Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mt. Whitney the Second Time Around (Part 1)

I had promised a couple of videos of my Mt. Whitney hike that I did back in July, 2008. I did edit a long 24 minute video with Ravel's Bolero theme a few months ago. It came out really well, but I am seriously questioning whether I want to continue putting anything up on youtube. I will say more about this at a later time. I wanted to do another write up of this hike mainly because my opinion of it has changed dramatically since I originally climbed it. Let me explain.

After I had hiked this mountain in 2007 I put up a lot of blog entries about the hike. At the time it was really exciting to me. For this and the next blog, since I have done a lot of pictures before of this hike, I am going to just hit a few highlights. The point of doing it a second time was to get my brother to the top, and to take videos of the hike. We did the lottery, made hotel reservations, and did our training. I am to the point that I wonder if I really need to do that much training for these hikes anymore.

We were at the trailhead at 2 am that morning. I definitely made a lot better time this time around. IMO, the roughest part of the main trail hike is the area between Mirror Lake and Trail Camp. At both times I have done this hike I felt that this was where I was feeling it the most. We got to Trail Camp almost about time we could turn the flashlights off. The problem we had is my brother was breathing more heavily that we expected. I tried to convince him to just leave his pack at this point and go on. No doing; he was not feeling that good and was sick to his stomach. He was heading down and wanted me to continue. I was sort of demoralized at this point, but I told him that I was going to keep going at least just to get some video footage that I did not get the year before. What you saw two blogs back was where I started taking bits of video footage which I would do for the rest of the hike. The following is a little bit further up.
Mt. Muir (the left) looks higher than Whitney (the right). From here you can see the summit hut. I zoomed in on it. You may even see a person or two.
It was about this point on the switchbacks I was starting to get sick too! What the heck!? Was I getting altitude sickness!? It turns out my brother and I had similar symptoms. I actually did have this problem the mornings before doing this hike. Each time I had it I just had to "wait it out" and it would go away. It had nothing to do with altitude sickness. Just to be safe I stopped and put some Advil down. The only person to ever pass me on the hike did it at this point.

After the switchbacks you get to Trail Crest where you can see the other side into the Sequoia National Forest. My view is that if you can get to the point, if you are feeling good, then it is just a matter of time before you reach the summit. The last two miles are just really tedious. The year before, when I reached this point, I was rejuvenated since I knew with the sun out I could forget the early morning hours where I was in the dark. This time it was not as exciting for me. I made pretty good time, but I got stuck behind a bunch of people that were not going that fast. There were tons of people this time around compared to the previous hike the year before. I got to the point that I just decided to follow them at their pace.

The issue of the trail being overwhelmed by people is one thing. The scenery is another. This is what really has changed my view of this hike, I had pretty much burned into my mind the scenery of this hike from the year before in such away that it did not seem as impressive as it should be. I will say more of this in the next blog, but people that constantly do this hike over and over again and not experience some of the other mountain hikes out there are really limiting themselves. I should not seem like it, but the Whitney hike views are okay, but not as impressive as others things I have done.

I'll finish this up in a day or two.