Day 3: Mt Whitney Trek departure...

Lone Pine Travel Blog

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Me at 3am ready for Mt Whitney summit departure.

Mt Whitney wake-up call @ 2am, temp is 46 degrees, elevation 8350 feet, and the moon is nearly full. The girls are making coffee and packing last minute items while I ate my P&J sandwich. Camp is wrapped up last minute check list complete, lets rock & roll.

Well it's 3:30am as we're weighing in at the trail head. Mindy's pack weighed in at 25lbs while mine at only 19lbs... she had 6lbs more of food, we just might have to help her eat some. The summit is 11 miles with over 6000 ft gain in elevation, and thats only halfway, It's 22 miles round trip. The average time for the trekker who attemps this in one day is 15-16 hrs.

Shortly after we hit the trail we broke of into pairs, Nichole & myself and Mindy & Heather.

Heather & Mindy at 3am ready for Mt Whitney summit departure.
Nichole was a great partner and easy to track because she was wearing a cowbell (ding ding). We couldn't of picked a better night for the hike with the fullmoon. It was so beautiful and so bright that 80 percent of the time we were able to hike only by moonlight and turned of our headlamps. The reflection of the moon off the granite walls lit up the canyon trails and the water falls sparkled in the moonlight. About 3 miles into the trek Nichole and I got just a little lost from the trail. I told her to just follow me... Ah yes here's the trail we're back on track until we noticed some lights in the distance getting closer...Duh, we were going back down. Quick turn around we don't want anyone to know what happened, it could be Mindy & Heather.

As we approached the first base camp the sun was beginning to rise, this was the most beautiful sight to see.

Me after 3 cups of coffee and a PB&J sandwich at 3am
We took many pictures here as the sun was rising. Close ahead comes the switchbacks that everyone talks about, 99 of them. I thought they would lead us to the top only to find out that it was just the beginning. Where it did take us was to the crest trail. At this point we had a 360 degree view that was unbelievable. The altitude at this point was 13, 600 ft and the temp drop drastically... now we were exposed to the elements. The good news is we could see the summit off in the distance, 1.9 miles away.

The last 1.9 miles seemed like eternity but we made it, yes we reached the summit in just 6.5 hrs. One last thing for me was to do 100 push-up without stopping on the summit (14,496'). Breathe baby Breathe... oxygen is thin up here. OMG! What was I thinking, I'm only halfway! Nichole and I relaxed for a short time took some pics and ate lunch.

Nichole on the whitney trail just before sunrise
By this time the tempurture was in the mid 30's and the musles were begin to tighten up, it's time to head down. Just as we were leaving Mindy and Heather were approaching the summit. We congradulated them, took some pictures and then moved on.

The way down was very hard on the body. My feet and knees were taking a beating as well as my head was starting to pound and getting a little light headed, Nichole was feeling the same symtoms. It was the altitude starting to take show its affects. On the way up your heart rate is high pumping lots of oxygen to the brain and on the way down your heart rate drop as well as the flow of oxygen creating the headaches and feeling of dizziness.

As we started the switchbacks on the way down I decided to count them, all 99 were there.

Whitney trail above the tree line... these rocks are hard on the feet.
It was like taking the stairs down in a 100 story building.  It was now time to find a water source, we had both ran out of water. I had purchased this water filter for my last attempt that got cancelled do to snow. We found our source and it's time to put this filter to the test. Ahhh it works so well  the water was so refreshing, we filled up our camelpaks and remained on our way.

This trip down seemed like eternity. Most of the trip down was not so familiar because we started well before sunrise. At one point we came accross some hikers and asked them how far it was to the trailhead (my guess was 2 miles) and they said 5.5 miles. I felt like we'd been hiking for days. Our goal was to be down before dark. Soon after what seemed like hours we finally saw civilization, we're almost there.

We were greeted by many people as we arrived, people who were planning on doing the trek the next morning. I wanted  to make sure I encouraged everyone that it was worth it and I did. I have to say though, this was one of the hardest thing I've did in my life physically. I'm in extremely great shape but this was a butt kickin'.  It took us 12hr and 10min round trek, the average being 16hrs. I was asked by many if I'd do it again and my reply was " tommorrow but I'd camp half way and do in in 3 days".

Nichole and I were so exausted at this point, we headed over to the portal store to enjoy something cold to drink while we waited for the other girls. The sun was beginning to set  as they arrived, "Congrats Girls we did it!"

It was time to go find some dinner and a place to shower. There was a local hostel in town with showers for 5 bucks, it felt so good. This was a life changing experience for all of us. I could not have did it with a better group of people. Thank you Mindy, Heather and Nichole for the invite and sharing this incredible Spiritual journey with me. I am blessed to have you girls in my life.

Peace

 

Quest says:
what a great story... I would have loved to experience the hike in the moonlight. It sounds awesome :o)

btw; great pics :o))
Posted on: Dec 07, 2009
breezejen says:
Great photos, Chris. That's awesome that you did the whole hike in 1 day. When I did it, I took 3 days. Seeing your pictures makes me want to do the hike again. Awesome!
Posted on: Sep 22, 2009
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Me at 3am ready for Mt Whitney sum…
Me at 3am ready for Mt Whitney su…
Heather & Mindy at 3am ready for M…
Heather & Mindy at 3am ready for …
Me after 3 cups of coffee and a PB…
Me after 3 cups of coffee and a P…
Nichole on the whitney trail just …
Nichole on the whitney trail just…
Whitney trail above the tree line.…
Whitney trail above the tree line…
Beautiful sunrise from Whitney tra…
Beautiful sunrise from Whitney tr…
Nicholes sillouette in the sunris…
Nichole's sillouette in the sunri…
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#1 My sillouette in the morning s…
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#2 My sillouette in the morning s…
Mt Whitneys rocky trail
Mt Whitney's rocky trail
The view as we reached the crest t…
The view as we reached the crest …
Me on top of Mt Whitney elev. 14,4…
Me on top of Mt Whitney elev. 14,…
Nichole and I on the summit marker…
Nichole and I on the summit marke…
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View from the top of Mt Whitney
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Stone shack on the summit of Mt W…
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Sillouette looking over the Easte…
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97,98, 99, 100! Mt Whitney summit…
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