Mount Whitney Trip Report (#7994)
- Signed By: Leondra Baker
- Date submitted: August 09, 2004
We did it!!!!! Whoohoo!!!! We actually made it to the top and back! (My first time)
We started the hike at the trail head at 3:20 am Tuesday morning. Getting to sleep Monday night proved difficult (at least for me).
Thanks to Brandon for loaning me the best shirt ever for hiking and thanks to AJ for loaning me the best pants for hiking.
We started as a group starting up the trail. This was probably the best part of the hike for me. It was incredibly beautiful and my heart was full as we headed up the trail. I immediately experienced pain in my shoulders from the weight of my backpack. Next time, I'll get a better back pack! The beauty of the woods was almost magical in the moonlight.
We were mostly together until about a mile before the switch backs (I think). I had problems breathing right away. Brandon, came back to me and told me to take it easy. Not to rush it and take lots of breaks. Good advice!!
AJ hung with me from there through the first few switch backs. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Good advice. I was practicing my 2 count in 2 count out then deep breathe. Then the thought of others passing overcame AJ and she was off.
One of the first guys (Woody - kinda cute) who caught up to me was counting the switch backs (late 20s). I finally got the hang of it in the early 30s (yelled up to him). Through out the switch backs, I had to stop ever so often and catch my breath. Switch back number 47 was the first one that totally sucked (the one with the broken off black rails). At this point I was determined but had to stop to catch my breath. I was going strong. Then switch back 76. Ut Oh. Then I was OK. I thought I can do this! Then number 88. The hardest yet. I had to sit down and count to 60. And breathe, breathe, breathe. My lungs started to hurt a little. I caught up to a guy named Craig. He helped me get something out of my pack (I don't remember now what it was - good excuse for conversation). He asked for Aspirin (I had about 500 - Good Advice from Nicole, take 2 every 4 hours - kept my headache at bay). We made buds and hung together up through the top of the switch backs. 88-96 are the longest. I organized us into breathing break at top of each switch back. Then I saw someone at the top of the Mtn. yelling whoohoo. It was 830am (probably Joe - turkey I thought - Oh don't tell him I thought that :)
Switchback 96 is by far the longest: it goes on forever!! Craig and I made it to the top of the switch backs!! Now at this point I thought I deserved a reward - where is the top!?!?! Craig wanted to wait for his friends so we waited, but we stopped in between two mountains. The wind froze me. I quickly put on the pants and the jacket (over my shorts and shirt). Then thought about Nicoles' gloves. My fingers were frozen. I immediately got out of that wind. Craig's friends caught up to us, but soon I realized that I left them in the dust. Oh well, can't stop now.
This next part I kept expecting to reach the top any second. Only that second never seemed to come. Oh wait a moment. Where did the trail go? Well there is somebody up ahead. OK. I can just climb some rocks to get there.
As it gets higher, I start losing focus. I begin to stumble at times (dizzy). Now I start to see people coming down the mtn. They say encouraging things like "almost there" (ya right). It is obvious at this point that I am struggling.
I am within 200 yards (?) of the top. It looks like it is straight up. I can't go anymore. I collapse on a rock. I am lying down struggling to breathe. I feel pain in my heart. A guy is walking down the mtn towards me. He stops and asks me if I'm OK. I say Yup. He goes on. I still cannot control my breathing, and breathing is a struggle now. I can't go anymore. I start to cry. All of a sudden, I am sobbing. I tell myself I'm OK. I can do this and I am almost there. I get up and breathe deeply. Soon I have breathing under control and am on my feet again. Walking is a struggle, but I am getting there darn it!
Then I see Joe. I start crying again. I have no idea why. Joe gives me a hug. Takes my pack and carries it the rest of the way to the top. He gets everybody to stay at top.
I arrive at 1020am. The next person I see is Brandon. He comes over and gives me a big bear hug. Boy! Did I need that!!!! Then I see AJ. She all smiles (freezing to death, but smiling). She gives me my hugs. Finally my rewards!!! Next I touch the surveyor triangular thing. Next we take group picture (AJ, Joe, Brandon, Howard, Andrew, and me). Then, I get to see the beauty that surrounds me! Truly amazing!!!!!
We head back down right away (AJ's lips turn an amazing shade of blue when she's frozen). It was so cold at the top!! I didn't want to go down alone. Joe volunteers to stay with me. We see Nicole on way down. About 1/2 mile (?) before beginning of switch backs, Joe and I eat lunch. We take our time, stopping frequently. Leondra finally needs potty breaks (OK so you didn't need to know that). Doing anything that involves going up still
causes me much difficulty.
When we finally make it to the switchbacks, I get a second wind. I start down at a fast clip. Only later do I realize what a mistake that was! I see a couple who remembers me from the way up. They yell me, "Hi, speedskater"
Joe decides to filter water. I put on and take off clothes a few times. Stopping makes me cold. Sun coming out makes me sweat tons. When we get to the bottom (of the switchbacks), we decide to wait for Nicole (only 10 minutes!). She didn't waste anytime coming down.
We have either 9 miles (?) or 3 (?) hours left (I can't remember which). It seems like forever. My feet hurt everywhere (from second wind and coming down switchbacks at good clip). With 3 mile left, Joe starts to get a little restless. Nicole cuts pace so I can keep up. Then I start to feel as if I just can't go anymore. I have nothing left. Nicole keeps talking to me and keeps me going. Thank God for Nicole!!!!!!
I am proud of my accomplishment and am glad I got to share it with my buds!!