Climbing Mt. Whitney

15 Jul

Last weekend, I set off on an adventure with Travis and a few close friends. I finally got the opportunity to hike Mt. Whitney and cross another thing off my bucket list!!

In order to hike Mt. Whitney, you must submit your names into a lottery in February. Travis put in for 10 spots for the second weekend in July and we were fortunate enough to get all the spots we wanted! After getting our gear and food together, we hit the road.

 We stopped just outside of Lone Pine to pick up our group’s hiking permit.

Travis on the way to get the permit

A view of the Sierras

After four hours of driving, we arrived in Lone Pine, CA at the classy Dow Villa Motel.

The Dow Villa was built in the 1920s to accommodate the film crews working on the country western movies that were filmed on location. The Dow Hotel hosted countless producers, directors and stars including John Wayne, William Boyd, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.

The hotel was old but had lots of character and all of the walls were plastered with John Wayne portraits and memorabilia.

After checking into our hotel and grabbing a bite to eat, we meandered up to the trail head to check it out and see what we would be up against the following morning.

Nicole, Kendall, and Me

The trail head

We rested up that night in preparation for our 4am wake-up. We hit the trail head by 5:02 am.

Sunrise

I found a sling-shot stick!

That’s right folks! Pack it in, pack it out. We were provided Wag Bags for this purpose: a sanitary plastic bag to store your waste until the hike is over and you can properly dispose of it.

This post is very picture heavy, so I’m going to give the writing a break and let you enjoy the pictures…

The girls

Our first, but definitely not last, sighting of snow

Travis and I taking a break at the Notch

After 7 hours and 11 miles of hiking, Nicole, Travis, and I, who hiked the last few miles together, spotted the small stone building at Whitney’s summit. 

It was quite a sight for sore eyes, and I’m pretty sure I shed a tear or two because I was so exhausted and excited.

We all signed the book, which I heard goes into the Smithsonian Museum.

"I am so much stronger than I think"

Laying down on Whitney's Summit

I must have been tired because I didn’t take another picture until we were just a few miles from the bottom. It felt like the never-ending hike down the mountain and I was pretty miserable, but thankfully I had nature’s beauty to give me a second wind.

When we finally made it down, we were filled with many different feelings; happiness, relief, exhaustion, hunger…

I replaced the lost calories with a giant bison burger and a side of fries later that night. Sadly, I was delirious and forgot my camera to capture it in all its beauty.

The following morning I kept the food fest going with a huge, homemade cinnamon roll from the best breakfast place I have ever been to.

Cinnamon roll and coffee!! Lots of coffee was had.

Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine is one of those little diners you’d see on Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Everything is made from scratch and incredibly delicious. I took little nibbles from everyone’s plate and there was nothing that I didn’t love!

I saw some chocolate cookies come out of the oven, and although I was stuffed, I couldn’t resist. I ordered one to go. It was massive and only cost me a buck!

I saved it for the ride home, but my breakfast kept me so full all day that I didn’t eat it until later that evening after unpacking.

That was one incredible cookie. Gooey in the center, chewy around the edges. Perfection.

I will leave you with my final thoughts on this adventure:

I am so glad that I got to hike Mt. Whitney and I am so fortunate that the conditions were good enough for me to make it to the top on my first attempt. That being said, I am pretty certain that I will NEVER do it again. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It was mentally and physically demanding, but so very rewarding to be atop the summit of the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.  Standing at 14,505 feet is breathtaking (literally and figuratively!), but once is enough for me. 🙂

I’ve tackled a dream and I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad I never have to do it again.

-Lou

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3 Responses to “Climbing Mt. Whitney”

  1. Mom and Dad July 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Wow, what a beautiful hike. You guys are so tough to make this whole hike in one day. The photos are breathtaking. Dad sure knows about those wag bags after all the trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. Great job Lauren.

    Loves, Mom and Dad

  2. Madeleines and Marathons July 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    So awesome you made it to the Top…big kudos to you, for making it on your first attempt! The pics came out beautiful!!

  3. Madeleines and Marathons July 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    P.S. Lauren, did I forget to mention how sexy your hiking shorts are?

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