This is our trip report from our dayhike up Mt. Whitney on Thursday, September 8, 2011. My husband and I are "50 somethings" from San Antonio. He has hiked in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas and has enjoyed it very much. I have never hiked outside of the trails in central Texas. We left San Antonio on Wednesday, September 7th, flew to Las Vegas, rented a car, drove to Lone Pine, and picked up our permit and WAG bags from the night box. Contrary to everyone's good advice, we did not take time in the mountains to acclimate. Our work and family obligations did not permit it. But,we felt that we had physically prepared, (we are on a marathon training program and took many practice hikes), we took Diamox, and we took the advice from the message boards to hike slowly in order to acclimate as best as possible.
After arriving at the Portal Hostel (which was clean and comfortable), we went to sleep about 9:00 pm, and awoke at 1:30 am, and were able to hit the trailhead by 3:30 am. Using our headlamps, it was easy to follow the trail. The mountain is filled with such beauty! The meadows, lakes, and waterfalls are breathtaking! I do want to say that the switchbacks were daunting, but you will get through them. From Trail Crest to the Summit, you will see incomparable views, and understand why Guitar Lake is so aptly named.
We summited about noon, signed the guest log, and spoke with a husband and wife who were there with their three sons. It was her tenth consecutive annual summit! (We were so impressed!)The other hikers we encountered coming and going were so pleasant and encouraging. Everyone we passed had a smile and a friendly word. That meant a lot because I was feeling the effects of the altitude. I was not disoriented or dizzy, so I pushed on, but I did have a headache and slight stomach ache, which kept me from eating much. My husband, however, did not experience any altitude sickness. We did stay hydrated, which was very important. I can't help but wonder if the Diamox, water, slow pace, and Advil kept the altitude sickness from getting worse.
When we arrived at the summit a little after 12:00 noon, the sky was blue and dotted with white clouds. As we departed the summit around 12:30, the clouds were turning gray. When we arrived at the foot of the switchbacks and hiked into Trail Camp, the sky was solidly gray and a very light snow began falling! The snowflakes were tiny and melted shortly after landing, and within the next 20 to 30 minutes, they morphed into a very light rain. We were glad we had packed our rain jackets!
At Trail Camp we filtered new water into our water bottles, and it tasted fresh and cold! The rain eventually stopped, and after we passed Outpost Camp, the sun began to set. We were hoping to make it back to the portal before dark, but we had to use our headlamps just after crossing North Lone Pine Creek. We finally arrived at the portal at 7:30 pm. We were exhausted!!!
What a euphoric feeling to have finished our dayhike of Mt. Whitney! We headed straight for the Portal Store and bought the "Big One in One Day" T-shirts! While I was there, I told Doug that this was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I had ever done! To dayhike Mt. Whitney is certainly a physical challenge, but it has huge mental and spiritual aspects as well. I wish I had felt well enough to eat one of Doug's great burgers!
What a day! We are so happy to have accomplished this hike, and we wish good luck to all! This was great fun!