mt. whitney wednesday: planning & prep

Hi everyone! This is the second post in my Mt. Whitney chronicles, which is comprised of journal entries from when I climbed Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, ten years ago. If you missed the first post in the series, you can read it here.

mt whitney chronicles

Saturday, May 10, 2003
I talked to my former kindergarten teacher, Stacey, the other day when she was driving me home from babysitting her two little kids. I told her I want to climb Mt. Whitney, and it turns out a mom of one of her kids in her current kindergarten class just climbed it last summer. Stacey wants to climb Mt. Whitney too, so we are trying to form a group to go together. So far about ten people have signed up, including my second-grade teacher Diane, my mom, and some of their friends. Our group is all female — yeah, Girl Power! — and I am the youngest one.

Sunday, May 11
I did some homework and learned that Mt. Whitney was “discovered” by a California State Geological Survey team in 1864. It was named for the team’s leader, Josiah Dwight Whitney. During that trip, survey team member Clarence King attempted to climb to the summit. Twice. Both times he failed.

What am I getting myself into??

More history: it was not until Clarence King’s third attempt on September 19, 1873 {nearly a decade after his first failed try} that he successfully reached the summit. Ironically, statistics show that today 1-in-3 climbers make it to the top of Mt. Whitney.

Wednesday, May 14
Tonight we had a Whitney Meeting at Stacey’s house. We decided to do the 22-mile-round-trip hike in one day instead of camping out on the trail overnight. I know it sounds crazy, but it actually seems like the better way to go because:

1. We’ll be able to pack much lighter; we won’t have to carry huge overnight backpacks with sleeping bags and tents.
2. It is much easier to get a permit for day hiking than for overnight hiking.
3. We’ll get to sleep in a real bed in a hotel after the hike and soak our tired legs in the hot tub! For me, that is much more tempting than sleeping on the cold, hard ground in the wilderness.

At the meeting, we filled out the permit forms. They only allow a certain number of people on the trail at a time, so we’ll hear back in a few weeks as to whether our permit was accepted or not. Our tentative date for the hike is Saturday, July 26 — which seems far away now, but I have a feeling it will be here before we know it!

Julianna, the mother from Stacey’s class who climbed Mt. Whitney last summer, came to our meeting to talk about her hiking experience. She said it took a lot of hard training and determination to get to the top, and there were times she just wanted to turn around and give up … but that the blisters and sweat and aching muscles are all worth it in the end.

Then she showed us her photos. They were amazing — like something out of a nature magazine or off a postcard. The photos from the peak of Mt. Whitney were my favorite: nothing but blue sky and clouds all around, like you’re standing in a castle up in the sky.

And Julianna said the photos don’t even do Whitney justice. She said it’s something you have to see in person to truly appreciate. I hope I have what it takes to find out for myself. Our first training hike is this Sunday. Mt. Whitney, here I come!

6 thoughts on “mt. whitney wednesday: planning & prep

  1. Dal – I am really looking forward to reading your journal posts about our Whitney climb. Your posts bring it back so vividly, like it was yesterday, not 10 years ago! You were the best hiking partner I could have asked for. Love you, Mom

  2. Thanks for posting this. I’m looking forward to reading it and comparing notes. We’re hiking Mt. Whitney in 2 weeks. Any last minute tips or recommendations?

    • Thanks for stopping by, and how exciting that you’re hiking Whitney so soon! My biggest advice is to bring plenty of water and provisions, take altitude-sickness medication if possible, and if you’re hiking it in one day, leave plenty early so you can make it to the top before the thunderstorms typically roll in around noon. Best of luck!!

  3. Pingback: mt. whitney wednesday: on top of the world | Day-By-Day Masterpiece

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