My. Whitney, CA
20 September 2018
Our group of 10 met up in Lone Pine, CA on September 18th. We came from Virginia, Texas, Pennslyvania, Kentucky, Tennessee & Arizona. Two were related, some were old friends, some were new friends, and some had never met. Barry from Orange County join our group last, at 2:00am on the 20th, and we were stronger for his company.
I had been invited at the last minute, to fill a vacancy. 53 years old, not a hiker, and certainly not in pristine shape, but the mind was willing. We’d find out if the body could keep up.
Obersvations: 1 - Spectacular scenery and views. 2 - I overestimated my ability, and underestimated the mountain. 3 - The lack of Oxygen is real. 4 - The 99 switchbacks are harsh. 5 - The last 1.9 miles is the longest ever walked. 6 - Coming down is every bit as difficult as going up. Finally, and most importantly 7 - I wouldn’t have made it without the help, support, advice and encouragement of friends, acquaintances and strangers alike.
We left the Portal as a group at 2:00am, drowsy, happy and excited. We summitted independently, as pairs and in small groups, to the cheers of those in our group who had reached before us, as well as people we had never met. I summitted at noon (last of my group) as the final pair with a true friend who waited an hour for me to start his final two miles with me. We were all back at the Portal by 7:55pm, again, with me in the last pair, and the rest of the group cheering on our group achievement. 23.4 miles, 18 hours, 78,000 steps. Almost 6,000 feet up... and then down. A very long day indeed.
Jeff, Cindy, Nicki, Amber, Katie, Amay, Joe, Jenn, Summer, Barry & Scott. 11 started, 11 summitted and 11 finished.
We had no injuries, and only minor setbacks. We are all tremendously thankful for that.
As one of my ‘new’ friends just pointed out, a week ago we were on top of that granite rock. Today we’re all spread out across this great country. I count this as one of the greatest personal accomplishments of my life (children, marriage notwithstanding). Not necessarily summitting, but being a part of an amazing group of people who came together to reach new heights, and left richer for the experience and the friendships gained.