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.