I was aimlessly surfing the web recently and decided to hike Mt. Whitney out of the blue. I apparently have more luck than preparation and somehow got a solo day hike permit for the Labor Day weekend.
I snapped up the permit without hesitation, but I'm now starting to have second thoughts of going there since I have very minimal hiking experience. I've done maybe 5 hikes in my life, never hiked more than once a year, and never hiked more than 8 miles in a day. Here's my most recent hiking experience:
2017 - Hiked the Methuselah Trail in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (4 mile loop, minimal elevation gain/loss). Didn't have any problems with the ~10,000' altitude even though I just came up from sea level that morning.
2018 - Summitted Mt. Baldy/Mt. San Antonio the easy way by taking the ski lift up and down. ~6 mile hike, ~2000' elevation gain
May 2019 - Did Angels Landing in Zion National Park. It was a 5.4 mile hike with some steep sections, but altitude wasn't a factor since the elevation was only 5K feet.
The things I have in my favor are that I'm relatively young (age 29), not overweight, and not completely out of shape. I used to be on the track team back in high school, and while I don't train anywhere near as much or as hard as I did back then, I've run 10 miles a week almost every week since college to stay in shape. I did a hard 12 minute run (Google "cooper test") yesterday to get a rough idea of my fitness. I covered 1.80 miles (6:40 mile pace), which is apparently the 85th percentile for my age group.
I went to the local REI today to get a backpack, a water purifier, and some hiking poles. I didn't need any of that before since all of my previous hikes were short enough where I didn't need to bring anything besides a water bottle. Anyway, my tentative plan is as follows:
Wednesday afternoon - Drive up to Mammoth Lakes (8K feet) right after work (which ends at 5 PM; I live and work in Los Angeles). Battle the traffic and reach there at midnight?
Thursday - Sightseeing and an easy warmup hike to the base of Devils Postpile. Pick up Whitney Permit and sleep in Mammoth Lakes again for the acclimation.
Friday night - Camp in Whitney Portal for more acclimation.
Saturday early morning - Summit day. Head up the main trail at 3 AM and hope for the best.
With that said, how far do you think I'll get? Do I have a snowball's chance in hell of reaching the summit or getting anywhere near it? I asked a few of my friends, and answers ranged from extreme pessimism ("just getting to Lone Pine Lake and back without needing a helicopter rescue would be considered a big accomplishment for you") to irrational insane optimism ("you'll summit and be back in your car by noon"). The most popular guess would be that I'll reach Trail Camp at 10 AM after a long hard slog, cramp up after the first switchback, and stumble my way back down to the Portal.
Any advice or predictions?