This past July I hiked the High Sierra Trail, part of the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail. I hiked with Matt, my sister, Carol, my brother-in-law, Steve and my brother, Tom. We left from Crescent Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park and hiked 60 miles to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental US, then an additional 10 miles down to our exit at Whitney Portal.
Before this hike, I had trained for and completed 2 Sprint Triathlons and I was completely unprepared for this trek. We had planned together and the first day we had decided to hike about 5 miles. I was thinking that this would be an easy day. I mean 5 miles, that is about 1 1/2 hours of fairly slow walking. Well I had not taken into effect the fact that 1) we would be walking uphill the whole way, 2) that I would be carrying 45 pounds on my back and 3) that we were at altitude. Wow, what a difference!!!
When we finally reached the campsite, we had to scale the last 100 yards up a steep incline. Thanks for adding insult to injury. Eek. I was not a happy camper. Dinner, then bed.
The next day we hiked another 5 miles to Bearpaw Meadow. Another day of slow hiking uphill. This time the last mile had an elevation increase of about 800 feet. What is it with the killer endings? When I reached the campsite, again, I was not a happy camper. Our camp was in the woods, surrounded by stumps and everything was on a hill, so we were tilted. Wheeee. I was miserable and had pretty much decided that I was turning around the next day. I was done, stick a fork in me.
My hubby talked me into giving it one more day. Both of us dropped stuff that we did not need. I left probably 5 lbs. of stuff and Matt left about 10 lbs. We put the stuff in the bear box with a sign that said “FREE”. Then Matt and I left a bit earlier than everyone else and headed out on the 6 mile hike to Hamilton Lake. Well the views were beautiful, the dropped weight was very noticeable, and walking with my hubby was fun. We hooked up with everyone else around lunch and were able to enjoy the visits of deer. The campsite at Hamilton Lake was gorgeous: flat, right on the lake, surrounded by mountains. I did not cry myself to sleep!! Although a deer scared me to death when I got up in the middle of the night to pee.
The rest of the trip was hard, very, very hard but we made it. The day hiking to the top of Mt. Whitney was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was also able to do one of the most meaningful things I have ever done when I was up there. I spread some of my Dad’s ashes on the top. I mean without my Dad sharing his adventuresome spirit, we wouldn’t have been there.
Am I glad that I did the trip? Yes. I pushed every limit I had put on myself.
Would I do it again? Not this exact trip. It was too long and I was carrying too much weight.
Do I want to backpack again? Yes. I would love to do a weeklong trip in either the Cascades or the Tetons, but I will prepare better.
I learned a lot on this trip and during the weeks since, but the most important thing that I knew, but was strongly reinforced on this trip, is that my husband is there for me when I need him. He was such an amazing support for me. I could not have done it without him.