakes is known as Mt Hitchcock.

At some point I caught up to FlyingMoose and RidgeSeeker. Then they were ahead. Then they were behind. Then Jeff and Snurt passed me. Then they were behind. It's kinda all a blur, the 2 miles from Trail Crest. I was walking on, pausing to breath, and looking to the magnificent sights to the west. Of which there was plenty to drink in. Photo left shows the trail as it rides near the edge of a long drop. Mt Whitney itself is just up from center. If you see an small, flat, elongated dark object at the summit of Mt Whitney, that would be the summit hut. The photo right is of FlyingMoose taking a momentary break to look down at the Hitchcock Lakes.

Photo left is looking just north of Mt Hitchcock at Timber Lake (just above the treeline; more visible in the photo right) just above 11,000'. The mountains beyond are part of the heart of the Sierra Nevada.

The trail for the most part back here stayed relatively flat, with an occasional switchback or two up, or an occasional rising traverse. But mostly flat for a good long ways. Which was nice, but...on the flip side, it meant the closer I got to Mt Whitney, the steeper the final trail would become...

All the while looking and hiking, the landscape around me looked barren. But then I would look down and every now and again I'd come across a patch of alpine wildflowers. Some yellow, some white, some purple.

Finally we had under a half mile to go. Jeff had found the first patch of snow we would cross and decided to take the opportunity to wing a snowball at Snurt and I. His first one nailed me in the head. "I forgot to tell you, I play catch with my boy all the time!" he said, as a second one came flying my way. That one I dodged then scurried past him while he was taking aim at Snurt.

Jeff , Snurt and I marched loosely together and eventually caught up to FlyingMoose and RidgeSeeker. We took a small break, then I decided to keep going, figuring that they would overtake me shortly. Particularly FlyingMoose and RidgeSeeker, who were marching hard and fast.

Photo left is looking up the direction of the summit, still some 400-500' vertical feet to go. Fortunately we did not have to walk over all these rocks. There was a nice, obvious trail to continue following to the top.

But, as things turned out, we were a lot closer to the summit than I thought. The boys must have taken a longer break than I thought they were going to, as I arrived a good 20 or 25 minutes before they arrived.

Not that I had the summit to myself! Not by a long shot. There were some 30-odd people clustered up here.

The two ladies who I had been leap-frogging on The Switchbacks showed up. I hadn't seen them since I left the Trail Crest. We chatted a bit. They graciously took a photo of me on the summit (ophoto left, me with my MESSENGER mission patch), and I returned the favor for them.

Now where was the rest of my team??


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Whitney Quest - Day 2: Cottonwood Canyon & The Alabama Hills

August 25, 2009

Being on East Coast time, even being up as late as we were the night before, I rose early for the locals (but "on time" for me at home). After getting a quick shower, the others stirred and rose. We were now awake and ready for the day to begin. was still rather early locally and quite dark out. So what did we do? Walked across town and down to the Inter-Agency building in the dark, hitting a handful of geocaches by starlight (or streetlight when available) along the way!

None of the caches we did were remarkable, or anything to write home about. Mostly they were "cache-n-dash" type hides. If you knew the trick to the hide, they were easy to find. If you were uninitiated, they'd be more challenging. For us, even for those on the team who deny "doing the numbers", these were really "numbers" caches (i.e., caches that one does just to increase the find count #). Pretty much everyone "does the numbers" at some point in their caching career, whether they prefer unique puzzle or challenging adventure caches or not.

While we were out and about, I noticed not far from the hostel a McDonald's (note: Lone Pine is small; you can walk from end to end in about 20 minutes, so nothing is far from anything). Unlike most McD's this one 'blended in' with its surroundings, being a wooden (or wooden-sided) building with a cowboy scene on the side (photo left). Given that this is McDonald's, I'll let you draw your own interpretation of the cowboy scene...

After hitting a few caches and getting almost three miles of walking in, dawn began to brighten the morning sky. Dimly we could see the mountains to the west beginning to emerge from the dark. And we were getting hungry. Found ourselves a breakfast joint that was open, and with not a solitary customer other than us around, had the place to ourselves throughout breakfast. The two people we saw overseeing the establishment spoke little or no English, so getting butter for the toast and pancakes interesting study of what the waitress thought I was asking for (peanut butter, more jelly, etc - anything but actual butter!).

After this hearty breakfast we returned to our hostel room and got our hiking stuff for the day in order. Our goal today: an acclimatization hike up Cottonwood Canyon to Trail Pass (~11,000') and back down. An 11 mile round trip, half of what we would be doing tomorrow.

