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.
We 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.
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”
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.