Brass Tacks: Mt. Whitney

TOTAL 10.7 MI +14,494’ Tallest in the lower 48 states!
DAY 1 2.8 MI +1,540’ Portal to Lone Pine Lake
DAY 2 3.2 MI +2,100’ Lone Pine Lake to Trail Camp
DAY 3 10 MI +/-2,494’ Trail Camp to Peak and back
DAY 4 6 MI -3,640’ Trail Camp to Portal


The temps at the top. We experienced a steady flurry of tiny hail and light snow from Trail Crest to the Peak. Some ambitious hikers on their way down as we were still on our way up advised us to turn back in the face of the weather, to which we politely responded: “As if.”

The descent (whould’ve thought?). The days we spent going-down were much longer and covered much more elevation than the going-up days and I found them to be far more exhausting. Aside from some limited time on the stair machine at the gym, I did absolutely nothing to train for elevation (physical acclimation, up-going muscles, and down-going muscles all utterly unflexed prior to arrival at the Whitney Portal).


Getting permits. Permitting Gods smiled on us and affording us access to the trail a day earlier than we planned. Months earlier, we’d lost out on the lottery for guaranteed permits, so we traveled halfway across the country with no guarantee of getting on the trail. When we drove into “town,” we hit the Ranger Station to get the skinny on claiming permits from no-show lottery winners. We’d missed the drawing for no-show permits that day, so we camped at the Portal and returned at dawn’s first light the following day. We were hoping for to spend a full day acclimating at the Portal before embarking on our planned 3-day trip, so we needed permits for the following day.

Initially chagrinned to learn there were no permits for the day we wanted (the next day), we took consolation permits for that afternoon. The ranger convinced us that the hike from Portal to Lone Pine Lake was a short distance, small elevation, and would afford the same acclimation benefits of camping at the Portal. So we did. And I can now say this was one of the sweetest twists of the trip. Since it is so close to the Portal, it’s unlikely we would have turned off to look at the lake, and it was truly one of the most spectacular views of the trip.

Staying Healthy. Avoiding all the sicknesses I had convinced myself I would suffer: altitude sickness, amoebic dysentery from manually filtered drinking water, and the myriad pregnancy-associated sicknesses out there.

Best gender reveal. Ever.


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