We piled back into the SUV, and sauntered in the opposite direction we walked earlier in the morning. The more immediate goal: finish doing the caches in town. I had lobbied that we do a virtual cache dedicated to the 27 people who died from an 8.3 earthquake that hit Lone Pine on March 26, 1988. I wanted to do this cache as a good friend of mine who had recently passed away had been working on an earthquake forecasting algorithm (and in the face of conventional geologic science, reported he was having a 90+% accuracy rate at forecasting earthquakes before he died; despite having this trend for several years running, geologists still said he was "just getting lucky").

After sweeping the rest of the caches in town, and at a nearby park just south of town, we refueled and started heading up to Cottonwood Canyon, stopping briefly to check out another virtual cache in the Alabama Hills area.

The virtual cache brought you to a plaque that described some of the history of the Alabama Hills. We would learn since the 1920s, hundreds of movies and tv shows, such as Gunga Din, How The West Was Won, Kyber Rifles, Bengal Lancers and High Sierra, along with The Lone Ranger and Bonanza, have been filmed right here, with the majestic Sierra Nevada for the background.

But the day was not getting any younger, and we still had our "acclimatization hike" to do up in Cottonwood Canyon. We got back on the road and headed south-southwest, to the obvious switchbacks that climbed up out of the valley, pausing a couple times to let the SUV's overheating engine time to cool down (it wasn't all that hot out, but we were climbing steeply quickly!). From the Alabama Hills to Cottonwood Canyon it would be a 22 mile drive, but take nearly an hour. Photo above left shows the road to the foothills and the switchbacks up out of the valley. Photo right is near the last of the switchbacks, looking back towards the Alabama Hills. The dark green clump of trees far right center is Lone Pine. In the far distance is up valley towards Tahoe. The haze from the fires in California this time of year.

We had gone up quite a ways before we got to the portal that allowed us our first glimpse of Cottonwood Canyon (photo right). We still had a few miles to drive, and our hike would take us to the saddle right of center along the horizon, then circle around the mountain to the left and back down to the high valley and where we would park.

Soon enough we arrived at the parking area and trailhead. The place had plenty of cars, but it wasn't overly full, being midweek and all. We got out, geared ourselves up, did the photo thing, and got our butts on the trail.

The trailhead is at about 9,960' (give or take), and the Cottonwood Pass (our goal of this little acclimatization hike) is at 11,160' (or 11,180', depending on whom you reference; whichever, it is over 11,100'!), 5-6 miles away. Once there we would then traverse around the north side of Trail Peak (11,623') for a mile and a half on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to the Trail Pass (10,500'), then back down to Horseshoe Meadow and then to the parking lot again. A total trip of 11-12 miles, and would get us up to just over 11,000' to prep our bodies for The Climb tomorrow.

The trail started out flat, flat, sandy and flat, as we traversed along the north end of Horseshoe Meadow. Periodically we could see Trail Pass (and Trail Peak; photo upper right) and Cottonwood Pass (photo left) as we proceeded along. Trail Pass was obviously much more wooded than Cottonwood Pass. But then again, Cottonwood Pass was over 600' higher in elevation. :-)

We soon entered the lodgepole and foxtail pine forest, catching one final glimpse of Cottonwood Pass (photo right; our trail would take us next to the green meadow-like area in the center of this photo; see below for reverse view). The trail stayed very kind and pretty level, even as we were gently rising in altitude. But as soon as we left the Horseshoe Meadow, we began to climb up switchbacks (photo left) up the rocky slope. As we got about halfway up, we were afforded one final glimpse back of the Horseshoe Meadow (photo right). was all rock and pine trees.

When we started out, I was in the back of the pack. Partly because I was stopping entirely too often to take photos, and partly because the other guys were hiking faster than I. At some point, however, I think when we hit the switchbacks, I ended up passing them by quite a few minutes. Must have been from hiking up and down all the stairs in the new building at work where my office is...

I don't remember how many switchbacks we climbed up. There were quite a few. But they were gentle, the trail never steep, and the distance between the switchbacks was usually fairly lengthy.

Finally it was clear that the pass was ahead of me (photo left). Just one long final stretch of trail and I'd be there!

Once I arrived at the crest of the trail, I kicked back to relax on one of the weirdly-shaped and weathered boulders up there (photo right). For about a minute. Then my "what's over here" curiousity instincts kicked in, having never been up here before. I got up and actually start looking around, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

The view back down to Horseshoe Meadow was quite nice (photo left). It was a little humbling to understand that our ride was 5-6 miles "thataway", on the far side of the Meadow, somewhere below the tall mountain upper center. And we still had to traverse around to the right (from this view) behind Trail Peak, then end up somewhere in the middle of Horseshoe Meadow.

Behind me was the Big Whitney Meadow (photo right). Our journey today would only take us a very very short way into it, then turn left and follow the PCT. I'll have to come back another day to check out the Big Whitney Meadow.

