Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Mt. Whitney Hike: the North and West Sides (Part 6)

Looking more to the northeast one can see some ice which is a lake. Tulainyo Lake has an elevation of 12,802 feet high. Some say it is the highest lake in the lower 48, but after doing a quick Google search I really don't think that is true unless there is a qualification on what a "lake" has to be. It is famous for being the starting point for the "Wedding of the Waters" that took place in the late 30's. Water was transported in a relay to the lowly elevated Badwater in Death Valley.
This next picture is looking north. You can barely see White Mountain in the middle in the distance. Another 14'er is Russell not too far away which is in the middle below.
There are a ton of peaks I could identify in the following pictures, but I'll pass on that. On this day I could see most of the peaks about 60 miles away. That would be in the realm of the town of Bishop. Peaks, like the Palisades, could be seen.
A zoom on the same area:
This is more to the northwest. You can see that the rocks were built as shelter against the wind below. It turns out that the Kern River starts out ahead just below in this valley.
The Kaweah's. A very interesting range.
A zoom of the Kaweah's:
I finished my time at the summit by standing on the highest block with this benchmark. For about a minute I was the tallest person or object in the lower 48.
Often I have read in books, on the net, on the signs at the trailhead that the summit is only half of the hike because you have to travel the same distance on the way down. While this is true for this hike I do not look at it this way. On any peak hike I give it my all and let it all hang out to get to the summit. I don't worry about the trip back. In fact, for this hike I felt like it was a victory celebration going down. I was relieved I actually got to the top so I just enjoyed going down taking pictures and talking to people. I got back down in just over 5 hours, but I stopped a lot for these pictures and to take in the air. After I got past Lone Pine Lake my legs felt like they were pounding the ground like a nail getting hit by a hammer. I got back to my truck, ate in Lone Pine, then took off home.

I don't like giving advice on a hike like this since I can get a way with a lot of stuff that others can't. For example, I have been to high elevations since I was kid so I don't really get the symptoms of altitude sickness someone else might. My training for this was a total joke. I didn't do any peak hikes leading up to this hike, but I do a lot of walking/jogging at sea level. A lot of people do this hike then show up on the Whitney Portal Forum and start talking like experts for everyone and giving advice. I want to avoid that and just say you need to know yourself; meaning, know your strengths and limitations through experience. My main concerns were the following:

1)Having the leg strength up to the summit.

2)If the altitude would be a problem.

3)My legs on the way down which is a different type of pounding than #1.

Liquids are more important than anything else on any hike I do. I only needed to sip 3 Gatorades to get the summit. I used water from the 25th switchback on the way down and a filled up in a small stream within the first mile from the trailhead near the very end of the hike.
The final factor and most important is TIME. No matter how I am doing on a hike, if I know I have plenty of time or the whole day to do it then I feel great. This is the reason I always start hikes before the sun comes up.

Please use this site if you are a newbie and want to try the hike:

Bill's Whitney Day Hike site.

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