Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Mt. Whitney Day Hike

February 2009 we put in for the Mt. Whitney lottery again. The beginning of April arrived, but not the notice of getting picked for a permit. I think it was getting to be the middle of April when the familiar large envelope showed up in my mailbox. We were in, amazing!!! More amazing, it was for the Labor Day weekend! I assumed a large party dropped and we got their spot. Whatever the reason, we were going!!!

Matt, Glenn(a fellow runner and blogger), Octavio and his son Sebastion, myself and Rick were the lucky six given a chance to summit. Matt and I summited last year on a 3 day hike. Rick wanted to dayhike it, the others were going to pack it.

As always, time flew. I trained for and ran 3 ultra's and a marathon. My right ankle was sore and running was still painful less than a week before our trip. But I could hike and a trekking pole helped.

Two days before we were to leave for Lone Pine, Octavio got hold of Matt and told him they would not be able to make the trip. Sebastion was trying out for high school water polo and this was "hell week". The coach was not permitting anyone trying out to take a leave. It's all about being dedicated...So, Thursday Sept. 3rd Matt and I left for Lone Pine to pick up the permit for the remaining party of 4. The final agenda for the weekend...Matt and Glenn to backpack, Rick and I to dayhike.

Rick and Glenn arrived separately between 2300 and midnite (don't quite remember the time, i was sound asleep!). We had set up the tent at the thru-hikers campground at the portal. Rick and I planned to leave around 0400. The others approx. 7. I awoke at 0320, and wandered off to find Rick's car to wake him up. We got on the trail at 0440 using headlamps and moonlight to navigate. We made steady progress, passed Outpost camp and reached Trail Camp at about 0815. I needed to refill my hydration pack, and Rick got some cute Marmot pictures

The trail until Outpost camp is quite beautiful. Tall pines and numerous stream crossing. Maybe one of these day's I'll pack this part of the trail again, camp out near mirror lake. I wonder if fishing is allowed?

Beyond trail camp starts the 99 switchbacks. Somewhere beyond the cables, maybe 20 switchbacks to the top it started to hail, but quickly stopped. Then it started again, a steady stream of BB sized fluffy hail. There was thunder too! We ducked under some rocks to try to wait out the storm. Should we continue to turn back?! I fished out my rain shell, dusted off the hail pellets and sat in a puddle. No more than 5 minutes later the hail eased up and we started up the trail again. Rick spoke to a few coming down the hiker said the metal in the hat vibrated during the thunderstorms...yikes!

Up and up we climbed. I was feeling the altitude by the time we reached Trail Crest, and for me, it was slow going. Rick looked as healthy and chipper as always, leading the way.

I was at the point where I could take a few steps before having to stop and gasp for air! I could see the summit hut, Rick about 50 yards ahead...RUNNING up the mountain! At 14,500 feet he could still run!!!!
Robo Rick running at 14,500ft up Whitney

Well, kind, patient readers...yes we did summit! We took pictures...the only way to have your picture taken on the top of Mt. Whitney is to climb it....savored the views and committed the moment to memory.

We ate a bit, took a few more pictures and decided it was time to get off the mountain before the next set of dark clouds passed over.

Going down should be easier than going up. Unless one twists their ankle on a rock 400 yards from the top......
And it hurt so badly I couldn't put any weight on it. Sitting down on a boulder, we fished out the Kinesio "magic" tape and plastered it over my ankle. It was enough to get us going again. Carefully and slowly we walked down 11 miles. We met up with Glenn and Matt at Trail camp, they fortified us with hot coffee and we continued on. At outpost camp we put on the headlamps and know we are almost done, 3.6 miles to go.

We both agree that someone must have added a mile or two of trail while we were on the summit. Those last few miles took hours. Following Rick, I watched him dance off the rocks marvelling at the lightness of his steps. Yep, i was feeling it, tired, sore...but deep down, it was an adventure, kinda like when I was in middle school and hiked the grand canyon in a day...a little overwhelming but there is the satisfaction that we did it.

I love my life
and I look forward
to whatever is next

Run Along...Now

I've been neglecting my blog. I can't believe my last post was my race recap of the SD 100! I'd started an entry about a training run/adventure for the Mt. Disappointment 50 miler, but never got around to finishing it. One of these days I'd like to post it, as a teaser let's just say it involved SAR, a couple of helicopters, a bear and 34 miles.
This pic is of my two trail running friends who shared the adventure with me, on one of the AC trails.

I completed Mt. Disappointment, my first solo ultra. Rick, my TH and best running buddy decided to let his Achilles mend and dropped from the race. His heels have been painful for quite a while and it was a good decision to give them a rest. While I miss him on the trails, I am learning the importance of letting the body recover.
A pretty view from the Mt. Dis course.
Mt. Dis was an amazing run. It started out with miles of downhill, first asphalt then dirt. It has some beautiful trails, tree covered with soft brown dirt. With the fires raging in that area, I'm sure some of the course is gone and I am grateful for being able to run it and enjoy it.
It was a tough race, the last 20 miles included 2 really "painful" hills. One seemingly endless one almost completely exposed in the heat. The last hill finishes the course, while not in the sun it is about 3 miles of steep climb and switchbacks.

I learned I could mentally and physically complete 50 miles without the TH, but I missed him.

The Bulldog 50K was 2 weeks after Mt. Dis. Quite a few runners were doing both races, so a spur of the moment decision had me signed up for the 50K.
The first 15 mile loop felt awful. I was sore and tired. It felt like it took the entire first loop to warm up. By the second loop, my legs were feeling much better-but the heat was ramping up. What started out as a cramp about .10 of a mile from the finish, just after the final downhill ended up hobbling me, I limped the final stretch and across the finish line. I'd met my goal time of under 7 hours, but 2 weeks later I'm still limping.

So, from the SD 100 to the present, I've still been running along the trails, dodging the snakes and the critters. And trying to find a balance between home, work, love and pounding out the miles.

Next up...Mt. Whitney in a day!