Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mt. Whitney the Second Time Around (Part 2)

After I had reached Trail Crest I felt pretty good, but I knew the rest of the hike would be tedious. The good thing at this point is the scenery does change in that you get views of the western side Mt. Whitney is on. I think one of the best shots I got that day was this one below. It is the reflection of Mt. Hitchcock in one of the Hitchcock lakes.
I continued along the trail, and I got stuck behind some people. At first I wanted to pass them, but just told myself this is not a race and just go at a slow and steady pace.
There came a point in the last mile or less that I got a bit bored. At this point I just felt it was time to wrap this hike up. I had passed the window section where you have deep drop offs on both sides of you (nothing compared to Mt. Conness), but it just was not that exciting this time around. I finally reached the top, signed the register, and started taking videos/pictures. Here is one looking back down to Whitney Portal and the Alabama Hills in the distance. Iceberg Lake is below.
Here is a zoom in. I seems to me there was more ice in it the time I was there the year before.
Here is looking more over the northern edge to some lakes I do not know the names of.
I zoomed in towards the southeast for Lone Pine peak and, I assume, Telescope Peak in Death Valley in the distance.
I only stayed at the top for about 45 minutes this time around. There were probably about 25 people up there including a boy scout troop who ended up announcing they were looking for the geocache that was up there.

I headed down and continued to stop for pictures and video. I had realized that morning while I was climbing past the switchbacks to Trail Crest and beyond that I had better get as much video of this now because I had no intentions of coming back anytime soon.

Last year I felt so triumphant coming down listening to music on my mp3 player. This year I was just going through the motions and trying to get it over with. When I reached the trailhead I met with my brother who had been waiting for the past few hours. There was some miscommunication, and he had thought I would be down a few hours earlier. He told me that he got really sick near the end of the hike down. We never did really find out what the problem was with both of us; I suspect that we both had some "bug" in us from the days to week before that was causing it. We went down to Lone Pine, ate pizza, spent the night in our room there, and then went home the next day. I felt really great the next morning. A little tired, but euphoric. I always do after all the work is done.

What did I come out of this with?

This is a hike that I do not really want to do again for quite some time. I might enjoy taking a route coming up from the western side, but normally I like to day hike so I would have to work that out. The Mountaineer's Route is another possibility, but even that is not going to overcome the boredom I know I would feel about doing this mountain again.

As I mentioned in the last blog, the scenery of this hike is okay, but I have it so well burned into my mind that it was too predictable. Compared to other hikes I have done it really is not as good as the others. When I see people say they have climbed Mt. Whitney, but they do not know what else they should do since their goal for a long period was to climb Whitney I am a bit dumbfounded. There are tons of other hikes out there. Part of me wants to say that Whitney is the only worthy hike out there for selfish reasons so they do not overcrowd my favorite areas. There are a few others hikes I want to do so I really have no intention of putting this one on my list again for a while.

If you want to see more pictures of my original hike from June, 2007 then check these out:

I mentioned in the last blog I did edit most of the video footage together a few months back into a long video using Ravel's Bolero as the music. Why am I not posting it? Well, that was what I intended back when I did it on the hike. It did come out very well, but I decided that it was not worth posting on my youtube channel. There are a bunch of reasons for this. I will write about them this weekend.

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.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Hanging of Jim Miller (April 19, 1909)

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the hanging of Jim Miller along with three others for murder. Your probably not going to hear about this anniversary in the local news; I don't think anyone has mentioned it online. I thought I would do it here.

I read about some really creepy people some times. Jim Miller is definitely one of the most creepy old west characters you will find.

I am not going to rehash his life since others have done it better elsewhere. I will give a few links below. Jim Miller is an interesting old west figure because on the outside he appears like a gentleman, church going, likeable individual, but on the inside was a ruthless ambush assassin with a shotgun. He got the name Deacon because he went to church and, supposedly, did not have a habit of smoking or drinking and he looked like what you would expect from a "Deacon."
He got into a feud in Pecos, Tx. with a Sheriff Bud Spencer. Spencer tried to kill him twice and on both occassions that he got the job done, but Miller was wearing his iron plate on his coat. Remember, "aim for the heart," in Fistful of Dollars? Same thing. Miller eventually ambushed Spencer at a local saloon with his shotgun. John Wesley Hardin, his cousin by marriage, helped Miller by being his lawyer in El Paso, Tx. Jim Miller always found a way to create an alibi for his killings. The following picture is rather famous. He was eventually caught, and before he could go to trial he was lynched in Ada, Oklahoma. He is the one on the far left with his hat on.

You have to hear the following interview:
Radio Interview on Jim Miller with Bill O'Neal on Chronicle of the Old West
The Jim Miller Wikipedia Article
Jim Miller's Gravesite
The Daily Ardmoreite Newspaper Article from 1909
Shotgun For Hire (OOP, but you might be able to find it at a library or a used copy)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Mt. Whitney Range of Light

Happy Easter!



This was done at the crack of dawn at around the middle of the 97 switchbacks. Mt. Muir looks the highest here on the left, but Mt. Whitney is the one to the right with the ice at its base.