Sunday, September 25, 2005

We all climbed this beauty! Mount. Whitney

Beginning of the trail up the tallest Mountain in the 48 contiguous states.

Our group on the way up.

The first day we hiked to trail camp, which is 6 miles up. The last mile or two I remembered well from last year, it was very challenging. It was very rocky and stair-like, it seemed to be a bit more difficult with 30 lb. bags.

At this point I could not help but have a huge grin on my face. This was worth it all and the view was breathtaking!

The As soon as we got to trail camp we found our flat land for our tents set them up and started dinner right away. The trip was wonderful up until this point. We were starving, tired and cold. It was so frustrating setting up our tents, we had 30 mile an hour winds whipping through the ravine between the peeks, it was about 30 degrees and we were also posting our tents on rock with maybe about 1-3 inches of gravel/sand. Our space was also not flat; we had a 4inch drop for a diagonal quarter of the tent. This made for interesting sleeping arrangements. We couldn’t get our stove started, our fingers were so numb and it was so windy our matches kept blowing out. Finally, after Matt and Brooke were done cooking they let us use their stove.

This was the longest night of my life! I thought it would never end. I was absolutely freezing, the wind was terrible, and I was also terrified and thought I was going to die. This is why; Tuesday they had a storm, so there was 3-4 feet of snow on the mountain. Much of it was still there, we were sleeping near patches of snow. This was not the worst part. We could see snow blowing across the trial we were supposed to take the next day. The wind would whip around our rock shelter and thrash our rain tarp violently (the tent itself is screen so it came right in swirling around Rachel and I and straight into our sleeping bags). Now, tent material when cold gets a little stiff so as it lashed around us it sounded as though people were marching in the rocks with heavy boots around our tent all night long. As our tarp whipped in the wind, it also felt like we were in a tornado and going to take off at any moment. It was also incredibly loud, we had pinned it down the best we could with large rocks but it still was thrashing brutally.

I thought for sure it was the end. Our tent was also closest to the trail, where we cooked dinner and all of the bear canisters. Yes, bear cans. We found out that bears know how to crack the lid open. I kept playing in my head over and over what to do if a bear came after us for dessert. We certainly would not hear him coming. I was trying to figure out if it would be best to throw the giant rocks we had inside the tent (to keep it from blowing away) at him before he tore open our tent or after. I knew if our tent was this loud a bear could get us without anyone else hearing over their tent whippings. We were glad to know Matt and Brooke's tent was just above ours.

Lets just say it was the most uncomfortable, freezing, loud, terrifying and longest night of my life. We went to bed right after dinner, so it was about 6:30pm, tossed and turned all night, we both felt so nauseous from altitude sickness, and begged God to stop the wind and speed up the sun rising, we laid in bed until about 8am (once it started to warm up a bit.)

The decision not to summit in knee high snow, ice, slush and drifting snow, at 30-50 miles per hour, was agreed on by all. Feeling quite content with our trip and not wanting to relive another sleepless 14 hour night we began our trip back down. And again it was a beautiful day for a hike.

I mostly took up the rear, which was bad for conversation with the group but great for picture taking! I won't bore you with all of the backside views of my fellow hikers. But here are a few.

It finally happened. I think my right ankle rolled or slipped, I caught myself with my left leg, hence left hip giving out. I toppled forward on my left knee and pushed myself back up with my right pole sending me falling backwards on my pack. The only damage was a bloody knee with gravel/dirt in it. Brooke was right there like the nurse holding the first aid kit and handing the surgeons, Matt and Ryan, whatever they needed. So, I am fine it was thankfully only a flesh wound and nothing internal.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. The weather traveling up and down the mountain was great! The company was also wonderful! Rachel and I were able to better get to know our new friends Matt and Brooke. It was fun to share meals and work together to purify our water, share oatmeal and hot chocolate. I also had a wonderful time with my sister, I am so glad she is living with me and sharing this part of her life by my side. I am so very blessed!


Tam said...

Sounds like it was a fantasic weekend. Would have loved to been there with you guys. I love the outdoor and I love the challenge of hiking up a summit. Camping on rocks, sleeping on rocks and snow, freezing my behind off, hearing the wind blowing... It sounds all so great. Glad everyone came back in one piece.

Melanie J. R. said...

I always thought you were a brave girl, and to do it without hubbie, way to go! Glad you all survived. :)