Jun 24, 2015

Preparing for Mount Whitney

Crabtree Meadow
     It's 11:25 pm and I'm nestled inside my tent, but not for much longer.  The tent itself, a Kelty Salida 1, has clearly suffered over the last 750 miles.  A large rip down the backside of it is currently covered by my rain tarp.  I've got it rigged to the top and supported tightly at the bottom with a collection of heavy quartz stones I found in the area.  One tent pole has lost its connector and I've managed to use an empty Noon electrolyte container to keep it properly bent when in use.  Hiker ingenuity. 
     The status of my equipment is the last thing on my mind, however. The status of my body very much is. I haven't slept right in days, and every muscle I have aches so badly I can't keep still.  In about ten minutes I'll be departing the Pacific Crest Trail, in order to night hike my way up the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states - Mount Whitney.  This is a special mountain, and hikers come from all over the world to ascend it.  The town of Lone Pine has an entire industry dedicated to hikers that come specifically to climb Mount Whitney.  For many people it's a lifelong dream to stand atop Mount Whitney. 
     Pacific Crest Trail hikers have a unique opportunity, as the trail passes within about eight miles of the crest of this mountain.  Standing at just over 14,500 feet, Whitney is a behemoth.  California lays claim to quite a few "14 footers" but Whitney is easily the crown jewel.  I don't just want to ascend the mountain,  however.  I want the sunrise.  First daylight at the highest point in the lower 48.  So here I lay, clothing prepared, snacks ready to go, water bottle and slack pack all set, but in utter pain. Maybe I can't do this...
     I'm leaving my things at a base camp I've created here at Crabtree Meadow.  My current pack weight is around 50 pounds. Heavier than usual with the mandatory bear cannister and ungodly amount of food I'm carrying are expected to take me over 150 miles before I re-up on food in Mammoth Lakes. There's no way I'm dragging that whole thing up Mount Whitney.  Slack packing is the best option.  Actually it is the only option.  I'll be leaving at midnight heavily dressed and hopefully strong enough to reach the summit before first light. 
     If I make it I'll have done something very few people in this world can lay claim to.  The thought thrills me.  Be Great.  That's what I say to everyone now.  Take risks.  Throw yourself out there.  Now it's my turn to give it a shot with no sleep and severe hurting.  This isn't Boy Scout mountain.  Whitney doesn't screw around.  The human body is capable of incredible things.  All it takes is Will.
A Nietzchean philosophy made optimistic. 
Wish me luck friends; if I succeed we will all have a great video to watch. 

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