Monday, November 10, 2008

The Summit

The morning was very cold. Matt was putting on what seemed to be every piece of clothing he brought. The first stop was trail camp, 5 min. up the trail to fill our camelbaks. After filtering and filling we took off for the trailhead, it was about 0700.
The hike started out easy, the sky was clear and the wind had died off. Soon we were peeling off layers, at one point Matt stood guard as I tried to strip off my long underware on a switchback.
Everyone complains about the 99 switchbacks, yes, there are 99 of them and yes, it is a chore.
We arrived at Trail Crest , admired the views and were encouraged by the time and how well we still felt. Most say that if you can make it to trail crest you can make it to the summit. A brief rest and we pushed on. The trail takes a very steep drop at this point, you can see Guitar lake , then slowly climbs. I liked this part of our hike. The views were breathtaking. At one point we reached a section where you could see Whitney and the long winding trail that takes you to the summit. The altitude was becoming a factor now and that long trail to the top was going to take a long time to hike.
We were having to stop every 30 min to catch our breath, they were short breaks, but our muscles needed rest and more oxygen. When we could see the summit hut , maybe 0.5 miles from the top, the headaches started and every step from that point on required focused determination. 10 steps and rest. 8 steps and rest. Finally we were on top and all the pain vanished. As Matt said, "It was all he had hoped for and more". We signed the book, took in the views and sat down to eat. My headache was gone and we were both suddenly hungry. It is amazing to be on top of a mountain. To take in that 360 degree view with nothing higher than yourself....
It was a long process to reach the peak. The training, planning and cost were certainly all factors. But that first step on the summit made it all worthwhile.

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