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


Glenn Jones said...

Okay Lori - you guys are showing way too much teeth!

Thanks a *million* for allowing me to include myself this year! It was a *blast*. Plans for next year?

Lauren said...

What an awesome adventure Lori! Wow! You are impressive.