Day 1 – October 29, 2017
For the first half of the night, I kept tossing and turning. My new one person tent worked great, but the fear of being cold kept me up. I had to tell myself I wasn’t cold to get myself back to sleep. I don’t think the temperatures were ever below 40 degrees. The second half of the night, I slept beautifully. My alarm went off at 4:45am. Kunaal slept in his 4Runner and I laid there waiting to hear his trunk pop open.
It was time to get moving. We got dressed in our hiking attire with headlamps, pulled our packs out of the bear vault, packed everything into his 4Runner, and used the developed facilities one last time.
5:50am, we started at the Mount Whitney Trailhead, 8,360 ft.
For the first hour, we had to use our headlamps to see where we were going. This was a first for Kunaal, so that was fun to experience it with him.
I started to repeat this prayer in my head as I took each step, “Thank you God for the strength to do this. Thank you for how far I have come. Thank you for as far and I will go.”
Our first little stream crossing, I got this shot of Kunaal in the pitch black darkness.
Slowly the valley behind us began to wake and then the first rays of the sun hit the sharp mountain walls.
Kunaal became the star of my pictures as he hiked in front of me. We balanced across this long log bridge. Kunaal was definitely a faster hiker than me. He had been training for over 6 months by hiking the Six-Pack-of-Peaks and hiking weekly with his dog, Liyah. Every once in a while he’d stop to let me catch up and talk about how we were feeling.
I felt pretty great considering not training. I kept mentally examining how I was doing. My knees felt great. My feet felt great. The pack wasn’t too heavy. I had a bit of an ache in my back, but nothing I haven’t experienced in every other backpacking trip. I kept reminding myself to listen to how I was feeling. I had made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to push too hard, that I was going to listen to my body and stop if I needed to. I was okay with not making it to the top if it came to that. We passed by Lone Pine Lake, then up higher. Soon enough, I looked back and couldn’t believe how far we had already come.The sun had not come over Lone Pine Peak yet, but the blue sky reflected off the water in Lone Pine Lake.
We stopped by a beautiful frozen waterfall and had a snack. My mother bought my some new protein bars that I had never tried before, RXBars. I had the Mixed Berry, and it was delicious! I definitely want to get more for future hikes.
We reached Mirror Lake and Kunaal began slowing down. Before long I was right behind him. The elevation was hitting him pretty hard. He would stop and put his hand on a rock as if to keep his balance. He didn’t look out of breath but he would say “I’m trying to catch my breath.” I felt for him as we continued. I’d stop with him and encourage him. I brought advil and ginger chews that he took and I reminded him to keep drinking water. Later he told me “I didn’t tell you this, but every time I closed my eyes, I felt like I was going to pass out.”
I knew Trail Camp was by the next big lake, Consultation Lake, so I kept asking him, “Do you see the lake yet?” We finally saw it and knew Trail Camp was close. One last climb up and we’d stop, drop our packs, and set up camp.
It felt so good to come over the crest and see all the other tents set up. We reached camp at 11:50am. 8 miles complete. Below is the map of the whole trail and Trail Camp is at the blue dot.
I continued to pray. “Thank you God for the strength to do this. Thank you for how far I have come. Thank you for as far and I will go.”
People were returning to their campsites after summited earlier. I enjoyed connecting with them as they rested by the lake. I couldn’t help but ask them all kinds of questions. What time did you wake up? What time did you start hiking? How long did it take you to get to the top? Did you see the sunrise? Do you have pictures? What time did you get back to camp?
Kunaal and I decided it would be best to wait until the next day to summit. Especially after hearing other people’s accounts of what was ahead. I pushed my Check In/OK button on my SPOT, “We are doing great! This is where we are staying the night. Turning SPOT off to save battery. Day 1 Done!”. Once it sent, I turned it off for the day. We slowly set up camp and relaxed. The weather was beautiful and warm. It felt like 70 degrees sitting in the sun. I couldn’t believe how blessed we were to come this far and not encounter any snow. Clear blue skies all the way. This camping spot is right below Wotans Throne, which is a peak that blocked the view of Whitney. In this picture, you can see the Needles to the left of Whitney.
I felt bad for Kunaal because he was quiet and looked beat. He even admitted that he was not himself.
It was really nice to rest the entire afternoon. The first day was tough. Being on my feet that long was painful. I was surprised how many people were bypassing the camp and doing the entire 22 miles in one day. NO THANK YOU! The sun went behind the mountains early and I filtered a lot of water for other people in the afternoon at the Trail Camp Pond. 3 guys from Tijuana that were doing the hike in one day were all out of water. I filled their water bottles up with clean water. Another guy had a smaller, slow filter, so I filled his up as well. Then I filled up water for our dinner and breakfast the next day. My filter works so great, it’s the Katadyn Hiker Filter. I absolutely recommend it!
You give me water anywhere and I’ll turn it into an photograph opportunity. This was an easy shot. The sky reflection in the pond was gorgeous and ended our day.
I had AlpineAire Mesquite BBQ Chicken with Beans and Rice for dinner. It was delicious and smoky flavored. I had my favorite camping tea, Celestial Seasoning Sleepytime Extra to help me relax. We were off to sleep early and quickly. Thankfully I had my fathers Marmot -20 degree sleeping bag to keep me warm. Not once during the night was I cold, and I am so thankful for that.
Thank you God for an amazing first day!
See below for the SPOT tracking of the hike we did for Day 1.