mt. whitney thursday: training hikes

Hi everyone! This post is part of my series the 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 earlier post in the series, you can read them here.

mt whitney chronicles

Sunday, May 18, 2003
I just got back from my first training hike! Mom says we are lucky to live in Southern California near the beach and foothill mountains because there are so many great hiking trails nearby. I guess she’s right, but right now I don’t even want to think about getting up at 6 a.m. next Sunday and doing the same thing all over again! Today we only hiked for two hours, and I’m in pretty good shape from running cross-country and track for my high school, but it seemed like for-ev-er. And, to be honest, there wasn’t even that much uphill! Climbing Mt. Whitney in one day is supposed to take at least fourteen hours — the first eight of which will be spent hiking up, up, up the mountain. Right now, that seems so impossible!

Saturday, May 31
Mom and I went to Patagonia today to look for hiking boots because she thinks we should break them in a little during our hike tomorrow morning. I found a pair that is pretty comfortable, and I got some hiking socks, too. We also each bought a walking stick, which hard-core hikers say are invaluable, especially when climbing mountains like Whitney. They provide leverage going up the trail and make the constant pounding of going downhill easier on your body by bearing some of the impact. Also, very importantly, they can help prevent you from slipping and falling on rocky and dangerous trails.

Still, a part of me thought the cashier might laugh at us when we went up to purchase the hiking sticks. I felt like an old lady buying a cane. But I shouldn’t have worried: the cashier smiled and asked if we’re preparing for a specific hike. When we told him we’re going to climb Whitney, his eyes grew wide and he looked impressed. “Wow, you’re serious hikers, then!” he said. “Good luck!”

Walking out of the store, my heart swelled with pride and excitement. Me, a serious hiker! Hopefully in a couple months I’ll be able to go back to that store and tell him we made it to the top.

Thursday, June 13
Now that we are “serious hikers” Mom has been going to all the local outdoors-y stores and talking to people about Mt. Whitney. She’s managed to come across a few other hikers who have made it to the top and is soaking up their advice like a sponge. She also found a book, How to Climb Mt. Whitney in One Day, that I’ve been reading. Maybe it’s just me, but the author makes climbing Mt. Whitney seem really scary! She says that for the last mile, every step will be a struggle, and you will feel dizzy and nauseous while hiking only a few steps away from hundred-foot cliff-drops. For someone like me who is so afraid of heights that even the Ferris Wheel makes my insides do cartwheels, maybe this isn’t such a great idea after all …

But then I think about Julianna’s photos from the top. I really want to be there. I really want to see that view for myself.

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