I hiked Mt. Whitney on Sunday with my cousin Josh. It was pretty great. But I won’t describe this experience in lengthy prose. What I will do, however, is break down the timeline of our day, along with specific observations and
thoughts annoying anecdotes I had along the way.
12:50am: Awake. Put on shoes, rolled up sleeping bag, waited for Josh’s phone alarm to wake him at 1:00am.
1:45am: Driving to Mt. Whitney portal. The pine tree fragrance of the mountains is lovely.
1:55am: Commence the hike. Josh and I both note that the moon is nowhere to be seen; that it’s incredibly dark outside.
2:15am: I ask Josh for the fourth time if the bears are likely to eat our faces.
2:15am: “If you’d stop rubbing peanut butter on your face, they won’t,”Josh responds.
2:25am: I notice Josh claps his hands or says “hey!” near bushy areas.
2:25am: I think, ‘must find something to talk about, to keep bears away,’ and start singing the theme song of Have Gun, Will Travel.
2:30am: Fear of bear attack dwindles as I see other headlamps (other hikers) along the hiking trail.
2:45am: There are a few creeks we cross with rocks interspersed as makeshift bridges.
2:47am: I slip into water, my foot partially wet. Josh asks if I need extra socks. I say no, thinking my SmartWool socks will kick ass.
2:48am: They do. They do kick ass.
3:30am: Discover tree with penis. Guffaw.
4:00am: Encounter first campsite. I think they may be pansies. But I can’t tell.
4:30am: Hit the start of the most grueling part of the hike: the switchbacks.
4:40am: Find that the storm that hit some six hours before had dropped some light snow and hail.
4:41am: Find that light snow and hail is slippery.
4:45am: Curse my New Balance trail runners with the 1,000+ miles.
4:50am: I notice that I’m flatulent, and Josh tells me that’s what happens when you get into higher altitudes.
4:51am: I smile and tell myself that he is not lying to me; that the reaction is normal.
5:25am: Switchbacks continue, and I think that they are not at all that bad.
5:26am: Much better than the music band of the same name.
5:28am: First glimpse of moon in the sky. Just a little thumbnail, mildly brighter atop its softened circular home.
5:35am: Josh and I take our 15th 1-minute break for Clif Bar/trail mix/peanut butter sandwich sustenance.
5:37am: We take our first two Advil. For the headaches. The headaches, Josh says, that are “normal.”
5:37am: Normal? This is normal? My head pounds, and I think my heart might be in there too.
6:00am: We reach the end of the switchbacks.
6:05am: The view is incredible up here, I think. Orange marmalade on the edge of burnt toast.
6:22am: Headaches linger. Two more Advil.
6:23am: It’s windy! The wind, and the temperature of around 30 degrees, doesn’t help the headache.
6:37am: The sun is coming! The sun is coming!
6:38am: Drat. Now I can witness the bears rip my face off. No, no, they’re not up this high.
6:42am: I munch on a hardened, cold peanut butter Clif Bar.
6:49am: We commence traverse horizontally to reach final push upwards to summit.
6:52am: Behind us, there are two hikers. I think they are following us. Stop following us!
6:53am: I recognize that the thought is delusional
6:54am: But what if it’s just your way of keeping your mind occupied? Like telling stories.
6:54am: Yah! That’s it! Congratulates self.
7:27am: Must. Use. Wag. Bag.
7:27am: Narrow trail, hikers aplenty. No place to make the Wag Bag Sag.
7:35am: The hail/snow looks like Dippin’ Dots.
7:48am: I can see the top!
8:00am: We make it to the summit. I find suitable place to fill the Wag Bag.
8:00am: I feel like a soldier in the trenches. Only if Poo Powder were invented then.
8:05am: My hands are bloated. My fingers, like little sausages. Ew. I hate sausages.
8:10am: We take pictures. It’s beautiful. A few intermittent clouds and blue skies.
8:27am: Commence our return trip. I borrow Josh’s jacket he had in his pack. It’s red, large, like a ballroom gown.
8:45am: Passing many hikers on their way up. One guy is shirtless. I don’t know why.
9:15am: We seem to be moving aside for every ascending hiker. It’s getting annoying.
9:16am: I take note of the fact that 98% of them have hiking poles. Are they needed?
9:58am: Take a break at the top of the switchbacks. Cashew, almond, dried cherry snack.
10:15am: In the light, everything looks so much grander. The trail, so much longer.
10:35am: Sweating, we take off our jackets, and I slip back into my soccer shorts and t-shirt.
10:50am: Still hiking down the switchbacks, Josh tells some fool to stop cutting the trail; that it ruins it.
10:52am: He doesn’t care and continues to cut the trail. But the rocks are so loose in there. He could kill someone! Jerk face.
11:00am: Reach the bottom of the switchbacks. We chew Juicy Fruit and sing about how it’s going to move us.
11:05am: On a rock, in the sun, a used wag bag bakes.
11:10am: My hands still bloat, and I wish for a cold cup from Yogurtland.
11:37am: The cold creek water refreshes my sun-beaten neck and face.
11:38am: Scratch that. It may be cold creek water and chipmunk feces.
11:50am: Josh climbs atop penis tree. I take picture. It’s precious.
12:27pm: Going downhill hurts the knees. I feel mildly old.
12:38pm: We hit the final set of switchbacks before the end. We cheer.
12:57pm: Gosh, this is taking forever.
1:25pm: Some guy tries to glean some information from us in the most retarded sentence structure ever.
1:42pm: Josh’s blue Ford Escort is in view!
1:58pm: Arrive at the Whitney portal. We finished!
22 miles total. 12 hours. Elevation gain of roughly 6,200 feet. Summit elevation of 14,500 and change.
It's dark and the bears are attacking!
Pretty Views Along the Way
Our Shoes Made It!
Josh and I Are Happy to Have Made It