Monday, September 20, 2010

Highest Point in the Lower 48

Last weekend, I climbed Mount Whitney with Jeff and our friend Sean Checketts and his buddy Billie, as well as Jeff’s dad and his buddy Greg. 11 miles up and 11 miles down.

We slept at the Comfort Inn in Lone Pine on Friday night. Saturday we met up with our friends for breakfast and got the passes. By 12:30 we were all getting ready in the parking lot of the Mount Whitney Portal at about 8,000 feet. Off we went up, up, and up. We hiked with packs (mine was 21 pounds) for 4 hours to the campsite – Trail Camp. Trail Camp is 6.3 miles into the hike at an elevation of 12040 feet.

Legs weary and energy low we set up our tents in the setting sun, the air becoming more and more crisp and chilly. Freeze dried Mac’n’Cheese for dinner and food safely then tucked away in bear canisters we hit the sack. After a fairly uncomfortable night’s rest, trying to remain warm, we had our freeze-dried granola with blueberries. We started up the mountain at 7:30am in the morning and hiked to the top of Whitney, which sits at 14,505 feet in a few hours. The view was stunning and you could see all the other peaks and valleys around us. Lakes were an enchanting blue in the moonlike surroundings. We were very lucky with the mild weather and light breeze flowing through vibrant blue skies.

We hiked back down to Trail Camp, switchback by switchback. At camp we packed up our packs, and hiked down the rest with our packs, which felt quite a bit heavier than on the way up. This is where it was rough going. The last few miles, my body was very weak and my legs felt as though they could not walk any further. As the cool dusk hit the mountainsides we made it down at last by 7:30pm - 12 hours of hiking and 6,000 feet of decrease in elevation. 
Whew! What an adventure!