mt. whitney wednesday: the big day begins!

Hi everyone! This post is part of 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 any earlier posts in the series, they are all archived here.

mt whitney chronicles

Saturday, July 26, 3:52 a.m.

My alarm went off at 2:30 this morning. I don’t think I have ever woken up this early in my entire life, yet I was surprised to find I wasn’t really that tired. Nervous energy and adrenaline pumped through my veins as I pulled on my hiking boots and shouldered my backpack filled with enough water to get a camel across the Sahara.

I took one last look at the warm hotel room before closing the door behind me and following Mom down the darkened corridor. I wonder if I will return triumphant and proud, or despondent and defeated by the mountain? I tell myself it will be the former!

We met Stacey and some of the others in our climbing party at the hotel where they were staying. As we huddled in front of the cars in the parking lot, waiting while a few of them did a final check to make sure they hadn’t forgotten anything, I was reminded of a group of teenage girls preparing to go TP-ing on a slumber party night: nervous, excited, and taking a little breathless comfort in the thought that, whatever happens, we are all in this together.

We drove up to the Whitney Portal in a small caravan of cars. The road is uncomfortably narrow, so it is reassuring to have another car in front of you to follow. It is so pitch black outside once you leave the few lights of Lone Pine behind. Driving along and looking up at the mountain we are about to climb, with the twinkling stars the only light in the sky, and our feeble headlights only illuminating a small section of the ground ahead, I have never felt so small and yet so big, so alone and yet so connected, so wise and yet so utterly clueless, all at the same time.

We parked and headed up to the trailhead. Most of the stars are blocked out by the towering mountain and the surrounding trees, and it is so dark I literally cannot see my hand in front of my face. It is cold, too; biting cold, and I’m glad for my fleece gloves and warm wool beanie. Mom helps me put my headlamp on, which is basically a flashlight mounted to a headband. When she bought it a month ago at one of the hiking stores I thought it was one of the silliest, dorkiest things I had ever seen, but now I’m grateful for the steady beam of light it provides, revealing the trail ahead.

We start out, talking softly and stepping quickly, full of energy, excitement and nervousness. If I turn and look behind me, the steady line of my teammate hikers, each with a headlamp firmly positioned on her forehead, looks oddly like a group of miners. It makes me think of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.

“Hi ho, hi ho! It’s off to the peak of Mount Whitney we go!” We slip through the silent night, a flurry of boots and beams of light. The woods behind us are quiet, and the mountain ahead is darker than the back side of the moon.

the whitney group

A group shot a couple hours into the hike, once the sun has risen.

midnight snack: pancakes!

I don’t know if I had a lighter dinner than usual last night, or if I burned more calories yesterday zipping around campus in the rain, or what … but late last night I found myself feeling hungry. And you know what was calling to me from the pantry? Pancake mix! So I decided to whip up a quick small batch of butterscotch/chocolate-chip pancakes for a special late-night treat.

Here is the recipe I used to make my perfect, sweetly satisfying late-night snack in case you’d like to try it out yourself sometime. If not for a midnight snack, perhaps for breakfast? 😉

chocolatey butterscotch pancakes

– 1 cup pancake mix {I used Aunt Jemima}
– 3/4 cup water
– handful of chocolate chips
– handful of butterscotch chips
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– butter for greasing the griddle

1. Stir together ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Batter will be lumpy.

2. Let batter sit for 3-5 minutes. While batter is resting, warm griddle pan on stove over medium-low heat.

3. When griddle is hot, grease pan with a little butter. {I always use butter because it is the way my mom makes pancakes … I love the crispy edges it gives them!}

4. Cook pancakes 4-5 minutes per side, flipping over when the middle starts to bubble.

5. Serve warm, with syrup if desired. {I prefer mine plain, with the chocolate all melty!}

Mmmm … the perfect end to a blustery autumn day. I was so excited to eat them that I completely forgot to take a picture! Sorry about that. I’m sure you can imagine them!

It could be that my pancake craving comes because I’ve been missing my brother Greg an extra lot lately. Pancakes always make me think of him. He is a pancake fiend! He’s coming to visit me in just a couple weeks and I could not be more excited.

What are some of your favorite late-night foods?

-Dallas

You might also enjoy:

strawberry & chocolate-chip pancakes
midnight stroll around the neighborhood
chocolate, strawberry & coconut cookies