Mt. Whitney Hike – “Trust Your Inside Voice”

Up at 2:30 am to get ready for our Whitney hike. Our packs are pretty much packed and ready to go.  All we had to add was our sandwiches.  We went over and over how much food and what kind of food we should take. Here is what my breakfast and lunch looked like. A banana for the potassium, P B & J sandwich, Bologna and cheese on a bagel, a couple of granola bars and a couple of other items.  I hoped it would be enough.

IMG_3205We were to Whitney Portal and hiking by 4:02 am in the dark with headlamps on.  I was pretty excited and a little quiet as I was truthfully a little nervous about how the day would unfold.  Our first milestone was Lone Pine Lake which is about 2.8 miles.  I was moving up the trail pretty quickly the first mile is always the hardest for me.  As it takes me that time to get used to the elevation again and find a rhythm.  My heart rate was up and my breathing a bit labored.  I am not sure if it was from the hiking or the excitement of finally hiking Mt. Whitney.  I stopped a few times to catch my breath and let my heart rate settle.  I noticed my hands were starting to tingle.  This is very unusual for me as that has never happened to me on any hike.  The voices in my head were starting. I continued to have trouble catching my breath.  I don’t know if I was going to fast or what exactly was happening. We made it to the lake.

The sun is starting to come up

The sun is starting to come up

We caught up to Bill and his son Justin as they waited at a water crossing which is the “MO” for Marilyn and Bill whenever they are hiking and they get separated.  The sun was coming up so we took off our lamps.

We continue up the mountain and stop to get water at a stream shortly after the lake.  My hands are still tingling and it seemed to me a little more. At this point, I am standing there thinking if it is wise for me to continue. I fill up a water bottle to add to my camel bag that will be filtered and continue thinking.  I make the decision that I will not continue.  This was an extremely difficult decision as I trained quite a bit for this big day. I am not sure if my nerves got the better of me or if because of my breathing I may have been on my way to a slight case of hyperventilation.  Some of the thoughts that ran through my mind.

  • The nice ranger at the Visitor Center who helped us with our permits told us to hydrate often, eat often and most importantly don’t let your ego get in the way of making the choice not to continue if you are not feeling well.
  • I read a sign somewhere on Friday that said “Don’t expect to get rescued”
  • Trust your gut “Your Inside Voice”

    My view near the creek where I turned around

    My view near the creek where I turned around

I have learned over the years and especially riding horses that if something doesn’t feel right get off your horse.  Or if you feel like something isn’t right, don’t do it.  So with my hands tingling as they have never before on a hike I decided to stop right there and go back down the hill. As I headed down the hill all kinds of emotions went through my mind about how I was not able to finish this epic hike. It took an hour before the tingling stopped in my hands.  I stopped at Lone Pine Lake and ate half a sandwich and then continued back down the hill.  I told Bill and Marilyn that I would wait for them at the trailhead.

As I waited I met a young girl that had hiked the entire John Muir Trail on her own.  She had some great stories.  I hung out all day and talked to a lot of great adventurers and offered congratulations to the hikers and backpackers coming down the mountain from their various journeys.

All this said,  I just want to say that sometimes we can train, practice or work on something and things just don’t go the way that we expect them to.  We have to be okay with the outcome whatever it may be whether we accomplish the goal or we don’t quite get there. My friend Betty said it best “A journey is full of ups and downs and detours”.  I am happy to have tried to hike Mt. Whitney and I had great hikes in the process of my training and I met great people along the way.  I have had encouragement and prayers from my great family and friends.  Thank you to all.

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.  It’s about the journey.


Long Lake via South Lake

Day 3 and 4


Thursday we headed over to South Lake to hike up to Long Lake for another 6 miles and more acclimating over 10,500 ft. The hike was a little easier and a little cooler. The trails in the Sierras are well marked and easy to follow. Lots of backpackers on their way up to enjoy some overnight camping out in the wilderness.


Stunning views everywhere. So glad to be able to see them in person.  No bears or deer to be seen.

Friday morning we packed up to get back to Lone Pine to get our permits for Whitney.

  • Permits in hand – check
  • Extra permit requested and received – check
  • Weather forecasted to be perfect – check

The day was turning out better than expected, so we drove up to the Whitney Portal and the trailhead to again get acclimated to the elevation. There was lots of activity with hikers coming down from their Mt. Whitney hike and backpackers at the end of their John Muir Trail from Yosemite after 200 + miles.  They had enjoyed a better than expected time on the trail with more amazing views than I had seen over the last three days.


We decided to have our famous burger and fries on Friday, as we did not know if we would be back in time to have it on Saturday. . This burger is a celebratory burger after your Mt Whitney hike.  My half was delicious.

We were now ready for our big day as everything was in place.  Or so I thought….

Blue Lake via Lake Sabrina

Enjoying the waterfall in the distance

Enjoying the waterfall in the distance

Day 2 After a somewhat restful sleep (turns out the creek was more than white noise, it was pretty loud). We had pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast and then packed lunch for our hike to Blue Lake. A nice 6 mile hike, starting elevation 9,128 at Sabrina Lake and elevation at Blue Lake 10,380.

image The trail was well maintained and we saw a mule pack and a family with a 8 month old. Doesn’t the baby look happy. She was all smiles.  You can have your clothes, tent and food hauled into the wilderness and either walk in or hike in.   imageWe ran into a meetup group from Orange County and one of the girls was nice enough to take our photo by Blue Lake. 



Bill caught a nice fish while we ate lunch. Our downhill was I eventful but a little warm.

Showers at the local lodge, dinner and then bed.


Acclimating to the Elevation

Tuesday I left Hesperia for Bishop Drainage to camp for 3 days to somewhat acclimate to the elevation for my climb to Mt. Whitney on Saturday. We stayed at Big Trees campground under the shade of a few pine trees with a creek running nearby.

My comfy tent and the view from inside my tent.

My comfy tent and the view from inside my tent.

I setup my tent and unloaded by car into a bear proof container. I watched Marilyn and Bill fish a bit and enjoyed the great outdoors. Marilyn and I took a drive to nearby Lake Sabrina. What is left of it. More on that later.

Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina

Later we had dinner in their RV (not roughing it too much). Off to bed to the sound of water running over rocks in the nearby creek on the other side of the trees shown above from my tent. Back to nature.