July 31st, 2009
How lucky I am! One of my clients called and invited me to climb Mt. Whitney.
Tom had reserved for a group of 9, but he only and three other mountaineers who had committed. So I was given the rare opportunity to climb in Summer. Many times I've sent in my date requests on March 1st as required, but was never granted a Summer date. (Mt. Whitney is so popular, trail/hiking permits are issued by lottery.)
We met at the campground at Whitney Portal. Bear warnings were posted and one visited the camping table of Tom, Janet, Melissa and Rita. No harm was done.
Tom had been the trainer and guide for my fellow hikers. It was their first summit attempt. Tom said they were dedicated and trained hard. It showed, all three of course made summit and back in one piece. All four of us felt our legs for days afterwards, but it was a "happy pain".
It was incredible that Janet, Rita, and Melissa after only 8 weeks of training mastered this arduous journey. Here were three accomplished women, true Champions. And Tom, who tirelessly offered support and encouragement to them, a kinder trainer I cannot imagine. It was wonderful to be on the trail with all of them. There were times when I thought, "this is only the way up, I also have to go all the way back down!" But most of the time it was grand, the beauty of the different terrain breathtaking and not because of the altitude. The lakes, water falls, rocks, flowers, and even the masterful created trails were enough to feed the soul for a long time. Along side some rock walls were seeps that created oasis of fern- and- flower gardens. I saw a Pika skittering beside me, feeding on vegetation.
From my camera I noted the time we arrived at the different "mile posts" :
We started with headlamps strapped to our heads at 3:45 am. It was very dark, the moon had set a long time ago. Forded two streams in the dark, heard mysterious rustling beside me and in the light of my head lamp found myself 10 feet away from a friendly deer.
Sunrise at 6:07
Sun on trail 6:08
Mt. Whitney bathed in sunlight 6:18
Wayside Meadow 7:24
Consultation Lake 8:26 and break for filtering water and rest before the switch backs.
Trail Crest 11:06
Leaving Trail Crest 11:56
"The Windows" 12:39 PM
Keeler Needle 13:25
Leaving Summit 14:40
Lone Pine Lake 20:03
Tehachapi and home 12:45 AM
Already I have half forgotten the rocky, tough trail behind the needles after we crossed Trail Quest. (The most difficult to me.) The views of the Sierra Nevada mountains were so grand, they left us all speechless at first. And I cannot wait until October when I will be up there once more.