“We have an extra permit, want to hike Mount Whitney?” Heinz asked me. My response, “Sure!” And then … “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”
But oh well, we all went anyway.
We left San Francisco that Friday in the early afternoon. We arrived super late, went to bed and woke up the next morning at 3 am. Or was it 3:30? Too early to tell. Who was included in the awesome crew? Heinz, Drew, Pete, Alise and myself. This was my 2nd backpack trip – first one was Patagonia years ago with Kathleen and Kim and since then have pretty much just done day hikes or car camping for climbing weekend trips.
After hours of hiking, we got to our campsite. The altitude made it harder to breathe. We left half of our backpacks there which lightened the load and I laid on my back on a cold rock. Air…yessss. Word to the wise: do not summit Mount Whitney in one day. But since we all had to be at work on Monday, that’s what we did. I had randomly messaged people on instagram I had seen had gone there recently in order to ask them about the weather and packing tips and they all gave me that advice. I would abide it next time.
We went up the 99 switchbacks and Kathleen’s words from Patagonia kept coming to mind – “this is like the switchbacks” – back then I didn’t know / hadn’t experience what those were. And here I was today. The air was getting thinner. We were nearing the top and I got a major migraine. Like a hammer hitting my head repeatedly. We stuffed my bag somewhere in the rocks and Heinz, thankfully held my water. But then we encountered even more views and it was so worth it. After some time we made it to the summit. Wow – highest I’ve ever hiked to.
We chilled out in the hut a bit and came back down. It was dark by the time Drew, Heinz and I had about another 1/2 hour to camp. But we made it. And opened up our freeze dried food and had dinner. None of us were really hungry though. Sleeping that night was freezing! But we awoke to a sunrise.
That morning we had breakfast and set off to trek down the rest of the mountain, made it to town, had BBQ and then the car ride home.