On our road trips down south my boyfriend always points out Mt. Whitney as we pass through Lone Pine. I assumed it had something to do with being part of the “Hikers of Mt. Whitney Club” that alluding the peak brought back a sense of accomplishment I was far from understanding. I don’t quite remember this conversation but he likes to remind me that I once said, quote, I can’t see myself ever wanting to do something like that, end quote. Whether I did say this or not is lost in the abyss of the past but furthermore holds no truth. It was only a couple of months ago that my good friend excitedly text me with confirmation of getting a permit to hike Mt. Whitney that I eagerly agreed to accept the challenge. This mountain, that once felt like a foreign idea to me, shortly became a keen mission I couldn’t wait to accomplish.
So there we were, three friends setting out at 5:30 in the morning to hike the highest peak in the continental United States. By 6:15 a.m. I was down to shorts and a flannel shirt, dripping sweat, knowing that the next 11 miles were heavily dependent on our unwavering determination to get to the top.
About eight miles into the hike we came to the Crest Trail where we spotted the iconic hut sitting at the peak; it was a silver lining that reassured our burning legs and lungs that the grueling hike up would soon become a distant memory. Be it the altitude or a mind game, it was also in those last three miles that it seemed as though the farther we hiked, the farther away that little hut was moving away from us. Finally, as we approached the summit a newborn fire lit beneath us as we raced to the top. It sounds cheesy, but I had been picturing that moment for weeks before our hike and I couldn’t wait to see if the vista matched the picture I had in my mind. Though as I anticipated, my version was blown out of the water. I remember those first freeing moments looking out onto the mountain ranges as far as my eye could see. It was as if the last eight hours were swept away and nothing else mattered but taking in every pixel of scenery my mind could absorb on that particular peak in the world. It was truly exceptional. We then celebrated with our splits of champagne, our third lunch of the day enjoyed a mutual bond with the few others that we shared the peak of Mt. Whitney with before our five-hour trek downward.
It’s been told that nobody said it was going to be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. I can now say I look forward to passing Mt. Whitney framed by her surrounding mountains on our next road trip down south. I can already imagine passing the huge mountain range and spotting Whitney’s pinpoint peak, bethinking the few rocks we proudly stood on at the top, reliving our victory; knowing for certain that the only thing in the world that mattered at that very moment was being where we were, 14.5 thousand feet above sea level, surrounded by a Greater Being. It is in those humbling moments that you realize how small we are and how largely the universe can shift our once afterthought plans and turn them into memories that will last a lifetime.
Thank you to April for kindly sharing her photos with me!
Thank you so much for reading.