It Wasn't Written In the Stars or In the Cards for Us This Year
The Angels did not summit Mt. Whitney this year, but we did get to meet Steve C. which was an awesome meeting for all of us (especially for me), and we did get to see our Search & Rescue (SAR) in action and I personally was given the opportunity, by Doug Thompson at the Portal Store, to test a bivy designed and created by a member of SAR who resides in Ridgecrest....this bivy kept me toasty warm while sleeping at Trail Camp, so warm I had to unzip it at times to let some cool air in and when I'd unzip it I would look up to see stars, stars and more stars...the night was outrageously gorgeous...this bivy was large enough for two people in my opinion and it only weighed 1.5 lbs including the two supports at the head which gave me space over my head to read. One more support pole/tube at the bottom where my feet were would have made it easier to slide my sleeping bag in and to dress, but even without the additional foot pole I was able to maneuver nicely in this bivy. GOOD JOB, WHOEVER YOU ARE ON SAR THAT CREATED AND DESIGNED THE BIVY DOUG LET ME TEST! Doug, if you're reading this, thanks again for letting me use this bivy so I could stay warm. When Doug said he was going to let me test a bivy, for a moment I thought he was going to take the UBER BIVY from the ceiling...The UBER BIVY by MILES GEAR is a very nice looking bivy too, the Uber Bivy looks very similar to the bivy I tested, the material looks much the same too, I'd bet the Uber bivy is a very good bivy. Doug also made certain Tammy and I had good tips for our poles which is very necessary for gripping all the rocks on the trails when having to make a huge step-up or step-down. In addition to seeing Doug, we also saw Earlene in the store. It's always such a good warm feeling to see Doug and Earlene at the store. When a person is hiking the trail to Mt. Whitney, the Portal Store feels like home before your hike and it feels like returning to home after your hike, but without Doug and Earlene at the store it feels as if mom and dad are not at home.
Another highlight of our trip was the wonderful weather. Each time we hike in mid-September the weather is always gorgeous, it's neither too hot nor too cold and the mosquitoes are gone or nearly gone for the season. When we arrived on 9/16 we did experience the bees at the Portal Store (as Wazzu mentioned in her TR) while we were trying to eat our burgers and fries outside so we jumped into our car to finish our meal because the bees were persistent about eating our meal too, but when we returned to the store on 9/18 at about the same time of day the bees were gone. I ate outside yesterday and didn't experience one bee.
Overall, the big highlight of our trip this year was meeting Steve C. I'll post photos as soon as my friend Sandy sends them to me. Steve, feel free to post your photos in this TR if you'd like to do so.
THE BIG QUESTION IS: WHY DIDN'T WE SUMMIT?
The answer is AMS. Virginia, who never takes Diamox or any pills to speak of experienced a terrible headache Saturday night...she was feeling miserable. NEXT: I, who always takes Diamox when hiking the Mt. Whitney Trail, decided to try to summit without taking Diamox, but Saturday morning I got worried that I might get AMS so I took a Diamox but it was too late, I needed to take it two days before my ascent to build it up in my system. I too got AMS that night, it was very painful, I started popping diamox like candy until my head stopped hurting. Tammy had become nauseous during the night. Sandy was the only one who didn't get sick, but she was dead tired, she had an awful time carrying a pack this year.
Other details which I believe kept us from summiting are:
1. We deviated from our "tried & true" formula of getting lots of rest, letting our bodies wake on their own instead of setting alarms clocks at 4:00 am (which we did two mornings in a row),
2. Acclimating properly by staying at Outpost Camp one night then staying at Trail Camp one night,
3. Believing we are 'super women' at our ages, carrying a heavy pack all the way to Trail Camp in one day and summiting on the third day,
4. Thinking we were going to be able to summit and hike back down to the Portal all in one day (two of the girls didn't want to sleep out two nights -- I love camping outside so it wasn't me)
After finding the Whitney Zone and all the nice people on the WZ, I wanted to hike to Mt. Whitney again this year. My friends were hiking it for me, but I don't think they truly had the motivation to hike to MW again this year. I think we should have waited a few years like we had done between our last two summits which had 5-years between them. Having the motivation to do something means a lot when a person wants to accomplish something in life.
Funny thing, we met several people on the mountain this year who had made the hike many times before, but who experienced AMS for their first time like we did.
Overall, it was a good trip, we had fun in Lone Pine and were glad to see this little city thriving...all the tables in all the restaurants we looked in were full or near full. The stores had "buying" customers...we sure did our share, Tammy bought a new nearly $200.00 down jacket at Elevation, I bought Virginia a birthday present at Elevation, we always purchase gift items for friends and ourselves at the Portal Store and any meal we purchased during our stay this year was at the Portal Store. I bought two books at the gift store across from the Hostel, one book is about the movies made in the area and also, I believe, about the movie museum and the other book is written by a local author who comes by the store to meet his customers (although I missed getting to meet him) I'll update this post with his name at a later time. Our room at the Dow Villa was as lovely this year as it was last year and so comfortable and I believe the TV is a new flat screen and it's sitting atop a new armoire which contains a microwave and refrigerator plus we had a coffee maker and enough coffee for three pots.
Our only regret is we again did not allow enough time to visit the Movie Museum so we'll have to put it on our agenda for our next visit to Lone Pine. Oh, and the Ranger Station and its employees were as gracious and as helpful as they were last year.
I wish Doug had a T-shirt in the Portal Store that read: Attempted Mt. Whitney, but did't summit, but no worries the mountain will still be here next year.