I should make a side note here, throughout the afternoon we would occasionally hear jets flying high overhead. Most of the time I never saw them, but every once in a while I'd catch a glimpse. They were F-18s, out of the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake. It was Jeff who not only pointed them out to us, but could tell us where they were flying out of (being a pilot and all :-D ). He assured us that they were always flying in pairs, even if we only caught sight of one every once in a while. These jets would accompany our climb up Mt Whitney tomorrow for most of the day.

Before too long the rest of the guys caught up and we had a nice, relaxing lunch. But we didn't have ALL day, so gathered up our stuff and started out on the second half of our hike. Photo left is the view back up to Cottonwood Pass from the junction of the Cottonwood Pass trail and the PCT.

As we headed down the trail, I heard a call (Nature) from just up the hill. The other guys didn't hear anything and kept on trucking. By the time I got back to the trail, they were l-o-n-g gone. Well, even mapless, I figured I couldn't get too lost here. I knew where the Horseshoe Meadow was, and where we were parked. I could navigate there by any means necessary if I ever lost the trail.

As I hiked onward, I came across a number of interesting things: a grove of dead pines (below left), more than a few huge leaning trees (below center), and always these extremely twisted trees (below right). I've seen trees like this for many years in the mountains. I still have yet to understand how they get so twisted up.

Eventually I got to Poison Meadow (photo left; no, I don't know why it's called Poison Meadow), and soon after that I caught up to Jeff and Dwight. We hiked onward together, but I was growing pretty fatigued and they soon out-distanced me. I just plodded ahead, one foot in front of the other. The view in front of me (photo right) unchanging, the Horseshoe Meadow off to my left through breaks in the trees.

After a while I caught up to the group. They were taking a break at the Trail Pass/PCT/Mulkey Trail junction. I plopped down but after a couple minutes they rose to start heading onward, fully rested. Ugggh. This didn't bode well for me for tomorrow. I climbed to my feet and plodded onward, still slower than the rest (I also think they were catching exit fever, enabling them to go faster).

Eventually we got down the 600' descent to the broad and sandy Horseshoe Meadow (photo left). And halfway across the meadow we came upon a group of horse riders heading in for a one or two night overnighter trip. (photo right). That's one way of traveling so as to not carry all your gear on your back!

From here it was still about a mile, maybe a shade less, to get back to the parking lot. We still had one water hazard to cross (photo left) in the blazing sun before we could get back to the wooded shade and the Cottonwood Trail (after which it was less than half a mile to the SUV; but given how I was feeling, that was one lonnng half mile!).

Tired, exhausted, I made it back to the SUV. The other four guys had already shed their packs and changed their shoes/socks and were ready to roll. It took me a few minutes to catch up, but then we departed.

On the way out we noticed that the local rock removal crews hadn't finished their work yet. It was just before 2p.

From my vantage point in the SUV on the drive back down the switchbacked Horseshoe Meadow Road, at this hour in the afternoon, the valley below had a distinctive red coloring in places (photo left). We also saw down in the plains periodic dust devils, some of them quite tall (but barely showed up on the photos; there are actually two just right of center in this photo).

As we were closing in on Whitney Portal Road, and since it was "only" mid-afternoon (i.e., we had time to kill), we decided to stop and tag two more caches in the Alabama Hills. We piled out to start looking for the first cache, but my attention was drawn to the rocks. My hands started itching, and I was wishing I had my harness and shoes (and a rope). Photo right of Jeff and Dwight passing by one of the rock formations here, in search of the cache.

As I tore my attentions from the rocks to help with the cache search, one of the guys said, "Hey, what's that up on the rock?" I immediately trotted over to where he was. Sure 'nuff, it was a bolt! And a rap station up top. These rocks WERE an established climbing area! I wanted to climb up...but restrained myself. This will have to wait for another time...

We quickly found the two caches, and a plaque describing this particular area as being where the movie Gunga Din was filmed (photos left and right below).

After collecting the two caches, we jaunted back to town, and off to the ranger station to check in. Where we were given a rude surprise that almost ended the trip right then and there!

Seems we had to check in with the rangers by 11AM the day before the hike, not just check in with them at any time the day before the hike! If there had been a line of people waiting for no-shows during the check-in time, our permit would have been given to another party, and we would have been SOL, and out of our registration fees. We got lucky. Lesson learned. When doing Whitney, DON'T plan anything else the morning before!

With our permit in hand, we headed back to town to grab some grub (photo left, view of Pizza Factory from the hostel room; photo right is of the Mt Whitney hostel from the Pizza Factory), do some more last-minute shopping (which, for me, included picking up a climbing guide to the Alabama Hills; yep, I'll be back!), then repack for the hike up Whitney. We would be getting up around midnight-thirty. Going to bed early sounded like a good option.