At an elevation of 14,505 feet, Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. The hike to the summit and back is twenty-two miles with a gain of 6,100 feet. Whitney will be the second mountain I’ve climbed (the first was Mount Saint Helens.) The entry date for my hiking permit is July 17th, and I’ll spend three nights on the mountain.
I’m ready for a big dose of fresh air and nature!
My past experiences in the backcountry have always been short day hikes, but the hectic pace of those adventures made it almost impossible to enjoy the moment. On those trips, it was about getting to the top. Climbing Whitney will be different. And while the summit is the primary objective, the journey to the top will be more of a focus than in the past.
I’ve got four months to prepare, and there are lots of preparations yet to be made. I’ve learned the hard way that being in the backcountry requires proper planning. I damn near died on Half Dome and I’ve slept in the dirt in the middle of bear and rattlesnake country (the stars were beautiful.) Sure, I’ve got some crazy stories to tell from those adventures, but I’d rather enjoy myself and be comfortable. Dying just doesn’t seem like much fun.
Besides, it’s not as if I’d planned on running out of water. And if I’d had a proper backpacking tent instead of a huge “car camping” tent, I wouldn’t have had to sleep on the ground worrying that a rattlesnake was going to slither into my sleeping bag during the middle of the night. No doubt, even with all the preparations, I’m sure to have some stories to tell!