Last June, my dear friend Jessica, had a crazy idea. She decided that she was going to climb Mt. Whitney. She posted something about it on her Facebook timeline, and my hubby was the first to see the post. As he read it, he exclaimed "Why aren't you joining Jess?"
That was quite the question! Why? Because I'm a mom of two baby boys, because my family needs me, because... As I listed the excuses in my head, I realized there was only one real reason, I hadn't been away from my family, in about 3 years, I simply had not thought of ever doing so. I was like all of those meme's you see of horses tied to plastic chairs, thinking they couldn't leave. The thought just never crossed my mind.
Jessica and I, and a small group of dedicated people from our gym, trained and hiked for months, leading up to our trip. Only 7 of us actually went. None of us summited.
I have been trying to write this for over a year now. I didn't know why I just could not seem to sit down and write this piece about our amazing trip. Only now that we have a new date to try it again, do I finally feel like I can sit here and write this.
My trip last year, started off on a terrible, terrible note. A couple of days before my scheduled departure, our youngest, who was only 1 year-old at the time, got really sick. He was lethargic, with a fever of about 103, that slowly went down to about 101, on the day that we were leaving. I had a huge decision to make. I had never left my family alone before, and leaving a sick child was unbearable.
I did not want to flake on Jessica, who had been planning this trip for close to a year at that point. I didn't want to leave my son. I felt guilty about still really wanting to go, even though my child was so ill. But I went.
I talked myself into it. I told myself, "hubby is home, and very capable of taking care of our kids." I told myself that I couldn't flake on Jessica last minute, that my mom was there to help with the boys. I had to go!
Well, my worrying put a dark cloud over my entire trip. And while I absolutely loved the hours of hikes, that lead up to the big Whitney hike, the guilt was eating me up inside. I just wanted to climb Mt. Whitney and drive home as fast as possible.
Honestly, I felt terrible for Jessica, who could tell that this was eating me up inside, and had to deal with "half there" me.
Eventually, I got the call that everything at home was ok, and to enjoy this big hike... and I did!
The three hour drive to Whitney Portal flew by in the blink of an eye. It was three hours of much needed "girl time".
We made one fuel stop along the way, but got to check out a pretty cool little Jerky shop as well. Then stopped at the Visitor Center to pick up our permits.
We made another stop or two, as we were driving up the mountain, for some photo ops with the signs... go ahead, laugh. We did!
When we finally arrived at Base Camp, we settled in, pitched our tent, and walked around the camp grounds, taking in all of the lovely scenery. I've said it before, I feel like I can truly breath in the mountains.
Such a serene feeling.
Tired from the drive, we ate by our campfire, then hit the hey... er... sleeping bags.
Jessica and I woke up early, and got straight to it. We wanted to acclimate here, and do a couple of smaller hikes before Whitney the following day. We started our day with a light breakfast and a hike down a very steep mountain.
This is also where we learned that we would be crossing lots of creeks along the way, and got great practice doing it.
The hike down was lovely, but eventually we realized that we would have to go back up to get to camp. So, while we wanted to keep going, we decided to sit down and eat before heading back up to complete the hike. The way up, well, it was challenging, to say the least.
When we arrived back at the camp, we waited for the rest of our group to arrive, then took a gorgeous afternoon hike.
DAY 3 - Mt. Whitney
I will preface this by saying, we knew we would not summit. Though it was the middle of June, snow was still falling up on the mountain and the weather conditions simply did not permit us to safely summit.
This was a risk Jessica, nor I were willing to take. Being a mother, this is simply a risk that I would never allow myself to take. My babies need me more than I need the top of a mountain. At the moment, we were just happy to be there and to be able to do as much of the hike as we safely could.
And it was glorious!
Knowing that we were not in a race for time, gave Jessica and I the opportunity to stop and smell the roses along the way. We hiked and hiked for hours, we talked, we stopped to enjoy the beauty that surrounded us, and to appreciate the majesty of the mountain.
We talked, we walked, we lost trail! The snowfall was major and there was simply no way to find trail at a certain point along the hike. We almost turned back, but decided to push through and found our way to Outpost Camp, where we sat down to have some lunch.
Thoughts of continuing up to Trail Camp were bounced around, but my guilt about leaving baby Skyler home with a fever, did not allow me to comfortably continue.
And while we still had another night of camping ahead of us, Jessica was kind enough to cut our trip short and drive home after our tedious hike.
But first, dinner! We were famished by the time we came back down the mountain and ate at the General Store at Whitney Portal.
We were content with our trip. We were happy and enjoyed the climb. But we both later admitted to ourselves and each other, that not summiting had weight on us both, more than we thought it could.
So, this September, we will be summiting the mountain that has loomed over us for an entire year. This year, hubby is joining in on the fun. The three of us truly cannot wait.
Wish us luck!