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Mt.Whitney 2013 part 2

July 2, 2013

Planning Mt. Whitney this year was a breeze knowing I was going with a new group of friends that would be far different from last year but also being pretty comfortable with all the needs of the hike. This year was with two coworkers and one of their preteen daughters and my dearest friend in the world, Elizabeth. I entered the lottery the same as last year with the intention of catching a late Friday in June.  I needed to get in a big event in June while still working towards completing my goals for the year. After having successfully earned my chosen weekend I promptly failed to timely confirm my reservation and lost my spot. Not being to daunted at this prospect since I had already promised my friends I figured I would just check and see if there were still any other spots left. Sure enough this time I got lucky and found that the Saturday after my chosen Friday had room to accommodate my group. Was to bad this year did not get to include Natalie or my sister but going with Eduardo, Kevin, Lauren, and Elizabeth was still a fantastic experience.

This year driving up from San Diego rather than Las Angeles was actually a bit easier since we could leave midday on a Friday and traffic was not too bad made the trip in 5 hours and even got to visit the Eastern Sierra Inter agency center (visitor center) when picking up our permit. Pretty neat to go in and read about the terrain and some of the geology of the area while seeing just how the Sierra are oriented between Death Valley and Sequoia National park. When I see magnificent natural features of the state it weakens my resolve a bit on my general dislike of California.  Such a great place to visit and play outdoors just not into the cities and crowds and perfect sun kissed people.  Guess I am really just a bit jealous but cannot see myself leaving Texas either way.

The view from in front of the visitors center was pretty majestic and included the US Flag on the back drop of the Sierra from my last post, as well as this beautiful shot in the dry 100 degree heat of the valley.

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Getting settled in after and finding Kevin and Lauren at the classiest hotel in Lone Pine was pretty easy. I have become quite a fan of the Best Western out here despite the simplicity of the place, clean rooms, reasonable prices and friendly staff. Note to anyone staying there apparently they do not have mail pick up Saturdays since my post cards were still in the box after my climb. After getting booked into our rooms we all agreed on the need for an early dinner and visit of the beautiful town of Lone Pine. Kevin and his daughter Lauren had arrived earlier in the day and were telling all the details of visiting the Lone Pine film museum and all the movie history of the town. The natural beauty of the desert town with the backdrop of the Eastern Sierra in addition to the proximity to Las Angeles made it a natural place for the filming of many old westerns movies all the way to modern sci-fi films. Movie posters and signed photos appear in every restaurant and shop all over town which adds even more charm to the place. On my next trip to Lone Pine, the film museum is an absolute must along with more time in the desert hopefully to include some rock climbing.

After a big carbohydrate loaded dinner we were all destined for an early night and I wanted to get some writing in, blog and post cards while waiting Elizabeth to arrive. She was coming in from Orange County after work so arrived a bit later than we did but still with plenty of time for at least a few hours of sleep before our planned 3:30am departure.

The drive from Lone Pine to the Whitney portal at 4am is bound to make even seasoned hikers giddy with anticipation, the pitch black of the mountains early in the morning the immediate loss of cellular reception and the driving accent of 5000 feet that you won’t have to walk up are all things that get the blood moving. I am used to racing when I can take that final cup of coffee or banana with me and leave the wrapper or cup in the car.  It is a pain having to leave everything your not going to carry up the mountain in the hotel. The reason for this sterilization is to “bear proof” the car to be free of all scent that might attract them and encourage bears to break in your car. After arriving we tried to get a a photo of the group all set but alas it did not come out too well with a flash and headlamps around. We started off in the dark about 4:30, about 30 minutes later than I would have liked but I was ready to get moving. After the first 10 minutes Lauren had a bit of trouble with her pack so Kevin sent us ahead so they could walk at their own pace, at that point Elizabeth set her pace as well, leaving Eduardo and I together for the day to enjoy all the best the Sierra’s had to offer.

The lower portion of the trail in the dark for the first couple hours is not nearly as stimulating as once the sun begins to peak over that the ridge hiding Death Valley from the mountains. I started snapping pictures as we climbed and will let them tell the story for the most part from the forest through the beautiful meadow, both camp areas, the lakes, then above the tree line to the stark mountain tops and ridge to overlook the western side of the range and the Sequoia national park and the beauty of seeing so much of our beautiful country.

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If anyone is ever thinking of climbing in California this is an absolute must.  Do not be daunted that it is the highest in the continental US.  The walk is 22 miles round trip and covers 6000 vertical feet so it is challenging but so worth while.  I hope everyone had a great weekend and is getting July started right.

Reminder to any readers, if you would like to give me the best birthday gift ever please support my bid to run in the NYC Marathon by fund raising for Team for Kids. If interested please click here and know I appreciate your support.

From → Goals, travel

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